Collections Up Close

collections up close Blog

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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Summer in the West, 1950

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

This Adolf Dehn painting is a gouache on canvas from 1950 and shows what is likely an early hay harvest. 
Hay can be harvested as many as three times a summer if conditions are good.

Last Day of School!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 7, 2019

For many students (and parents!) in Minnesota, today is the last day of school before summer break. 
These kids certainly look like they are ready! This photo is from 1940, but unfortunately the school is not identified.

1960s Sundress

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 6, 2019

This multicolored cotton chintz mini sundress was purchased at Dayton's Oval Room, circa 1960s. 

The Western Appeal, 1885

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 5, 2019

The Western Appeal (later the Appeal), the first Minnesota-published African American newspaper to gain national readership, premiered on this date in 1885 under the editorship of Frederick D. Parker.

This image is of the second issue from our Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub, accessible from anywhere!

Remembering Donald Fraser

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 4, 2019

Donald Fraser passed away this past Sunday. A true public spirit for over 40 years, he served in the Minnesota Senate, the US House of Representatives, and as Mayor of Minneapolis.

This photo is from early in his career in front of the Minnesota Capitol in 1958.

Log Jam!

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

On this date in 1859, logs driven by floodwaters knocked down the second and third bridges built over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

This stereoview shows a log jam in 1883 on the Mississippi, but no bridges were harmed this time. It was taken by John McCall.

Ojibwe Lacrosse Stick

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 31, 2019

One of four matching Ojibwe lacrosse sticks, made from one piece of wood. The net is made by lacing tan cord through holes in the hoop and knotting them together in the center. It was made by Jack Rohr between 1900 - 1932.

Join us for the Wooden Stick Lacrosse demonstration on Saturday, June 1, from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at the History Center!

Call and See!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 30, 2019

This advertising poster was created for a Saint Paul photography studio in 1858.

A Toast to Toast: Pop-up Toaster Turns 100!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 29, 2019

Toast Lovers, Rejoice!

You know that magical machine that lives in just about every home, which we all take for granted, the electric toaster? Stillwater resident Charles Strite invented that very marvel because he was wanted toast at his office. He applied for a patent for the device exactly one hundred years ago on May 29, 1919.

Waters-Genter, a Minneapolis company, manufactured the electric one-slice toaster you see here in 1921 based on his design. Appropriately named “The Toastmaster,” it is the world's first automatic pop-up toaster that could heat both sides of a slice of bread at the same time, eliminating the need for manual flipping. 

Minnesotans are certainly determined and ingenious when it comes to their breakfast needs! For more, see:

Travel Dress

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 24, 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 is a detail of a pink wool traveling suit, dated 1906, trimmed with pink ribbon and lace. It was identified as Greta Spinning Evans's trousseau gown and made by St. Paul dressmaker Julia Tomasek.