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Bing Crosby Tape

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Bing Crosby Tape

Audio tape cartridge of Bing Crosby’s music album “I Wish You a Merry Christmas,” manufactured by 3M Company, Revere-Wollensak Division, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1962.

For details, view this tape in our collections database.

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Dan Murphy’s Les Paul Goldtop Guitar

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

“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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Star Wars 8-track

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Star Wars 8-track

8-track cartridge containing the soundtrack to Star Wars, 1977.

For details, view this 8-track in our collections database.

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Qeej (wind instrument)

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Qeej (wind instrument)

Bamboo and metal qeej (pronounced kheng) made by Shong Ger Thao of St. Paul, Minnesota in 1999.  A qeej is a free-reed musical instrument with multiple pipes.  Though Chinese in origin, the instrument is played by Hmong as well as Dong musicians.

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

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Blonde on Blonde

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Blonde on Blonde

Bob Dylan’s album Blonde on Blonde, released in 1966 by Columbia Records. This double album contains songs “I Want You,” “Rainy Day Women #12 $ 32,” and “Temporary Like Achilles.” Today, May 24, 2011 is Dylan’s 70th birthday. Bob Dylan was born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing.

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Bob Dylan’s lyrics for Temporary Like Achilles

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Temporary Like Achilles FrontTemporary Like Achilles Back

One of the first times in my career that I asked myself A) do I really get to do this for a living? and B) will I get my butt fired for buying this? was when I purchased a Bob Dylan manuscript. The item in question was Dylan’s lyrics to “Temporary Like Achilles.” Dylan recorded perhaps his best work ever on the double album Blonde on Blonde and when he was finished he handed his manuscripts, including this one, to the Nashville studio engineer Charley Bragg. Bragg later auctioned off the work through a London house and the Historical Society picked up “TLA” from a rare book dealer in Hollywood, CA in 1988. A thing of beauty, isn’t it? (Click to enlarge.)

Patrick Coleman, Acquisitions Librarian

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Snare drum made in Winona, Minnesota

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Snare drum made in Winona, Minnesota

This Civil War-era (1861 – 1865) wooden snare drum has skin snare heads, rope tuning chords and leather ear tugs. The device on the front of the shell is a Federal eagle below a sunburst motif. The drum was made by W. Raymond of Winona, Minnesota, a manufacturer of snare and bass drums, banjos, tambourines, and more.  This drum was among contents of the Meighen Store in Forestville, Minnesota.

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Silver fife

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Silver fife

Metal fife owned by Joseph Renshaw Brown, fur trader, territorial legislator, editor of Minnesota Pioneer newspaper, Indian agent and Major during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.  Fife has six finger holes and a lead “cheater” or fipple mouthpiece attached with a brass screw. Cork plug above mouthpiece is still present. Circa 1850s.

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Minnesota Sheet Music Collection

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

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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Bass drum used by Grant Hart

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Bass drum used by Grant Hart

Bass drum used by Grant Hart of the influential Minnesota punk/indie band Hüsker Dü. Made by the Ludwig Drum Company in the late 1950s, the head has handwritten lyrics to the song “Diane” from the album Metal Circus, released in 1983.

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