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Collections Up Close

Norwegian Trunk

Monday, August 18th, 2014

A large wooden trunk with a domed lid made in Norway and brought to Minnesota. The trunk is painted with rosemaling inside and out and has wrought iron top and side bail handles, as well as side braces and lock plate. “Fidri, Knuds, Datter, Ldjen, Aar 1825″ is painted on the front of the trunk.

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

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Wednesday, May 29th, 2013


Wooden plow made in Sweden circa 1850 and brought to the United States by Swedish immigrants in 1890.  The plow is featured in the podcast “They Chose Minnesota: Immigration to the North Star State.”

For details, view the plow in our online collections database.

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Table from John’s Place

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Table from John's Place

Table used between 1945 and 1960 at John’s Place (Yuen Faung Low), a Chinese restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Opened in 1883 as the Canton Cafe, it was the first Chinese restaurant in the state. The table features floral and bird mother-of-pearl marquetry on its legs, apron and the frame around the off-white marble slab top. The square columnar legs terminate in block feet; the apron incorporates Chinese ideograms into its inlay.

For details, view the table in our online collections database.

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Norwegian spinning wheel

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Norwegian spinning wheel

Flyer or Saxony type spinning wheel made of oak with three turned legs supporting the stock. The wooden treadle shaft connects to twelve-spoke wheel. The flyer assembly is intact with spindle, bobbin, and flyer. The wheel was made in 1845 in Norway and brought to the United States in 1870 and then to Dakota Territory.

The spinning wheel is featured in the Collections Up Close podcast “They Chose Minnesota: Immigration to the North Star State.”

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Hmong wooden top

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Hmong wooden top

Wooden top made in June of 1983 by Sying Yang, a Hmong immigrant to St. Paul, when he was 13 years old.

For details, view the top in our online collections database.

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Packing carton used by Hmong immigrants

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Packing carton used by Hmong immigrants

Corrugated cardboard box used as a packing carton by Thoa Blia Cha and his relatives when the family immigrated from Thailand to Minnesota in 1993.

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Norwegian immigrants’ trunk

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Norwegian immigrants' trunk

This 1850s trunk was made in Norway and used to transport a family’s possessions on the journey to their new home in Minnesota. The trunk is made of wood with a domed lid and is bound in iron with carrying handles on each side and straps across the top. There is a narrow built-in wooden tray on one side that appears to have originally had a hinged lid, which is now lost.  Sheet-metal straps on the lid are stamped with the letters “A  A  D  L”.

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Becoming a Citizen: Naturalization Records, 1850 – 1930

Monday, February 13th, 2012

In a nation of immigrants, becoming a citizen — being “naturalized” — has been an important part of our personal and national history. The naturalization process, and the records that document that process, have changed over time. Learn about these changes and about related resources available at the Minnesota Historical Society Library.

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Friday, November 12th, 2010


This unusual looking contraption is called a steelyard, and had you been alive during the late nineteenth century you probably would’ve already known that, as they were quite abundant. Steelyards are weighing devices that were most often found in rural areas, particularly on farms. They were used for weighing everything from household goods to grain to animals and even newborn babies. Although similar weighing devices date back more than 2,500 years, the most common version in America was sometimes referred to as a Scandinavian steelyard and resembled the one in this photograph. Steelyards were usually hand forged by a town’s local blacksmith, but two in the MHS Collection were brought to Minnesota by Scandinavian immigrants; one from Norway and the other from Iceland.

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Swede Hollow Etching

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Swede Hollow - George Earl Resler

Swede Hollow
by George Earl Resler (1882-1954)
Etching, circa 1915-1925

Swede Hollow was one of the oldest settlements in Saint Paul, Minnesota, occupied originally by Swedish immigrants in the 1850’s. The neighborhood also later served as a home for other groups of new Minnesotans, including Polish, Italian, and Mexican Americans.  George Earl Resler, a Minnesota printmaker, was exceptionally skillful at finding and conveying the beauty of routine, everyday scenes. As he does here, Resler often depicted tenement housing, back alleys, and even difficult labor conditions, realities that were often purposefully overlooked or ignored by many Minnesotans.

Benjamin Gessner, Collections Assistant

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

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