The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.
The photography collection at MNHS contains thousands of photos taken by Norton & Peel, a mid-20th century commercial photography studio operating in Minneapolis. This photo show a display of boxed Valentine candy at a Snyder's Drug Store, 1957.
In the early 1940’s Central High School student Bartlett “Bart” Baker was given this “Rating for Dating” wheel by a female student. The wheel was produced by the Ladies Home Journal in the early 40’s to give young women advice on the best ways to interact with different types of men.
The wheel was created by Elizabeth Woodward, the Sub-Deb Editor for the Ladies Home Journal. “Sub-Debs”, or sub-debutantes, were typically upper class girls in their pre- and early teens who had not yet entered careers or fashionable society. Woodward created numerous items for the Journal aimed at Sub-Debs, including articles such as “Do Boys Like You?” and “How to be Popular”. She was also the Director of the National Sub-Deb Club Federation. Sub-Deb Clubs operated like high school sororities, where members joined (often through initiation), and held monthly meetings. The clubs also organized a number of school events, such as dances and parties.
The wheel gives examples of What to Talk About, How to Act, and What to Do on a Date. For an intelligent boy, or “Brightie”, a girl should act “Wide-eyed and big eared. Be impressed and eager to learn - but stand on your own feet and discuss”. For a “Strong & Silent” boy, she should talk about, “HIM. Serious things like life, happiness, and the right way to raise pigs.” And for dating a “Woman Hater” she should “Go in for the things he likes. Beat him at some sports. Don’t do much sitting around. Get up and do things or go places. Do what he wants to do - even if it’s trout-fishing.”
The “Rating for Dating” wheel offers a glimpse into the world of gender stereotypes prevalent in the 1940s and 1950s. Girls were expected to change their behavior to adapt to boys’ interests, while boys needed to fit a specific image if they wanted to be considered a romantic interest. The “Pals” and “Lilies” would simply be considered good friends, rather than serious dating material.
Decades after receiving the wheel, Baker gave it Marjorie Bingham, a Social Studies teacher at Saint Louis Park High School. According to Bingham, both she and Baker served on the Minnesota Humanities Commission, and when he heard she was teaching an American History module on dating patterns of the 1940s, he offered her the wheel as a primary source example. Bingham donated the wheel to the Minnesota Historical Society in 1995.
Looking at it now, the “Rating for Dating” wheel seems extremely out of date and more than a little offensive. However, is it any different from today’s tween magazines, with their advice on dating and how to be popular?
What I really want to know is what happened if your “Strong & Silent” date didn’t know anything about pigs?
See this in Collections Online, including closeups of all the possible answers!
Stephanie Olson, Collections Assistant
Remember how Winter Carnival ends? With the Vulcans winning and thereby bringing Spring? Let's hope that happens this year! This photo of a Vulcan about to set a pile of Christmas tree on fire is from 1947; if it was actually lit it must have been quite a sight!
See it in Collections Online.
Carl Rowan received a M. A. in journalism from the U of M and wrote for the Minneapolis Spokesman, St. Paul Recorder, and the Minneapolis Tribune covering Civil Rights issues. His provocatively titled first book South of Freedom began as a series of articles for the Tribune which were his observations based on his visits to the south and for which he received a “Service to Humanity” award.
On this date in 1867 Laura Ingalls (Wilder) was born near Pepin, Wisconsin. The family moved around quite a bit in her youth, living in Walnut Grove, Minnesota two different times. She is remembered for writing the Little House on the Prairie book series based on her family's experiences.
These full-length drawers were made by Munsingwear, 1940 - 1949. They are made from a knit of rayon and wool, and were to be used as underwear while skiing. Today we would simply call them long underwear.
See them in Collections Online.
In 2004, the Minnesota Historical Society commissioned two visual artists to depict that year's monumental and ambitious Winter Carnival Ice Palace. This is one of the resulting pieces by Carolyn Swiszcz using acrylic paints.
See it in Collections Online.
Happy Black History Month!
The Credjafawn Social Club is one of the oldest Black social clubs in the Twin Cities community. It was formed one evening in 1927 by ten young adults who felt a lack of social activities for people their age; the name was devised from a letter out of each of the names of the ten charter members. Although started as recreational club, the Credjafawns initiated some outstanding projects of importance for the Black community. This photo is from 1950.
See more images of the club in Collections Online.