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Remembering Lincoln

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

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

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

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

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Spring Means Prom!

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

Another new entry over on the Huffington Post – enjoy!

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Basektball Before March Madness

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

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


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Paul Krause Minnesota Vikings helmet, 1975

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

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

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

Adam Scher, Senior Objects Curator

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Ice Fishing at its Finest

Posted byLori Williamson on 09 Feb 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

More MNHS Collections on the Huffington Post! This time, ice fishing.

To see more images like the one below check out our newest post, Ice Fishing Fun!

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Images of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Posted byLori Williamson on 28 Jan 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

Once again, our Collections are featured in the Huffington Post, and just in time for the end of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival!

To see more images like the one below check out our newest post, Saint Paul Winter Carnival!

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Common Loon Gunning Decoy by Laurie McNeil

Posted byLori Williamson on 12 Jan 2015 | Tagged as: What's New

Photo: Jeff Smith, Allen & Marshall Auctioneers

“Phenom” is a well-worn idiom in the creative arts, but it’s an apropos expression of Laurie McNeil’s extraordinary talent.  Starting with a sheet-rock knife and no formal training, the Minneapolis native burst onto the scene in 1985 and within a year went from virtual obscurity to international best-in-show winner.  Most of McNeil’s decoys, which take about 500 hours for a life-sized work, are crafted from a block of tupelo, a wood favored by decoy carvers for its softness and buoyancy.  A cardboard template is used to trace an outline onto the wood, which is then cut out with a band saw.   Rotary tools and wood-burning pens are then used to further define the decoy and create fine details like feathers.

Video: Common Loon Decoy from Start to Finish – Less Than Two Minutes (courtesy: Laurie McNeil)

A critical step in the creative process is weighting the figure so it floats – a judging requirement in gunning decoy competition and a necessity for hunting use (a rarity since McNeil’s decoys often sell for thousands of dollars).  This exquisite specimen, McNeil’s first life-size rendition of Minnesota’s state bird, was executed in 1987 and proved an especially challenging figure to self-right.  Opting to forgo a keel, McNeil hollowed the body and head and used lead weights for ballast.  Uncertain of the efficacy of her engineering, McNeil concealed a rueful message inside the bird’s head which reads, “If you are reading this note, something serious has happened to my Loon!” Miraculously, the decoy took to water like the proverbial duck and won best-in-show that year at the prestigious Pacific Southwest Wildlife Arts California Open. McNeil became the first woman to win the open-class competition at that event, a singular honor which garnered the admiration of wildfowl carvers and collectors nationwide.

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Winter One Hundred Years Ago

Posted byLori Williamson on 05 Dec 2014 | Tagged as: What's New

We’ve been asked by The Huffington Post to start blogging on their site. This provides an exciting national platform for Minnesota history!

To see more images like the one below check out our newest post, Winter One Hundred Years Ago 2014-15!

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Jan Kuehnemund’s Vixen guitar

Posted byLori Williamson on 10 Nov 2014 | Tagged as: What's New

A Girl, a Guitar, and a Dream.  It’s a fitting epitaph to Jan Kuehnemund’s remarkable life, which was tragically cut short by cancer in 2013.  The 59-year-old St. Paul native was the founder and lead guitarist for Vixen, the first all-female rock band from the Twin Cities, which rose to international stardom during the glam metal heyday of the 1980’s.  Jan began playing guitar as a teenager and formed her first band, Lemon Pepper, while still in high school. With her dad Carl serving as roadie, Jan and her band mates Laurie Hedlund (drums), Cindy Boettcher (keyboards) and Gayle (Erickson) DeMatoff (bass) played throughout the Twin Cities, including gigs at the Cabooze, Duffy’s and the Union.   As the band honed their chops, they secured a manager and began performing around the country under their new moniker, Vixen.  During the 1970’s Vixen opened for acts such as Styx, Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon, and Bob Seeger, and in 1979 the girls moved to Los Angeles to strike it big.

By the mid-1980’s Cindy, Laurie, and Gayle had left the band, but Jan continued to pursue her dream with new members Janet Gardner (vocals), Roxy Petrucci (drums) and Glencoe, MN native Share Pedersen (bass). Their 1988 self-titled debut album, Vixen, went gold and was followed in 1990 by the release of Rev it Up and tours with Deep Purple and Kiss.  Vixen disbanded in 1991, but re-formed in 1997 without Kuehnemund.  Jan won a legal battle for the band’s name and revived Vixen in 2001 with new members. With more than 1 million records sold, four songs in Billboard’s Top 100, and six top-ranked videos on MTV during the 1980’s,  Vixen established its legacy as a groundbreaking success in the male-dominated world of heavy metal rock, a feat accomplished in large part due to the vision, talent and perseverance of its guiding spirit, Jan Kuehnemund.

Jan Kuehnemund (left) with Janet Gardner and Share Pedersen at The Town and Country Club in London, 1990. Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns, gettyimages.

Stop by the History Center this week only (through November 23) to see this rock star’s guitars, stage costume, and more. Enjoy!

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Lutefisk or Ludefisk?

Posted byLori Williamson on 24 Oct 2014 | Tagged as: What's New

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Duane Swanson
Manuscripts Curator

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