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

Dayton's Christmas Windows

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 19, 2017
Crowds looking in windows
window display

Christmas window displays were an eagerly anticipated event at the Dayton's flagship downtown Minneapolis store. One photo is of the huge crowds gathered around the windows in 1923; the other is of the Twelve Days of Christmas window display in 1956. 

See more Christmas window photos in Collections Online.

Runes of the North by Sigurd Olson

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 18, 2017
book cover

Minnesota author Sigurd Olson was a passionate leader in conservation and wilderness preservation, with a particularly strong connection to the Boundary Waters. This book of essays was originally published in 1963, the same year he became vice-president of The Wilderness Society.

Runes of the North by Sigurd Olson. New York: Knopf, 1963.

Victorian Christmas Ornament

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 15, 2017

This ornament is made of tinsel and wire in the shape of a woman with an umbrella. She has a molded glass head; the body and umbrella are made of wire covered with tinsel. The manufacturer is unknown; it was used in Minneapolis, circa 1890.

See more ornaments in Collections Online.

Early Candleight: a novel

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 14, 2017
book cover

This book by Maud Hart Lovelace is not part of the well-known and much-loved Betsy-Tacy series, but rather an historical novel about life at Fort Snelling. 

Learn more about Maud Hart Lovelace.

Churchill in Minnesota

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 13, 2017
Churchill photo

The opening of the movie Darkest Hour made me wonder; did Winston Churchill ever visit Minnesota? It turns out yes, he did, as a young MP in 1901. This photo seen here from our collection is from 1940; there are no photos from the 1901 visit. 

Learn more in this Minnesota History article.

Anarchy in the USA?

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 12, 2017
bumper sticker

This bumper sticker was made sometime before 1988; the exact date is unknown. It was made in California and used here.

Father of the Green Revolution

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 11, 2017
Photo of Norman Borlaug

On this date in 1970, Norman E. Borlaug receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his research in hybridizing wheat to increase crop yields in order to feed more people.  He was known as the Father of the Green Revolution, an University of Minnesota alumnus, and a crop researcher.

Learn more in our Library.

Holiday Ornaments

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 8, 2017

These felt holiday ornaments were designed by Uno Hispanic Branding, Minneapolis, 2010.

See them in Collections Online.

Pearl Harbor & the U.S.S. Ward

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 7, 2017
painting of a boat

On this day, outside of Pearl Harbor, the destroyer Ward with its crew primarily of reservists from St. Paul attacks and sinks a Japanese midget submarine. These were the first shots fired on the date of infamy, December 7, 1941.

See it in Collections Online.

Jane Grey Swisshelm is born

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 6, 2017
Portrait of Swisshelm

On this date in 1815 Jane Grey Swisshelm was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While she only lived in Minnesota for six years, she left a lasting and complicated mark on the state. She founded a newspaper in St. Cloud which she used to advocate for women's rights and argue for the abolition of slavery, yet she also promoted violence against the Dakota after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. During the Civil War she moved to Washington, D.C. and became a nurse, dying in 1884.

See this portrait in Collections Online.


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