Done By Volunteers & Interns

Done By Volunteers and Interns Blog

Activities and accomplishments of Minnesota Historical Society volunteers and interns


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.

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Database Analyst and Technician

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 14, 2015

Michael is the Database Analyst and Technician for the tax credit program under the supervision of Barbara Howard. He has brought in troubleshooting and database skills to this project. During the time that Michael has been volunteering for the Historical Center, he has cleaned through 720 applications, making the data consistent and with continuity. The Historic Preservation Department is hoping to redesign the database. Without Michael’s expertise and help, designing the new database with a high and clean profile would be difficult.

Diana and Lumberjack Math

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 13, 2015

Diana has 45 years of math experience teaching in junior high schools, high schools, and community colleges. She has been a key player in the Lumberjack Math instructional kit volunteering for Heidi Kloempken in the Museum Education and Lifelong Learning department. The Lumberjack Math instructional kit it a fun and unique way to introduce math and history for students grades 4 - 8. She has checked the math problems along with answers and reworded to make sure that the language of the problems are easy to understand for non-native English speakers. Not only does she check the word problems, Diana also offered great ideas and clarifications on the tool kit.

Diana Hestwood and the Lumberjack Math instructional kit

World War I era Records

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 11, 2015

While the records are not a new acquisition to the State Archives, a sizable number (14 boxes) of Adjutant General records, with significant content and value, received enhanced arrangement and description. They will be very useful for research as the World War I centennial is observed. State Archives volunteer Mary spent more than eighteen months reviewing, arranging, describing and re­housing these Adjutant General records. Most of the records are from the World War I era, but there are many records dating from the 1880s. The records include Home Guard and Naval Militia enlistment papers, administrative files of the Adjutant General’s office, selected records (e.g., rosters, reports, orders, correspondence) of Minnesota National Guard units, files concerning National Guard encampments and facilities (including Camp Lakeview in Lake City), District 3 Draft Board records, and court martial files.

Data entry for 996 bridges

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 10, 2015

State Archives volunteer Charles did data entry into a spreadsheet for Transportation Department/Bridge Division bridge plans (dated circa 1895­-1973) for approximately 996 bridges selected by Transportation Department staff as a representative sample of various bridge types used in the state as well as structures of historical significance in terms of engineering or location. Besides bridge type, engineering design, and location/crossing, plans were selected for bridges listed in, or eligible for, the National Register of Historical Places, or for which a Historic American Engineering Records (HAER) report was completed.

Debbie re-housed and inventoried reports

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 5, 2015

A set of Adjutant General/National Guard ordnance and supplies reports (dated 1866-1915) preserved in the State Archives were re-processed by State Archives volunteer Debbie. Many of the records were tri-folded, so they were unfolded and re-housed, with a new inventory accomplished. The records include reports, returns, inventories, and correspondence documenting ordnance, clothing, equipment, quartermaster supplies, and other property supplied by the state to the various Minnesota militia and guard units during period between the end of the Civil War and the United States’ entry into World War I.


Submitted by Charles Rodgers on 5/5/15

Luke reduced 30-year-old backlog

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 21, 2015

Luke worked with Ryan Barland, Oral History and transcribed 3 interviews that have sat in our backlog for about 30 years. One interview is with a WWI African American veteran, and the other two are interviews with Dakota elders. The transcripts Luke did will make these interviews accessible to the general public and be a great resource for researchers. Since there is no budget to transcribe these old interviews without volunteer help they would have remained unused.

Jack completed ROVI project

By: Rebekah Bjork | March 14, 2015

Jack completed a Return on Volunteer Investment report. He interviewed 24 staff, analyzed the data and came up a report that will be shared with staff. This enables us to learn what it takes to work with volunteers, the resources needed and how we can improve our programs.

Lydia recognized for updating the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

By: Rebekah Bjork | February 2, 2015

The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress ( is one of the most authoritative sources for biographical sketches of current and former members of the United States Congress. Many of the sketches contain references to collections of papers and records that congressional members have created and that are in public archives. As part of her volunteer work for the manuscripts unit of the Collections Department, Lydia reviewed the entries in this guide for all past and present Minnesota members of Congress. She updated entries for 26 Minnesota representatives and 14 Minnesota senators. The historical offices of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate sent communications thanking her for the submissions. We expect that these updated references will increase use of those manuscript collections by scholars using our Gale Family Library.


Submitted by Duane P. Swanson, Curator of Manuscripts posted 2/2/15

Maja deciphered and organized 80+ years of Swedish letters

By: Rebekah Bjork | January 28, 2015

During the month of January 2015, volunteer college student Maja worked with staff Duane Swanson, Curator, organizing a collection of letters in 3 boxes, spanning 80+ years, most of which were in Swedish. Maja used her basic knowledge of the Swedish language to infer and deduce familial connections among the correspondents. This was an excellent opportunity for her to gain hands-on archival experience with a set collection. This project will help her further her career aspirations with foreign languages and cultures, and historical research and writing.


Submitted by Jean Nierenhausen, posted 1/27/15

History of Minnesota archaeology in the National Register program

By: Rebekah Bjork | October 24, 2014

Amanda completed her current volunteer project in early September, as she was preparing to move to Chicago for her MA coursework in Historic Preservation. Amanda assisted David Mather with data gathering on Minnesota archaeological sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places. After studying recent nominations, she created a spreadsheet to record categories of data that had been deemed useful. After the spreadsheet was in its final form, she started working through the NRHP documentation and entering data. As expected, the available time did not permit complete data recording for all the listed sites, but the spreadsheet will allow the project to continue, either by staff, by Amanda herself in a follow-up project, or by another volunteer. David intends to use the data to compile a summary history of Minnesota archaeology in the National Register program, for the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, in 2016. Amanda's volunteer work has been a great help toward this goal.


Submitted by Barbara Howard, posted 10/24/14