Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
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
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.
Former Objects Curator
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!
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.
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.
We have a new Library homepage!
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!
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.
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
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
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