Museum Collections Up Close : MNHS.ORG » What’s New http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections Every object tells a story, and Collections Up Close presents short, illustrated features that highlight the stories and history behind selected items in the Minnesota Historical Society's museum collections. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:44:03 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 ©Minnesota Historical Society collections@mnhs.org (Minnesota Historical Society) collections@mnhs.org(Minnesota Historical Society) History, Society, Culture, American History, Education, Museums, Collections 1440 video, story, museum, history, preservation, civil war, Minnesota, Native American The stories behind selected items at the Minnesota Historical Society. Every object tells a story, and Collections Up Close presents short, illustrated features that highlight the stories and history behind selected items in the Minnesota Historical Society's museum collections. Minnesota Historical Society Minnesota Historical Society collections@mnhs.org No clean http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/wp-content/themes/mhs/MHS_Upclose_badge_small.png Museum Collections Up Close : MNHS.ORG http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections 144 144 New Library Resource Available – Military Records from Fold3! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/09/new-library-resource-available-military-records-from-fold3/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/09/new-library-resource-available-military-records-from-fold3/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 16:46:13 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=15738

Fold3, formerly Footnote, is often considered the premiere tool for online access to military records. The MNHS Library has just started a subscription, so researchers in the Reading Room will have access to the tremendous holdings on military history and service from Library of Congress, National Archives, and other repositories.

This resource is a treasure trove for people doing family history; military history; veterans; researchers; and teachers. Learn more about it here.

The MNHS Library is free and open to the public; see our hours here. We have staff available to help get you started. Come see what you can find!

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Recommendations Required http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/09/recommendations-required/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/09/recommendations-required/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 14:00:13 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=15599 October 4, 1848, then President of the American Fur Company Ramsay Crooks writes from La Pointe Lake Superior:

Na-gwon-ay-bie, Chief of the Mille Lac [sic] Band of Chippewas has uniformly conducted himself with uncommon propriety for an Indian.

With his traders he has proven himself an honest, trustworthy man, while with the agents of the United States he enjoys the reputation of a prudent, sensible, well-disposed Chief, whose good example and discreet counsel have had a salutary effect on the characters of his people—I therefore recommend Na-gwon-a-bie [sic] to the kind consideration of all who esteem public and private worth as a person fully entitled to their confidence and good offices.

The preceding transcription is from a document in a newly acquisitioned collection that gives a glimpse into the complex relationships between Native American and European fur traders in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Crooks letter of recommendation for Chief Negwanebi.

Negwanebi was First Chief of (what was then known as) the Mille Lacs Indians. He served as a tribal representative for the 1825 Treaty of Prairie du Chien Council and was also a signatory on the 1826 Treaty of Fond du Lac and the 1837 Treaty of St. Peters.

Ramsay Crooks (1787-1859) was an early Scottish-Canadian fur trader, who served as General Manager (1817-1834), then President of the American Fur Company (1834-1859). Early 20th century historians describe Crooks as exceptionally gifted in creating positive diplomatic relationships with Native fur traders. {1}

This new acquisition is a signed and sealed letter of recommendation written by Ramsay Crooks for “Na-gwon-ay-bie, Chief of the Mille Lac [sic] Band of Chippewas” (also known as Nayquonabe/Negwanebi or Tallest [Quill] feather). The letter’s value goes beyond its connection to one of the Great Lakes area’s most notable industries. The existence of such a letter begs for deeper consideration of the sort of environment where such a recommendation was necessary. So pervasive were the stereotypes of native peoples in the European ethos that a signed and sealed certificate by a well-respected white trader was considered a valid method of proving trustworthiness.

Before these important pieces of our past could be made available to our researchers, we had to address the 168 years of damage and deterioration that our staff members could repair.

Images of the letter pre-conservation work. Image courtesy of the MNHS Book and Paper Lab.

Extensive conservation work was performed on the Ramsay Crooks letter of recommendation for Chief Na-gwon-ay-bie and related papers. The letter was the oldest document in this collection and was most in need of care. It appears that as the letter deteriorated from age and use, layers of paper and cloth were adhered for support, with further damage caused by the addition of two now rusting metal fasteners.

The cloth backing of the letter shows damage left by a rusted paperclip and a yet to be removed metal fastener in the upper right hand corner. Image courtesy of the MNHS Book and Paper Lab.

Tears were apparent along the folds of the document and the ribbon and seal were frayed and cracked respectively.

Close up showing tears and cracked wax pre-conservation treatment. Image courtesy of the MNHS Book and Paper Lab.

Conservation staff cleaned and removed adhesive and metal fasteners from the document. Creases were removed by relaxing the paper with a moist swab and applying light pressure. Treatments disclosed a previously unseen line of text on the lowest crease of the letter. Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste were used to mend the tears along the edges of the document and the folds. A custom sink mat with cover was made to protect the document’s raised ribbon and wax seal.

Letter of recommendation following conservation treatment. Note the entire line of text uncovered during treatment! Image courtesy of the MNHS Book and Paper Lab.

A more detailed description of the conservation work done for these materials is included in the papers.

Special thanks to Society conservationists Sherelyn Ogden and Jenna Bluhm. The Conservation web page available on the MNHS’s website is a great resource for those interested in learning more about the Society’s conservation practices and how everyone can better preserve and protect their own documents and items. Access to this collection requires the permission of the curator.

Shelby Edwards, Assistant Curator of Manuscripts

{1} J. Ward Ruckman. “Ramsay Crooks and the fur trade of the Northwest.” Minnesota History Vol. 7, no. 1 (Mar. 1926).

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Artists Selected for 2014/15 Native American Artist-in-Residence Program http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/08/artists-selected-for-201415-native-american-artist-in-residence-program/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/08/artists-selected-for-201415-native-american-artist-in-residence-program/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:30:11 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=15451
The Minnesota Historical Society has recently awarded three six-month paid residencies to artists Jessica Gokey, Pat Kruse and Gwen Westerman. Each artist works in a traditional media, which together represent many of the major historical art forms of the region: beadwork, birchbark, and textiles (ribbonwork).

These residencies were created to provide opportunities for artists to use collections at MNHS, as well as at other institutions, in order to develop their respective art forms. These residencies, while rooted in historical research, are designed to provide a platform for artists to move their art forward. While in residence, each of these artists will continue to develop research and community outreach plans that delve deeply and broadly into their communities, to gain new knowledge and to share their expertise.

Jessica Gokey, is a beadwork artist who lives in the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) community in Hayward, Wisconsin. She has been beading for more than ten years and shares her knowledge with members of the community by teaching at the LCO Ojibwa Community College. Gokey believes that sharing her “knowledge of traditional Ojibwe beadwork will help preserve the art of beadwork for future generations.” She plans on researching the extensive bandolier bag and other beadwork collections.


Pat Kruse, a birch bark artist who lives in the Mille Lacs community in Minnesota, has been working with birch bark for more than 30 years. Kruse creates birch bark products “to honor the old ways and the ancestors that practiced these ways.” He will research the birch bark collections and continue to build an apprentice relationship with his son, in order to pass on this traditional knowledge.

Gwen Westerman, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, is a textile artist who lives in Good Thunder, Minnesota. As a member of the six generations of women in her family who have made quilts, she sees quilts as having not only a utilitarian function but also as containing stories. Westerman has been expanding her textile arts with other traditional art forms to “find new ways to tell our stories.” She plans on researching and revitalizing traditions of Dakota ribbonwork.

The Artists-in-Residence were selected based on the recommendations of a panel consisting of experts in the field of Native American arts and culture. The panel members are Sasha Brown (Santee Dakota), Joe Horse Capture (A’aninin Tribe of Montana) and Scott Shoemaker (Miami Nation).

The Native American Artist-in-Residence program is made possible in part by a grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

Rita Walaszek, Collections Assistant
Ben Gessner, Native American Artist-in-Residence Program Coordinator

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Hudson Bridge Drawing http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/07/hudson-bridge-drawing/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/07/hudson-bridge-drawing/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:48:27 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=15309

One of the recent additions to the State Archives is a large collection of bridge plans from the Bridge Division of the Department of Transportation (DOT). This set is made up primarily of plans and blueprints for nearly 1,000 bridges from around the state spanning from 1895 to 1973. It also contains two unique pencil drawings, including this one for a bridge crossing the St. Croix River. This drawing shows a proposed plan for a truss bridge (DOT bridge number 5999) that wasn’t actually built, connecting Lakeland, Minnesota and Hudson, Wisconsin, dated October 10, 1945. The drawing has the initials R.W.C. but the full name of the illustrator is not known. This drawing was discovered by one of our volunteers as he went through the collection sheet by sheet and made a complete inventory of it. The other bridge in this collection that has a pencil drawing is bridge number 5895 in Hastings, MN.

This collection is an addition to bridge plans we already hold from the Department of Transportation.

Anjanette Schussler, Government Records Assistant

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New Library Lobby Exhibit: Icons of Minnesota http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/07/new-library-lobby-exhibit-icons-of-minnesota/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/07/new-library-lobby-exhibit-icons-of-minnesota/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:29:19 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=15108

Minnesota is many things to many people. We love our outdoors, our sports and cultural life, and our symbols. How do we define and identify ourselves? Who are we, in object form?

Shown in this small exhibit are some examples of things which have become iconic and represent Minnesota in popular culture. From official symbols such as the state flower and seal to our sporting personas to why we are called the Gopher state, see some of the basis for the stories we tell ourselves here.

This exhibit is on view during Library open hours through August 30, 2014.

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New Library Exhibit – From the Closet to the Altar: a Modern History of LGBTQ Communities in Minnesota http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/05/new-library-exhibit-from-the-closet-to-the-altar-a-modern-history-of-lgbtq-communities-in-minnesota/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/05/new-library-exhibit-from-the-closet-to-the-altar-a-modern-history-of-lgbtq-communities-in-minnesota/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 18:46:13 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=14765 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

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Legacy Research Fellowship Announcement http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/04/legacy-research-fellowship-announcement-2/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/04/legacy-research-fellowship-announcement-2/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 15:57:32 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=14653 Awards were recently granted to several scholars to support research on Minnesota history conducted in the Minnesota Historical Society’s Gale Family Library. We are very pleased to share the winners of these grants and what they will be working on with you. All recipients will write MNopedia articles and several hope to produce Minnesota History articles as well.

William Millikan’s project is Financing the Development of Minnesota with Indian Lands.  As Rhoda Gilman said in her letter of recommendation: “…his proposed work on the use of public land acquired through Indian treaties to underwrite financial instruments that could be used by entrepreneurs to develop private industrial, transportation, and mining empires has the potential to have not only regional and national significance, but possibly international as well.”

Ellen Manovich is a graduate student in history at the University of Minnesota researching the history of four Minneapolis neighborhoods surrounding the University of Minnesota. The committee was pleased to recommend funding some urban history, since Minneapolis is especially lacking when it comes to good histories.

Bruce White will compile an annotated bibliography of primary sources on 19th-century MN politician Henry Rice, looking toward writing a biography of Rice once those are in hand.  Rice was very influential in Minnesota and regional politics and in Indian affairs, but unlike Ramsey and Sibley he left only a small collection of papers.

Andrea Klein Bergman is a social scientist who has studied vulnerable populations, including immigrant refugees. She has done oral histories with the Bhutanese community in Minnesota and here proposes “a case study of the socio-cultural integration of Tibetan Americans in Minnesota,” with a view to recommend changes in service to Tibetan immigrants to help them participate fully in Minnesota society.

Lois Glewwe will continue her research on the life of Dakota missionary Jane Smith Williamson, sister of Thomas Williamson, who founded the mission to the Dakota at Lac qui Parle.  In addition to Williamson’s personal story, Glewwe will investigate the mission school and their relationship with government schools for Native children.

Therese Cain brings training in political science and nonprofit management to her proposal to study why a single county in rural western Minnesota has voted Democratic in national elections since 1932, while all the surrounding counties have voted Republican.  Why is Swift County Blue? is the first stage of a project that Cain and her fellow researcher, anthropologist Sharon Doherty, have planned for a book.

Retired law professor Howard Vogel, a contributor to the award-winning book Mni Sota Makoce: Minnesota is a Dakota Place and a student of religion as well as law, will study Stephen R. Riggs’s role in the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux. Recently Vogel brought his work on Restorative Justice to the question of the US-Dakota War of 1862 and its results for the Dakota people. Looking at Riggs’s role in that treaty is part of a larger project to understand how Christian missionaries understood their role of proselytizing the Dakota.

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New Library Exhibit – Native American Beadwork in the MNHS’ Collections http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/03/new-library-exhibit-native-american-beadwork-in-the-mnhs%e2%80%99-collections/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/03/new-library-exhibit-native-american-beadwork-in-the-mnhs%e2%80%99-collections/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 20:10:10 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=14376 Come see the new Library Lobby exhibit on Native America beadwork, open the same hours as the Library.

Minnesota Historical Society is the repository for approximately 9,000 ethnographic objects of Native American origin. These objects include everything from basketry and ceramics to clothing and pipes, and span two and a half centuries. Perhaps 1,000 of those objects are embellished with beads; necklaces, leggings, sashes, shirts, pipe bags, watch fobs, feather bonnets, and things made for sale to the tourist trade are all represented in the Society’s collection, as are objects from every corner of the U.S. and Canada. Due to MNHS’ mission to specifically collect objects that are meaningful to the history of the state of Minnesota, the overwhelming majority of these items come from the immediate area. As a reflection of this regional depth, most of the Native beadwork in our collection falls into either the Plains (for example, Dakota, Lakota, Cheyenne) or Woodland (Ojibwe, Ho-Chunk, Cree) category.

This small exhibit draws specifically from MNHS’ collection of Native American beadwork. It is organized chronologically, beginning with the vitrine to the left when facing the glass doors to the Gale Family Library, and continuing in a clockwise fashion around the library registration desk. Within this exhibit one can explore pre-contact precursors to indigenous beadwork; different techniques used in beadwork; a glimpse of the wide variety of cultural styles in Native beadwork across the U.S. and Canada; how beaded objects functioned in the changing 19th century Native economy; and the modern resurgence of Native American beadwork.

More information can be found on these objects at Minnesota Historical Society’s collections website:

www.mnhs.org/collections

This exhibit will be on view until the end of April.

Leah Bowe
Collections Associate, NAGPRA


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Swee-Tone perfume: what does a gallon of perfume have to do with bootlegging? http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/02/swee-tone-perfume-what-does-a-gallon-of-perfume-have-to-do-with-bootlegging/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/02/swee-tone-perfume-what-does-a-gallon-of-perfume-have-to-do-with-bootlegging/#comments Tue, 04 Feb 2014 23:07:11 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=14093 In the early 1960s Ancker Hospital was located at Jefferson Avenue and Colborne Street in St. Paul. The hospital was preparing to move to a new location and by 1967 the old campus was completely demolished. A local “chunker” or “picker” (antiquer) had a friend working on a demolition crew at the old campus. Behind a false wall in a warehouse building the men discovered a cache of 70 gallon bottles of perfume made by the Nipola Company of St. Paul. This perfume was manufactured in the late 1920s, during the Prohibition Era.

Throughout Prohibition (1920-1933), the United States government distributed denatured grain alcohol for industrial use. Denatured alcohol contained additives making it poisonous, though still useful for commercial purposes. Thousands died as a result of drinking denatured alcohol stolen and resold by bootleggers. Soon, chemists employed by bootleggers began to “renature” the industrial alcohol, redistilling it into drinkable liquor. One product targeted by bootleggers was commercial perfume, which had high alcohol content that could be chemically extracted for use in bootlegged liquor.

In February, 1930, thirty-one corporations across the country were indicted for illegally diverting 1,000,000 gallons of government alcohol from legitimate commercial uses to bootleggers, in violation of national Prohibition laws. These companies were accused of taking part in a nation-wide syndicate headquartered in Chicago. Among the businesses named in the indictment was Nipola Company of St. Paul, Minnesota, a perfume manufacturer.

Nipola produced a number of scents beginning in 1927, including Swee-Tone, Ramona, and Lucky Lindy (after Charles Lindbergh). Of these perfumes, at least Swee-Tone was distributed nationally. The label on the gallon jug reads: “SWEE-TONE gives a delightful odor, refreshes the premises, and is a deodorizer as well. It is a “Many-Purpose” perfume–a standard, high-grade product.” Whether officers of the company were active in bootlegging or its products were merely being used by bootleggers is unclear. Luckily for Nipola and the other companies named in the indictment, Prohibition was repealed before the case could come to trial.


Be sure to stop by the current Library exhibit Dry Times: Temperance, Prohibition, and Gangsters in Minnesota 1900 – 1933.

Learn More:

Sondra Reierson, Associate 3D Curator

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Hear Acquisitions Librarian Patrick Coleman on MPR! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/01/hear-acquisitions-librarian-patrick-coleman-on-mpr/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/01/hear-acquisitions-librarian-patrick-coleman-on-mpr/#comments Fri, 10 Jan 2014 19:03:03 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=13918 If you missed Patrick Coleman’s appearance on All Things Considered with Dan Olson, here’s the link to the story featuring many treasures of the Collection. Enjoy!

http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/01/09/news/historical-society-archives

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Dan Murphy’s Les Paul Goldtop Guitar http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/11/dan-murphy%e2%80%99s-les-paul-goldtop-guitar/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/11/dan-murphy%e2%80%99s-les-paul-goldtop-guitar/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2013 21:33:33 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=13603

“It was really a home spun band with very humble beginnings”.  That’s how former Soul Asylum lead guitarist Dan Murphy described his Minneapolis-based band, which rose to superstardom in 1992 with their hit single “Runaway Train”.  A native of Duluth, Murphy co-founded the group in 1981 with Karl Mueller and Dave Pirner as a trio under the name Loud Fast Rules, playing in garages, at parties, and in local clubs including First Avenue.  With the addition of Pat Morley on drums, the band changed its name to Soul Asylum in 1984 and began recording albums for the independent record label Twin/Tone Records. Grant Young replaced Morley on drums shortly after their debut album, Say What you Will, and for the next nine years the band played hundreds of concerts across the United States and Europe, building a following of fans and climbing the college radio charts.  After releasing a string of tepidly-received albums under the A&M label, the band signed with Columbia Records in 1992 and released Grave Dancers Union to critical and popular acclaim. The album’s success catapulted Soul Asylum to international celebrity and assured their reputation for the next twenty years as one of the world’s most renowned independent rock bands.

