The Minnesota Historical Society's volunteer and intern programs welcome people from all communities to engage in mission-related projects. Over 2,660 volunteers and interns contribute 53,400 hours hours annually. This diverse volunteer corps helps to achieve the MNHS mission — Using the Power of History to Transform Lives.
137 Boxes and 13,000 Envelopes
This month State Archives volunteers completed the re-housing of 137 boxes of Ramsey County District Court criminal case files dated 1858-1930. The documents were contained in over 13,000 file envelopes, and housed in boxes. The records were received many years ago, and were difficult for our researchers use. Starting in August 2017 our volunteers removed the documents from the envelopes, unfolded the documents, and cut from the envelopes any relevant information. Each case file's documents were placed in bond folder, and then several bond folders were housed in an archival quality folder. The old boxes were discarded with the documents then housed in our boxes.
Now that the Ramsey County District Court criminal case files are unfolded and housed in archival quality folders their preservation is prolonged. And researchers can now easily use the documents without opening a dirty envelope and unfolding the documents to view. The unfolding and unfolding of the documents eventually would damage even the high quality paper documents. Early in the project our volunteers found 3D objects like wallets, coins, bullets and more that were evidence in the criminal cases. The practice of including evidence in the case files was eventually discontinued, and only a few 3D objects were found.
The case files are accessed using a name index that was created by the court at the time the case files were created. We have two groups of State Archives volunteers. The first group of 8-10 volunteers work two mornings a month. The other group of 10 volunteers are from the Women's Organization of the Minnesota Historical Society (WOMNHS) and work one morning a month. We're very grateful to our volunteers as they help us better preserve and provide improved access to the collections in the State Archives. Next project? A mere 92 boxes of Fergus Falls State Hospital commitment papers dated 1890-1967 which are tri-folded in envelopes. Stay tuned for updates!