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“Sir Rodney”

Posted byLori Williamson on 15 Jul 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

“Hitting .300 is almost like a cause, a campaign.”
–Rod Carew’s Art and Science of Hitting, 1986

“Keep your eye on the ball and hit’em where they ain’t.”  So went the mantra of 1890s right fielder William “Wee Willie” Keeler, perhaps baseball’s greatest place hitter.  In 1964, more than half a century after Keeler retired, the Minnesota Twins signed a 19-year-old Panamanian who would rival Wee Willie’s wizardry with the bat. Rod Carew made his big league debut as a second baseman with the Twins in 1967, hitting .292 and winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award.  Carew had 12 stellar seasons with Minnesota, culminating with a career-high .388 batting average in 1977.  In 1979 he was traded to the California Angels and led the team to two division titles before retiring in 1985.  With a lifetime .328 average and 3,053 hits, Carew was a sure bet for baseball’s Hall of Fame, which enshrined the slugger in 1991.  But what made Sir Rodney a truly exceptional player was more than his seven batting titles (a feat surpassed only by Ty Cobb) and 18 consecutive All-Star Game selections.

He approached hitting as a vocation, studying pitchers and adjusting his stance to spray balls to all parts of the field.  “He has an uncanny ability to move the ball around as if the bat were some kind of magic wand,” recalled Oakland A’s hurler Ken Holtzman.

A member of the Twins’ vaunted “Lumber Company” offense, Carew used this 32-ounce Hillerich & Bradsby bat to secure batting crowns in 1973, 1974 and 1975.  Bearing pine tar residue on the handle and ball marks on the barrel, the bat also features Carew’s autograph and “HOF 7/21/91,” the date of his Hall of Fame induction.

Adam Scher, Senior Object Curator

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Cultural Traditions in Minnesota

Posted byLori Williamson on 10 Jul 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

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.

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Summertime is Laketime!

Posted byLori Williamson on 05 Jun 2015 | Tagged as: What's New


Check out our new post on the Huffington Post about summer…it will make you want to hit the lakes! Enjoy the season!

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Abolitionist Hutchinson Family Sheet Music

Posted byLori Williamson on 11 May 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

The Minnesota Historical Society has a very extensive sheet music collection, focusing on Minnesota subjects, publishers, and composers. They are an emotional, celebratory, sometimes funny, and usually graphic representation of the State’s history.

Our new favorite piece of sheet music is an 1844 abolitionist song we recently acquired at an auction in New York. It was written by Jesse Hutchinson, of the famous Hutchinson Family singers. The Hutchinsons were super stars, an internationally famous family of itinerant singers, known for their four-part harmonies and abolitionist views. This song, “Get Off the Track,” may have been their most well known anti-slavery tune.

Minnesota has an important and unique connection to the Hutchinson Family Singers. Eleven years after this music was published three of the brothers, John, Asa, and Judson, homesteaded in Minnesota establishing the town of Hutchinson, on the banks of the Crow River.

This one piece of sheet music gives us a glimpse into both the cultural significance of popular music and political debate in the era just preceding Minnesota’s establishment as a Territory and the outbreak of the American Civil War.

See the article in Minnesota History for more details on the Hutchinsons’ story.

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More Music!

Posted byLori Williamson on 04 May 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

Our most recent Huffington Post post on the new music display in the Library Lobby is now available! Take a look at Minnesota Music and come see it in person. Find out what these keys are all about!

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Temporary Like Dylan: Some Highlights from the Minnesota Music Collection

Posted byLori Williamson on 21 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

Minnesota has a long and storied history of music making. From the Hutchinson Family Singers during the Civil War to Dylan, Prince, punk, and beyond, the creation of music is central to our cultural life here.

See a small sample of some of the fun musical items in the Collection, including Prince’s gloves from Purple Rain; Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to “Temporary Like Achilles”; Karl Mueller’s Chuck Taylors; and Vixen leader Jan Kuehnemund’s guitar and jacket.

Know that there is more to discover – this is just a starting point! The Library Lobby is open the same hours as the Library. Come visit and enjoy!

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Remembering Lincoln

Posted byLori Williamson on 08 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: What's New


The Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. asked us to participate in an innovative and exciting project to commemorate the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago. Institutions from around the country contributed digital versions of collection items, showing personal responses to the news of the President’s death.  As we at the Minnesota Historical Society have been scouring the Civil War manuscript collections for our Civil War Daybook, this project was a perfect fit.

These unique items, from the MNHS Collection and many others, will be available to a worldwide audience. Be sure to see our contributions of the Wheelock letter; the St. Paul newspaper announcing Lincoln’s death; a diary entry by Senator Ramsey; and a letter by Moses Lightning Face, one of the Dakota captives at Davenport, concerning the President.

Check out all this and more at Remembering Lincoln: Responses to the Lincoln Assassination.

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Spring Means Prom!

Posted byLori Williamson on 07 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: What's New


Another new entry over on the Huffington Post – enjoy!

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Basektball Before March Madness

Posted byLori Williamson on 20 Mar 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

As we enter into March Madness, take a moment to check out our post Basketball Before March Madness over at the Huffington Post!

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Paul Krause Minnesota Vikings helmet, 1975

Posted byLori Williamson on 23 Feb 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

He dreamed of being a big league baseball player, but destiny had other plans for Minnesota Vikings legend Paul Krause.  In the early 1960s the Flint, Michigan native was a two-sport star at the University of Iowa, excelling at both baseball and football.  A dozen major league teams had their eye on the gifted outfielder, but a shoulder injury sustained in a gridiron match against Michigan permanently damaged his throwing arm. The 6’3” Krause refocused on football, playing defensive back for the Hawkeyes starting in 1962.  Blessed with remarkable athleticism and an uncanny ability to read the opposing offense, Krause made 12 pass interceptions in his final two seasons.

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1964, Krause finished his inaugural season in the NFL with a league-leading 12 interceptions and was a close second in the voting for Rookie of the Year. Krause played four seasons with Washington, racking up 28 interceptions before being traded to the Minnesota Vikings in 1968.  “In 1968, we decided to go almost exclusively to the zone, which was a radical change in the league,” recalled Vikings head coach Bud Grant.  “What we really needed was an intelligent, far-ranging free safety with great hands; in other words, a super athlete.  After surveying the league, we decided that Paul Krause had all those qualities.”

Toiling alongside a celebrated defensive line dubbed the Purple People Eaters, Krause wielded his masterful talent for anticipating plays and became one of the league’s most intimidating safeties. “I try to keep everything in front of me,” he explained, “watching the quarterback, the movement of the backs and the flow of the linemen.”  Krause spent 12 seasons with the Vikings, appearing in three Super Bowls and six Pro Bowls, and retired in 1979 as the NFL’s all-time interception leader with 81 steals. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

Adam Scher, Senior Objects Curator

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