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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Grasshopper Plague

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

This carte-de-visite shows a cartoon titled "Grangers versus Grasshoppers or the irrepressible conflict." It was made in 1880, one of the years when Rocky Mountain Locust were the torment of farmers in Minnesota and across the Midwest.
We share this today in honor of the MNHS Annual Meeting and its guest speaker Caroline Fraser, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Free the Hostages pin

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

Forty years ago today, on November 4, 1979, the Iranian Hostage Crisis started. Fifty-two Americans were held for 444 days, including Bruce Laingren, a Minnesotan and the most senior American official held at the Embassy.

Dia de los Muertos

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 1, 2019

Happy Halloween!

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

These trick or treaters are ready for candy! This image of the excited children was taken in Saint Paul in 1934.

Anoka Halloween Festival Beer Can

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

A souvenir beer can from the 1978 Anoka Halloween Festival in Anoka, Minnesota. The can has an image of a pumpkin on the front and the story of Halloween in Anoka on the back. 
It was made by August Schell Brewing in 1978.

Haunted Locations

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

This guidebook will help you find or avoid supposedly haunted places, which may be handy this time of year. 
We have a copy in the MNHS Library if you need to consult it before planning your next road trip. It was published in 2005.

Nixon Costume

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 28, 2019

It's getting to be the spooky time of year!
And what could be scarier than this Nixon costume in the office? This photo was taken on Halloween, 1974.

Picking Apples in Owatonna

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 25, 2019

This photograph shows a group of people from the Owatonna State School picking apples together in 1910.

Oberholtzer Exhibit and Reception

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 24, 2019

An exhibit about the life and work of Ernest Carl Oberholtzer is now open and free to the public in the lobby of the Gale Family Library, second floor, Minnesota History Center.  Visitors will see displays highlighting Ober’s contributions to conservation efforts; his books and photography; his love of camping and the outdoors; and his and Billy Magee’s epic 1912 canoe journey to Hudson Bay.  This exhibit is in place until late November.  

On Saturday, October 26th from 2:00-4:30 a reception featuring this exhibit and the Oberholtzer Foundation's work will be held in the “Fraternal Congress Room” off the lobby of the Gale Family Library on the second floor of the History Center. Members of the public are welcome!

Celebratory Napkins

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 24, 2019

This is a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but when an album is named "Candy Apple Grey" and one is posting about apples it's sort of a natural fit, right?
These napkins were created to celebrate the result of Husker Du's album "Candy Apple Grey." They were intentionally designed to be reminiscent of 50th wedding anniversary napkins.
This is also a reminder to come see the First Avenue exhibit and learn more about Husker Du!