Item of the Day

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Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


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.

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Item of the Day

Vixen guitar pick

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 24, 2017
Vixen guitar pick

This triangular pink plastic guitar pick was distributed by the 1980s and 90s all-female rock band Vixen. The pick is printed with the band name and stylized fox logo on one side and with the signature of Jan Kuehnemund, the band's founder and lead guitarist. Kuehnemund was a native of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Sinclair Lewis's Main Street

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 23, 2017
Main Street cover

On this date in 1920 Sinclair Lewis's novel Main Street was published. Ten years later the Sauk Centre native would be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Commemoration ribbon for Minnesota Historical Society Hall, 1856

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 20, 2017
MNHS Ribbon

The Minnesota Historical Society was incorporated by an act of the territorial legislature on this date in 1849. This ribbon is from later to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone for the Minnesota Historical Society Hall in 1856.

Minneapolis Skyline Mural

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 19, 2017
Skyline of Minneapolis

This mural is made of two Plexiglas panels decorated to resemble the Minneapolis city skyline. It was used in the First Avenue Main Room in Minneapolis, Minnesota until July, 2000.

Be sure to check out the new book out tomorrow on the history of First Avenue from the MNHS Press!

Anit-rape button

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 18, 2017
anti-rape button

While this button was manufactured in New Jersey, it was used and worn here throughout the 1980s. Its message is obviously still timely today.

Phyllis Wheatley House

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 17, 2017
Photo of children at Wheatley House, 1924

This photo is of Gertrude Brown playing with children at Phyllis Wheatley House in 1924. The Phyllis Wheatley Settlement House (now the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center), opened in north Minneapolis on this date in 1924. The oldest African American agency in the Twin Cities, the center first served as a place where young African Americans meet for recreation and skill development; today the center calls itself "the cornerstone of the community" and offers integrated programs to address the needs of local families.

Minnesota's Constitution

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 13, 2017

During the constitutional convention to found our state, the Democrats and Republicans refused to meet together. After bitter debate, the whole (yet separate) constitutional conventions agreed to the same proposed language; however, they still refused to sign the same official document. In order to make it happen, two version of the final, formal document were created, as seen above.

On this date in 1857, 160 years ago, the MN state constitution was ratified by popular vote. 

Learn more in this MNopedia article.

"Titanium [Lake Superior]"

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 12, 2017
Titanium  painting

"Titanium [Lake Superior]", an abstract landscape of oil on canvas, was created by Mary Jo Van Dell in 2008.

Central High School Homecoming Button

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 11, 2017
Central homecoming button

It's homecoming season for schools everywhere!

This button was created for St. Paul Central's Homecoming in 1979 and shows an image of the Hulk in a football helmet.

Cloquet, Duluth, and Moose Lake Fires, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 10, 2017
Hotel after fire
Cars destroyed by fire
Fire Relief Headquarters

On this date in 1918 a forest fire begins on the railroad line between Duluth and Hibbing and burns for the next three days, reaching Duluth on the thirteenth. Thirty-eight communities, including the cities of Cloquet, Carlton, and Moose Lake are burned and over 450 people are killed, making it the worst natural disaster in Minnesota history. Above are images of a destroyed hotel; burned cars; and the fire relief headquarters.

Learn more on MNopedia.

See more photos.


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