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“Spring”

Monday, March 31st, 2014

A woodcut on paper made in the late 1960s by Minnesota artist Eugene Larkin.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this print in our collections database.

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

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Display Briefs

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Display Briefs

Light yellow women’s brief-style underpants with a self-lined crotch, cuffs at leg openings, and an elastic waistband. Intended for display only and not to be sold or worn by a person. Made by Munsingwear Incorporated, a company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1960.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view these briefs in our collections database.

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

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Filming at Mickey’s

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Filming at Mickey's

On this day, March 10th, in 1983 the St. Paul institution Mickey’s Diner was accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places.

This photograph from 1960 shows the Reid Ray Film Industries filming a scene from “Cash on the Barrelhead” at Mickey’s Diner. The actor William Bendix is seen at the center.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

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

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Glazed stoneware box

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Glazed stoneware box

Stoneware box made by Margaret Fern Follett Baker. Circa 1960.

For details, view this box in our collections database.

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

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Hamm’s Sign

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Hamm's Sign

“Hamm’s Beer” plastic advertising sign. Sign is made in style of a patio window with slanting roof, chimney and rail fence. Window view is a scene of a tree-lined lake and night sky. A series of holes punched in the metal and backed with small varicolored lights allows a changing night sky: “Hamm’s” appears and then is followed by blinking stars in colors of yellow, blue, pink and red; finally a graded row of 4 beer glasses lights up. circa 1960. To see this sign in action, please watch this youtube video.

For details, view this sign in our collections database.

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

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22 pound turkey

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

22 pound turkey

A photograph showing Ernie Fliegel and a twenty-two pound turkey he prepared at his restaurant, the 620 Club, for then Vice-president-elect Hubert H. Humphrey for Thanksgiving in 1964.

For details, view this photograph in our collections database.

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

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Barbie and Ken, 1962

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

When Mattel toy co-founder Ruth Handler suggested an adult-bodied female doll to company executives in the early 1950’s, they were less than enthusiastic.  After all, infant dolls had dominated the market for decades, and fit the bill in preparing young girls for their future role as mothers.  But when Handler noticed her daughter Barbara (Barbie’s namesake) giving adult roles to the paper dolls she played with, she knew there was a niche to be filled.  Handler was in Europe in 1956 when she spotted a blonde-haired, long-legged doll named Bild Lilli, named after a German cartoon strip character.  Lilli was a sassy, independent working girl and her womanly figure was just what Handler envisioned for her doll.  Mattel took cues from the Lilli doll and adapted their own design which debuted as Barbie in 1959.

Marketed as a “Teen-age fashion model,” Barbie was the first mass-produced toy in America with adult features and was an instant success with 350,000 dolls sold in the first year of production.  Mattel was a pioneer in television advertising, being the first toy maker to broadcast commercials directly to kids in 1955 as a sponsor for the Mickey Mouse Club program.  Soon after her debut, Barbie commercials began to saturate children’s primetime TV programming and sales skyrocketed.   By 1961, consumer demand had reached such a fever pitch that Mattel released a new doll.  Barbie’s boyfriend Ken (named after Handler’s son) debuted in March of that year, clad in red swim trunks and sporting “molded” plastic hair.  Barbie’s coterie continued to grow with the introduction of best friend Midge in 1963 and little sister Skipper in 1964.

More than 800 million Barbies have been sold worldwide, but being the most popular doll in history hasn’t always been easy.  With a seemingly endless stash of clothing, cars, and “Dream Houses” Barbie has been branded as a poster child for materialism, and some have claimed that her supermodel-on-steroids good looks has created unrealistic expectations for young girls.  Others defend Barbie as a positive influence who provided an alternative to the traditional gender roles of the 1950’s, a point echoed by her creator.   “My whole philosophy of Barbie” said Ruth Handler “was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”  Whatever her fate, there’s no denying that Barbie has played a significant role as both a mirror and model of American culture.

Adam Scher, Senior Curator

  • For more fun like this, watch for the new Toys exhibit, opening at MHS Memorial Day Weekend 2014!
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Pitcher and tumblers made by N.F.C. Engineering Company Inc. of Anoka

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Pitcher and tumblers made by N.F.C. Engineering Company Inc. of Anoka

Beverage service set of white & pink with grey speckled plastic made by the N.F.C. Engineering Company Inc. of Anoka, MN. Set includes a pitcher (.1) and eight tumblers (.2-.9). Circa 1950-60.

For details, view this set in our collections database.

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Hamm’s cap

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Hamm’s cap

Hamm’s beer cap of blue twill, circa 1960s.

For details, view this cap in our collections database.

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Model Train Station

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Model Train Station

Plastic model of a two-story train station originally used as part of a toy train set. Manufactured circa 1960.

For details, view this toy in our collections database.

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