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

Sequin and Bead Dress

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 20, 2019

We have collaborated with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts on a show called The Art of High Style: Minnesota Couture 1880–1914, pairing pieces of art from their collection with historic dress from ours. It is on view at MIA until August 4.

This exquisite piece is a black satin and lace gown with sequin and bead trim. It was made by Minneapolis dressmaker Mary Molloy between 1904 - 1908.

Kumbak All-in-One Tool

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 17, 2019

Now is the time of year to go camping, and good tools are key to a good time.
This is the Kumbak combination tool manufactured by the Kumbak Company of Minneapolis. The device is made of dark red plastic and includes a whistle; a compartment used to keep matches or maps dry; and a compass attached to the base. 
It was purchased from the back of a comic book by George W. Edwards, likely in the early 1950s.


Construction of Pig's Eye Sewer Plant

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 16, 2019

This photo shows the construction of the sewage disposal plant at Pig's Eye Island in St. Paul, 1937.
It was dedicated on this date in 1938. Considered a progressive facility when it opened, it later became a Superfund site.  

Flower King

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 15, 2019

This print by Gary Egger from 1980 is titled "Flower King."

It was created from the Dayton's Bluff Print of the Month Club and is based on a historical photograph.

In the Month of May

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 14, 2019

This chapbook was printed by Red Ozier Press of New York in 1985. It is one of 140 handmade copies of Robert Bly's work "In the Month of May." 
This is its opening stanza:

"In the month of May when all leaves open,
I see when I walk how well all things
lean on each other, how the bees work,
the fish make their living the first day.
Monarchs fly high; then I understand
I love you with what in me is unfinished."




By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 13, 2019

On this date in 1956 Elvis Presley performed at the Minneapolis Auditorium for a crowd of 3,000.

This photograph from the St. Paul Dispatch-Pioneer Press shows him signing autographs during that visit.

Happy Mother's Day

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 10, 2019

Happy Mother's Day this weekend to all the important women in our lives!
And what better way to celebrate than with plants!
This photo of an elementary school plant sale for Mother's Day is from 1935.

Minnehaha Falls

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 9, 2019

This majestic image of Minnehaha Falls was taken between 1910 - 1925. It forms part of Edward D. Mayo photograph collection. 
Don't miss the little figure on the left hand side!

Sun Fetcher

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 8, 2019

I feel like this is a book we all may need a bit of today.

It's "Sun Fetcher," a book of poetry by Minneapolis poet Michael Dennis Browne. It was published in 1978 and is in the MNHS Library collection.

Prince's Purple Rain Costume

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 3, 2019

Prince's iconic ensemble from "Purple Rain," which was largely filmed in First Avenue, will be on display in the exhibit. 
The First Avenue exhibit opens on Saturday, May 4!


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