Purchased in the mid 1980’s at Benedict’s Music Store in Minneapolis, Murphy used this Gibson Les Paul guitar on every Soul Asylum album, starting with 1988’s Hang Time, until his departure from the band in 2012.  Murphy also logged hundreds of performances on the guitar as a member of Soul Asylum and the supergroup Golden Smog, including appearances at President Bill Clinton’s first inaugural ball, the MTV Music Awards, “Saturday Night Live”, the “David Letterman Show”, and the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”.  The guitar joins the Society’s extensive holdings of artifacts and manuscript materials which document both the storied legacy of Soul Asylum and Dan Murphy’s celebrated achievements as a Minnesota musician.

Adam Scher, Senior Curator

Photo by Daniel Schwen.

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New Library Exhibit – Dry Times: Temperance, Prohibition, and Gangsters in Minnesota, 1900 – 1933 http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/10/new-library-exhibit-dry-times-temperance-prohibition-and-gangsters-in-minnesota-1900-1933/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/10/new-library-exhibit-dry-times-temperance-prohibition-and-gangsters-in-minnesota-1900-1933/#comments Tue, 15 Oct 2013 14:53:25 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=13314

In anticipation of the opening November 9 of American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, we put together some material in the Library Lobby to showcase the Minnesota angle and whet visitors’ appetite for more!

Minnesota played a major role in Prohibition, the banning of alcohol in the United States from 1920 – 1933 made possible by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.  The Temperance Movement (supporters of making liquor illegal) had been active here since the 1880s, but it was the National Prohibition Act (also known as the Volstead Act) championed by Minnesota Congressman Andrew Volstead that made the Amendment reality.

Liquor, of course, did not go away, just underground. A brisk illegal trade in alcohol could be found nationwide, but it was to Saint Paul the gangsters would come to either vacation or “let things cool off.” An arrangement with the Saint Paul Police made the city a haven for criminals. As long as bribes were paid and crime was not committed in the city, Saint Paul Police agreed to look the other way. While this made for some interesting visitors, this arrangement did not last long.

Come take a look at these amazing pieces from that time, showing all sides in the great national debate that came to a largely joyous end in 1933.

This exhibit is open the same hours as the Library.

Learn More:

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Matthew Marvin’s Civil War diary, visualized http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/10/matthew-marvin-visualized/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/10/matthew-marvin-visualized/#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 21:24:32 +0000 Lizzie Ehrenhalt http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=12341

The diaries kept by Civil War soldiers make for gripping reading.  They’re full of the sights and sounds of military life in the 1860s, from routine dress parades and picket duty to dramatic battles like Gettysburg and Antietam.  But while the content of these accounts is priceless, it’s sometimes hard for the average person to access.  Soldiers’ handwriting is messy; their grammar and spelling are inconsistent; and the words they use are unfamiliar.  Sifting through all of a diary’s entries in search of recurring themes can exhaust even the most dedicated reader.

With this in mind, a team of staff in the Collections Department is exploring creative ways to distill and display the content contained within historic manuscripts.  They hope to determine whether data visualization–the practice of transforming data sets into interactive graphs and pictures–can be used to make primary sources more accessible.  Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, their project will produce three visualizations of a diary written by Matthew Marvin, a farmer from Winona, Minnesota who served in the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry between 1861 and 1864.

The first of the visualizations, created with the web-based presentation tool Prezi, is now available to the public.  For the best viewing experience, be sure to open the Prezi in full-screen mode. To do this, click on the screen enlarger icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the presentation tool bar.  You can move backwards and forwards through the Prezi by clicking on the arrows that appear at bottom-center of this tool bar.

Enjoy the visualization, and be sure to record your observations on the Prezi itself.  The project team welcomes your feedback.

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Coya Knutson’s Accordion http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/09/coya-knutson%e2%80%99s-accordion/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/09/coya-knutson%e2%80%99s-accordion/#comments Wed, 18 Sep 2013 20:14:20 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=13158

Cornelia “Coya” Knutson (1912-1996) dreamed of being an opera singer.  After graduating from Concordia College in 1934, the North Dakota native set out for New York City to study piano and voice at the prestigious Julliard School.  Regrettably, an operatic career was not in the cards but Coya would later apply her musical talents to succeed in an unrelated yet equally competitive vocation – politics.    She was helping her husband Andy manage a hotel and cafe in Oklee, Minnesota during the early 1940’s when the political bug bit her.  With accordion in hand she hit the campaign trail, singing her way across the state in a vivacious soprano. Inspired by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Coya became a staunch supporter of agricultural reform and won the hearts and votes of Minnesota’s rural communities.

After serving on the Red Lake County Board and in the Minnesota House of Representatives, the former music teacher and Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate stunned the state’s political establishment in 1954 by beating twelve-year incumbent Harold Hagen for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Coya Knutson was now the first woman from Minnesota elected to Congress, and Washington was soon to become equally astounded by her drive and commitment.   Despite her lack of seniority, Coya won a seat on the coveted House Agriculture Committee, initiated the first federal appropriations for cystic fibrosis research, introduced the first bill for the income tax check-off to fund Presidential election campaigns, and wrote the first federal student loan program.

But Knutson’s prospects for a long career in Congress were derailed in 1958 when husband Andy made a public plea for Coya to quit politics and return to Minnesota.  In a time when a woman’s place was in the home, not in the House of Representatives, Andy’s appeal struck a resonant chord with voters and toppled Coya’s bid for re-election. Coya Knutson never held elected office again, despite comeback attempts in 1960 and 1977, but her determination, dedication to service, and personal charm firmly established her as an iconic figure in Minnesota political history.

Adam Scher, Senior Curator


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New Oral History Page Available – Voices of Minnesota http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/08/new-oral-history-page-available-voices-of-minnesota/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/08/new-oral-history-page-available-voices-of-minnesota/#comments Tue, 20 Aug 2013 16:58:16 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=12935

The Minnesota Historical Society is pleased to announce that it now has the largest digitally available Oral History collection in the country – and possibly the world!

The collection had previously only been available on tape cassette or as paper transcriptions. Through years of digitization and cataloging Voices of Minnesota is the new online portal to the more than 1,300 Oral History interviews in our collection. You can search for specific oral history interviews through Collections Online or by subject matter on Voices of Minnesota.

Projects available online range from World War II to recent immigrants, politics, art, and much more.

Keep checking back – more Oral History projects and interviews are being added all the time!

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History is Now! Celebrating Marriage Equality http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/08/history-is-now-celebrating-marriage-equality/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/08/history-is-now-celebrating-marriage-equality/#comments Thu, 01 Aug 2013 15:04:26 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=12778

The Minnesota Historical Society is looking to document select current events through collecting digital images, and we need your help.

The Society wants to document the historic recognition of equality for all by collecting digital photos of same-sex weddings held during the month of August, 2013. Our goal is to collect 100 great photos during this time of couples state-wide who are now able to get married.

Please see this page to learn more about this project and specifics to submit.

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New Library Exhibit – The Golden Age of Rail Travel http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/07/new-library-exhibit-the-golden-age-of-rail-travel/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/07/new-library-exhibit-the-golden-age-of-rail-travel/#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 20:54:11 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=12608

Dining aboard the North Coast Limited, Northern Pacific Railway, 1934.



Come see the new exhibit in the Library Lobby on the Golden Age of Rail Travel, 1880 – 1950. The exhibit highlights a fabulous new donation to the collection from Steve Pattison and family of Great Northern Railway china and silver. It also includes menus and tourism promotion materials from our wonderful railroad archival collections. Visit a time when transportation was so much more civilized!

Glory of the West Pattern, 1940-1957. Donation by Steve Pattison and Family.










Learn More:

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Quillwork Cuffs by Dallas Goldtooth http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/06/quillwork-cuffs-by-dalls-goldtooth/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/06/quillwork-cuffs-by-dalls-goldtooth/#comments Mon, 03 Jun 2013 20:21:33 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=12290 2013_41_2.jpgUnique to North America, porcupine quillwork is an art form used by Indigenous peoples that have traditionally resided in the porcupine’s natural habitat – from coast to coast in the northern United States and Canada.

With tendrils stretching back over centuries, quillwork was the primary decorative art form used for embellishing rawhide and tanned hide items prior to the introduction of glass beads of European manufacture. Many Dakota and Lakota people have oral traditions which explain how quilling was brought to them by Double Woman (or Double Face Woman). The earliest extant examples of quillwork are found in Canada and are said to date to the 6th century.

In their natural state, workable porcupine quills are usually pale with black tips. Historically, color was added through the use of dyes made from plant and animal materials. By the 19th century, commercial dyes became readily available and greatly expanded the possibilities for new designs and color combinations. Historic quillwork from the plains, much like painting and beadwork, is often characterized by geometric patterns – concentric circles and rosettes, as well as other geometric shapes, were commonly found on panels adorning men’s shirts.

2013_41_1.jpgTraditionally practiced by women, today many men are also contributing to the revival of the quillwork art form.   Through working with knowledgeable practitioners and relatives (and sometimes by studying museum collections), today quillwork artists are revitalizing the practice; it is again becoming a vibrant and living art form.

Quillwork in the Minnesota Historical Society Native American Collections is robust, with examples of historic moccasins, pipe bags, men’s shirts, pipe stems, armbands, dresses, ornaments, dolls, gloves, jackets, tobacco pouches and more attributed to Dakota makers, as well as birchbark tourist trade items made by Ojibwe makers.

In addition to our historic collections, there are also quillwork pieces created by contemporary artists. Among them is a cradleboard done by Hope Two Hearts and Galen Drapeau (Isanti and Ihanktowan Dakota, respectively), circa 1980. An image of this cradleboard, which won best traditional art at the Sante Fe Indian Market, was featured in promotional materials for Hope and Galen’s business, the Elk’s Camp Society.
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Surrounded by the art form for most of his life, Dallas Goldtooth, Hope’s son, has himself been creating contemporary work for over a decade. Recently, the MHS Collections Department had the opportunity to purchase a pair of cuffs from the artist, seen here.

These will be on view in the Recent Acquisitions show at the  James J. Hill House until the end of June.

Ben Gessner
Collections Associate, American Indian and Fine Art Collections

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Recent Acquisitions Show at the James J. Hill House http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/04/recent-acquisitions-show-at-the-james-j-hill-house/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/04/recent-acquisitions-show-at-the-james-j-hill-house/#comments Fri, 26 Apr 2013 16:30:59 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=11931

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.

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Acquired! 1850 Edward D. Neill letter describing the Minnesota Territory http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/03/acquired-1850-edward-d-neill-letter-describing-the-minnesota-territory/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/03/acquired-1850-edward-d-neill-letter-describing-the-minnesota-territory/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2013 15:05:46 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=11550

In February of 2013, the Minnesota Historical Society’s Manuscripts Collections acquired this letter written on February 23, 1850 in St. Paul by Presbyterian Minister, Edward Duffield Neill. Addressed to a Home Missionary Society colleague out East, the letter provides a detailed account of Neill’s missionary work in St. Paul, as well as his impressions regarding the changing landscape in the surrounding Territory.

Neill recounts his early work as a Presbyterian Minister in the Minnesota Territory but first and foremost, the eight-page manuscript gives a brief statistical analysis of Neill’s work over the past 10 months. He reports his involvement in building the First Presbyterian Church in St. Paul (Dec. 1849), his financial contributions to the Home Missionary Society’s coffers ($45.00 to date), and the increase in those who “…worship in accordance with the Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian denominations” (approximately 900). He goes on to describe the pre-existing Catholic and Protestant denominations, the former currently being housed in a “rude log chapel”.

The letter also describes Neill’s impression of St. Paul upon his arrival in 1849. He states, “I landed at St. Paul in April, 1849. It was then a village of 300 inhabitants, mostly illiterate French Canadians attached to the Church of Rome.” Being a man of the church, he did however attempt to lighten the blow, stating that the current state of the Territory proves there have since been “…great changes and those in the right direction.”

Neill’s interests crossed well beyond his early work as a Minister, showing an inclination towards matters of business, politics, and governance. He is delighted by the establishment of several new schools and quite impressed by the Territorial Government’s incorporation of a Library Association.  Neill believes in five years time, “…there will be direct or speedy communications between St. Anthony Falls and New York City via Lake Superior, and there will be a call for at least five times as many laborers.”

Neill’s predictions for the future were not always so bright, however. In a passage foretelling of impending events, Neill states, “Four-Fifths of the Territory is in Indian Country, the abode of the warlike Ojibwa, the wild Dakota and the discontented Winnebago. Negotiations however are going on, which will shortly induce the Dakota to dispose of the lands of his ancient ancestors and to commence his painful Exodus towards the setting sun.”

Edward D. Neill, a native Philadelphian, came to the Minnesota Territory in 1849 as a Presbyterian Minister under the auspices of the Home Missionary Society. At the time this letter was written, Neill was a frontier minister but he is also known as a prolific author, Civil War Chaplain to the 1st Minnesota infantry, Secretary to Presidents Lincoln and Johnson, as well as a past President of Macalester College.

This spectacular piece of Minnesota history complements the Society’s collection of the Edward D. Neill and family papers, as well as the Minnesota portion of the American Home Missionary Society records, available on microfilm.

See whole letter: Neill letter 1850

Shelby Edwards, Manuscripts Collections Assistant

Learn More:

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MHS Civil War Collections Online http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/03/mhs-civil-war-collections-online/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/03/mhs-civil-war-collections-online/#comments Fri, 01 Mar 2013 22:30:56 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=11418

The Minnesota Historical Society maintains a rich collection of primary source materials (government records, manuscripts, photographs, art, artifacts) and secondary resources (books, published diaries, official sources) relating to the Civil War.

Our new Civil War Collections website features a timeline of major events and allows users to browse the Society’s holdings by collection type, topic, or event.  Check it out!

http://collections.mnhs.org/civilwar/

Also come see the new exhibit featuring many of these artifacts, Minnesota and the Civil War, opening March 2!

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Minnesota Inventions on tpt! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/02/minnesota-inventions-on-tpt/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/02/minnesota-inventions-on-tpt/#comments Tue, 19 Feb 2013 21:46:28 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=11262
In case you missed it last Friday, our very own Adam Scher was on Almanac talking about Minnesota Inventions. Watch it here:

http://www.mnvideovault.org/index.php?id=24231&select_index=6&popup=yes#6

For more on Minnesota’s food innovations, see our Inventions of Champions: How Minnesotans Changed Breakfast podcast.

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President’s Day is History Matters Day at the Capitol! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/02/presidents-day-is-history-matters-day-at-the-capitol/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/02/presidents-day-is-history-matters-day-at-the-capitol/#comments Fri, 15 Feb 2013 16:51:22 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=11265

President’s Day is History Matters Day at the Capitol!

  • Come hang out in the State’s seat of power and government!
  • Look at cool items from the Collections!
  • Go on a free tour of the Captiol!
  • Enjoy a free craft activity for the kids!
  • Talk to your legislator about why history matters to you!

This Monday, February 18, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Learn more here:
http://www.mnhs.org/historymatters/

Free shuttles are available from the History Center. Hope to see you then!

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Contemporary Political Posters in Minnesota http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/01/contemporary-political-posters-in-minnesota/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2013/01/contemporary-political-posters-in-minnesota/#comments Tue, 15 Jan 2013 22:37:14 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=10914

Historically, posters have been a relatively cheap and quick way to disseminate information and ideas. Often, in opposition to commercial posters which promote the consumption of products, political posters, as a genre, have been used much in the same way as political graffiti – to promote grassroots political and philosophical ideas and movements.

Today, political poster-makers expand upon the historic role of their predecessors, often straddling the line of fine art printmaking. Almost exclusively, they produce hand-printed, limited-edition serigraphs (screenprints) or prints produced using letterset presses – rather than using machines to print offset lithographs, which is the printing process most commonly associated with ‘large-run’ commercial posters.

Minnesota has a unique and vibrant graphic arts community; the community of printmakers and poster artists is no exception.

Poster Offensive is a biennial political poster exhibit created in 2004 by Jeff Johnson, owner and creative director of Spunk Design Machine (these exhibits currently coincide with election cycles).  According to the exhibit organizers, Poster Offensive is “an independent, non-partisan poster show, which utilizes the politically potent medium of the poster to showcase contemporary interpretations and critiques of political and social issues.”

Although many of the artworks in the Poster Offensive exhibits deal specifically with the elections with which they coincide, some reflect larger issues, including local food movements, conservation of natural resources, freedom of speech, unemployment, immigration, women’s rights, and, like these presented here from the 2012 Poster Offensive 6, the recent proposed ‘marriage’ amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution. Designed, illustrated, and printed by Jeff Johnson, Bill Ferenc, and Andy Weaver of Spunk Design Machine, a Minneapolis-based design boutique, these two versions of Equal Equals Love were recently added to the Fine Art collection at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Ben Gessner, Collections Associate

Click images above to see them larger. To learn more, please go to Collections Online:

Paul Bunyan and Jolly Green Giant

Dorothy and Betty Crocker

To learn even more:

www.posteroffensive.com/

http://spkdm.com/

http://bigtablestudio.com/

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Moon Rocks! – Apollo 11 Lunar Soil Sample http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/12/moon-rocks-apollo-11-lunar-soil-sample/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/12/moon-rocks-apollo-11-lunar-soil-sample/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 17:20:35 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=10477

In November 1969, four months after the first manned lunar landing by Apollo 11, President Richard Nixon asked the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to prepare lunar soil samples collected from the mission for presentation to the 50 United States and 135 countries.  Each sample was to be accompanied by the recipient’s state or national flag, which had traveled to the Moon and back aboard Apollo 11.

