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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Minnesota Landmarks

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 4, 2020

This block print, titled "Minnesota Landmarks," was made by Gretchen Quie in 1982. 
Quie was both an artist and arts advocate, as well as the First Lady of Minnesota from 1979 - 1983.

How many landmarks do you recognize?

"South of Freedom"

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 3, 2020

Happy Black History Month!
Throughout February we will feature as Item of the Day books in our collections written by African Americans across many genres. 
Today is South of Freedom written by Carl Rowan in 1952.  Rowan, then a young African American journalist from Minneapolis, journeyed six thousand miles through the South to report on the reality of everyday life for blacks in the region.


Vulcan Coat

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 31, 2020

As the Saint Paul Winter Carnival comes to its end this weekend with the triumph of the Vulcans over King Boreas and winter, let's hope spring will follow before too long!
This wool 'Flame' coat was worn by Howard Christensen, who served as Vulcanus Rex XXI in 1968.

Trees in Winter

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 30, 2020

This watercolor, named "Trees in Winter," was painted by Alice Hugy in 1930.

Wartime Poster, 1914 - 1918

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 29, 2020

This poster is not kidding around. 
The importance of coal to the World War I war effort is re-enforced by the message that families will be cold if they do not take appropriate precautions and cut wood now!
"Save Your Family Next Winter" could hardly be more direct.

Hat, 1960

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 28, 2020

I want this hat. Isn't it lovely?
It's a ladies' red satin and velvet cloche designed by Walter Florell and purchased from the John W. Thomas and Company in Minneapolis. It was worn by Mrs. Jane Freeman, wife of former governor Orville Freeman during the John Kennedy campaign and the Eisenhower bridge dedication. Circa 1960.

Winter Transportation Ad

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 27, 2020

This print poster is an advertisement for winter vehicles from Crisham and Winch for the 1895 – 1896 season. 
How would you like this to be your mode of transportation?

St. Paul Winter Carnival Medal, 1888

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 24, 2020

This early Saint Paul Winter Carnival medal features an eagle with outstretched wings carrying a banner reading: "E. PLURIBUS UNUM". The medal also features the 1888 Ice Palace; the other side depicts Columbia and the date 1888.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 17, 2020

The new art exhibit opening at the James J. Hill House tomorrow had us thinking about botanical prints in the collection.
This watercolor is called "Creeping or Spicy Wintergreen."  It was created as part of the WPA art project in 1941 by Lloyd Quackenbush.
Be sure to visit "Art From the Edge of the Boreal Forest: Reflecting Biodiversity" on view at the Hill House January 18 - June 21, 2020!


War Ration Books

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 16, 2020

This war ration book holder was manufactured by Pillsbury Best Flour for the Office of Price Administration, USA, in 1943.