L. Bruce Laingen Papers
In August 2008
the Minnesota Historical Society announced the acquisition of Minnesota native Bruce Laingen's papers and personal artifacts. The L. Bruce Laingen Papers are now available for public use in the Minnesota Historical Society Library.
In November 1979, Laingen was chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, and the senior American diplomat taken prisoner during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Laingen and 51 of his colleagues were held captive for 444 days, until their release in January 1981.
Laingen grew up during the Great Depression near Butterfield, Minnesota, on a small farm, and served with the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during World War II. He graduated from St. Olaf College in 1947 and earned a M.A. degree from the University of Minnesota. He joined the United States Foreign Service in 1949 and served as a member for 38 years until 1987.
Laingen's papers feature family photographs from growing up on the farm and going to high school in Butterfield, Minnesota, World War II U.S. Navy service records, photographs from his service in the Philippines, personal and official correspondence and photographs from his entire Foreign Service career, and papers from Laingen's experience during the Iran hostage crisis. Highlights include appeals written by Laingen to Iranian government officials, letters written to Laingen by children, personal and official correspondence, pages from Laingen's journal kept during the crisis, solitary confinement writings, and a map of the ministry rooms, drawn by Laingen, where he was kept hostage.
Also featured are texts and drafts of speeches from his entire career, and drafts and related correspondence of his book, Yellow Ribbon: The Secret Journal of Bruce Laingen.
Ambassador Laingen's papers provide users with key insight into the life of an outstanding member of Minnesota's Greatest Generation, and is a valuable resource for anyone interested in international relations, U.S.-Iran relations, diplomacy, the U.S. Foreign Service, World War II, farm life in Minnesota during the Great Depression, the yellow ribbon movement, and especially the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-1981. Items from the collection will be featured in the Greatest Generation exhibit opening at the Minnesota History Center on Memorial Day in 2009.
Highlights of the October and November Acquisitions
Minnesota state and local government records are added frequently to the State Archives collection. Although the records were recently acquired, they may not be available yet in the MHS Library catalog. For assistance using these records, please contact the Minnesota Historical Society's Reference Department by telephone, 651-259-3300, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highlights of some of the new books from November and December and now available in the reading rooms.
Featured new books can be found in the Weyerhaeuser Reading Room on the
top of the book shelves under the Betsy-Tacy poster. You can also see
a rotating list of some of the recent book acquisitions on the sidebar
of the Library & Archives blog.
TIP OF THE MONTH
There are so many new websites and tools available that it's frankly overwhelming. One change that has great potential research value to librarians and researchers is that The New York Times is opening up access to its archives for 1851-1922 and 1987-the present at no charge. Given the paucity of newspaper indexes for the early period, it is especially good news. Although The New York Times will charge for access to some articles in the 1923-1986 period, you can search for events in Minnesota that might have been covered in The Times. Using that date and citation information you can then search Minnesota newspapers to find the local angle. For example, a search on J.V. Brower yielded several articles from the 1880s and 1890s concerning archaeological finds and the Mississippi River. Included were articles from the St. Paul Globe that had been reprinted in The New York Times. A searche for articles on the Dakota Conflict, using the search terms Sioux War and limiting the date range to 1862-1863, found several articles. History Day students will especially find this tool useful.
BLOGS AND PODCASTS
150 Best Minnesota Books blog
Come See It blog
"The Campaign Trail: Minnesota's Historic Role in Modern Politics"
Political campaigns are chaotic, frenzied affairs and the best way to peer into this process is through the lens of a camera. Fortunately, Minnesota is blessed with having some of the best documentary photographers in the field. Come see an exhibit of these fascinating images on view at the James J. Hill House Gallery until Feb. 22, 2009 ...
Library & Archives blog
This year's History Day theme is The Individual in History. The Library & Archives blog has been posting entries on individuals you can find in the collection. One example: "Two Individuals in History: John Weckerling and Kai Rasmussen."
As the U.S. drew close to joining World War II in 1941, a few military officers—notably Lt. Col. John Weckerling and Capt. Kai Rasmussen—realized that there would be a need for Japanese translators in the Pacific. Unfortunately, the military could only find a few soldiers already proficient in Japanese, so Weckerling and Rasmussen began to push for the creation of a language school to intensively train people to be military linguists ...
"Voyages Database Helps Study of Slave Trade and Black Genealogists"
Historians estimate that 12.5 million people crossed the Atlantic from Africa as part of the slave trace. A new, free web database called Voyages might be able to help you find your African ancestors ...
Our Favorite Things blog
"Ghost Poems for the Living"
The beauty of this fine press book by Paulette Myers-Rich is really beyond description; to hold it in one’s hands is a joy. It is perfectly constructed, bound using linen cloth and flax papers created by the artist and letterpress printed on photo rag paper in an edition of 26 ...
"The Hill Family Collection"
Early in 2008 the papers of legendary Minnesota businessman James J. Hill and several of his family members were transferred from the James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul to the Minnesota History Center, just a few blocks away. In this podcast, learn about the history and contents of the collection and the reasons for the move, and catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the incredible process of relocating almost 2500 boxes of valuable historical documents, photographs, books and artifacts ...
"A Selection of Minnesota Quilts"
A quilt can be something to keep you toasty warm on a chilly night, but it can also be a work of art. Quilts today are often created as serious artistic expression, but quilters of earlier centuries also could focus their work on artistry as much as utility. Textile curator Linda McShannock shows us some of her favorite examples of these artistic quilts from the Society’s collection, ranging in date from the 18th Century to the present ...
What's New blog
"All Tractors, All the Time"
Interested in photographs of tractors? The Minnesota Historical Society is the place to look! The Minneapolis-Moline Photographic Negative Collection is now available to the public. This collection holds 14,180, black and white negatives of tractors, agricultural implements, machinery, and power units manufactured by that company between the 1930s and 1960s. Each of these images is described in two searchable lists--one by box number and one by topic. In addition, almost 2,000 of them have been printed and can be viewed in the online Photo and Art Database ...
"2008 Republican National Convention"
For four days in September, the political spotlight shown on the Twin Cities as they hosted the 2008 Republican National Convention. Delegates, reporters, protestors and police officers descended upon Minnesota to take part. In the months since, we’ve collected approximately 120 different objects associated with the event ...