President Nixon presented this lunar soil display, containing approximately 50 milligrams of material, to the people of Minnesota in 1970 with the message:

Presented to the people of Minnesota by Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America.

This flag of your state was carried to the Moon and back by Apollo 11 and this fragment of the Moon’s surface was brought to Earth by the crew of that first manned lunar landing.

The display is presumed to have been received by the Office of the Governor, but for reasons which remain uncertain it was transferred to the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs where it remained for 40 years.  In 2010 the display was discovered in a storage area by staff of the Minnesota National Guard, who transferred it to the Minnesota Historical Society in November, 2012.

Adam Scher, Senior Curator

For more details, view the Moon Rocks in our Collections Online database.

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An Evening with Walter Mondale and the Public Affairs Collections of MHS http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/11/an-evening-with-walter-mondale-and-the-public-affairs-collections-of-mhs/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/11/an-evening-with-walter-mondale-and-the-public-affairs-collections-of-mhs/#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2012 22:55:59 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=10371

Join us for an evening to celebrate the completion of the Mondale Papers project and learn more about the Public Affairs Collections of the MHS. Speakers will talk about the importance of the Collection, and Mr. Mondale and Gary Eichten (of Minnesota Public Radio) will have a conversation about his life in public service.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Location: Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, MN.

Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Cost: FREE. Registration Required. Reserve tickets here: www.mnhs.org/mondaleevent

Call 651-259-3015 for more information

Please note:  All tickets will be held at will call 30 minutes prior to the event.  No tickets will be mailed.

Even if you can’t make the event, be sure to check out our new and improved Government, Politics, and Public Affairs page as well as the new Walter F. Mondale Collection page.

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Ded Uŋk’uŋpi—We Are Here Art Exhibit at the James J. Hill House http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/10/ded-unk%e2%80%99unpi%e2%80%94we-are-here-art-exhibit-at-the-james-j-hill-house/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/10/ded-unk%e2%80%99unpi%e2%80%94we-are-here-art-exhibit-at-the-james-j-hill-house/#comments Tue, 23 Oct 2012 14:29:42 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=10059 Ded Uŋk’uŋpi—We Are Here art exhibit opened at the James J. Hill House last weekend. 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. On December 26th, 1862, 38 Dakota warriors were sentenced and hung as a result of the U.S./Dakota war.  This timely and important group exhibit features works by 20 Native American artists whose work responds to the legacy of these events.


Work by eight of the artists has been selected for purchase as part of the Minnesota Historical Society’s permanent collection. The painting above is titled “The Crow is to Die For!” by Dwayne Wilcox.

Featured Artists:
Joe Allen, Angela Babby, Karen Beaver, Todd Bordeaux, Julie Buffalohead, Avis Charley, Gordon Coons, Jim Denomie, Michael Elizondo Jr., Evans Flammond, Charles Her Many Horses, Dakota Hoska, Henry Payer, Charles Rencountre, James Star Comes Out, Maggie Thompson, Jodi Webster, Gwen Westerman, Dwayne Wilcox, Bobby Wilson

Dakota Artist and Scholar Gwen Westerman Wasicuna said the following about the exhibit:

“With a stunning mix of humor and anger, hope and despair, this collection expresses the array of complicated responses to a brutal history.  While the thirty-eight executed Dakota are prominent, other essential aspects of culture and tradition are also present, including the strength of Dakota women, the role of horses and honor, and the ever-present landscape of the homeland. Whether incorporating new interpretations of traditional forms of beadwork, winter counts, and horse masks, or employing diverse contemporary techniques in glass, found objects, and photography, the messages here are as diverse as the artists themselves.  The stories depicted contribute to a broader understanding of the impact of these historical events and the power of art to tell a difficult story.  Abstract, realistic, and representational, these pieces help us see the transformative capacity of trauma and healing, destruction and regeneration, and above all, representation and memory.”

This exhibit will be on view during Hill House hours until January 13, 2013.

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Remembering the “Happy Warrior” – Hubert H. Humphrey Digitization Project http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/08/remembering-the-happy-warrior-hubert-h-humphrey-digitization-project/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/08/remembering-the-happy-warrior-hubert-h-humphrey-digitization-project/#comments Wed, 22 Aug 2012 15:49:36 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=9385

In this election year, we have an opportunity to look back at one of the greatest statesman produced by Minnesota: Hubert H. Humphrey.

Thanks to a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission) we are working on digitizing all of Humphrey’s speeches. He was well-known as a fantastic orator. When complete, this project will provide a tremendous resource for students of all ages as well as people interested in the politics and history of our state and nation.

The intent with this project is to update the finding aid with those speech texts that have been digitized each month.  People can look forward to the 1941-1947 speeches being available this September.

Learn more:

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Railroad Inventories: On Track and On Line! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/07/railroad-inventories-on-track-and-on-line/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/07/railroad-inventories-on-track-and-on-line/#comments Mon, 23 Jul 2012 14:15:05 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=8971

Together, the Northern Pacific and Great Northern manuscript collections make the Minnesota Historical Society one of the great centers for railroad research in the entire nation. Acquisitioned in December 1968 and October 1972, the Northern Pacific and Great Northern railroads, respectively, became two of the largest collections that the Society houses. An astounding number of records have been processed and conserved in the intervening time, leading to thousands of boxes, volumes, and drawings being made accessible for research purposes.

The availability of inventories for these collections has, until recently, only been available in the Society’s reading room, but now you can explore the multitude of records on line! Documenting all facets of the railroads’ development and the communities they served, these finding aids allow for more convenient browsing, faster searching, and the discovery of related materials that may have been overlooked before.

That’s right! Minneapolis to Minot, Grand Forks to Great Falls, and Sand Point to Seattle, all stops along the railroad to research are now available on line. Travel the rails to Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, finagle your way through financial records, peruse photographs, consider correspondence, muse over maps, delve into drawings, bring blueprints to bear, and inspect indexes. We’re not just blowing steam here, take a look for yourself, and come explore the history of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads:

Great Northern: http://www.mnhs.org/library/findaids/00901.xml

Northern Pacific: http://www.mnhs.org/library/findaids/01010.xml

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Colt Army Model 1860 Revolver Owned By Mathew Marvin http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/07/colt-army-model-1860-revolver-owned-by-mathew-marvin/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/07/colt-army-model-1860-revolver-owned-by-mathew-marvin/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2012 19:14:45 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=6757

In October 2011, the Minnesota Historical Society acquired this Colt Army Model 1860 revolved used by Mathew Marvin of Company K in the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. A native of upstate New York, Marvin made his way to Winona, Minnesota, in 1859, where he clerked in a store. At the outset of the Civil War, he was among the first to enlist at Fort Snelling in April 1861.

Marvin’s military career was mixed. While he rose through the ranks from Private to First Sergeant, he also suffered three wounds. The first was in battle at First Bull Run, the second was in camp due to an accidental discharge from another soldier’s gun, and the third occured during the 1st Minnesota’s celebrated charge at Gettysburg. That wound, caused when a bullet passed through the length of his foot, effectively ended his service and troubled him for the remainder of his life. After recuperating with his parents in Illinois, Marvin eventually returned to Winona, where he was active in veterans’ affairs. He died, at age 64, in 1903, and was buried in Winona’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

Marvin’s revolver passed on to his daughter, Mabel, who in turn gave it to a collector shortly before her own death in 1955. The collector took it with him to Nebraska, where it was auctioned this past fall. Now the gun not only returns to Minnesota, but also joins Mathew Marvin’s frock coat, canteen, personal papers and diaries, already in the Society’s collections. It’s a magnificent addition, and all the more fitting as we commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Matt Anderson
Former Objects Curator

Learn More

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Midwest Antiquarian Book Fair is Coming! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/06/midwest-antiquarian-book-fair-coming/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/06/midwest-antiquarian-book-fair-coming/#comments Wed, 20 Jun 2012 20:19:38 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=8662 The Midwest Antiquarian Booksellers Association’s 22nd Annual Twin Cities Book Fair will be held on Friday, June 29, 2012 and on Saturday, June 30, 2012 in the Progress Center Building located at the Minnesota State Fair grounds in St. Paul, Minnesota. More than 60 Booksellers from 15 states will be offering for sale antiquarian, rare, and fine books, maps, ephemera and other paper collectibles.

Minnesota Historical Society members are invited to enjoy refreshments and hear the Library of Congress Lessing J. Rosenwald curator, Dan De Simone, speak.  De Simone has been at the Library of Congress since January 2000; previously, he ran his own rare book company in NYC. Over the past 35 years he has developed expertise in antiquarian bibliography, illustrated books, 18th-century French and Italian books, and 18th-century Irish books.

It is also an opportunity to help build the fantastic Minnesota Historical Society’s Library Collection! This world-renowned collection is continually evolving and now is your chance to be part of it. Gifts up to $ 5,000 will be matched dollar for dollar!

To learn more about this exciting event, visit 2012bookfairwishlist.

If you are not a member yet, there is still time to join and attend!

Hope to see you there!

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History Happy Hour at the Ramsey House next Thursday! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/06/history-happy-hour-at-the-ramsey-house-next-thursday/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/06/history-happy-hour-at-the-ramsey-house-next-thursday/#comments Thu, 07 Jun 2012 20:01:26 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=8514

Who was Ignatius Donnelly? He was a U.S. Congressman, populist writer and amateur scientist, but today he’s just as well known for his theories on Atlantis, Catastrophism and Shakespearean authorship. Get to know him at next Thursday’s History Happy Hour at the Alexander Ramsey House. Reserve your tickets today!

Who is Patrick Coleman? Acquisitions Librarian at MHS, avid canoer, and Donnelly enthusiast. He’ll be the one regaling you with stories of Donnelly and old Saint Paul.

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Očhéthi Šakówiŋ – The Seven Council Fires web site is now live! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/05/ochethi-sakowin-%e2%80%93-the-seven-council-fires-web-site-live/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/05/ochethi-sakowin-%e2%80%93-the-seven-council-fires-web-site-live/#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 16:52:42 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=8158

For over a decade the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) has been digitizing collections materials for the purposes of increasing accessibility, supporting research, and preserving original materials. The Očhéthi Šakówiŋ – The Seven Council Fires digitization project expanded to include additional goals. Sought by Dakota individuals who wanted increased access and understanding of the Dakota material culture in the MHS collections, a new level of transparency was achieved. By using the WOTR (Write On The Record) tool to record feedback and comments MHS steps back and shares authority in interpreting this material. Both MHS and Dakota communities will benefit from this partnership as information about these items is dramatically enhanced.

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New Library Home Page! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/03/new-library-home-page/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/03/new-library-home-page/#comments Mon, 05 Mar 2012 21:44:27 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=7543


We have a new Library homepage!

www.mnhs.org/library


We got rid of some out-of-date things, added some new how-tos to empower users, and cleaned up the layout. Access to our tools and information is still there, hopefully in a more user friendly format. The ability to easily change the Featured Item and Library News will make our communications to patrons as timely as possible.

Take a look!

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Beyond the Doughboy: Minnesota Mascots in the Library Lobby! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/02/beyond-the-doughboy-minnesota-mascots-in-the-library-lobby/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/02/beyond-the-doughboy-minnesota-mascots-in-the-library-lobby/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2012 22:47:14 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=7239

If you’ve seen and loved the Beyond the Doughboy: Minnesota Mascots podcast, then be sure not to miss the corresponding exhibit in the Library Lobby!
Pieces from the podcast and more will be on view now through the end of March.
Keep it real, Gophers!

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Contact at a distance: 3D models of collections http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/01/contact-at-a-distance-3d-models-of-collections/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2012/01/contact-at-a-distance-3d-models-of-collections/#comments Thu, 05 Jan 2012 18:10:17 +0000 Lizzie Ehrenhalt http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=5871 There’s nothing quite like handling a historic artifact.  Turning over an object in your hands, tracing its shape and testing its weight, you’re free to focus on any detail that grabs your interest, from the lace on a debutante’s glove to the rust on a blacksmith’s tongs.  You can hold it out at arm’s length to see how it reflects light at different angles, then pull it in close to examine surface details.  Handling an object offers an immediate sense of how it was used by its owners, and of its function (or lack of function) in everyday life.  Above all, it creates intimacy–a kind of communion between person and thing that can inspire curiosity, empathy, and awe.

Connecting people and things in an intimate way is one of the core duties of history museums.  But for most institutions, letting visitors handle more than a carefully-chosen sliver of their artifact collections isn’t practical.  Frequent handling can damage an object in a matter of days.  And even the sturdiest relics are out of reach for would-be handlers who live too far away to visit them.

What, then, can museums do to recreate the miracle of contact at a distance?  To encourage handling without the wear-and-tear?  Digital photographs in online catalogs do a great deal, but they have limits.  Take this picture of a Dakota tobacco pouch, for example.

Beaded leather tobacco pouch

It’s a fine image; you can see the intricate seed bead and porcupine quill panels, the water damage to the buckskin shell and even, if you zoom in, the beads trimming the lip of the opening.  But what does the pouch look like when you flip it over?   How deep is the pocket?  What would you see if you could stand it on its end and look inside–that is, if you could treat it like the three-dimensional object it is rather than as a two-dimensional picture?

Thanks to a collaboration between the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota, now you can.

Not too far from MHS, on its Minneapolis campus, the U of M houses a remarkable facility called the Evolutionary Anthropology Laboratory (EAL).  For years, the EAL has been using white light scanning technology to create three-dimensional models of primate bones, allowing anthropology students to conduct up-close research without harming the original specimens.  In 2009, EAL staff used this technology to scan a rare eighteenth century globe acquired by MHS, and in 2011 they returned to capture ten additional artifacts, including a telephone, a toy elephant, a pair of moccasins, a rifle, a knife sheath, a radio, two Civil War-era gowns and the tobacco pouch pictured above.  After several weeks of scanning sessions in the MHS photo lab and post-processing at the EAL, the models were complete.

3D models of each of these objects are now available via Collections Online, a searchable database of MHS artifacts.  Opening a model on your computer is easy and requires no special software–just a standard PDF viewer like Adobe Reader.  Here’s what to do.

1.  Click on any of the images above.  The Collections Online record of the object will display in a new tab or window.

2.  Click on the icon that looks like a page from a notebook.  The model should open inside your browser.

3.  Select an option from the 3D Tools menu to move the object in any way you’d like.  Choose from pan, zoom, spin, rotate, fly and walk functions.

From here, you’re free to explore the object at your own pace, and with your own motives.  Pan across the knife sheath from end to end.   Zoom into the radio’s dial to read its preset stations.  Rotate the gowns for a full appreciation of the silhouette created by Victorian corsets and crinolines.  And take another look at that tobacco pouch.

The seed bead panel on this side, as it turns out, is arranged in a completely different pattern.  Where the first side featured regular diagonal stripes, this pattern is more complex, with triangles and rectangles artfully arranged into a symmetrical grid.  It’s an important feature of the object that the original photograph hides, and that 3D artifact handling brings back to life.

-Lizzie Ehrenhalt, Collections Assistant

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Governor Swift’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/11/governor-swifts-1863-thanksgiving-proclamation/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/11/governor-swifts-1863-thanksgiving-proclamation/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2011 19:36:00 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=6163 Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1863

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. Quick, what first jumps to mind? Airport congestion? Turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie? Football? Doorbuster sales at department stores? These are Thanksgiving hallmarks to many of us. But when did Thanksgiving become a national holiday? The Pilgrims’ celebration at Plymouth Plantation in 1621 may well come to mind, but that predates nationhood.

The first official national Thanksgiving occurred during one of the United States’ darkest chapters: the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln—persuaded by a renowned female editor—did “invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next [i.e., 1863] as a day of thanksgiving and prayer to our beneficent Father . . . .” In a noteworthy coincidence of timing, America’s first official observance occurred exactly seven days after Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.

Prior to 1863, it was at a state’s discretion when (or whether) there was a day of Thanksgiving. The Minnesota Historical Society has several such proclamations as part of its gubernatorial collections. Now, the MHS has acquired Governor Henry A. Swift’s 1863 proclamation, which follows suit with Lincoln’s. In it, Swift highlights contemporary events—the Civil War, the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War, immigration, drought — in language that, to the modern reader, may seem occasionally brusque or even insensitive. Informed by a prevalent perspective in 1863, Swift’s proclamation now serves as documentary evidence to that perspective yet remains available for ongoing interpretation and analysis.

Christopher Welter, Collections Assistant

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When the Welfare of the Traveler Came First http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/11/when-the-welfare-of-the-traveler-came-first/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/11/when-the-welfare-of-the-traveler-came-first/#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2011 20:14:34 +0000 Pat Coleman http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=5986 Conoco Touraide, 1936Conoco Map of Glacier National Park

Remember when auto travel was romantic? Neither do we; so it was nice last month when a donor walked into the library with a reminder. Glenn Jaglowski brought us a pamphlet prepared by the Conoco Company in 1936 especially for his father, Alexander. The Jaglowski family lived in Hibbing, Minnesota and wanted to take a car camping trip to Glacier and Yellowstone Parks. Having a membership in the Conoco Travel Club allowed the Jaglowskis to request Conoco’s Travel Bureau to create a “Touraide,” an itinerary that included every piece of information they would need along the way. This included maps with highlighted routes, mileage charts, accommodations, narrative and photographic descriptions of the states the Jaglowskis would be traveling through, and perhaps most importantly, the locations of the Conoco gas stations along the way. Rubber stamped updates were added to the maps to warn the family that, for example, certain mountain passes are usually open by May 15th but it would be wise to call ahead and check. Fabulously, the donated Touraide included the triangular car window sticker identifying the Jaglowskis as Conoco Travel Club members. I have no doubt that they received an extra big smile from the gas station attendant while their gas was being pumped for them.

