Collections Up Close

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Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future

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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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Kuempel Clock Works advertising card

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 11, 2019

Daylight Savings Time started this weekend! Therefore we are featuring this odd advertising card for Kuempel Chime Clock Works and Studio of Excelsior, circa 1965. Are we to meant to understand that their clocks are as reliable as the sea? Or is that the North Shore?

St. Paul Political Equality Club banner

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

Happy International Women's Day! In honor of the day we share one of our favorite Suffrage banners from the collection. This was created and used by the St. Paul Political Equality Club circa 1920.

Hockey Stick Pamphlet

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

The Boys High School Hockey Tournament is underway! This folded paper pamphlet is advertising for Christian Brothers Hockey Sticks based in Warroad, 1965.

Untitled, 1957

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

Although better known for his work as a sculptor, this mixed-media collage was created by John Rood in 1957. It features clippings from newspapers, pamphlets and maps.

Red Cross knitting projects, ca. 1917 - 18

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

This photograph shows people admiring a knitting project done at the St. Paul Red Cross during World War I. 

Ojibwe beaded mittens

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

Thinking warm thoughts today leads us to mittens.

This pair of Ojibwe leather mittens is decorated with fringe and floral beadwork. They are dated circa 1900-1950.

Bobby Roberts, Photographer

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

Our last featured African-American photographer this week created one of our newest acquisitions.
Bobby Rodgers, an exciting contemporary photographer based in Minneapolis, took these two portraits as part of the “Catch a Fade” project in 2018.

Charles Chamblis, photographer

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

We are featuring African-American photographers during this last week of Black History Month. 

Charles Chamblis was a photographer working in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. He photographed events throughout the African-American community, including families, nightlife, musicians, fashion models, weddings, and landscape views, mainly in Minneapolis. The MNHS Press recently published a collection of his work called "Sights, Sounds, Soul: the Twin Cities through the Lens of Charles Chamblis." The Library also holds many examples of his work.
This image is of a modeling fashion show, circa 1980 - 1985.

John Glanton, photographer

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 27, 2019

We are featuring African-American photographers during this last week of Black History Month. 


John F. Glanton was a photographer in the Twin Cities who memorialized a variety of events, people, and moments in post-World War II Minnesota. Many of his photos appeared in the Minneapolis Spokesman and the St. Paul Recorder.

This collection of his work, "Double Exposure," was recently published by the MNHS Press.

Gordon Parks

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 26, 2019

We are featuring African-American photographers during this last week of Black History Month. 


Gordon Parks was a modern-day Renaissance man. He was a musician, poet, novelist, filmmaker, and photographer. He directed "Shaft" and was the first African-American photographer and essayist for Life Magazine. Parks spent some of his formative years as a teen in Saint Paul in the late 1920s.


This photo is of Parks signing his books at the St. Paul Hilton Hotel in 1969.

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