Minnesota History Magazine


Two annual awards recognize originality, excellence, and creativity in article research and writing. Each bestows a cash prize of $600. Two judges and the editor of Minnesota History select the winners.

  • The Solon J. Buck Award, named for the magazine’s first editor (1915-31) and, later, United States Archivist, is awarded to the best article of the year.
  • The Theodore C. Blegen Award, named for the Minnesota Historical Society’s superintendent (1931-39), is given to the best article written by an MHS staff member (not eligible for the Buck Award).

History Day Award

Every year, the national History Day program picks a theme for students to investigate in various media.
Minnesota History gives its History Day Award to the best senior-level paper devoted to a topic in the
state’s history. This award includes a $50 prize.

The theme for 2016 was "Exploration, Encounter, Exchange," and the winner is Madison Anderson, a sophomore at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul. Her paper, "Jenson v. Eveleth: Encountering Sexual Harassment and Exploring Women’s Rights in the Workplace," examines the first-ever class action lawsuit for sexual harassment in the United States, brought by Lois E. Jenson and other women who worked for the Eveleth Taconite Company (Eveleth Mines). The suit was filed in 1988 by lawyer Paul Sprenger after the women experienced over a decade of harassment in a hostile work environment. The lawsuit was successfully settled at the end of 1998. Though Jenson v. Eveleth did not change any laws, Anderson writes, it helped enforce the laws that were already in place. Because of the lawsuit, companies everywhere implemented sexual harassment policies and started taking this issue seriously.

2015 Winners

  • Solon J. Buck Award: The award for the best article published in 2015 goes to Susan Bartlett Foote for her article, "Finding Engla Schey: Catalyst for Mental Hospital Reform in Minnesota," which appeared in the Summer 2015 issue. Foote tells the story of Engla Schey, child of immigrants, working woman, passionate crusader, and attendant at three of Minnesota's seven mental hospitals during the 1940s and 1950s. Engla's personal history, hard work, and lifetime convictions led her to become a behind-the-scenes activist who made a difference in the movement to reform Minnesota's mental hospitals. The judges cited the author's masterful job of pulling together sources to portray how an ordinary person was at the center of an important reform movement in Minnesota history, weaving together a number of contexts to produce a perfectly pitched portrait. Foote is professor emerita of public health at the University of Minnesota.
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: The 2015 prize for the best article by a Minnesota Historical Society staff member goes to David Mather for "Grand Mound and the Muskrat: A Model of Ancient Cosmology on the Rainy River," published in the Spring 2015 issue. Grand Mound has long been known as a regional monument, sacred place, and cemetery. Mather puts forward a new archaeological interpretation that allows us to explore the deep history of Minnesota's largest American Indian earthwork: the idea of the mound as a muskrat effigy, representing the Earth Diver hero of ancient world creation stories. Judges characterized the article as "innovative and engaging," and gave it high marks for the way it weaves together elements of different disciplines, presents new information, and changes our conception of the topic. Mather is the National Register archaeologist in the Society's Heritage Preservation office.

2011 Winners

  • Solon J. Buck Award: The award for the best article published in Minnesota History during 2011 has been won by co-authors Tom Beer and Tom O’Connell for “Father Francis Gilligan and the Struggle for Civil Rights,” which was published in the Summer issue. Born in Massachusetts and trained to be a priest and professor of moral theology, Gilligan was released from his home diocese to teach at St. Paul Seminary after earning his doctoral degree in 1928. In St. Paul, he combined his teaching career with a personal mission to combat discrimination. His work merged Catholic social-justice teachings and sociological approaches to address the inequities embedded in the state’s social and economic cultural environment. The authors used a wide array of print and manuscript sources to show how Father Gilligan skillfully built a coalition of labor, business, religious, civil rights, and government workers to effect real social change long before the activist 1960s. Co-author O’Connell is a professor of political studies at Metropolitan State University, St. Paul; co-author Beer is a former community organizer and union business agent, lobbyist, and political director.
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: The award for the best Minnesota History article in 2011 by a Minnesota Historical Society staff member goes to Christopher G. Welter, whose “How Jesse James NearlyRobbed Northfield . . . in 1948” appeared in the Winter issue. Welter’s interest was piqued when, in his job as collections assistant (he is now archivist at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm), he was digitizing letters to the warden of Stillwater State Prison. Among them were inquires about incarcerated James Gang member Cole Younger, sent by Frank Dalton, a Civil War comrade of Jesse James. Working outward from these letters, Welter mined local and national records to trace two strands in this tale: Dalton’s attempt to pass himself off as the infamous outlaw (long--and correctly--believed to be dead); and how that masquerade affected Minnesota. Northfield, about to launch its first-ever Jesse James Day celebration, invited the old outlaw (whoever he was) to be the parade’s honorary grand marshal. Welter’s article details the resulting controversy: Hoax or not, should a murderer be featured in a town parade?

2010 Winners

  • Solon J. Buck Award: The award for the best article published in Minnesota History during
    2010 has been won by Brad Chisholm, professor of film history at St. Cloud State University. His
    article, “Okabena: A Bank Robbery Revisited” (Winter 2010/11), reopens the question of who
    really committed this bold, daylight crime. In 1933, a time when robberies were distressingly
    frequent, the heist in this small southwestern Minnesota town was quickly blamed on a set of
    petty criminals believed to be responsible for many robberies in the area. The article meticulously
    uncovers and then examines evidence--including proof of police corruption and previously
    missed information--to determine whether the perpetrators were, indeed, the two men and a
    woman who served time, all the while protesting innocence, or the infamous Barrow Gang led by
    Bonnie and Clyde.
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: The 2010 Theodore C. Blegen Award goes to Linda A. Cameron,
    program manager at the Minnesota State Capitol historic site, whose article, “Common Threads:
    The Minnesota Immigrant Experience,” appeared in the Fall 2010 issue. Drawing on recent
    oral history interviews as well as nineteenth-century letters, the article shows that, while time
    marches on and conditions appear to change, Minnesota’s recent Latino, Asian Indian, Hmong,
    Khmer, Tibetan, and Somali immigrants face many of the same challenges as their European
  • Judges
    • Mary Wingerd, professor of history at St. Cloud State University
    • Christopher Welter, collections assistant at the Minnesota Historical Society
    • Anne Kaplan, editor of Minnesota History
  • History Day: Austin Gromatzky for “Southdale Regional Shopping Center: How One Man’s
    Vision Fundamentally Changed the Culture of the United States.”

2009 Winner

  • Solon J. Buck Award: The award for the best article published in Minnesota History during 2009 has been won by Edward J. Pluth, professor emeritus of history at St. Cloud State University. His article, “A ‘Negro Colony’ for Todd County,” (Fall 2009) begins with an “intriguing fragment”--a 1917 newspaper article recalling recent settler Timothy Ward’s 1869 plan to colonize 700 black men and their families in the county. The article meticulously uncovers and then examines evidence to determine whether the plan was legitimate or a trumped-up accusation by political rivals. The result teaches much about historical research as well as the turbulent post-Civil War era in local, state, and national politics.
  • Judges
    • Jennifer L. Pierce, professor of American studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
    • Matthew Anderson, collections curator at the Minnesota Historical Society
    • Anne Kaplan, editor of Minnesota History
  • History Day: Jack Schnettler for “Man of the Hour: How Hubert H. Humphrey Broke the
    Longest Filibuster in History and Passed the Landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

2008 Winner

  • Solon J. Buck Award: The winning author is Colette Hyman for her article “Survival at Crow Creek, 1863--1866,” which appeared in the Winter 2008 issue. Based on oral history as well as library and archival material, the article shows how Dakota women drew on all possible resources to sustain their families and community in bitter exile after the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War.
  • Judges
    • Michael J. Lansing, assistant professor of history, director of the environmental studies program, and a participating member of the women’s studies program at Augsburg College in Minneapolis
    • Deborah L. Miller, a reference specialist at the Minnesota Historical Society.
    • Anne Kaplan, editor of Minnesota History
  • History Day: Sam Pritzker for “Road Rage: The Fight to End Interstate 335 in Minneapolis.”

2007 Winners

  • Solon J. Buck Award: The winner of the Solon J. Buck award for the best article of 2007 is Jane Lamm Carroll, an associate professor of history at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul. Her essay, "This Higgledy-Piggledy Assembly: The McLeods, an Anglo-Dakota Family in Early Minnesota," appeared in the Summer issue of the magazine. Focusing on a Scots-Canadian fur trader, his young Anglo-Dakota wife, and the family they raised, the article examines the gradual but dramatic social, cultural, and economic shifts that by the 1860s had changed the world the family had known.
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: The 2007 Theodore C. Blegen Award goes to MHS senior exhibit developer Kate Roberts, whose article "Educated Food for Educated People: Richards Treat Cafeteria, 1924–1957" appeared in the Fall issue. Drawing on oral history, artifacts, published sources, and the voluminous manuscript records of this landmark Minneapolis eatery, the article shows how two home economics professors successfully put theory into practice, creating a long-lived institution and serving nutritious, homelike food while always keeping an eye on new trends, competition, and the bottom line.
  • Judges:
    • Kurt Kortenhof, history instructor at Saint Paul College and a contributing editor to The History Channel Magazine
    • Danielle Dart, public programs associate for the History Center at the Minnesota Historical Society
    • Anne Kaplan, editor of Minnesota History
    • Pamela McClanahan, MHS Press publisher
  • History Day: Jacob Nelson, for “Stained by the Blood of Our Children: The Ojibwa’s Triumph over Bureaucracy following the Sandy Lake Tragedy.”

2006 Winners

  • Solon J. Buck Award: Mark H. Davis, history instructor at Century College, White Bear Lake, for "Market Hunters vs. Sportsmen on the Prairie: The Case of William Kerr and Robert Poole" (Summer 2006).
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: Brian Horrigan, MHS exhibit developer, for "Of Generations and Greatness" (Winter 2006—07).
  • History Day: Laura Gardner, for "Taking A Stand in History: Rosalie Wahl."

2005 Winners

  • Solon J. Buck Award: Rae Katherine Eighmey, food historian, “Food Will Win the War: Minnesota Conservation Efforts, 1917–18” (Fall 2005),
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: Patrick Coleman, MHS acquisitions librarian, for “A Rare Find: The Treaty of Washington, 1858” (Spring 2005).

2004 Winners

  • Solon J. Buck Award: Laura Weber, director of communications at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities General College, for “The House that Bullard Built,” (Summer 2004).
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: Benjamin Filene, senior exhibit developer at the Minnesota Historical Society, for Open House Journal essays “A Vision of History” and “Telling Their Story.&rdquo (Summer and Winter, 2004 or online.)
  • History Day: John Carroll for “Exploring the Idea of Two Races Worshipping God Together: The Encounter and Exchanges of Kindness, Good Fellowship, and the Ideas between Border and Hennepin Churches.”

2003 Awards

  • Solon J. Buck Award: Annette Atkins, professor of history and Michael Blecker Professor of Humanities at St. John’s University, Collegeville, for ”At Home in the Heart of the City“ (Spring/Summer 2003).
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: Scott F. Anfinson, National Register archaeologist in the State Historic Preservation Office, for “Unearthing the Invisible: Archaeology at the Riverfront” (Spring/Summer 2003).
  • History Day: Rose Kantor for “The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978: Striking the Balance Between Environmental Rights and Responsibilities.”

2002 Awards

  • Solon J. Buck Award: Jim Norris, associate professorof history at North Dakota State University in Fargo, for “Bargaining for Beets: Migrants and Growers in the Red River Valley” (Winter 2002–03).
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: Brian Horrigan, exhibit developer, for “‘My Own Mind and Pen’: Charles Lindbergh, Autobiography, and Memory” (Spring 2002)
  • History Day: Anna M. Rice for "General ChristopherC. Andrews: Leading the Minnesota Forestry Revolution." Her paper took first place at National History Day.

2001 Awards

  • Solon J. Buck Award: Steve Leikin, lecturer in U.S. history at San Francisco State University, for “The Cooperative Coopers of Minneapolis” (Winter 2001–02).
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: Patty Dean, supervisory curator for museum collections, for “‘It Is Here We Live’: Minneapolis Homes and the Arts and Crafts Movement” (Spring 2001).
  • History Day: Michael Anderson for “Minnesota’s John Day Smith Law and the Death Penalty Debate” (Summer 2002).

2000 Awards

  • Solon J. Buck Award: Geoffrey Blodgett, professor emeritus of history, Oberlin College, for his article “Cass Gilbert and Julia Finch: Falling in Love in the 1880s” (Spring 2000).
  • Theodore C. Blegen Award: Sherri Gebert Fuller, project manager for museum collections, for “Mirrored Identities: The Moys of St. Paul” (Winter 2000-2001) or available online.