Patrick Coleman, Acquisitions Librarian

Northeastern Minnesota InformationConoco Travel Club Sticker

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The amazing journey of Herman the Duck http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/09/the-amazing-journey-of-herman-the-duck/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/09/the-amazing-journey-of-herman-the-duck/#comments Thu, 22 Sep 2011 17:45:37 +0000 Lizzie Ehrenhalt http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=5376 In the summer of 2010, the Minnesota Historical Society began an unprecedented effort to digitize its three-dimensional object collections. The ongoing project has led to the photography of an impressive range of artifacts–everything from matchbooks and tea cups to telescopes and Civil War battle flags. No two objects are photographed in exactly the same way, since they vary so widely in size, shape and age. A single object may consist of many different components, all of which must be put together before the picture can be taken. If the object is especially large, it must be brought to the photography studio, where the high ceiling and ample open space can accommodate even a life-size buffalo (taxidermied, of course). And if the object involves clothing, a mannequin must be found that can support its unique shape.

Such were the challenges posed by Herman the Duck, a six-piece, seven-foot tall mallard costume acquired by MHS in 1987. For decades, Herman served as the mascot of Minneapolis-based North Central Airlines, lending his image to the company’s distinctive flying duck logo. But it wasn’t until the 1980s, after North Central had changed its name to Republic Airlines, that Herman took on the outsize dimensions and larger-than-life personality embodied by the costume. Capturing that personality on camera involved a number of steps, and no small measure of behind-the-scenes collaboration.

Herman the Duck (1 of 6)

The process began in collections storage, where Herman rested in an array of disembodied parts.  Though sad for Herman, this arrangement is ideal for the long-term preservation of the costume’s individual elements.  A mannequin was selected that was both sturdy enough to hold up Herman’s body and narrow enough in the legs to fit into his tight stretch pants.  Webbed feet, pants, body and head were placed on the mannequin, and Herman sprang to life.

Herman the Duck (2 of 6)

Collections assistant Jason O. adjusted Herman’s scarf so it draped at just the right angle.  The costume also features an aviator’s cap and goggles, the better to show off Herman’s connection to Republic Airlines.

Herman the Duck (3 of 6)

Finally, Herman was ready for his flight to the photography studio.  Although it’s a relatively short trip, the rolling cart minimized impact on the objects, and maintained the costume’s position on the mannequin.

Herman the Duck (4 of 6)

The cart was wheeled into the studio and onto a paper backdrop.  Herman was ready for his close-up!

Herman the Duck (5 of 6)

Jason experimented with lighting options, camera settings and angles to achieve the perfect shot.  The result is a digital record of Herman in all his fully-fledged glory.

Herman the Duck (6 of 6)

[Keep an eye on this site; Herman may be on exhibit in the Library lobby in 2012.  We'll be sure to announce it here when it happens.]

Lizzie Ehrenhalt, Collections Assistant

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Beyond Fitz, Red, and Ole: Minnesota Literature in the 1920’s http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/09/beyond-fitz-red-and-ole-minnesota-literature-in-the-1920%e2%80%99s/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/09/beyond-fitz-red-and-ole-minnesota-literature-in-the-1920%e2%80%99s/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2011 21:33:06 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=5463 The Twenties were a very rich decade for local writers. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair (Red) Lewis, and O. E. Rolvaag all published a novel in 1920 and continued to do so throughout the decade. While the three of them remain in the cannon to this day, the Minnesota Historical Society has identified more than one hundred other novels by other Minnesota writers that received just as much attention at the time. These other writers and novels were widely reviewed and widely read when they were published. Predicting which books would still be in print and read 80 years after they were published would have been impossible.

Come see a selection of these beautiful, interesting books on display in the Library Lobby of the Minnesota Historical Society. The Library is free and open to the public. These will be on display until mid-November.

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1876 Northfield Bank Robbery Goes Digital http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/08/1876-northfield-bank-robbery-goes-digital/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/08/1876-northfield-bank-robbery-goes-digital/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2011 15:20:21 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=5196 YoungerSiblings

Seven minutes: that’s how long it took for the James-Younger gang’s Northfield bank robbery to fail utterly.  Since September 7, 1876, the foiled raid has been discussed and disputed repeatedly.  The Minnesota Historical Society maintains a significant cache of material—from first-person testimonies and reminiscences to government records—documenting the attempted robbery and its aftereffects.  Now, much of this material has been digitized and is accessible via the Web.

Cole Younger's account of the Northfield bank robbery, [1897], page 1 of 18.

One interesting item is Cole Younger’s first written account of the robbery, penned to aid in his subsequent parole effort.  Other items include southern Minnesota residents’ recollections and impressions of the gang, both before the event and after.  One woman, for instance, recalls how as a six-year-old she and her family observed the gang spend the night prior to the attempted robbery in a rural school outside of Red Wing—and includes a map of the farmstead and school.

“An Incident in the Career of the James Brothers,” as told to Mrs. Herbert W. Meyer, circa 1962, page 2 of 2.

Most of the material comes from official state records, which derive from the criminal trial, prison terms, and paroles/pardons of the Younger brothers.  The materials on whole have significant research value, but some items are of singular interest.  For instance, on January 8, 1902, Miss Alix J. Mueller wrote Governor Van Sant “a woman’s prayer for mercy to one whom she loves.”  Miss Mueller had met Cole’s younger brother Jim at the Stillwater State Prison about 1896, and a romance and engagement ensued.  Though Jim was paroled in 1901, he was precluded from entering into legally binding contracts—including marriage.  Miss Mueller entreated the governor’s assistance, yet her very words foretold the end: “For he is sorely stricken, and I am an invalid.”  No pardon being granted, Jim Younger committed suicide nine months later in St. Paul, and Alix Mueller died of tuberculosis about a year and a half later.  Partly as a result of his brother’s fate, Cole Younger was granted a conditional pardon in 1903.

Alix J. Mueller (St. Paul) to Governor Van Sant, January 8, 1902, pages 1 and 3 of 3.Alix Mueller Photo

There are other novel items as well.  Upon being released from prison, Jim and Cole Younger had to submit monthly parole reports.  These reports essentially acted as employment records, and the current employer was obliged to vouch for the report’s accuracy.  Coincidentally, one of these reports links Minnesota’s most famous bank robbery—the Northfield raid—to perhaps its most infamous crime era—the gangland 1930s.  In April 1902, Cole was working for St. Paul Police Chief John J. O’Connor, watching his homestead and laborers.  O’Connor had provided safe haven for criminals in St. Paul during his tenure, as long as they didn’t perpetrate their crimes within city limits. Though O’Connor retired in 1920, his system persisted, ultimately proving an inducement to the likes of John Dillinger and the Barker-Karpis gang.

Monthly parole report, [April 21, 1902].Cole Younger pardon certificate, 1903, front.

Digitization of this material was made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008.  Here follows the list of collections that contain digitized material about the attempted Northfield bank robbery:

Christopher Welter, Collections Assistant

Learn More:

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“Spirit of St. Louis” liqueur decanter http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/08/spirit-of-st-louis-liqueur-decanter/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/08/spirit-of-st-louis-liqueur-decanter/#comments Mon, 01 Aug 2011 18:45:48 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=4646 History’s milestones are commemorated in the most unusual ways. Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean is a prime example. Seemingly, no sooner had Lindy touched down at Le Bourget Airport than vendors were selling coins, pins, photos, models, and jewelry – along with anything else you can possibly imagine – to mark the historic flight. There are more than 250 of these souvenirs in the Minnesota Historical Society’s collection.

The most recent addition came to us earlier this summer. This ceramic crème de menthe decanter is in the form of a surprisingly detailed model of the Spirit of St. Louis. It was the third in a series commemorating “Famous Firsts” in aviation. (Other decanters included Wiley Post’s Winnie Mae, and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules military transport plane.) Produced 45 years after the flight, the bottle speaks to the lasting significance of – and popular interest in – Lindbergh’s feat.

Matt Anderson, Objects Curator

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Come See It – Civil War Display in Library Lobby http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/05/come-see-it-civil-war-display-in-library-lobby/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/05/come-see-it-civil-war-display-in-library-lobby/#comments Mon, 02 May 2011 22:03:16 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=3957 The 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first unit from any state pledged to fight for the Uni1st Minnesota Civil War drumon. As part of the Army of the Potomac, the 1st took part in many significant battles and campaigns including Bull Run, the Peninsula Campaign, Antietam, and Gettysburg.The Battle of Gettysburg was the 1st Minnesota’s finest hour, where it made a heroic charge that helped secure the Union victory. The regiment suffered heavy losses as a result.

Currently on display in the Library Lobby is a small sample of the Minnesota Historical Society’s objects, letters, and diaries carried through the war by members of this storied regiment. Also on display are some regimental histories from the Collection.

This small exhibit is just the tip of the iceberg; stop by to learn more about the resources available relating to the Civil War.

The exhibit is open during Library Hours until Labor Day.

Sword and Scabbard

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Charles W. Holman Collection Returns to Minnesota http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/04/charles-w-holman-collection-returns-to-minnesota/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/04/charles-w-holman-collection-returns-to-minnesota/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 19:35:38 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=3773 Holman Flight Certificate

The MHS is pleased to announce the acquisition of a collection of papers and memorabilia of Charles W. “Speed” Holman, famed aviator, first chief pilot of Northwest Airlines, and namesake of St. Paul’s downtown airport. Highlights of the collection include three licenses (1927-1928) signed by Orville Wright, a 1926 license to carry air mail for the United States Post Office, and Holman’s personal flight logbook covering his flights from December 5, 1929, to May 17, 1931. On that date Holman flew to Omaha, Nebraska, where he died in a horrific crash while performing at an air show before 20,000 spectators. Dozens of letters and telegrams document Holman’s international flights, the New York to Spokane air race that ensured his place in aviation history, and expressions of sympathy to his widow and Northwest Airways after his death. Famed World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker telegraphed “We grieve with you and Charles family in this hour of loss.” Other “personal” items document the purchase and sale of his Minneapolis home and include a life insurance policy, his 1927 income tax return, and his Northwest Airways business card.

The collection also includes artifacts from Holman’s life – a leather box for important documents inscribed with his name, his baby rattle and leather baby shoe spats, a leather wallet, license holders, and empty shell casings from the salute at his funeral, one of the largest held in St. Paul to that time.

The Society was able to acquire this collection with monies from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The collection will be available for research and viewing after it has been arranged and cataloged. Some of the documents will be digitized and available through the Society’s website.

Holman Collection

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Minnesota Originals http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/04/mhs-painting-collections-on-minnesota-originals/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/04/mhs-painting-collections-on-minnesota-originals/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2011 15:14:02 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=3558

Curator of Art Brian Szott was on a recent episode of the tpt series Minnesota Originals discussing the fabulous art collection. Click on the logo below to watch.

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Winter on the Hill http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/02/winter-on-the-hill/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/02/winter-on-the-hill/#comments Mon, 28 Feb 2011 16:32:27 +0000 Adam Harris http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=3185 Winter on the Hill

Each year, the staff of the James J. Hill House, 240 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, presents a display of historic Winter Carnival memorabilia in the Music Room of the house.  The display coincides with the Winter Carnival in St. Paul, and provides a view into the past, highlighting the involvement of the Hill Family in the Carnival and winter sports activities.  The display showcases examples of the breadth and depth of the Society’s collections which includes items representing 125 years of Carnival history.

000_0002Winter on the Hill

The objects in the display date from 1887, the second year of the Winter Carnival, to 1917 when Louis Hill was involved with its revival.  The lap robe and snow shoes belonged to James J. and Mary Hill, respectively.   The objects inside the case are ephemera from Carnivals in 1887, 1888, and 1916, and are a good representation of graphic and advertising styles from those years.  They also document early St. Paul businesses marketing Carnival souvenirs.

Paul Storch, Collections Liaison, Historic Sites and Museums Division

Winter on the HillWinter on the HillWinter on the Hill

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Frank Lloyd Wright Arrested in Minnesota! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/01/frank-lloyd-wright-arrested-in-minnesota/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/01/frank-lloyd-wright-arrested-in-minnesota/#comments Mon, 31 Jan 2011 22:43:43 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=2988 Jail Register Close Up, Hennepin County,1926

In October 1926, the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, was arrested by Hennepin County Sheriff deputies in Minnetonka for allegedly violating the Mann Act.  Mr. Wright’s arrest and detention in the Hennepin County Jail is documented in a jail register of the Hennepin County Sheriff, and is one of several jail registers preserved in the State Archives of the Minnesota Historical Society.

A Jail Register is a chronological record of individuals committed to a county or municipal jail. They include arrest and discharge information, name of prisoner and occasionally biographical data, name of officer making the arrest, and the nature of the crime, charges, and sentence.  Unfortunately, the jail registers are not indexed by name, so it can be a challenge to locate a person who was in jail, unless you have a relatively specific date.

According to Mr. Wright’s jail register entry, he was 58 years old, had green eyes, brown hair, and a fair complexion.  Mr. Wright was held for the U.S. Marshal’s Office, committed to the jail on October 21, 1926, and released the next day to the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

The arrest of Frank Lloyd Wright was the lead story in the Minneapolis Tribune on October 21, 1926.

Charles Rodgers, Government Records Specialist

Jail Register Interior, Hennepin County,1926Jail Register, Hennepin County,1926

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Lifetouch Micro-Z Camera http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/01/lifetouch-micro-z-camera/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2011/01/lifetouch-micro-z-camera/#comments Fri, 14 Jan 2011 17:01:51 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=2868 Lifetouch Micro-Z CameraEach day, schools across the country use Minnesota products, be they Big G cereals or Scotch tape. One company, however, comes to class just once a year. Since 1936, Eden Prairie-based Lifetouch Inc. has been photographing students on school picture day. From its start in the Depression-era schoolhouses of rural Minnesota, the company now takes more than 30 million portraits each year, from pre-schoolers to high-schoolers.

The company’s growth fostered a number of noteworthy advancements in photography, and few were as important as the Micro-Z camera. Introduced in 1980, the Micro-Z increased efficiency and streamlined photo processing. The innovative camera featured a double-reflex zoom lens, automatic light calibration, a motorized pedestal, and a failure alarm system to alert the photographer if something was wrong. Most significantly, the Micro-Z’s computerized data recorder registered date, package type, and subject information directly onto the film negative via a barcode, making it much easier to match the photo with the student’s paperwork.

The durable Micro-Z remained in service for some 25 years and photographed untold millions of students. (This curator has fond memories of posing for Micro-Zs throughout the 1980s.) We are grateful to Lifetouch Inc. for donating this example, together with a TruView camera (used in department store portrait studios), technical manuals, and reminiscences from the people who developed and used this remarkable camera.

Matt Anderson, Objects Curator

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Colt Baby Dragoon Revolver Owned By Alexander Ramsey http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/12/colt-baby-dragoon-revolver-owned-by-alexander-ramsey/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/12/colt-baby-dragoon-revolver-owned-by-alexander-ramsey/#comments Fri, 10 Dec 2010 19:50:50 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=2372 Model 1848 Colt Baby Dragoon

It’s remarkable that truly unique objects continue to surface. Such is the case with this handgun recently donated by a member of the North Star Circle. The weapon belonged to Minnesota politician Alexander Ramsey, and it dates to our earliest territorial days.

The gun is a Model 1848 Colt Baby Dragoon. The five-shot, .31 caliber, percussion cap revolver represents Colt’s first foray into the civilian market. While the military Dragoon was designed for cavalry forces, the “Baby” Dragoon was scaled down for easy portability and concealment. It should be no surprise that a practical civilian handgun was a big seller in an age of westward expansion and pre-war anxiety. More than 350,000 Dragoons were sold before production ended in 1873.

One of those buyers was Alexander Ramsey. Appointed Minnesota’s first territorial governor in 1849, Ramsey likely purchased the gun for personal protection on the northwest frontier. While we have no record of the governor taking part in gunfights, wear on the revolver suggests that it has been fired. Ramsey carefully preserved the gun, along with its leather-covered wooden case, a powder charger, a bullet mold, and a wrench for extracting spent percussion caps.

For years after Ramsey’s death in 1903, the Baby Dragoon sat in his bedroom closet in St. Paul, alongside a more ornamental pair of dueling pistols. Ramsey’s granddaughters sold the Dragoon in the early 1960s. The dueling pistols came to the Minnesota Historical Society (along with the Ramsey House itself) after the governor’s last granddaughter passed away in 1964.

With the Baby Dragoon now in the Society’s collection, Alexander Ramsey’s guns will be reunited for the first time in 50 years. It’s a most exciting addition to our holdings.

Matt Anderson
Objects Curator

Learn More

Model 1848 Colt Baby Dragoon and accessories

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Minnesota Sheet Music Collection http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/12/minnesota-sheet-music-collection/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/12/minnesota-sheet-music-collection/#comments Thu, 02 Dec 2010 20:16:25 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=2369 Minnesota shake down

Over the years the Minnesota Historical Society has collected the sheet music that documents Minnesota’s musical heritage. This month sees the publication of a new sheet music finding aid; two others were published over the summer. Many of the pieces of music in these collections have been digitized and can be viewed from their finding aids.

