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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Blue Jeans Plus

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 23, 2019

These patchworked blue jeans include multiple fabric types including velveteen, floral printed cotton hopsacking, corduroy, cotton shirts and India prints. Some of the patches are embellished with brush-on glitter and others are pinned with safety pins. They were created and worn in Minneapolis between 1968 - 1975.

Oberholtzer's Violin

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 20, 2019

At the heart of all his activities, Ober loved canoe camping. He enjoyed traveling the Boundary Waters, setting up camp, cooking over the campfire, and sleeping under the canvas. Ober kept journals of all his canoe trips and the people he traveled with. He always brought his camera along, and his violin. Ober played violin into the night, singing to the wilderness, or sometimes just a short tune to remember by.  

The Ernest C. Oberholtzer exhibit in the library lobby highlights items Ober brought with him on his canoe trips, including his violin, on loan from The Oberholtzer Foundation. To see these  and other items, visit the Gale Family Reference Library Lobby display now on view!  

Oberholtzer's Oral Histories

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 17, 2019

The MNHS has an Ernest Oberholtzer oral history collection. In it Oberholtzer reminisces about all facets of his life and career: his explorations in northern Minnesota; his opposition to lumbering and damming operations in the Rainy Lakes area by Edward W. Backus and others; the Quetico-Superior program; the Shipstead-Newton-Nolan Bill passed by the U.S. Congress in 1930, which set aside public lands in the present Superior National Forest; other aspects of conservation in northern Minnesota and elsewhere; Ojibwe Indian culture and stories; and many related topics.  The Ediphone that belonged to Ober is now on view in the Library Lobby; Ober would use it when conducting his own interviews. 

Barren Landscape

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 16, 2019

This is a view of Nueltin Lake in Nunavut, Canada.  Ernest Oberholtzer traveled with his friend and guide Billy Magee in 1912 into northern Canada and over to Hudson Bay.  During an arduous month that took an unmapped route, Oberholtzer snapped this view of the lake.  
To learn more about Oberholtzer's journey and his life and dedication to conservation efforts, visit the Gale Family Reference Library Lobby display now on view!

Friday the 13th

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 13, 2019

This photo from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune shows a girl with an August 1937 calendar, pointing to Friday the 13th. She does not seem to be happy about it.
Hope your day today is a good one!
This image forms part of Minneapolis and St. Paul Newspaper Negative Collection, available in the Gale Family Library here at MNHS.

Ikat Jacket

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 12, 2019

This Hmong woman’s ikat jacket is reversible: one side is indigo-dyed cotton trimmed with red piping and the other showcases cross-stitch embroidery (detail shown here).
It was made in the 1980s.

Summer Afternoon

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

It is still technically summer, and this watercolor seems reminiscent of our recent weather.
Adolf Dehn painted this in 1950; it is called "Summer Afternoon."

Minnesota Votes for Suffrage

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 9, 2019

On September 8, 1919 (one hundred years ago), the Minnesota Legislature ratified the 19th amendment to the Constitution securing women's right to vote. 

This is the front page of the Minneapolis newspaper the next day. The author of this article was a woman, and the third paragraph reads: 

"Womanly, they next gave vent to their emotions by serving an old-fashioned chicken dinner to the men of Minnesota who directly gave them the vote."

See the whole page.

School Wall Hanging

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

This wall hanging was created by the 3rd grade class at the Shaw School in Austin, MN and depicts motifs from Laura Ingalls Wilder's "On The Banks of Plum Creek." The designs are made from felt, yarn, and cardboard. The pictures follow the story of the Ingalls family as they settled in Minnesota and made a life for themselves here. The hanging was made in 1970-71.

Walking to school

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

This photo shows young women walking to school in 1927.
My favorite thing about it is that stack of books the woman on the right is carrying!