Where do we go from here?
Most of our readers are aware that the Minnesota Historical Society is facing a financial crisis. Cutbacks in state funding and a reduction in income from other sources has produced a sizeable shortfall in next year's budget. To cover this multi-million dollar gap, the Society is proposing to reduce staff and services as well as close a number of historic sites.
The Library has taken a particularly hard hit. Several long-time staff members, familiar faces to many library users, may no longer be employed after June 30. Operating hours will also be cut, although, as of this writing, the new hours have not be determined. Changes are also envisioned for the Microfilm Lab and the Photo Lab.
Smaller staff and fewer hours naturally mean that we cannot continue all of our services, so this may be the last issue of our newsletter, at least for now. What ultimately happens depends on the final state budget and other factors, largely outside of our control. So stay tuned and check in with the History Matters web page for further developments.
Regardless, history keeps happening and we keep on documenting it. Here are some features of our collections, including two new projects that we hope our readers will find helpful.
For the past two years the Collections Management Department of the Library, with the assistance of a LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) grant, has been bar-coding the microfilm newspaper collection. The project began by bar-coding all of the currently-received newspapers. Staff is now focusing on bar-coding the microfilm boxes that are in the Hubbs Microform Room.
The resulting benefit for researchers is that there will be detailed reel-level information linked to the catalog record of the newspaper. Thus, you can accurately determine the availability of a newspaper title and the dates that we have in our collection. Check out the Aitken Independent Age for an example.
By clicking on “Current Issues” you will find a listing of the current issues that have been received, which are in newspaper storage. Scroll down and the reel-by-reel listing of the microfilm reels are found.
Although there is much more to be done, this is an important step forward in making our Minnesota newspaper collection holdings more accessible to all.
Women IN INDUSTRY SURVEY
The Woman’s Committee was created by the Public Safety Commission on May 21, 1918, with Mrs. T. G. Winter as state director. The committee concerned itself with food conservation, Americanization, child health and welfare, and other items.
One project with the Department of Labor was the Women in Industry Survey. The survey forms gathered information about women wage earners and their working conditions, especially those who entered the work force due to World War I.
There are two sets of forms. One gives information on places of employment, covering working conditions, wages, and numbers of female employees. The second set was created during follow-up interviews of selected women employees and contains more detailed information.
There are no forms for Clearwater, Jackson, Mahnomen, Meeker, Sibley, or Traverse Counties. The forms are on microfilm and are available on interlibrary loan.
NEW RESEARCH SERVICE: LAND SURVEY FIELD NOTES
A new research service is being offered by the Minnesota Historical Society Library staff — photocopies of the Land Survey Field Notebooks for the state of Minnesota.
The Field Notebooks were compiled by U.S. Surveyor General surveyors as they laid out the exterior and subdivision lines of each township in Minnesota. They serve as fundamental legal records for real estate, as an essential resource for surveyors, and as an analytical tool for the state’s physical geography prior to European settlement.
The earliest surveys of land in Minnesota were conducted under the jurisdiction of the Surveyor General of Iowa and Wisconsin, headquartered at Dubuque, Iowa. These surveys, completed between 1848 and May 1857, were primarily on land located between the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers or in the southeastern corner of Minnesota.
Land Survey Map
After the establishment of the Office of Surveyor General of Minnesota, copies of the field notes, plats, and other records relevant to these surveys were transferred from Dubuque to St. Paul.
The Office of Surveyor General of Minnesota continued in operation until surveying was completed in December 1907. A congressional act of 1940 provided that the records of the Office of Surveyor General of Minnesota be turned over to the Minnesota Secretary of State. These original field notebooks reside at the Minnesota Historical Society as part of the State Archives collections.
While not created for the lay person, these records can be of interest to the genealogist and amateur archaeologist as well as the professional surveyor. The handwritten survey notes, in small leather covered notebooks, record survey reference points and marker posts and include plat drawings and comments on the natural features of each township. Besides the survey notes for the approximately 3,800 townships in Minnesota, there are separate survey field notes for the state’s islands, military roads, and Native American reservations. Notes can include information regarding terrain, including hills and waterways, along with descriptions of the types of trees growing in the area.
The original land survey notes are available for use in the Library of the Minnesota Historical Society, but because of their fragile and unique value must be handled with care. Through the new Land Survey Field Note research service, for a fee of $9.00 plus $1.00 per page, library staff will locate and provide photocopies of a specific area within a township and range. The following information is required to make such a request: the township, range, and section(s) numbers for the desired location.