Do you feel like singing a rousing chorus of Rah! Rah! Ski-u-mah! for the University of Minnesota football team, cutting a rug with the Minnesota Cadet Lancers , or calling the steps for the Minnesota Shake-Down?

Ski-U-Mah

Or browse through all three finding aids for a tuneful reminder of Minnesota’s past at:

Collection of Songs and Music about Minnesota Places, Institutions, Businesses, and Themes

Collection of Songs and Music by Minnesota Composers

Collection of Songs and Music by Minnesota Women Composers

The digitization of this portion of the Minnesota Sheet Music Collection was funded in part by a grant from the Bean Family Fund for Business History.

Sarah Quimby, Library Processing Manager

Minnesota cadet lancers

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“3 Merry Widows” Tin http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/11/3-merry-widows-tin/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/11/3-merry-widows-tin/#comments Tue, 16 Nov 2010 15:53:58 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1984 Sometimes the smallest objects are the most interesting. This little tin canister, measuring 1 5/8 inches in diameter and 5/8 inch deep, was discovered buried in a yard off of St. Paul’s West Seventh Street. In fact, it was found along with nearly 70 other identical tins. Now, finding 70 of anything in a yard is unusual, but these are no mere containers. No, these tins once held condoms.

“3 Merry Widows” was a popular brand of prophylactic in the early 20th Century, and this aluminum container probably dates to the 1920s or 1930s. Latex condoms didn’t take over the market until the 1930s, so the three “widows” once contained inside may have been of the older cement rubber variety. While the thicker rubber condoms had their disadvantages, they were more durable, and could even be reused.

The donor, having found so many of these items near her house, naturally wondered if her neighborhood once hosted a bordello. The location – half-way between downtown St. Paul and Fort Snelling – certainly would have been convenient. Unfortunately, a search through the Society’s library was inconclusive. (But really, those businesses weren’t the type to be listed in city directories!) We might speculate that the tin came from a brothel, but we won’t state it as fact, just to be safe – like the tin’s original owner.

Matt Anderson
Objects Curator

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Contemporary Quilts at the James J. Hill House Gallery http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/10/contemporary-quilts-at-the-james-j-hill-house-gallery/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/10/contemporary-quilts-at-the-james-j-hill-house-gallery/#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2010 20:04:08 +0000 Adam Harris http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=2167

Minnesota enjoys a long and continuous history of quiltmaking. The quilts in this exhibition can be viewed as contemporary expressions with historical roots. The talented artists whose work is seen here were inspired by landscape, historic figures, current events, or other traditional textiles. We see the versatility of textiles that we call quilts, as the artform continues to be both an outlet for artistic expression and recognition of women’s needlework traditions.

The Society’s quilt collection numbers over 350 quilts dating from the mid-eighteenth century to the present. The quilts on view here are not representative of the types of quilts found in the Minnesota Historical Society’s collection, but reflect twenty-five years of collecting contemporary Minnesota quilts. The quilt collection is available on the Society’s website at http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/.

This exhibition is one of several organized to coincide with The American Quilt Study Group’s annual seminar held in the Twin Cities between October 14-17, 2010. This event brings quilt enthusiasts and scholars together to view quilts from new perspectives, discuss aspects of women’s and cultural history, and learn the latest in documentation and research.

Thanks to MHS volunteers who helped prepare the quilts for exhibition:  Jeannette Root and Dorothy Stish. Judy Calcote, Stephanie Drinkard and Laura Oyen deserve thanks for their research and cataloging assistance. A special thanks to Nancy Eha for lending us her most recent quilt.

For local guild information, contact Minnesota Quilters, Inc. at http://www.mnquilt.org/ or Minnesota Contemporary Quilters at http://www.minnesotacontemporaryquilters.net/.

The exhibit is on display at the James J. Hill House from October 2, 2010- March 1, 2011. Click here for more information.

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Echoes of Fitzgerald http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/10/echoes-of-fitzgerald/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/10/echoes-of-fitzgerald/#comments Wed, 20 Oct 2010 14:38:26 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=2150 Scribner's 1931

One of our favorite donors just dropped off the November 1931 issue of “Scribner’s Magazine.” Not something we would normally be interested in, this issue has a lead article by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Titled “Echoes of the Jazz Age,” the text may ring familiar to baby boomers too. Fitz admits that in ’31 it is too early to write about the Jazz Age “with perspective” but goes on to do so. He writes, “Now once more the belt is tight and we summon the proper expression of horror as we look back at our wasted youth.”

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F. Scott Fitzgerald Exhibit Open http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/09/f-scott-fitzgerald-exhibit-open/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/09/f-scott-fitzgerald-exhibit-open/#comments Wed, 22 Sep 2010 15:00:52 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1945

While the literary scene in Minnesota during the 1920s reached a fevered pitch, no author has withstood the passage of time like Saint Paul’s very own F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The MHS Library holds important research collection of his early work, popular editions, foreign language editions, magazine work, criticism, and some unique manuscripts.

Come see some of these items on display in the Library Lobby, which is free and open to the public. We encourage you to browse this exhibit and to come back soon to read the work of our most – hands down – important writer.

This will be on view September 21 to January 16, 2011.

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Enhancing Access to MHS Archival Collections http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/09/enhancing-access-to-mhs-manuscript-collections/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/09/enhancing-access-to-mhs-manuscript-collections/#comments Tue, 21 Sep 2010 10:42:37 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1907 Manuscript Backlog 2010

NHPRC

The Minnesota Historical Society is pleased to announce its receipt of a Basic Project grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) which will significantly support a $500,000, 18-month project to process the Society’s unprocessed archival collections. The project targets a 4,600 cubic foot aggregation of government records and manuscript acquisitions which are largely hidden from our audiences. By arranging and describing these collections and series to generally accepted minimal standards, using economical practices that are now well tested, we expect to make our archival holdings web-discoverable, and to drive reading room use at MHS significantly.  Beginning October 18th, the project will become the focus of the archival processing staff’s work through 2011. Project staff expect to produce or revise at least 500 MARC21 catalog records and 300 EAD finding aids over the course of the project. A retrieval analysis of archival materials has been underway for the past year and will be used to help evaluate the audience impact of rapidly exposing more archival materials to web-scale discovery and access. We are grateful to the NHPRC for giving us this opportunity to get our backlog off the pallets, onto the stack shelves, and into the audience discovery space.

Watch our progress by visiting the What’s New finding aids page! Discover what old treasures are newly available each month.

Web Accessible Finding Aids

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Redwork http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/08/redwork/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/08/redwork/#comments Fri, 20 Aug 2010 12:04:56 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1824 Shevlin Redwork - DeerShevlin Redwork - Bird Bath

Linda McShannock, objects curator, recently brought to the Acquisitions Committee a Redwork embroidered bed cover which was subsequently added to the Society’s Collection. Redwork is an embroidery style prominent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries  and is currently experiencing a resurgence of interest.

This is a signature spread made by the “Busy Bees” of Shevlin, Minnesota in 1908.  Each block was individually made and contains a different motif surrounded by family names. The designs are a sampling of embroidery motifs readily available and often used for tea towels, aprons or dresser scarves. Before acquiring this spread, the Collection contained only a small sample of Redwork, mostly towels; this is unusual and exciting because of its size and provenance.  The quilt came from the Olaf Olson family of Shevlin.  Often signature quilts were made for a fundraising purpose within the community, we may not know why the “Busy Bees” made this spread, but their embroidery preserves a moment in Shevlin’s history.

Shevlin Redwork - Whole

View of Shevlin, 1915.Shevlin, 1915

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Brenda Ueland and Sinclair Lewis http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/07/brenda-ueland-and-sinclair-lewis/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/07/brenda-ueland-and-sinclair-lewis/#comments Fri, 30 Jul 2010 09:46:26 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1793 Brenda Ueland

A recent addition to the papers of Brenda Ueland (1891-1985), Minneapolis feminist, diarist, and author, includes extensive family correspondence, a childhood diary, and correspondence from literary and political figures.  A new inventory to the entire collection is available on the Library web site. Embedded in the inventory are digital images of five letters from Sinclair Lewis, single letters from Langston Hughes, Eleanor Roosevelt and Carl Sandburg, and an autograph card of Henrik Ibsen.  In an especially poignant letter of February 27, 1942, Sinclair Lewis writes:

“I’ve for years thought that I’d like really to live in Minnesota.  I wish I had one small root in some one solid area….Now that I’m fifty-seven (though only for 20 days have I been in that horribly advanced age) and practically grown-up, I ought to do something serious about this root business….I love the hills of Connecticut, and hate the grudging people; I love the gay people of New York City, and hate the steel and cement prison corridors that are called streets. I think that some day, if I ever got settled down, I might become a novelist, and I am informed that that is a very fine and happy state of being!”

Thanks to cataloger Chris Welter and interns Shelby Edwards and Julia Weisgram, working under Monica Ralston’s direction, for enhancing access to this important manuscript collection.

Duane Swanson, Curator of Manuscripts

Letter from Lewis to Ueland

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Oh, Canada! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/06/oh-canada/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/06/oh-canada/#comments Fri, 25 Jun 2010 11:44:45 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1727 Canadian and American border patrols

The Minnesota Historical Society Library has opened a new exhibit of Canadiana from our Library Collection in celebration of 40 years of the Canadian Consulate in Minneapolis! Our state and Canada share many cultural similarities, some common history, and, of course, a border. It will be on view until September. Come take a look, eh?

Canadian Consulate in Minnesota

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Amelia Earhart Found in St. Paul! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/06/amelia-earhart-found-in-st-paul/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/06/amelia-earhart-found-in-st-paul/#comments Thu, 24 Jun 2010 15:55:29 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1691 Earhart newspaper clippings

Actually what happened to Amelia Earhart when she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean has never been solved, but some documents about Amelia Earhart were found in the records of the St. Paul school district.  Amelia Earhart attended Central High School as a junior during the 1913-1914 school year, and her family attended St. Clements Episcopal Church where she sang in the choir.  The documents include correspondence and memoranda (dated 1955-1956) about Amelia Earhart regarding a book the author, Jack Pitman, was writing about the world famous aviator.  Also donated were newspaper clippings (dated in the 1930s) primarily about Earhart’s aviation career.

Featured here is a memo written by Central High School librarian, Laurie C. Johnson, describing Amelia as “an attractive, friendly, red-haired teenager-not at all unlike her friends”.  Also, a newspaper clipping with a story about Amelia’s brief residence in St. Paul, along with a photograph of Amelia in the St. Clement’s church choir.

Description of Amelia EarhartAmelia Earhart at Central High School

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Five year fireman’s certificate http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/04/five-year-firemans-certificate/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/04/five-year-firemans-certificate/#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 14:08:47 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1602 Minneapolis Firemen's Certificate

According to legislation passed in 1873, Minneapolis firemen who had served five years as active firefighters were entitled to be exempt from jury duty and from paying the poll tax (a requirement for voting).  This fancy certificate testified that Patrick Daly had served his five years and therefore was exempt from these obligations.  Patrick Daly had been born in Ireland in April 1836, had lived in Australia and New Zealand, and emigrated to Minneapolis in 1870.  In addition to his stint as a firefighter, he served as a liquor dealer and a policeman, attaining the rank of Captain.  He died in April 1887 and is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Minneapolis.

The Society has an existing collection of Patrick Daly papers to which this new item will be added.

Duane Swanson, Curator of Manuscripts

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Images from the Walter F. Mondale Papers http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/04/images-from-the-walter-f-mondale-papers/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/04/images-from-the-walter-f-mondale-papers/#comments Thu, 01 Apr 2010 15:14:31 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1589 Walter Mondale in Office

KSTP-TV photo editor Skip Nelson shoots from an unusual angle in the office of Senator Walter Mondale in Washington, D.C. while filming the Channel 5 documentary “Mondale of Minnesota.”

What’s New?  We’re thrilled to feature hundreds of never-before-seen photographs from the Walter F. Mondale Papers now available online.  Walter Frederick (“Fritz”) Mondale, a native Minnesotan, spent most of his life in public service, at the state, national, and international levels. This selection of images from his papers offers exciting new looks at his life and political career.  Included are the work, travels, people, places, and events that shaped his experience and that of the country during the latter twentieth century.

These newly cataloged photographs are part of a larger project to process the Walter F. Mondale Papers.  The project was funded in part with a two-year grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A valuable component of the Society’s extensive public affairs collections, the Walter F. Mondale papers document Mondale’s service as United States Senator from Minnesota (1964-1976), Vice President of the United States (1977-1981), presidential candidate (1984), Ambassador to Japan (1993-1996), and Special Envoy to Indonesia (1998). Along with his official records as state Attorney General (1960-1964, also held here in the Minnesota State Archives), the papers cover Mondale’s six-decade career, including all of his public offices, campaigns, and Democratic Party and other non-official activities. In addition to the breadth they add to the Society’s public affairs collections, the Walter F. Mondale Papers now enrich the Society’s photograph collection. By highlighting almost 500 images from the more than 7,000 contained in his papers, we deepened the political and governmental content of our Photo & Art Database and provided you greater access to the story of this important Minnesotan.

Walter Mondale’s wife Joan is also an integral part of the story.  An artist and craftswoman with many ties to the arts community, Joan Mondale was appointed ambassador for the arts during the Carter administration. She carried out numerous functions aimed at raising the public profile of art and artists and served as honorary chair of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities–the first time a vice presidential spouse was given a specific role and duties. We feature several photographs of her activities as well.

What else can be seen in these newly visible images?  Not surprisingly, there are insights to Walter Mondale’s work with a variety of constituents across the country, key political leaders through the decades, international initiatives, local communities, and national events.  We also catch a glimpse of celebrities, holidays, family and leisure activities. We encourage you to explore the selection, reminisce, gain new insights and enjoy!

Diane Adams-Graf, Curator

Mondale Family, 1965

Mondales, Walter, William, Joan, Eleanor and Ted

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Camp Fire Centennial Display http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/03/1581/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/03/1581/#comments Wed, 31 Mar 2010 21:29:59 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1581 Keep faith with youth - Camp Fire Girls

Camp Fire celebrates 100 years of building caring, confident youth and future leaders this year.  Started in 1910 by Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick and his wife, Charlotte Vetter Gulick, Camp Fire has grown from a small camp for girls to a national organization welcoming and empowering all children and youth. Today, Camp Fire USA Minnesota Council connects children and youth with nature and helps them learn and grow in their own communities. To learn more about Camp Fire in Minnesota, visit their website at: www.campfireusa-mn.org.

Materials from the Minnesota Historical Society’s Collections, in addition to pieces from Camp Fire’s own historic collection, allow visitors to see many aspects of Camp Fire life. It is a great opportunity to revisit some of these wonderful pieces; it is fun to see what has changed over time and what has stayed the same.

This display in the Library Lobby will be up through June 16, 2010.

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Secretary of State Record Book, Volume I http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/03/secretary-of-state-record-book-volume-i/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/03/secretary-of-state-record-book-volume-i/#comments Tue, 23 Mar 2010 16:08:25 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1553 MN Secretary of State Record Book, Volume 1Interior Minnesota Secretary of State Record Book

Recently received from the Secretary of State’s office is a particularly valuable record book dating back to the early days of Minnesota statehood.  In many ways the Secretary of State is the “official record keeper” for the State of Minnesota, and this record book reflects that important function.  The record book, entitled “Official Letters, Communications and Railroad Liens”, is dated from May 1858 to June 1879, and contains copies of important documents received for filing, or sent by the Secretary of State’s office.

Noteworthy documents and topics include articles of incorporations of Minnesota companies;  commitments of individuals to the Iowa Insane Asylum in Mt. Pleasant;  memorials such as the establishment of mail service;  donation of lands and money to aid in railroad construction; removal of Winnebago Indians; compensation for losses by Indian depredations; a commission to investigate the management of Indian affairs; the extension of the pension Law of 1861-1862 to the “sufferers of the Sioux Raid” ;  adoption of the State Seal;  joint resolutions endorsing Andrew Johnson’s impeachment; appointments and resignations of officials; and notices of elections.  The record book is indexed, and is Volume 1 of a set of volumes that date through 1942.

Charles Rodgers, Government Records Specialist

Minnesota Secretary of State Record Book

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People, Places, Things: Selections from the Permanent Collection http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/03/people-places-things-selections-from-the-permanent-collection/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/03/people-places-things-selections-from-the-permanent-collection/#comments Fri, 12 Mar 2010 20:57:49 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1544 red wing

On view at the Hill House Gallery through September, 2010

This exhibition is an opportunity to showcase fine work from the Society’s vast collection of art by and about Minnesota. Focusing on our strengths in portraiture and landscapes the show features portraits of such notable Minnesotans as Alexander Ramsey and artist Stanford Fenelle as well as such iconic locations Minnehaha Falls, Swede Hollow and Red Wing, Minnesota. The exhibition also highlights our small, yet exquisite, collection of still life paintings. Well known Minnesota artists such as Cameron Booth, Mike Lynch, Paul Kramer and Clara Mairs are included in People, Places, Things.

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Cases of Fun – Norton & Peel Photograph Collection http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/02/cases-of-fun-%e2%80%93-norton-peel-photograph-collection/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/02/cases-of-fun-%e2%80%93-norton-peel-photograph-collection/#comments Wed, 24 Feb 2010 22:13:52 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1510 Toyland Department, Dayton’s, Minneapolis, 1940

Toyland Department, Dayton’s, Minneapolis, 1940

Take a look at the new finding aid for the Norton & Peel Photograph Collection! Would you like to see an image of a chimpanzee in Longfellow Gardens, taken in 1915?  Perhaps you’re renovating an historic building on University Avenue and looking for construction elements?  Maybe you’re a collector of fire trucks and want to study vehicle details?  Do you have an interest in 1950s department store window displays? The Norton & Peel Photograph Collection has it all: find it using the new finding aid.  Descriptions of nearly 20,000 images, photo albums and card files are available in this searchable list.

