For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 21, 2007
Media contacts: 

Marjorie Nugent
Marketing and Communications

Wendy Jones
Minnesota History Center



The Minnesota Historical Society has recently acquired a unique, rare collection of materials created from the 1830s to the 1860s by missionary Alexander G. Huggins and his family. The papers were recently discovered in an estate sale in Palo Alto, Calif. They will be on view at the Minnesota History Center lobby through May 6.

In 1835, Thomas S. Williamson and Huggins organized the Dakota mission at Lac qui Parle on the Minnesota River, well beyond the white settlement around Fort Snelling. A diary kept by Huggins, one of the items in the collection, offers an extraordinary glimpse into lives of the Dakota. A potential treasure trove for scholars, it deals with Dakota customs, and includes extensive information on the interaction between missionaries and the Dakota.

A smaller diary kept by Huggins’ son Amos, who was killed during the U.S.-Dakota War, an autograph book kept by his daughter Mary, three “carte de visite” albums and 12 daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes of the Presbyterian missionaries’ families are also included in the collection.

The Society already holds rich collections supporting the material in this acquisition, including other Huggins family papers and those of the Riggs, Pond and Williamson missionary families. “The acquisition of these papers provides deep and powerful new perspectives on a time of great change in Minnesota’s history,” says acquisitions curator Patrick Coleman. “The look they provide into the daily life of both the white and Dakota people is invaluable.”

The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday holidays year round. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and college students, and $4 for children ages 6-17. Children age 5 and under are admitted free. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651-296-6126, 1-800-657-3773 or TTY 651-282-6073 or visit www.mnhs.org/historycenter.

The Society’s calendar of events is posted on the Internet at www.mnhs.org/calendar. The web site also has information about all of the Society’s programs, museums and historic sites. To request a free guide to museums and historic sites, call 1-800-657-3773.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849 to preserve and share Minnesota history. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing.