About The Author

David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Three recent articles on MinnPost highlight what journalists suggest are 150 things that happened in Minnesota that would have been nice if they had not taken place. What do local historians have to say about this list? What value might there be in commemorating the ugly and the disasterous? How complete is this list? What events have been left off that you would add? (Such as the 1998 St. Peter Tornado) How do you approach telling difficult stories?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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3 Responses to 150 Years to Forget

  1. Todd Mahon says:

    I just skimmed the list, but it doesn’t seem very controversial. Personally, I have no problems exploring controversial history. However, I completely recognize how difficult it is to do in a public program or exhibit. This list is sort of odd in that it has the Dakota hangings alongside below freezing temperatures on July 4.


  2. Melinda Hutchinson says:

    Once again, I’m seeing a very Orwellian slant to our society. Remember how the main character’s job in ‘1984’ is to rewrite all the old media to reflect the current events? Yes, the collective memory is short–if we ignore certain areas of history, we may begin to believe that they didn’t happen.

    However, that is doing a great disservice to the historical record. History is what it is. In order to understand our past, we need to understand the whole past, good and bad.

    One of my internships for grad school included an oral history project. I interviewed a representative sample of people in south Rockford (IL), including Italian-Americans, African-Americans, and Mexican-Americans. I heard a lot about the discrimination these folks faced. So, my final report to our board? A mini-exhibit on ethnocentrism!


  3. Mary Warner says:

    History told through rose-colored glasses isn’t very interesting at all. Some of the most sought-after information in our collections deals with the most sordid events in our history.

    One of the things that is very easy to forget about bad events is that they sometimes (often?) bring out the good in people. It depends upon where a person is in the story. It’s up to historians to tell as much of the whole story as possible, from as many perspectives as possible. Even then, history won’t be complete, but at least we have to try.


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