Norton & Peel was a commercial photography studio operating in Minneapolis from 1886-1969. Photographers Walter Norton and Clifford Peel both worked for the studio’s predecessor, C. J. Hibbard, for a number of years before forming their own business and buying Hibbard’s studio in 1928. Their purchase included Hibbard’s 75,000 negatives and equipment. For a time, they referred to themselves as the Norton, Peel & Hibbard Studio, but eventually dropped the Hibbard name. Both firms were among the best in Minnesota and had a reputation for high quality images. During their time, Norton & Peel took over 300,000 photographs, mostly in the Twin Cities metro area.

C. J. Hibbard arrived in Minneapolis in 1885 and soon after pursued his interest in photography, first as a hobby and then as a profession. From 1899-1903 he was the botany photographer at the University of Minnesota; later he traveled to Cuba for business and to Harvard for assignment. His specialty, though, was commercial photography. Clifford Peel studied photography at school, took aerial photographs with the Army Signal Corps in WWI, and worked for a portrait photographer in Bemidji. He moved to Minneapolis in 1920 and was hired by Hibbard. Walter Norton had briefly worked for Hibbard before joining the service during WWI. After the war he continued his job at Hibbard’s Studio.

The Minnesota Historical Society acquired a portion of Norton & Peel, Inc. holdings in 1979. It includes negatives, photo albums, and client cards. A substantial portion of the negatives were printed by the Minnesota Historical Society.

The bulk of the Norton & Peel Photograph Collection is associated with Norton & Peel, but there are many taken by C. J. Hibbard, as well. Hibbard’s mark on the collection is his group of street scenes and building photos from Minneapolis. Norton and Peel’s studio continued Hibbard’s commercial focus and their views represent Twin Cities business exteriors, interiors, or products. To a lesser degree, views of landscapes, home exteriors, accident scenes (for insurance), and family events are included. A client card file created by Norton & Peel is included with the collection. The card file is keyed to the firm’s negative numbering system. The cards identify the negative, date, and for whom the image was made. A card file that serves as an index to addresses is also part of this collection, but it was created by the Minnesota Historical Society, not by Norton & Peel.

The new, online, searchable inventory, or finding aid, provides easy access to the collection’s deep, rich and expansive content. Take a look at whatever interests you!  Perhaps a Dunwoody Institute shop in 1940?  Sailing on Lake Calhoun?  Toyland in Dayton’s Department Store? The possibilities are endless!

Diane Adams-Graf, Sound and Visual Collections Curator

Learn More:

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Railway Post Office exam practice kit http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/01/railway-post-office-exam-practice-kit/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/01/railway-post-office-exam-practice-kit/#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2010 22:50:50 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1464 CaseInto the 1960s, much of the nation’s mail moved on railroads. Passenger trains carried Railway Post Office (RPO) cars equipped with sacks and slots that allowed clerks to sort mail en route. Sorted mail was delivered, and new letters were picked up, as the train passed through each town. It was complex work, and required a high degree of speed and accuracy. Clerks took regular examinations to keep their skills well-honed.

Sharp clerks practiced for their exams with kits like this one. It belonged to Richard Loida, a St. Paul-based postal clerk who made frequent RPO runs to Duluth and the Dakotas in the years after World War II. The kit consists of a wooden box, about the size of a briefcase, which opens to reveal slots labeled with primary railroad junctions; and a box of cards for each post office in Minnesota. Mr. Loida would practice placing the cards into the appropriate slots as quickly and correctly as he could. RPO clerks were required to sort as many as 600 pieces of mail per hour, and needed to score 97% to pass their exams. Needless to say, a little practice wasn’t a bad idea.

Matt Anderson, Objects CuratorCard

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Ice-skating! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/01/ice-skating/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2010/01/ice-skating/#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:40:46 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1480 Skating party, 1896

Minnesotans have long enjoyed the opportunity winter affords for outdoor recreation, especially of the ice variety. We have put together items relating to these icy entertainments, from Ice Follies to hockey to community skating. The display is on view in the Minnesota Historical Society Library when the Library is open, until mid-March. Come take a look, and perhaps get inspired to head out to the pond!

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Victorian Christmas http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/12/victorian-christmas/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/12/victorian-christmas/#comments Tue, 15 Dec 2009 19:17:15 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1440 Winter sledding scene

The turn of the century ushered in some of the most beautiful and elaborate examples of Christmas ornaments and cards.  Stop in to the Library Lobby and see cards, ornaments, and other decorations from holidays past. All pieces are from the Minnesota Historical Society’s Collection.

This display will be up until January 11, 2010.

Christmas greeting cardSanta image, 19th century

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Daguerreotype of St. Anthony Falls http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/12/daguerreotype-of-st-anthony-falls/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/12/daguerreotype-of-st-anthony-falls/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2009 04:46:15 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1433 Daguerreotype of St. Anthony Falls

The Minnesota Historical Society recently acquired a rare and historic quarter plate daguerreotype of the Falls of St. Anthony in Minnesota Territory, present day Minneapolis. The village of St. Anthony stood on the east side of the river and was a bustling area of settlement and industry by the mid-1850s when John W. Monell created this daguerreotype.

Daguerreotypes were mirror-like, one-of-a-kind photographs that first appeared in 1839 and peaked in popularity by 1856. These extremely fragile images on silvered copper plates were protected behind glass in attractive cases. This view of the waterfall is housed in its original case with a raised imprint on its velvet pad identifying the artist and location.

John W. Monell established his studio in St. Anthony in April 1854. The following year he won first prize at the Territorial Fair for his exhibit case of daguerreotype portraits and views of St. Anthony Falls, Minnehaha Falls, the Suspension Bridge, and other local sites. The view in this daguerreotype shows St. Anthony Falls from Hennepin Island. It is a variant of two similar views in the Society’s collections, taken by unidentified daguerreotypists. This perspective is from a position further back and shows a raised conveyance made of lumber, across the foreground.  It is likely a chute used for facilitating the handling of lumber, shingles, and other wood products as they were sent downstream well below the falls.

Funds from the Virginia Moe Endowment for Historic Photographs and Lila Goff Acquisitions Endowment made it possible to make this important purchase. It is a significant addition to the Minnesota Historical Society’s nationally-recognized collection of daguerreotypes of St. Anthony Falls and contributes to our earliest photographic history.

Diane Adams-Graf
Sound & Visual Curator
Learn More:

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Hazel Thorson Stoick Stoeckeler: A Retrospective http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/11/hazel-thorson-stoick-stoeckeler-a-retrospective/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/11/hazel-thorson-stoick-stoeckeler-a-retrospective/#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2009 22:10:36 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1380 Fish House, Lutsen

During her rich and varied career, Minneapolis-born Hazel Thorson Stoick Stoeckeler (b. 1918) has been an educator, designer, university professor and world traveler. Above all, one profession has remained constant over the last seven decades — visual artist.

This retrospective exhibit examines the artist’s career with over 40 works of art spanning more than 60 years. It begins with work from the Society’s collection that date from the late 1930s and continues with prepatory sketches for a mural completed in 1945 for the University of Minnesota. The exhibit concludes with a series of watercolors that document Stoeckeler’s trips around the globe. These small, exquisite images are featured in a book titled, “Porthole Views of the World.”

Lenders to the exhibit include the Cook County Historical Society, Grand Marais, Minnesota; University of Minnesota Archives and Libraries; Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota and the artist. This exhibit will be on view until January 17, 2010, at the James J. Hill House.

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Tools of the tailoring trade http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/11/tools-of-the-tailoring-trade/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/11/tools-of-the-tailoring-trade/#comments Thu, 19 Nov 2009 19:34:36 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1374 Tailoring tools

Recently, we acquired well-worn tailors’ tools used by a custom tailor in Duluth.  C. Paul Nelson emigrated to the U.S. from Sweden with his four daughters in early 1900.  Though tailoring has traditionally been a craft dominated by men, two of Nelson’s daughters – Sophie and Hanna worked as “tailoresses.”  According to the 1910 census, Sophie, Hanna and their father were working in Duluth.  In 1930 both Sophie and Paul Nelson were still working – Paul as a coat-maker and Sophie as a vest-maker.  In the 1900 Minneapolis City Directory, vest making was a woman’s occupation.  Six women listed their occupation as vest-maker.  Often women worked on lighter weight garments or women’s tailored clothing in a dressmaking shop rather than a tailor’s shop.   In this same city directory, of the 724 tailors listed, 89 were women.

Though cutting and measuring are the hallmark skills of a tailor’s art, these pressing tools – a tailor’s clapper, tailor’s blocks, trouser board, sleeve board and tailoring iron (a 15.5 lb weight) – donated by a member of the Nelson family are essential to giving the wool its proper shape and a crisp finish to the seams of a garment.

Included in this donation is an image of tailors at work in the shop of A. V. Ljungkvist in 1908; see below.  Paul Nelson is seated in a modified tailor-fashion at the far left.

Linda McShannock, Objects Curator

A. V. Ljungkuist tailor shop

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Contemporary Minnesota Voices http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/10/contemporarymnvoices/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/10/contemporarymnvoices/#comments Mon, 19 Oct 2009 18:14:35 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1326 DusterStoneware bowl

Currently on display in our Library Lobby are selected objects collected by the Society and whenever possible labels include a quote from the artists–revealing in their own words their thoughts about the materials, the finished pieces, and the passions that inspire them. This exhibit will be up until early December.

For millennia artists have been bringing the joy of art to everyday life through the application of their creative force to our material culture. Minnesota has a rich fine craft heritage and Minnesotans have long found pleasure in the use of functional & beautiful objects that provide sensory experiences which add vigor to everyday life.

For nearly 30 years the Minnesota Historical Society has proactively compiled a fine collection of well-documented objects made by Minnesota artists to illustrate the role of crafts in the life of Minnesotans and the work of specific individuals. The Society chose to document the work of contemporary Minnesota craftspeople and to focus the collecting on examples by established artists that exhibit a mastery of the medium and combine function with beauty in a manifestation of the craftsman work ethic. Over 200 pieces represent the diverse influences and inspirations of Minnesota’s 20th – 21st century period.

While most mediums are well represented in the Society’s fine craft collections, the Minnesota and Wisconsin region is best known nationally for the work of its significant and influential ceramics community. Evidence of that powerhouse role includes the existence of the Northern Clay Center and Fired Up Studios, a forthcoming collections gallery in the new wing of the Weisman Art Museum to highlight ceramics, and the Minnesota Potters of the Upper St. Croix River Annual Pottery Studio Tour & Sale that draws guest artists and pottery collectors from across the globe.

Marcia Anderson, Senior Curator

Jack Pine SavageStoneware teapot

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Images of the Edmund Fitzgerald http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/09/images-of-the-edmund-fitzgerald/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/09/images-of-the-edmund-fitzgerald/#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2009 16:22:51 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1287 Edmund Fitzgerald

The Society recently acquired five prints and color slides of the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald shortly before it sank in Lake Superior taking the lives of all aboard in a terrible storm. These color slides were shot by vacationing tourists, Jerry and Marilyn Sexton, as the ship passed through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan in late July of 1975. The sharp and poignant images record the lives and activities of a ship soon to vanish.

At 729 feet, the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship on the Great Lakes at the time of its christening in 1958. It was built by Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge, Michigan and owned by the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. Distinguished for having set a number of cargo records over the years, the ship was also well known to both casual and serious ship watchers.

The final voyage of the Edmund Fitzgerald began November 9, 1975, when it left Superior, Wisconsin loaded with iron ore. Captain Ernest M. McSorley and his crew of 28 were soon joined by the Arthur M. Anderson, another ship that had departed Two Harbors, Minnesota under Captain Bernie Cooper.  Aware of a building November storm entering the Great Lakes the Captains agreed to take the northerly course across Lake Superior, where they would be protected by highlands on the Canadian shore. This took them between Isle Royale and the Keweenaw Peninsula. They would later make a turn to the southeast to eventually reach the shelter of Whitefish Point. The two ships were in radio contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald in the lead and the distance between them averaging a dozen miles.

The storm’s ferocity increased with winds gusting to 70 knots and seas 18 to 25 feet. At 3:30 in the afternoon of the 10th, Captain McSorley radioed Captain Cooper and said: “Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have a fence rail down, two vents lost or damaged, and a list. I’m checking down. Will you stay by me till I get to Whitefish?” McSorley was checking down his speed to allow the Anderson to close the distance for safety. Captain Cooper asked McSorley if he had his pumps going, and McSorley said, “Yes, both of them.”

The two ships remained in close radio contact until their last communication at 7:10 p.m. Five minutes later, the pip of the Edmund Fitzgerald on the radar screen of the Anderson was lost again (high seas were interfering with radar reflection), but this time, did not reappear. The Anderson called the Fitzgerald at about 7:22 pm. There was no answer.

The Anderson turned out to be the primary vessel in the search, taking the lead. With the ship pounding and rolling badly, the crew of the Anderson discovered the Fitzgerald’s two lifeboats and other debris but no sign of survivors. Only one other vessel, the William Clay Ford, was able to leave the safety of Whitefish Bay to join in the search at the time. The Coast Guard launched a fixed-wing HU-16 aircraft at 10:00 that night and dispatched two cutters, the Naugatuck and the Woodrush. The Naugatuck arrived at 12:45 p.m. on November 11, and the Woodrush arrived on November 14, having journeyed all the way from Duluth, Minnesota. On November 14, a U.S. Navy plane equipped with a magnetic anomaly detector located a strong contact 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point. During the following three days, the Woodrush, using a side-scan sonar, located two large pieces of wreckage in the same area.

All 29 crew, including the Captain who had commanded the ship since 1972, were lost. No one has ever been recovered. The broken hull of the steamer was located in 530 feet of water, the bow and stern sections lying close together. The lack of survivors and eye witnesses to the wreck, coupled with the lack of clear evidence in subsequent underwater expeditions, leave a variety of theories for the ship’s sinking. And, although the Coast Guard conducted an extensive and thorough search, there is no definitive reason to date. It is one of the most controversial and emotional shipwreck stories in Great Lakes history, further immortalized by Canadian singer/songwriter, Gordon Lightfoot, in his 1976 ballad, ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’.

The Minnesota Historical Society’s Split Rock Lighthouse has been a retired lighthouse since 1969, but every November 10th, at dusk, the beacon at Split Rock Lighthouse is relit in memory of those men, that famous ship, and all the sailors lost on other Great Lakes shipwrecks. The Split Rock Lighthouse Visitor Center will open at noon on November 10th and will feature information on Lake Superior gales and shipwrecks, and a film on the tragic last trip of the Edmund Fitzgerald will be shown in the Visitor Center Theater.  At 4:30 the lighthouse will be temporarily closed to allow for a brief ceremony on the lighthouse steps.  The ceremony, called the “last muster”, will include the reading of the names of the men lost on the Fitzgerald and, the ringing of a ship’s bell for each name, plus a thirtieth for all other victims of Great Lakes shipwrecks.  At the conclusion of the ceremony the lighthouse beacon will be lighted, the lighthouse will be reopened, and visitors may climb the interior stairs to the lantern room for a rare, close-up view of the lighted, 3rd order Fresnel lens.

Diane Adams-Graf, Sound & Visual Curator

Learn More:

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Minnesota and the Federal Writers’ Project Exhibit http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/09/minnesota-and-the-federal-writers-project-exhibit/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/09/minnesota-and-the-federal-writers-project-exhibit/#comments Thu, 17 Sep 2009 22:00:30 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1278 WPA Fair booth, 1938

The Great Depression was a terrible time for Minnesota and the rest of the nation. One of the New Deal programs intended to get people back to work was the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA was one of the Roosevelt Administration’s most successful projects, creating jobs in everything from road construction to feeding people to literacy and more.

WPA programs focusing on the arts produced some of the best examples of federal support. In addition to producing amazing works of art, the Federal Writers’ Project was designed to encourage written work and support writers through the tough times.  Among the most well-known products are the state guides series.  Other works created by the Writers’ Project focused on history, society, and the land around them. Some examples are on display in the Library cases.

This exhibit will be on view when the Library is open, and is part of the Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story project, organized by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. For more information about other programs in this series, please go to:

http://www.thefriends.org/soul.htm

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A book, a bonus, and a good friend http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/08/a-book-a-bonus-and-a-good-friend/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/08/a-book-a-bonus-and-a-good-friend/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2009 17:19:27 +0000 Pat Coleman http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1208 History of Wiskonsan, title pageSignature from History of Wiskonsan

Every once in a while the Minnesota Historical Society Library gets in a great book with a little bonus; not only is the text of the book important or interesting but the story of where the book has been is also fascinating. Very few of these back stories get better than the one for a book I picked up at the antiquarian book fair in St. Paul last month.

The book, Donald McLeod’s History of Wiskonsan[sic]: From its First Discovery to the Present Period. Buffalo: 1846, is significant having been published 3 years before Minnesota became a Territory. The volume is quite rare and contains a map that is lacking in many known copies. Its author would later settle in St. Paul, make his living in the book trade, and die here in 1903.

The back story I alluded to is that this particular copy fell into the hands of two miscreants engaged in what would become known as the “Coachman Forgeries.” Eugene “Pinny” Field (son of the respected writer, Eugene Field) and Harry Dayton Sickles attempted, with some success, to increase the value of books they were selling by making them look like they had come from the library of Abraham Lincoln. The scheme was simple enough. In 1931 a story ran in the national news that William P. Brown, Mary Todd Lincoln’s driver during the years after the President’s assassination, was still alive. Field and Sickles got him to autograph period books and maps. Frank Thatcher notarized and attested to the fact that the signature was authentic after which Sickles forged the name of Abraham Lincoln to the items. The resulting book looked as if it had the all important Presidential provenance and the notary’s imprimatur.

Our copy of McLeod has an inscription that reads “This book is from the collection of Abraham Lincoln and was presented to …William P. Brown in 1866 by Mary T. Lincoln.” Like all the “coachman forgeries” it is notarized but in this instance Lincoln’s signature was never forged on the book. It should be stressed that both the seller and the MHS knew the story of these forgeries (documented in the 2001 book Absolutely, Mr. Sickles? Positively, Mr. Field! By William L. Butts) and the price of the book reflected only the interesting story.

The book was purchased with the help of funds given as a memorial to one of the Society’s dearest friends, Floyd Risvold. Floyd was one of the most significant collectors of stamps, manuscripts, books and maps illuminating local and national history. He was a wise friend and mentor to me and his scholarship inspired me. His practicality too; he once told me that if today’s youth collected stamps they would easily be able to pass the state standards for American history. We are the poorer for his passing. As we Irish say, his likes will not be here again.

Patrick Coleman, Acquisitions Librarian

Map from History of Wiskonsan

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Maps on Endpapers http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/07/maps-on-endpapers/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/07/maps-on-endpapers/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2009 15:50:47 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1191 Mostly Mississippi endpages

Of the many uses of maps, one of our favorites is to decorate the endpapers of books. As the new exhibit in the Library Lobby shows, endpaper maps can be both beautiful and helpful to the reader. Works of fiction and nonfiction use this illuminating and artistic technique to enhance books. Come take a look!

This Library exhibit complements Minnesota on the Map, the exhibit which runs through Labor Day.

Minn of the Mississippi

Learn More:


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Selected James J. Hill Digital Scans Now Available Online http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/07/selected-james-j-hill-digital-scans-now-available/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/07/selected-james-j-hill-digital-scans-now-available/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2009 15:35:14 +0000 Jillian Odland http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1127 James J. Hill letter to Grandmother, 1856

Digital scans of 1,047 selected correspondence, clippings, and reports from the James J. Hill papers are now available on the web. These files, in pdf format, are accessible through an online inventory,  which lists a description of each item and provides a link directly to each digital version.

The digitized material comes from the General Correspondence series and the Northern Pacific Reorganization materials within the James J. Hill papers, and cover topics including the attempted merger of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads between 1893 and 1905 and the debate among Hill and other financiers over a potential loan to England and France during World War I.

These digital files came to the Minnesota Historical Society along with the Hill Family Collection, and we’re pleased to make them available to users.  The original documents can be found in the James J. Hill papers, an inventory of which is also available online.

Jillian Odland, Hill Family Collection Cataloger

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The “Re” Count Bobblehead Doll http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/06/the-re-count-bobblehead-doll/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/06/the-re-count-bobblehead-doll/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2009 15:26:56 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=1043 Doll and Box

The 2008 election cycle was remarkable, distinguished by the historic victory of Barack Obama and significant gains for the Democratic Party in general. As Minnesotans know, one bit of election business remains undecided six months later. Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken continue their contest for Minnesota’s vacant U.S. Senate seat.

As usual, the St. Paul Saints baseball team turned a big news story into a winning promotion. At its May 23 game against the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Canaries, the team gave away “Re” Count bobbleheads to the first 2,500 fans. The dolls, dressed like the number-loving Count von Count character of Sesame Street fame, feature a rotating head with two faces. Depending on your political proclivities, you can set the “Re” Count to display either Norm Coleman’s or Al Franken’s mug.

While the Society collected Franken and Coleman materials during last year’s campaign, the “Re” Count is something special. It speaks to the unusually prolonged nature of the Senate race, and to the good humor with which Minnesotans have taken it. And it’s one… one clever idea, too, ha ha ha!

Matt Anderson, Objects Curator

AlNorm

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World War II Sweetheart Jewelry http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/06/world-war-ii-sweetheart-jewelry/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/06/world-war-ii-sweetheart-jewelry/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2009 15:13:57 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=928 Bracelets

The Minnesota’s Greatest Generation exhibit prompted a number of new acquisitions to the collection. Among the most recent is a pair of bracelets made by Duluth native Ralph “Lefty” Brodin in 1943, while he was stationed in North Africa.

Manufactured and handmade jewelry pieces were popular mementos during both World Wars. For girlfriends, fiancées, wives, and mothers back home, these items provided tangible reminders of loved ones overseas. For soldiers, making the jewelry offered a way to pass the time and keep their minds occupied. Brodin crafted his two bracelets from aluminum, and carefully inscribed decorative borders and designs on them. He sent one to his wife, Ethel, and the other to his mother, Lena.

Sometime after making the bracelets, Ralph Brodin was transferred to Europe and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He survived the war and returned home to Duluth to raise three sons with Ethel. Though he never spoke much about his time overseas, Brodin’s family preserved the bracelets and, in doing so, saved a small piece of his wartime experience.

Matt Anderson, Objects Curator

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Woods, Words, and Art http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/05/woods-words-and-art/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/05/woods-words-and-art/#comments Fri, 15 May 2009 20:47:22 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=985 Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

In 1950 the Japanese created the title of Ningen Kokuhō or Living National Treasure for select artists who are both masters of their craft and keepers of an important aspect of their culture. As a local wood engraver and fine press printer,  Gaylord Schanilec is such a living treasure.

The Minnesota Historical Society Library recently purchased the deluxe edition (one of 26 copies) of Schanilec’s latest work –  the complicated, beautiful and unusual book Sylvæ. The book combines Schanilec’s artistic and printing prowess with Ben Verhoeven’s research and printing help to document twenty four varieties of trees on Schanilec’s 20 acres near Stockholm, Wisconsin. The book was acquired with the generous support of C. A. Weyerhaeuser Funds. The book, along with a selection of wood prints, plates, and tools used to create it, are all on display in the Library Lobby now through the end of July.

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Cameron Booth? http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/05/cameron-booth/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/05/cameron-booth/#comments Fri, 15 May 2009 21:34:43 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=976

Cameron Booth

Portrait of a Soldier, 1918

Oil on board

In 2008, the Historical Society was the grateful recipient of a generous gift from Eva and Michelle Terrell, Portrait of a Soldier, by Cameron Booth. An extraordinary early painting by one of Minnesota’s best known 20th century artists, this oil sketch portrays a somewhat gaunt, uniformed soldier with a piercing gaze. It is signed with somber formality “George Cameron Booth, A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force) France, 1918.”

Cameron Booth was born in Pennsylvania in 1892 and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1912 to 1917. Following his service in World War I, Booth accepted a teaching position in 1921 at the Minneapolis School of Art and made Minnesota his permanent home. Throughout his lengthy career he exhibited widely and received recognition for his artistic ability and teaching experience.

But, is this painting a portrait of an anonymous soldier, or a portrait of the artist himself?

We do know that Booth was indeed in France in 1918. The formality of the signature reads more like a title (or an epitaph) and the description on Booth’s draft registration card (bald, blue eyes) matches the person in the painting. But the painting’s history after its creation is mostly unknown. Before arriving to Minnesota, it was in a private collection in California and misidentified as a portrait of another Minnesota artist Adolf Dehn. The painting has been shown to a number of people who knew Booth in his later years but the results have been inconclusive.

The earliest image of Booth in the Minnesota Historical Society’s photograph collection is from the late 1930s—nearly twenty years after the portrait was painted. Similarities between the portrait and the photograph certainly exist but until a picture of Booth from the same time period is located, the work will be identified simply as Portrait of a Soldier.

This recent acquisition is the 55th painting by Cameron Booth in our fine art collection of more the 6,000 works of art. Many thanks to Eva and Michelle Terrell for this gift to the Minnesota Historical Society.

Brian Szott, Curator of Art

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Manuscript Sermons by the Right Rev. H. B. Whipple, D.D., LL. D., Bishop of Minnesota http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/04/manuscript-sermons-by-the-right-rev-h-b-whipple-dd-ll-d-bishop-of-minnesota/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/04/manuscript-sermons-by-the-right-rev-h-b-whipple-dd-ll-d-bishop-of-minnesota/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2009 20:38:14 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=920

The oratory skills of Minnesota’s first Episcopal Bishop, Henry Benjamin Whipple, were highly regarded in the U.S. and abroad.  A recent donation gives readers the opportunity to read selected sermons written by Whipple with quill pen and ink.   This volume provides the opportunity to leaf through many pages of Whipple’s flowery hand and experience the energizing tone of this man’s oratory.

With the acquisition of this volume the Society now holds a fine complement to the official Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota records and the Henry B. Whipple papers.  This custom bound volume contains original manuscript versions of sermons given by Whipple between 1888 and 1889.  It was assembled by him and presented to the Library of the Bishop Seabury Divinity School, Faribault, 1889.  The sermons illustrate church politics as well as illuminate Whipple’s historical knowledge, biblical scholarship, and his regard for people of many cultures and national origins.

In this role as Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota, Whipple was required to attend annual church conventions across the United States. An avid traveler, Whipple frequented his home state of New York and made regular visits to Washington, D. C., for meetings relating to Indian policies.  After 1862, Henry Whipple gained notoriety as an advocate for American Indians. As an advisor to four presidents over 40 years, Whipple’s opinion carried great weight in the eastern states-often more so than in Minnesota.

Marcia Anderson, Senior Curator

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Minnesota Prints and Printmakers, 1900 – 1945 http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/03/minnesota-prints-and-printmakers-1900-1945/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/03/minnesota-prints-and-printmakers-1900-1945/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2009 15:45:17 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=848

Minnesota Prints and Printmakers, 1900-1945, an exhibition of over 50 prints by 42 artists currently on view at the James J. Hill House, explores an exciting chapter in the history of art making in Minnesota. Reflecting national trends, printmaking in Minnesota before 1945 was dominated by two distinct styles. This period witnessed a revival of the centuries old etching process followed by the introduction of New Deal era innovations in color lithography and serigraphy. In his book of the same title, author Bob Crump ably demonstrates that this period in Minnesota’s art history was as lively as it was productive. Minnesota Prints and Printmakers celebrates the genius of the artists working between 1900 and 1945.

Brian Szott, Curator of Art

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The Society recently acquired a pair of interesting items associated with the Navy frigate USS Minnesota. The vessel was launched in 1855 and served as flagship of the Union’s Atlantic Blockading Squadron during the Civil War. The Minnesota is best remembered for her participation in the 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads, the famed clash between the ironclads Monitor and Virginia.

The acquired items include a photograph of the Minnesota, and a relic made from her hull. The photo, taken around 1898, shows the venerable frigate in her last assignment as an apparent barracks ship with the Massachusetts Naval Militia. The relic is a small fragment of the vessel’s oak hull, with a silver plaque proclaiming its origin. The fragment was made by Thomas Buttler & Company of Boston, the firm that scrapped the ship in 1901.

The photo and relic complement two other pieces already in the Society’s collection: the Minnesota’s wheel and bell. Together, they preserve the memory of the first Navy ship named for the state (er, territory) and a witness to one of the most remarkable naval battles in history.

Matt Anderson, Objects Curator

Learn More:

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Delisle globe, 1765 http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/02/delisle-globe-1765/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/02/delisle-globe-1765/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2009 14:56:33 +0000 Pat Coleman http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=678 Map Curator Pat Coleman gives us an introduction to ‘Minnesota on the Map:’ Four Centuries of Maps from the Minnesota Historical Society Collection: an exhibit he has curated that opens on February 28. The exhibit includes 100 maps from the MHS collection of over 22,000. Pat also shares his insights to a recently acquired globe from 1765.

View 3-D version of the Delisle globe

Click on picture to read caption

1765

Guillaume Delisle

Globe Terrestre: Revu et Corrige sur les Dernieres Observations et les Meilleurs Carties… Paris: Desnos.

As beautiful and as informational as maps can be, globes literally add a third dimension. They are fabulous artifacts that allow a user to interact with maps in a way that a two dimensional map cannot. Mid 18th -century French globes are considered to be among the finest examples of the art of globe making. This globe, based on the cartographic work of Guillaume Delisle, is interesting in the extreme.

To begin with, Delisle was a cartographic “rock star”. He was born in Paris in 1675, the son of Claude Delisle, a famous geographer and historian. Trained in mathematics and astronomy, Guillaume was perfectly suited to make scientific corrections on earlier Dutch cartography. Delisle made giant leaps forward in mapmaking. For his work he was appointed “Premier Geographe du Roi” in 1718.

This globe is not representative of Delisle’s most accurate cartography, however. There are many inaccuracies on the North American continent alone. Notice the two North West passages, which are clearly based on wishful thinking, and the Mer de l’Ouest, (Sea of the West), is shockingly incorrect. Since Delisle had been dead for 40 years when this globe was made, and since Delisle was know for excluding hearsay on his maps, it seems safe to conclude that his successors- his younger brother, Joseph-Nicholas Delisle and his nephew Philippe Buache – were responsible for the “Mer de l’Ouest,” based on the supposed voyage of an Admiral de Fonte who claimed to have found a river that flowed through North America. Ten years later Cook’s voyage would disprove the existence of both these inaccuracies. California is still attached to the mainland on this globe, but the shape of the Great Lakes are poorly rendered for the time period and the Missouri and Rio Grande (Rio del Norte) have nearly identical headwaters. The Mississippi River takes an exaggerated eastward bend but the location of the head of the river is a fairly accurate guess. All of these strange features add to the fascination of the globe.

There are two cartouches (think of a cartouche as the title page and copyright page of a book) and an advertisement printed on the globe. The main cartouche promises that the globe is “revised and corrected on the latest observations and the best maps” and, of course, is dedicated to the king of France. The other main cartouche mentions “Delisle, the astronomer…” as the cartographer behind this terrestrial globe that was “Monte par l’Auteur” or “mounted” by Desnos the publisher. The globe also shows the routes of the explorers via dotted lines suggesting the inclusion of information gathered from those excursions.

Globes dating from the 18th century are extremely rare, which might lead one to assume that they were not widely used in their day. This is not the case at all. Globes were common educational tools used in classrooms, libraries, and even as navigational instruments on ships. It is their inherent fragility that has led to their scarcity.


Help us preserve and display the Delisle Globe.

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http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/02/delisle-globe-1765/feed/ 5 4:13 Map Curator Pat Coleman gives us an introduction to 'Minnesota on the Map:' Four Centuries of Maps from the Minnesota Historical Society Collection: an exhibit ... Map Curator Pat Coleman gives us an introduction to 'Minnesota on the Map:' Four Centuries of Maps from the Minnesota Historical Society Collection: an exhibit he has curated that opens on February 28. The exhibit includes 100 maps from the MHS collection of over 22,000. Pat also shares his insights to a recently acquired globe from 1765. View 3-D version of the Delisle globe Click on picture to read caption [set_id=72157611907351760] 1765 Guillaume Delisle Globe Terrestre: Revu et Corrige sur les Dernieres Observations et les Meilleurs Cartieshellip; Paris: Desnos. As beautiful and as informational as maps can be, globes literally add a third dimension. They are fabulous artifacts that allow a user to interact with maps in a way that a two dimensional map cannot. Mid 18th -century French globes are considered to be among the finest examples of the art of globe making. This globe, based on the cartographic work of Guillaume Delisle, is interesting in the extreme. To begin with, Delisle was a cartographic "rock star". He was born in Paris in 1675, the son of Claude Delisle, a famous geographer and historian. Trained in mathematics and astronomy, Guillaume was perfectly suited to make scientific corrections on earlier Dutch cartography. Delisle made giant leaps forward in mapmaking. For his work he was appointed "Premier Geographe du Roi" in 1718. This globe is not representative of Delisle's most accurate cartography, however. There are many inaccuracies on the North American continent alone. Notice the two North West passages, which are clearly based on wishful thinking, and the Mer de l'Ouest, (Sea of the West), is shockingly incorrect. Since Delisle had been dead for 40 years when this globe was made, and since Delisle was know for excluding hearsay on his maps, it seems safe to conclude that his successors- his younger brother, Joseph-Nicholas Delisle and his nephew Philippe Buache - were responsible for the "Mer de l'Ouest," based on the supposed voyage of an Admiral de Fonte who claimed to have found a river that flowed through North America. Ten years later Cook's voyage would disprove the existence of both these inaccuracies. California is still attached to the mainland on this globe, but the shape of the Great Lakes are poorly rendered for the time period and the Missouri and Rio Grande (Rio del Norte) have nearly identical headwaters. The Mississippi River takes an exaggerated eastward bend but the location of the head of the river is a fairly accurate guess. All of these strange features add to the fascination of the globe. There are two cartouches (think of a cartouche as the title page and copyright page of a book) and an advertisement printed on the globe. The main cartouche promises that the globe is "revised and corrected on the latest observations and the best maps" and, of course, is dedicated to the king of France. The other main cartouche mentions "Delisle, the astronomer..." as the cartographer behind this terrestrial globe that was "Monte par l'Auteur" or "mounted" by Desnos the publisher. The globe also shows the routes of the explorers via dotted lines suggesting the inclusion of information gathered from those excursions. Globes dating from the 18th century are extremely rare, which might lead one to assume that they were not widely used in their day. This is not the case at all. Globes were common educational tools used in classrooms, libraries, and even as navigational instruments on ships. It is their inherent fragility that has led to their scarcity. Help us preserve and display the Delisle Globe. Podcasts,and,Slideshows,,What's,New Minnesota Historical Society no No
Lincolnalia on view http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/02/lincolnalia-on-view/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/02/lincolnalia-on-view/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2009 22:17:19 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=805

Currently on view at the Library Lobby until mid-April is an exhibit of items from the Minnesota Historical Society collection relating to Abraham Lincoln and his connections to Minnesota. The Library is free and open to the public – come and see!

Learn more:

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Catch the News! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/02/catch-the-news/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/02/catch-the-news/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2009 19:43:16 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=790

Catch the news!  View news clips from one of the country’s premiere television news film collections, KSTP-TV Archive.  Completed in 2008 to celebrate the State’s sesquicentennial and KSTP’s sixtieth anniversary, a new web page highlights the KSTP-TV Archive.  http://www.mnhs.org/collections/kstp/

The complete archive holds over 3 million feet of news film (1948-1976) and 2,500 videotapes (1976-1993).  KSTP Channel 5 was one of the first full-color stations, and the first station in the Midwest to air a daily newscast. The currently posted segments are part of 150 news clips being digitized for web delivery.  The selection provides a glimpse of the people, events, tragedies and triumphs captured by KSTP Channel 5 in Minnesota, for the second half of the twentieth century.  See 1949 footage of a U.S. Navy blimp, the Como Lake ice skating races in 1964, and the 1979 gas lines, among many others.

Copies of these clips are also available for purchase. The full 1960s decade featured here will also be available for purchase on DVD in mid 2009. Submit the KSTP Request Form to the Minnesota Historical Society for research, purchase, or use. Watch as more segments are added to bring our total to 150 clips in 2009!

Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. gave the KSTP-TV Archive to the Minnesota Historical Society in 1994. Since then, the 16 mm news film has been cleaned, spliced, cataloged, and rehoused in a secure and climate-controlled storage area.  The news film is cataloged in the Society’s Collection Management System, for which a search interface is currently being developed. This will allow for online research of the full database.

The Minnesota Historical Society continues to promote long-term care, create further information, and provide access to this important news archive.  Welcome to the KSTP-TV Archive!

Diane Adams-Graf, Sound and Visual Curator

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White Bear Sno Scooter http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/01/white-bear-sno-scooter/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/01/white-bear-sno-scooter/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2009 16:18:29 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=743 White Bear Sno Scooter

With winter cold and snow abundant, children around the state are taking out their sleds and heading for the hills. Some of them might wish they had one of these beauties: a Sno Scooter built by the White Bear Water Ski Company.

This scooter belonged to a St. Paul family that purchased it in the late 1950s. The donor recalled riding it with his brother and sister for several seasons – and discovering that the scooter worked best in deep snow. In later years, the donor’s own children enjoyed the scooter, making it a multi-generation tradition.

Here at the Society, the Sno Scooter will complement a water ski board, made by the same White Bear Lake-based company, already in the collection. The two pieces remind us of Minnesota’s contrasting seasons, and the unique recreational pleasures that each one brings.

The White Bear Water Ski Company is gone, but other companies continue to make their own versions of the snow scooter. (Some are even motorized!) This example may have made its last run, but it can still provide some fun, if only in the form of happy winter memories.

Matt Anderson, Objects Curator

Sno Scooter logo

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Minnesota Electoral College Assembly Records Transferred to the Minnesota State Archives http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/01/minnesota-electoral-college-assembly-records-transferred-to-the-minnesota-state-archives/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2009/01/minnesota-electoral-college-assembly-records-transferred-to-the-minnesota-state-archives/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2009 07:48:20 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=684

A few days ago the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office transferred records of the Minnesota Electoral College Assembly that occurred on December 15, 2008.  On that day, Minnesota’s ten Electors unanimously cast votes for Barack Obama and Joseph Biden for president and vice president in a ceremony held in the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda.  Pictured here are the ballots cast by Minnesota’s slate of ten Electors from the Democratic-Farmer Labor Party.  Under the U.S. Constitution, Minnesota is provided ten Electors, a number equal to Minnesota’s number of senators and representatives seated in the U.S. Congress.  Also transferred with the ballots, is a photograph of the Electors with Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, the original signed Certificate of Ascertainment of Appointment of Electors for President and Vice President, a news release about the ceremony, the assembly program, and a engraved pen of the type used for the signings.   Answers to frequently asked questions about the Electoral College are available on the Secretary of State’s Web site homepage.

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All Tractors, All the Time http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/12/all-tractors-all-the-time/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/12/all-tractors-all-the-time/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2008 20:50:52 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=662

Interested in photographs of tractors?  The Minnesota Historical Society is the place to look!

The Minneapolis-Moline Negative Collection is now available to the public.  This collection holds 14,180, black and white negatives of tractors, agricultural implements, machinery, and power units manufactured by that company between the 1930s and 1960s. Each of these images is described in a searchable list now available in the Society’s online library catalog.  In addition, almost 2,000 of them have been printed and can be viewed in the online Photo and Art Database. Any image can  be ordered from the Library’s Copy Service.

The Minneapolis-Moline Company was formed in 1929 and located in Hopkins, Minnesota. Many images in this collection depict Minneapolis-Moline tractors, implements, and power units, in the factory or dealer showroom or working in farm fields or other outdoor settings. There are also images with perspectives of machinery parts for use in sales publications. A large number depict the interior and exterior of factories, especially the Hopkins and Lake Street plants. There are aerial views of the factories, closer views of specific factory buildings and machinery, as well as views of company dealerships and branch offices around the United States. The Minneapolis-Moline Company’s commercial photographer, Arthur H. Jensen, photographed these images and donated them to the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) in 1975.

The cataloging needs for a collection this size required years of time, people and resources. The Minneapolis-Moline Collectors group, its many supporters and other enthusiasts, contributed gifts of both funds and labor toward documenting this collection. Other volunteers and Society staff scanned and cataloged material in recent years, and the Society is now able to provide full access to this important and vast collection of images.

The only immediate and remaining task for this collection is to follow-up on a 1995 recommendation to sleeve the negatives. Over 50% of the collection is covered by red opaque (masking) that is flaking off the negatives.  Almost the entire collection of negatives is covered with scratches.  It was recommended that buffered, acid-free, enclosures be used to sleeve the negatives. This final step is an important one to advancing the preservation of the Minneapolis-Moline Negative Collection.  We hope to secure funds for this important, preservation effort, in the coming year.

Diane Adams-Graf, Sound and Visual Curator

Learn More:

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The Campaign Trail: Minnesota’s Historic Role in Modern Politics http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/12/the-campaign-trail-minnesota%e2%80%99s-historic-role-in-modern-politics/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/12/the-campaign-trail-minnesota%e2%80%99s-historic-role-in-modern-politics/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2008 21:43:18 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=592

Political campaigns are chaotic, frenzied affairs and the best way to peer into this process is through the lens of a camera. Fortunately, Minnesota is blessed with having some of the best documentary photographers in the field. The exhibition, The Campaign Trail: Minnesota’s Historic Role in Modern Politics examines campaign photography by featuring work by three talented and dedicated political photographers in Minnesota-Tom Arndt, Terry Gydesen and Ann Marsden. Each has been documenting the political scene for many years, providing an important visual document for future generations. In particular, Tom Arndt and Terry Gydesen’s thoughtful and sensitive chronicle of the Mondale and Wellstone campaigns provide an in depth portrait of the candidate and his campaign.

Come see an exhibit of these fascinating images on view at the James J. Hill House Gallery until Feb. 22, 2009.

Above photo by Tom Arndt


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2008 Republican National Convention http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/11/2008-republican-national-convention/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/11/2008-republican-national-convention/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2008 16:04:16 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=435 Minnesota delegation's floor standardFor four days in September, the political spotlight shown on the Twin Cities as they hosted the 2008 Republican National Convention. Delegates, reporters, protestors and police officers descended upon Minnesota to take part. In the months since, we’ve collected approximately 120 different objects associated with the event.

Highlights from the convention itself include the Minnesota delegation’s floor standard, two delegate chairs, informational signs that guided delegates through the Xcel Energy Center, and 56 pieces of the confetti – each piece bearing a color photo of John McCain – that fell over the crowd after the nominee’s acceptance speech.

From the media, we collected eight different credential cards – two for each day of the convention – used by staffers with Minnesota Public Radio and KARE-11 TV. We also collected a photojournalist’s camera that was broken beyond repair as he covered protests near Mears Park on September 2.Media Floor Pass used by MPR staff

Two protestors donated handmade anti-war signs they carried on the John Ireland Boulevard bridge during the September 4 demonstration, as well as a pocket guide to protestors’ civil rights issued by the ACLU. We received a “Peace Keepers” T-shirt worn by one of the volunteers who formed a nonviolent barrier between protestors and police officers. We also collected one of the disposable “PlastiCuff” wrist restraints used by police officers to secure arrested individuals.

Our week at the center of American political life was a thrilling one. I’d like to think that we’ve preserved a little bit of that excitement along with these objects.

Matt Anderson, Objects Curator

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Hill Papers Come to the MHS! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/11/hill-papers-come-to-the-mhs/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/11/hill-papers-come-to-the-mhs/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2008 23:03:26 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=421 James J. Hill after driving the Golden Spike

James J. Hill was a business legend. In the last quarter of the nineteenth-century, he transformed the near bankrupt Saint Paul and Pacific into the legendary Great Northern Railroad that ran from Saint Paul, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington by 1893. The man known as the Empire Builder had amassed a fortune of more than $63 million by the time of his death in 1916. Hill’s son Louis inherited his father’s business acumen and energetically pursued railroad, mining, and development activities throughout the west.

In March 2008, the Minnesota Historical Society happily agreed to transfer 1400 cubic feet of Hill Family records from the James J. Hill Reference Library in Saint Paul to the History Center. These papers cover the family and business concerns of James and Louis, the family and social life of Louis’ wife Maud Van Cortlandt Hill, and the activities of the Reed/Hyde family between 1860 and 1920. Together these materials document late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century social, political, economic, and cultural topics. By transferring the materials to MHS, the Hill Reference Library can better focus on its core mission: serving the needs of business owners and entrepreneurs with reference help and online tools. The Minnesota Historical Society, on the other hand, is uniquely suited to meet the needs of researchers, providing care for and access to the papers. The Society already has a number of resources that will complement and contextualize the Hill Family Papers. These include our collection of Great Northern Railroad records, a large collection of state newspapers, and an online database of historical images.

Generous support by the Northwest Area, Jerome, and Grotto Foundations will allow MHS to process the papers, create up-to-date finding aids, and produce a web site that will present web visitors with a single portal to access material relating to James J. Hill and his family. This work will be completed in 2010. In the meantime, limited access to the papers is available at the History Center library in Saint Paul.

Jennifer Jones, Head of Collections

Learn More:

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Individual Beliefs, Communities of Faith http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/10/individual-beliefs-communities-of-faith/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/10/individual-beliefs-communities-of-faith/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2008 21:09:42 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=415

To compliment the Vatican Splendors exhibit, come see a new display of material from the MHS collection in the Library Lobby. Individual Beliefs, Communities of Faith highlights Protestant churches, Judaism, Native American spirituality, and the faiths of Minnesota’s most recent immigrants. Take a look…you can’t miss the pulpit chair! This will be on view until late December.

Boys' Choir, St. Clement's Church, Saint Paul

Boys' Choir, St. Clement's Church, Saint Paul

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Bruce Laingen Papers http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/09/bruce-laingen-papers/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/09/bruce-laingen-papers/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2008 17:57:39 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=321 Bruce Laingen with President Reagan, 1981On August 19, 2008, Minnesota native Bruce Laingen visited the History Center to donate his papers and personal artifacts to the Minnesota Historical Society. In November 1979, Laingen was chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, and the senior American diplomat taken prisoner during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Laingen and 51 of his colleagues were held captive for 444 days, until their release in January 1981.

Born in Watonwan County, near Butterfield, Minnesota, in 1922, Laingen was raised in a modest farm community and enjoyed participating in 4-H events. He graduated from St. Olaf College, joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Philippines during World War II. Laingen studied at the National War College and earned a Masters degree in international relations from the University of Minnesota. He joined the Foreign Service in 1950 and stayed with the agency for 38 years. Laingen was President of the American Academy of DipAmerican flag presented to Bruce Laingen by President Reaganlomacy from 1991-2006.

Today Laingen resides in the Washington, D.C., area with his wife, Penelope (Penne). Penne originated the yellow ribbon campaign during the hostage crisis. Ribbons are still used to this day to bring attention to issues ranging from support for American combat troops to breast cancer awareness.

The Laingen collection includes personal papers and letters, the suit and tie Laingen wore while in captivity, and an American flag given to him by President Ronald Reagan after his release. The collection will serve as a wonderful resource for any scholar researching 1970s politics, U.S.-Iranian relations, diplomacy, hostage issues, rural Minnesota farm life and World War II in the Philippines. Some of the material will be featured in the Minnesota’s Greatest Generation exhibit, scheduled to open at the Minnesota History Center on Memorial Day, 2009.

 Molly Tierney, Curator of Manuscripts

 

Learn More:

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1892 Republican Convention in Minneapolis http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/08/1892-republican-convention-in-minneapolis/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/08/1892-republican-convention-in-minneapolis/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2008 21:28:25 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=308

Come by the Library Lobby and see some of the wonderful pieces we have from the Republican National Convention of 1892 on display. This includes badges, original newspapers, photographs of the event, as well as visitor guides given to the Delegates. Consider the 1892 Convention in light of the hoopla surrounding the upcoming Convention, which will be held just down the hill!

This display will be on view the same hours as the Library. It will not be available during the Convention itself, from September 1 through September 4.

Be sure to listen to the Podcast on the 1892 Convention as well!

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WCCO-TV Visits Charles A. Lindbergh House http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/08/wcco-tv-visits-charles-a-lindbergh-house/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/08/wcco-tv-visits-charles-a-lindbergh-house/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2008 21:42:13 +0000 Matt Anderson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=298 WCCO-TV reporter Bill Hudson visited the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, a house museum operated by the Minnesota Historical Society in Little Falls. Hudson spoke with site manager Charlie Pautler about Lindbergh’s boyhood in Minnesota, and his celebrated 1927 trans-Atlantic flight. Original artifacts associated with the pioneering pilot – and now a part of the MHS collections – are featured.

See Hudson’s report here: http://wcco.com/findingminnesota/lindbergh.historical.site.2.770341.html

Visit the Lindbergh Site’s web page here: http://www.mnhs.org/places/sites/lh/

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James J. Hill Papers http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/07/268/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/07/268/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2008 17:54:41 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=268

You know his mansion on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul, and you know that he’s the railroad magnate, but did you know about how diverse his ventures were or the kind of family man he was? The answers can be found in his papers!

The James J. Hill/Louis W. Hill manuscript collections provide a wealth of documentation on topics as varied as mining interests, agricultural enterprises, national and international commerce and finance, and the expansion of the Pacific Northwest. These business papers complement our massive collection of railroad records. The papers contain details about the Hills’ interests in Canadian fishing, oil exploration, Glacier National Park, and philanthropy throughout the Upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Complementing these business topics are the Maude Hill papers, a rich resource on the domestic side of the Hill family.

The papers were transferred from the James J. Hill Reference Library to the Minnesota Historical Society in May 2008. They are currently in the process of being recataloged, and so will not be available for public use for several months. In the meantime, come see materials from this outstanding collection on display in the Lobby of the Minnesota Historical Society Library through August 25, 2008.

Learn more:

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‘Thank God and FDR’ on WCCO! http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/06/thank-god-and-fdr-on-wcco/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/06/thank-god-and-fdr-on-wcco/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2008 15:35:01 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=262 Art curator Brian Szott was interviewed on WCCO television on Sunday, June 29, as part of their Finding Minnesota segment. He gave a wonderful overview of the current Hill House exhibit, ‘Thank God and FDR’, which is on view until November.

Watch the interview, and come see the show!

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Nokomis vessels http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/06/nokomis-vessels/ http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/06/nokomis-vessels/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2008 20:55:07 +0000 Lori Williamson http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/?p=254

The July 2006 – April 2007 History Center exhibit “Red Wing Retro: Extraordinary Pottery, Everyday Life” provided an opportunity to feature a significant portion of the Society’s holdings documenting a Minnesota firm and products. Exhibits also enable museums to inform potential donors about strengths and gaps in a collection. As a result of this exhibition, nearly 50 pieces of Red Wing pottery were acquired for the collections between 2006 and 2008.

A recent and most generous gift from a long-time donor has greatly increased our holdings of early and rare Red Wing art pottery with 9 examples of the vessels in the Nokomis line.

The company best known today as the Red Wing Potteries, Inc., had its beginnings in Red Wing, Minnesota about 1878. While focused on utilitarian wares with a conscious eye toward affordable yet fashionable offerings, Red Wing Potteries were at the same time traditional and modern. In 1929 glazed art pottery became part of the Red Wing Potteries, Inc. product family, and examples from many lines continued to be available until 1967. The Potteries’ artware featured exhaustive quantities of abstract, stylized and iconic objects created either for contemplation or to function in various capacities throughout the home. The vases, planters, ashtrays, bowls, sculptures, commemoratives, promotionals, and other items in the artware line generally amounted to about 15% of the Potteries’ sales.

Produced circa 1926 -1929 and likely sold into the 1930s, Nokomis vessels were slip-cast in plaster molds. The glaze was described by the company as “a metallic finish in gray and tan with a tint of copper;” and collectors today agree that the 18 classic shapes decorated in this impressionistic hand-applied glaze were marketed ahead of their time. Nokomis vessels are found in matte, semi-matte, and glossy surface finishes. All the shapes in this donation (#195, 196, 198, 200, 201, 205, 207 & 212) appear in the “Price List-August, 1931 Red Wing Pottery Glazed Ware.”

Marcia Anderson, Senior Curator

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