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

Autumn Glow Quilt

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 1, 2017
quilt image

Autumn Glow sampler quilt. Screen printed, sun printed, and hand dyed cotton fabrics by Diane Bartels. Quilt designed, pieced, and quilted by Susan Stein, 2002.

Treat-or-treating, 1948-style

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 31, 2017
trick or treat photo

Treat-or-treating in Saint Paul in 1948; they seem pretty happy to get apples. 

Happy Halloween!

See this and more Halloween photo here.

The magus, or Celestial Intelligencer: being a complete system of occult philosophy

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 30, 2017

Written by Francis Barnett and published in London in 1801, this book of magic called The Magus is certainly one of the creepiest in our collection. Made up of three books, it contains the practice of the cabalistic art, natural, and celestial magic. It discusses alchemy, hermetic philosophy, magnetism, ceremonial magic, and the conjuration of spirits.  The whole volume is illustrated with a great variety of curious engravings; this page is just one example. 
Happy day before Halloween!


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 27, 2017

A hand-colored lithograph from John James Audubon's Imperial Folio Edition of "The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America" (1843-1848), Folio 2, Plate VIII. The illustrations for this series were made by J.J. Audubon and his son John Woodhouse Audubon. Most of the backgrounds were done by another of J.J. Audubon's sons, Victor Gifford Audubon. The printing and hand coloring was done by J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia.

In the book they are referred to as "chipping squirrels" because of noise they make.

Furness sisters rake leaves

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 26, 2017
Raking photo

Sisters Anita and Laura Furness, granddaughters of Governor Ramsey, are seen here raking leaves in this photo from 1949. They lived together in the Ramsey House; after their deaths they left the house and all its contents to the Minnesota Historical Society, which was founded in part by their grandfather in 1849.

Remembering Senator Paul Wellstone

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 25, 2017
Wellstone sign

Fifteen years ago today, Senator Paul Wellstone and seven others are killed in plane crash near Eveleth, MN. After his death, his surviving sons and former campaign manager would go on to create The Wellstone Action progressive advocacy organization in their family's honor.

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!


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