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McKinley-Roosevelt Hat

Monday, July 18th, 2016

A brown felt fedora given to Minneapolis Journal editor Herschel V. Jones by Vice Presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt in 1900 during Roosevelt’s campaign tour of the west. The hat’s leather sweatband is stamped with “MCKINLEY” and “ROOSEVELT” encircled by laurel wreaths joined by a central banner reading “THE / NATION’S / CHOICE”. “THE MINNEAPOLIS JOURNAL” and Roosevelt’s signature have been written on the crown of the hat in ink, while “ROOSEVELT TRIP 1900″ and a long list of tour stop locations have been written on the top of the hat’s brim. The underside of the brim was signed by other members of the tour press corps.

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

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Bumper Sticker

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

A bumper sticker reads “HATE IS NOT / A FAMILY VALUE” and notes that it was paid for by the Karen Clark Election Committee. It was produced during one of Karen Clark’s campaigns for the Minnesota House of Representatives. Clark, first elected in 1980, was the first openly lesbian member to serve in the Minnesota Legislature.

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

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Women’s Place Button

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

A feminist button, probably from the 1960s or 70s that reads: “WOMAN’S PLACE IS EVERY PLACE”.

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

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100th Anniversary of the Nonpartisan League!

Friday, December 18th, 2015

This year, 2015, is the centenary of the foundation of the Nonpartisan League (NPL). The NPL was founded in the American Midwest and arose out of the cooperative movement popular here. It was a farmer-based movement offering an alternate vision of capitalism, one in which the state would compete with the monopolies that were exploiting the small producers.

The NPL practically invented grass roots organizing, and would support candidates from either party who supported its platform (hence “nonpartisan”). The League advocated for economic reforms to help farmers who were being exploited by business interests, such as grain elevators, stockyards, and other middlemen. “We’ll stick” was the group’s rallying cry, as seen on the pennant below.

The NPL was in operation in 13 states as well as Canada, but it met with its greatest success in North Dakota and Minnesota. This is an image of Minnesota members in 1917.

Pamphlets and newspapers played a hugely important role in the development of the movement, leading to corresponding anti-NPL pamphlets. While not as immediate as our instant commentaries of today, these pamphlets were a quick way to make arguments heard. The rise of the NPL was also one of the earliest political movements to be heavily photographed; seen here are members with The Nonpartisan Leader.

World War I brought about suspicions of the potentially socialist nature of the NPL, which was followed by prosperity in the 1920s for farmers. These two occurrences took away much of the need for the NPL. It eventually developed into the Farmer-Labor party in Minnesota, which later merged with the Democrats. The Democratic Party in Minnesota is still known as the DFL.

Learn more at the Minnesota Historical Society Research Guides and MNopedia!

Come see NPL materials on display in the Library Lobby, on view until mid-January!

Lori Williamson, Acquisitions & Outreach Coordinator

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DFL Button

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

On this day, April 14 in 1944 the Farmer-Labor political party joined with the state Democratic party to form the DFL party. This conglomeration is unique to Minnesota. This button or lapel tag is from 1970 and states “Happiness is a DFL Governor”.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this button 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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Remembering Joan Mondale

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Joan Mondale, wife of former Senator and Vice-President Walter Mondale, passed away this week at the age of 83. She was a passionate arts advocate, partner in politics, potter, and mother.

Seen here are a selection of images from her personal papers and Mr. Mondale’s papers, both at the Minnesota Historical Society. These images show many aspects of her life in the public eye, but can only hint at her spirit.

Please see this document for specific information on the images.
Joan Mondale Slideshow photo info

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Carter-Mondale 1976 campaign button

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Carter-Mondale 1976 campaign button

Pinback button supporting the 1976 presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter (Grits) and Walter Mondale (Fritz).

For details, view this button in our collections database.

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Coya Knutson’s Accordion

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Cornelia “Coya” Knutson (1912-1996) dreamed of being an opera singer.  After graduating from Concordia College in 1934, the North Dakota native set out for New York City to study piano and voice at the prestigious Julliard School.  Regrettably, an operatic career was not in the cards but Coya would later apply her musical talents to succeed in an unrelated yet equally competitive vocation – politics.    She was helping her husband Andy manage a hotel and cafe in Oklee, Minnesota during the early 1940’s when the political bug bit her.  With accordion in hand she hit the campaign trail, singing her way across the state in a vivacious soprano. Inspired by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Coya became a staunch supporter of agricultural reform and won the hearts and votes of Minnesota’s rural communities.

After serving on the Red Lake County Board and in the Minnesota House of Representatives, the former music teacher and Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate stunned the state’s political establishment in 1954 by beating twelve-year incumbent Harold Hagen for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Coya Knutson was now the first woman from Minnesota elected to Congress, and Washington was soon to become equally astounded by her drive and commitment.   Despite her lack of seniority, Coya won a seat on the coveted House Agriculture Committee, initiated the first federal appropriations for cystic fibrosis research, introduced the first bill for the income tax check-off to fund Presidential election campaigns, and wrote the first federal student loan program.

But Knutson’s prospects for a long career in Congress were derailed in 1958 when husband Andy made a public plea for Coya to quit politics and return to Minnesota.  In a time when a woman’s place was in the home, not in the House of Representatives, Andy’s appeal struck a resonant chord with voters and toppled Coya’s bid for re-election. Coya Knutson never held elected office again, despite comeback attempts in 1960 and 1977, but her determination, dedication to service, and personal charm firmly established her as an iconic figure in Minnesota political history.

Adam Scher, Senior Curator

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Contemporary Political Posters in Minnesota

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Historically, posters have been a relatively cheap and quick way to disseminate information and ideas. Often, in opposition to commercial posters which promote the consumption of products, political posters, as a genre, have been used much in the same way as political graffiti – to promote grassroots political and philosophical ideas and movements.

Today, political poster-makers expand upon the historic role of their predecessors, often straddling the line of fine art printmaking. Almost exclusively, they produce hand-printed, limited-edition serigraphs (screenprints) or prints produced using letterset presses – rather than using machines to print offset lithographs, which is the printing process most commonly associated with ‘large-run’ commercial posters.

Minnesota has a unique and vibrant graphic arts community; the community of printmakers and poster artists is no exception.

Poster Offensive is a biennial political poster exhibit created in 2004 by Jeff Johnson, owner and creative director of Spunk Design Machine (these exhibits currently coincide with election cycles).  According to the exhibit organizers, Poster Offensive is “an independent, non-partisan poster show, which utilizes the politically potent medium of the poster to showcase contemporary interpretations and critiques of political and social issues.”

Although many of the artworks in the Poster Offensive exhibits deal specifically with the elections with which they coincide, some reflect larger issues, including local food movements, conservation of natural resources, freedom of speech, unemployment, immigration, women’s rights, and, like these presented here from the 2012 Poster Offensive 6, the recent proposed ‘marriage’ amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution. Designed, illustrated, and printed by Jeff Johnson, Bill Ferenc, and Andy Weaver of Spunk Design Machine, a Minneapolis-based design boutique, these two versions of Equal Equals Love were recently added to the Fine Art collection at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Ben Gessner, Collections Associate

Click images above to see them larger. To learn more, please go to Collections Online:

Paul Bunyan and Jolly Green Giant

Dorothy and Betty Crocker

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Walter Mondale and the Public Affairs Collection

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The Minnesota Historical Society holds the Walter F. Mondale Papers and has one of the nation’s premier collections of government, politics, and public affairs materials. Watch to learn more about the collections and how to use these fabulous materials.

icon for podpress  Podcast Video [2:25m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download (635)
icon for podpress  Ebook: Download (255)

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