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Archive for August, 2016

Fair Poster

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

A poster advertising the 1922 Minnesota State Fair. The text at the bottom reads “The World’s Greatest State Fair.”

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this poster in our collections database.

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MNHS T-shirt

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

A yellow T-shirt featuring the title page from Karal Ann Marling’s book, “Blue Ribbon: A Social and Pictorial History of the Minnesota State Fair”, created by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1990.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this shirt in our collections database.

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State Fair Ribbon

Monday, August 29th, 2016

A blue first premium satin prize ribbon from the 1937 Minnesota State Fair, awarded to Minnesota artist Syd Fossum for figure composition.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this ribbon in our collections database.

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World War I Daybook Update – Knute Nelson Research

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Hello! My name is Martin Branyon and I was one of the World War I Day Book Researchers for summer 2016. My work this summer involved going through the MNHS manuscripts collection to find relevant documents for the Day Book. I specifically worked with the Knute Nelson Papers collection. Nelson was a Norwegian Immigrant who served for the Union during the Civil War and managed to rise through Minnesota politics to be a well-known Republican Senator by World War I. As a History and Political Science undergrad at the University of Minnesota I found sections of this collection to be right up my alley.

The collection sheds light on both the daily life of Minnesotans during the war and the local politics of the time period. I found particularly interesting the numerous letters that dealt with groups that were critical of the war. Many letters described how the government and citizens reacted to anti-war activity in the state.

Some of the most interesting documents concerning politics and groups opposed to war were dated from July 1917. I found a letter written on July 10, 1917, from a Minneapolis lawyer by the name of Jonas Weil to be particularly interesting. According to his letter a doctor by the name of Eugene Friedman had been held in Hennepin County jail for three weeks, without formal charges being known to him, for allegedly being “antagonistic to the United States Government”. The letter captured how suppression of alleged anti-war proponents was enforced through the government; however suppression of anti-war criticism being carried out by citizens is a common theme of the collection.

A letter from July 14, 1917, by Bemidji lawyer Elmer E. McDonald captures this theme. In a letter to Nelson describing the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizing among lumber and agricultural workers, McDonald nominates a local Bemidji man to infiltrate the IWW and essentially spy on their activity. McDonald clearly saw the IWW as a distinct threat that had to be aggressively targeted by the government and citizens. This sort of political suppression offers interesting insights to the lengths to which citizens would go to protect the war effort.

In addition to opposition to leftist groups, the war elicited strong nativist responses. A letter dated July 25, 1917, from the owner of a Duluth grocery store warned Nelson about the dangers of foreign born residents and citizens in the country. The Duluth man states that all foreign born non-citizens and citizens should be deported from the United States. A strange statement given that Nelson himself was born in Norway. However, it expresses a common theme in the collection of anti-immigrant sentiment during the war.

The Knute Nelson collection offers an interesting view of Minnesota and the home front during the war. The collection offers a personal account of diverse selection of Minnesotan political issues, from censorship and nativism to women’s suffrage and immigrant rights. Be sure to check out the World War I Daybook in April 2017 to learn more about the history and politics of Minnesota during the war!

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Butter Sculpture

Friday, August 26th, 2016

A photograph of a woman carving a butter sculpture of a woman and cow from the 1938 Minnesota State Fair.

This image forms part of our Minneapolis and St. Paul Newspaper Negative collection. Additional photographs in this series may be available in the library, please view the finding aid here.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

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Princess Kay

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

One of my favorite events of the summer starts today, the Minnesota State Fair! This photograph shows Princess Kay Karen Bracken seated on a tractor, holding a glass of milk, at the 1964 Minnesota State Fair.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

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Toro Postcard

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016


A color postcard from 1948 advertising Toro Power Mowers.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this postcard in our collections database.

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Dem Bumper Sticker

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

A Democratic bumper sticker with American Sign Language spelling the word “VOTE”, circa 2002.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this sticker in our collections database.

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Dakota Gloves

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

A pair of Santee Dakota gauntlet style gloves (stout gloves with long loose wrists) with floral quillwork on the cuffs. These are bordered by leather fringe and ribbons. Made in the 1880’s.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view these gloves in our collections database.

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Minnesota Renaissance Fair Photographs

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Huzzah! ‘Tis once again time for the greatest summer festival Minnesota has to offer! (Yeah, that’s right, I said it. The Greatest.)

RF 1.jpg

A group performs traditional dances on a stage with musicians, 1972.

This year the Minnesota Renaissance Festival celebrates its 46th season! Minnesota’s is the second oldest Renaissance fair in the United States, and has one of the highest attendance rates. Started in 1971, the Festival began in a twenty-two acre field in Jonathan, Minnesota, and consisted of little more than tents, stages and straw bales.

Renaissance festivals are outdoor events where performers recreate historical settings and costumes and entertain visitors with music, shows, food, and more. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is set in 16th Century England, with the addition of playful fairies, elves and mermaids. Visitors can shop for a variety handcrafted treasures and witness the exciting jousting tournaments throughout the day. It’s no wonder this beloved event has grown to such a phenomenon!

The Minnesota Historical Society houses a collection of photographs taken in the second year of the Festival at the Jonathan location.

Vendor stands and tents next to open field, 1972.

Members of the Lebhaft Medieval Ensemble performing, 1972

Members of the Lebhaft Medieval Ensemble performing, 1972

Small child in costume climbing onto a stage, 1972

Small child in costume climbing onto a stage, 1972

Anyone who has been to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival can agree that while the landscape in these photos may be quite different from the grand, colorful structures now found in Shakopee, the enjoyment of the attendees and excitement of the performers remains the same (as well as balloon fencing!!).

Fencing booth worker helping a child into gear, 1972

The Renaissance Festival is open weekends starting August 20 through October 2. I hope to see you there!

Stephanie Olson
Collections Assistant

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An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs