Minnesota Historical Society M-Flame Logo

Home / Collections / Podcast & Blog » Search Results » minnesotan


Collections Up Close

September 11, 2015

Progress on the World War I Daybook!

Filed under: Civil War Daybook — Lori Williamson @ 4:10 pm

Hello everyone! My name is Mary Lesher. I’m a senior History major at Vassar College and I was this summer’s World War I Daybook Research Assistant Intern. I followed up on some of the great research the previous intern, Molly, did into the various kinds of World War I collections items the Minnesota Historical Society has acquired. I spent the majority of my internship in the Gale Family Library examining the Minnesota Gold Star Roll, which was compiled by the Minnesota Public Safety Commission in the years just after the close of the war. The Gold Star Roll is a record of every Minnesotan who died during the war from combat, plane, train and automobile accidents and influenza, which affected soldiers domestically and abroad. These records were filled out by close family members- mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, wives and children- and include various details of these men and women’s lives, from their place of birth to their schooling, character, vocation and military service. Family members often sent in photos, letters they received during the war and newspaper clippings about their loved one who died to give a more complete understanding of who that person was. I combed through every single record to find stories, primary sources and photos to share with you in the World War I Daybook.

One of my favorite Gold Star Roll records is that of Miss Sabra R. Hardy, a nurse in the United States Army Nursing Corps. She was from Minneapolis and worked as a nurse in Minneapolis Hospitals before enlisting for service in WWI. Hardy trained at Camp Travis in Texas before shipping out to New York to finish her training and await her journey to Europe. When she reached England she wrote a brief note to her parents alerting them that she had arrived safely overseas, and told them she would write again once she was permanently located at a hospital near the French Front. This was the last her family ever heard from her, as Hardy contracted Influenza-pneumonia and died about a week after reaching France.

New York
Aug 23-18
Dearest Mother and Dave:

I am here at last and, I just can’t wait till I’ve got my gov’t. outfit together & my Red cross suit on. They are such a good looking blue serge suit [symbol] & U.S.A. emblems worn on lapels beside the Caducci [plural form  of caduceus] which stands for the medical dept. & a black sailor hat & heavy brown army shoes. The duty uniform is grey crepe & white (No. 2) aprons & bibs & caps…”

Citation: “Hardy, Sabra R.” Minnesota Publc Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota [114.D.4.3B]

Be sure to join us for more incredible stories from World War I when the blog launches in April, 2017!

July 10, 2015

Cultural Traditions in Minnesota

Filed under: What's New — Lori Williamson @ 4:46 pm

Minnesota’s culture reflects its diverse population, with influences beginning with Minnesota’s Dakota and Ojibwe population, moving through waves of European immigration, and more recently by communities of Latin American, African, and East Asian immigrants.

Currently on display in the Library Lobby is a small selection of some of these cultural traditions. Beautiful and telling, these items give an idea of all the talent in our fair state through time.

The display also in includes the recently acquired work of Ricardo Gómez (see above), who became the first Minnesotan of Puerto Rican heritage to be represented in the MNHS’s Collection. We are thrilled to have these examples of traditional yet contemporary work, documenting an incredible artist and his vibrant community.

November 7, 2014

Murder Scene

Filed under: Item of the Day — Jason Onerheim @ 12:01 am

A photograph of a shooting victim outside the Panther Room at the Minnesotan Hotel on December 27, 1950.

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.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

October 24, 2014

Lutefisk or Ludefisk?

Filed under: What's New — Lori Williamson @ 3:48 pm

Whether one calls it lutefisk or ludefisk, whether one smothers it with melted butter or cream sauce, or whether one considers it an epicurean delight or a gelatinous mass of something to be feared, lutefisk holds a special place in the hearts of many Scandinavian-Minnesotans.  With the approaching holidays, food connoisseurs may be interested in knowing more about its history.

The Minnesota Historical Society recently received a collection of records of the Kildall Company, a Minneapolis-based firm that manufactured and distributed lutefisk and related fish products, vegetables and breads.  At one time purportedly the largest wholesaler of such products in the nation, the Kildall Company was founded in 1897 and established plants on the near north side of Minneapolis.  It also invested heavily in the growing and canning of pickles.  The Griffith family continued to run business until about 1954.

The collection contains advertising samples, price lists, correspondence, and other business records documenting the production, sale, and use of its various products.  When cataloged, the records will be available for study or simple enjoyment in the Minnesota Historical Society Library.

The following recipe for Old Style Ludefisk was recommended by the Kildall Company about 1949:

  1. Wash fish in cold water (Ludefisk may be stored in cold water until ready for cooking).
  2. Drop fish in BOILING water that has been well salted. (A cheesecloth bag helps hold the fish together).
  3. Cook to a brisk boiling point.
  4. Drain fish and remove any skin and bones.

Serve with drawn butter or cream sauce (and “for a truly delicious and unusual meal” it can be “accented by lingonberries or cranberries, boiled potatoes and possibly pickled beets and rice custard”).

When cooking any sea food, the most important thing is don’t overcook.

Duane Swanson
Manuscripts Curator

May 14, 2014

New Library Exhibit – From the Closet to the Altar: a Modern History of LGBTQ Communities in Minnesota

Filed under: What's New — Lori Williamson @ 1:46 pm

Come to the MNHS library lobby during library open hours and take a walk through the recent history of LGBTQ politics, activism, and controversy in Minnesota.

The idea for the From the Closet to the Altar exhibit was in part prompted by a recent acquisition of organizational records from Project 515. Project 515 has the unique standing as being probably one of the only organizations in Minnesota pleased to be closing their doors in 2014. Their mission, “to achieve equal rights for same sex couples under the law”, was accomplished on May 14, 2013 when Governor Mark Dayton signed HF 1054 into law. This law changed the definition of civil marriage from “between a man and a women” to “between two persons”, while striking language designating lawful marriage as “only between two persons of the opposite sex”.  Minnesotans have a range of thoughts regarding same-sex relationships, love, and marriage but the fact remains that our state has a long and colorful history surrounding our LGBTQ populace.

While some of the content in this exhibit may be disturbing to modern viewers, the Society is proud to showcase materials from our collections reflecting the varied and sometimes contentious history of LGBTQ communities and interested parties in Minnesota.

The exhibit will be on view until July 7, 2014.

Shelby Edwards, Assistant Manuscript Curator

January 30, 2014

Remembering Matthew Little

Filed under: Our Favorite Things — Lori Williamson @ 4:07 pm

The Collections Department is proud to highlight two notable manuscripts collections that document the work of civil rights activist and long-time Minneapolis NAACP president, Matthew “Matt” Little (1921-2014).

Matthew Little, circa 1981.
From Little’s papers related to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Matthew Little was born in North Carolina in 1921 and found himself living in the Twin Cities by the end of the ‘40s. He would spend the next 70 years in Minnesota, building on a reputation as a leader in the civil rights and social justice movements.  Little’s chairmanship of the Minnesota March on Washington Committee in the early 60’s and his long tenure as president of the Minneapolis NAACP are documented in two separate manuscripts collections in the Minnesota Historical Society’s Library.

The Society’s collection of papers related to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom includes materials compiled and created by Matthew Little while Chair of the Minnesota March on Washington Committee. These manuscripts document the efforts of the Committee to organize, enlist support for, and fund a Minnesota delegation to the March on Washington held August 28, 1963. In addition to agendas and minutes, organizing manuals, press releases, publicity fliers, event programs and itineraries, and petitions (July-August 1963), there are circular letters, such as this request for contributions to the Committee.

Circular letter, undated
From Little’s papers related to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Little’s March on Washington papers also include a variety of outgoing and incoming correspondence, such as this congratulatory letter from then Senator Hubert H. Humphrey.

Correspondence from Humphrey, September 11, 1963, featuring this quote: “Leadership in Washington depends on leadership by people in Minnesota like you.”
From Little’s papers related to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Little’s long tenure as President of the Minnesota NAACP and continuing Civil rights advocacy work is reflected in the Society’s collection of files relating to the Minneapolis NAACP. Little continued work with the NAACP on behalf of Black Minnesotans long after his presidency ended in 1993. These files include correspondence, reports, and legal briefs pertaining to Minneapolis school desegregation lawsuits (1970-2007); the Hollman public housing planning process case, which involved the Sumner Field Homes in north Minneapolis (1993-2000); the purchase of WCCO-TV and WCCO and WLTE radio by CBS Inc. and a minority internship program at the stations (1991-1993); and papers relating to the Roy Wilkins Memorial in St. Paul (1991-1997). These issue files contain a variety of materials including speeches, court documents and legal briefs, as well as statements made by Little.

Statement of Matthew Little, President of the NAACP, October 12, 1992
From Little’s files relating to the Minneapolis NAACP.

While Little’s work related to both the Minnesota March on Washington Committee and the Minneapolis NAACP are represented in the Society’s collections, he holds a much larger place in Minnesota’s social justice and civil rights historical narrative. I will end this brief introduction to Matthew Little’s papers here at the Society with the following quote by Little, made after the March on Washington in 1963. He writes:

“I think, then, that the true meaning of the march on Washington was to say this: America, we have waited 100 years with patience. We can wait no longer—we must have total freedom now in all phases of our American Society.”

Shelby Edwards, Manuscripts Collections Assistant

November 15, 2013

Helen Hoover: Wilderness Writer

Filed under: 150 Best Minnesota Books — Lori Williamson @ 10:07 am

As Minnesota is known for its woods and waters, so is it known for its chroniclers of the outdoors. Names like Sigurd Olson readily spring to mind and so too should the name, Helen Hoover.

An Ohioan by birth, Helen and her husband, Adrian, moved to the remote north woods on Minnesota’s Gunflint trail in the mid-1950s. A writer by inclination, and now by necessity, she began to document her surroundings in order to make a living in the harsh environment. She sold articles to magazines as varied as The Saturday Review, Humpty Dumpty, and Audubon.

In 1963, exactly 50 years ago, Helen’s first book was published in New York. The Long-Shadowed Forest, celebrated here, described the plants and animals that surrounded her cabin. Adrian lovingly illustrated the margins of the pages with detailed depictions of the text, creating one of the “must have” books for any Minnesotan.

As the Environmental Movement of the 1970s grew, Hoover’s books inspired many a young activist. After The Long-Shadowed Forest she went on to write six more books; some very personal accounts of the couple’s struggle to survive near the Canadian border. When the Gunflint Trail became more popular and populated, and their privacy more compromised, the Hoovers left Minnesota. Helen died in Colorado in 1984.

June 13, 2013

Ded Unk’Unpi: We Are Here Exhibit Acquisitions

Filed under: Our Favorite Things — Lori Williamson @ 11:11 am

The Minnesota Historical Society strives to make history relevant to the lives of contemporary Minnesotans. One of the ways in which the Society carries out this mission is by collecting and caring for materials that document the stories of Minnesota’s peoples.  In 2012, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Native American Community Development Institute with All My Relations Art sponsored the Ded Unk’unpi : We Are Here art exhibit. As 2012 marked the 150th year since the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862, twenty participating American Indian artists shared their reflections on the war and related events, as well as on this “commemorative” year.

As the Ded Unk’unpi : We Are Here exhibit came to a close, the Society’s Collections department was privileged to acquire for its permanent collections eight of these works. Many of the artworks themselves document the historic events of the War and its immediate and extended aftermath, including the subsequent mass execution in Mankato and Dakota removal to Crow Creek. But the artworks also serve somewhat as documents in-and-of-themselves; to be “read” by future Minnesotans in order to better understand this point in time -2012 – and the powerful and complicated emotions, artistic visions, and scholarship of today. Consisting of both traditional and contemporary media, prevailing themes found throughout the pieces include the regaining of cultural strength, the healing of wounds, and the honoring of relatives.

In the ledger art piece, For Every Great Man, There is a Great Woman, 2012, artist Avis Charley depicts three generations of Dakota women moving westward across the plains. A noticeable absence of men may allude not only to the strength of these women, but to the fact that many Dakota men (even those who did not participate in the War), were held as prisoners for years following 1862. In her artist statement, she writes, “The women represent different generations and the virtues of our Dakota values. These values are courage, honesty, perseverance, and generosity and the message will be about healing, moving forward, and empowering ourselves as Dakota women despite the trauma in our history.”

For Every Great Man, There is a Great Woman, 2012
Avis Charley
color pencil and acrylic on paper

On December 26th 1862, following six weeks of war, thirty-eight Dakota men were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota – a hanging that remains the largest one-day execution in American history.  Among these men was Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi, or Good Little Stars. Within the Dakota culture, each child born has a public name which denotes their birth order, and first born males are called Caske (Cha-SKAY).  Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi, among many others, often answered to his public name of Caske.

Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi and his family protected Sarah Wakefield, the wife of a doctor from the Upper Sioux Agency, and her children during the war. In spite of protests and professions of his innocence by Mrs. Wakefield, he was sentenced to death, and she ostracized for her efforts to protect him.  There are conflicting accounts of whether or not this man was hanged by mistake or whether his execution was deliberate.  One version of the story purports that because there were multiple Caskes imprisoned, Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi simply answered the executioner’s call by mistake. A closer inspection of the historical record proves this version to be oversimplified and perhaps superficial.

Today, to many Dakota people, Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi represents a martyr or a lost hero. It can be seen that for his efforts in protecting other human lives, his only reward was a vindictive frontier justice. Through her piece Caske’s Pardon, Gwen Westerman offers a prayer for his federal pardon.

Caske’s Pardon, 2012
Gwen Westerman
Quilt: 100% commercial and hand- dyed cotton; glass, beads, hemp, and paper embellishments

James Star Comes Out created his piece, 1862 Sung Ite Ha, and other similar pieces, with the goal of revitalizing the art of horse regalia in his home community of Pine Ridge. He writes that “in doing so, I believe that it will be beneficial to all, as it will exemplify the beauty of Lakota culture and in return it will encourage, motivate and revive a centuries-old art form.” This piece was created as a tribute, to honor the 38 men that were hanged in Mankato in 1862.

1862 Sung Ite Ha, 2012
James Star Comes Out
cotton fabric, brass spots, brass bells, beads, tin cones, goose feathers, red fluffs, turkey feathers, and mirrors

These pieces, along with others by well-known artists Jim Denomie, Julie Buffalohead, Maggie Thompson, Jodi Webster and Dwayne Wilcox were formally added to the Society’s permanent collections in 2012. To view these and other artworks, visit our collections online database here.

Ben Gessner
Collections Associate, American Indian & Fine Art Collections

June 7, 2013

Famous Minnesota Beards

Filed under: Item of the Day — Jason Onerheim @ 8:30 am

In support of all the Minnesotans competing in the Border Battles Facial Hair Competition, sponsored by The Minneapolis Beard and Moustache Club on June 8, 2013, the Minnesota Historical Society presents a selection of some our favorite beards of Minnesota’s past.

Portrait of Harry Wild Jones

This is a portrait of Harry Wild Jones who was an influential Minneapolis architect and lover of goatees. He is credited with introducing the Shingle Style of architecture to Minneapolis and is probably best known as the designer of the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel and the Washburn Park Water Tower.

The man in this ambrotype portrait is John Harrington Stevens, an early settler of what would become Minneapolis and member of the first state legislature. You can admire his beard in person by visiting a statue of him located in Minnehaha Park.

As you can guess from the photograph, this is William B. Mitchell. Minnesota Supreme Court Judge, namesake of the William Mitchell College of Law and moustache aficionado.

William Watts Folwell, in addition to having a rather contemplative beard, was the first president of the University of Minnesota and has a building on the East Bank campus named after him.

This tintype portrait, circa 1880, is of Judson A. Bly a miller who lived and worked in Forestville, Minnesota. Forestville is now a ghost town located in Forestville State Park and is still reportedly haunted by Bly’s Hulihee style beard.

The man with all the medals on his chest and hair on his lip is Lucius F. Hubbard. He was an orphan who moved to Red Wing, Minnesota at the age of 21. He joined the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at the outbreak of the Civil War and in 1881 he was elected governor. The Minnesota county of Hubbard is named after him.

The man with the sideburns is Dorilus Morrison, the first (and third) mayor of Minneapolis and founder the Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis which would later become Wells Fargo.

Last but not least, this photograph made by a Minneapolis Star-Tribune photographer in 1937 shows the world famous professional wrestler Farmer Tobin taking in a relaxing game of golf in Minnesota between bouts. He combined a 6 foot 7 inch frame with a tattoo collection and massive beard to make a formidable wrestling persona.

April 26, 2013

Recent Acquisitions Show at the James J. Hill House

Filed under: What's New — Lori Williamson @ 11:30 am

Our mission at the Minnesota Historical Society is straightforward—to preserve, share, and connect our history with Minnesotans and others both today and into the future. The organization does that in many ways: through our exhibitions, Library, historic sites, publications, and educational activities. Our permanent collection is at the core of everything we do at MHS.

With the goal of documenting the history of Minnesota and to tell the story of the people who call it home, each year the Collections department acquires thousands of items for its permanent collection.

We put together this current exhibit at the James J. Hill House to demonstrate the range of our collections.  Selected by Collection curators and staff, nearly all of the items in this exhibition were acquired in the last two years. Together, they demonstrate the depth and breadth of our collecting activities. From a 4,000 year-old prehistoric tool found in a northern suburban city park to campaign buttons for the latest Minnesotans to run for president, we aim to provide insight into the cultural, political, and social history of the state.

To see the exhibit, please visit the James J. Hill House. The show will be up until June 17, 2013.

To learn more about our collections, visit us at www.mnhs.org/collectionsupclose.

Next Page »

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