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Minnesota Local History News

Published: July 12, 2006

A weekly publication by the Minnesota Historical Society for professional local historians and historical organizations.

Discussions and Questions

Vintage Bicycles Available

Vintage bicycles, well used, free to historical museum: man’s 3 speed English style mid-1960s; woman’s 3 speed English style mid-1960s; and child’s high handle bar style mid-1970s. Contact Thelma Boeder, or 651 489-2604. Free delivery to any location in Minnesota probably can be arranged.

Large Functional Objects

In the July/August issue of the Minnesota History Interpreter the issue of how to care for Large Functional Objects (LFOs) in your collection was discussed. Tell us about your LFOs. To get the discussion started, here are a few LFOs from around the state:

  • Cattail Bailer at the Marshall County Historical Society in Warren. This implement tells about homefront activity during World War II, namely the harvest of cattails to fill life vests used by the U.S. Navy.
  • Fire Engine at the Koochiching County Historical Society in International Falls. This object highlights early 20th century public safety history in International Falls. See Field Note below.
  • 1906 Auto Bug at the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum in Tracy. The Auto Bug illustrates the transition from horse and buggy to automotive transportation.

What kinds of LFOs do you have in your collection? What stories do you tell with them? What challenges do you have in making the best use of LFOs? Where do you draw the line between full restoration and retaining historical patina?

Job Announcements

Development Director

The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas (Kansas City suburb) seeks an experienced fund raising professional with a demonstrated track record of success to fill a new position of Development Director. The Development Director serves as the chief fundraising officer of the NAC&HOF and is responsible for executing a well rounded fundraising program to allow the Center to carry out its mission of educating society on the historical and present value of agriculture and to honor leadership in agri-business and academia. The Development Director is responsible for implementing all fundraising programs and activities of the organization, planning and coordinating the fundraising efforts, developing an annual fundraising calendar, and working directly with the Executive Director, Board of Directors, Development Committee, and staff members. He/she reports directly to the Executive Director and participates as a member of the museum's leadership team. The ideal candidate will have a Bachelor's Degree with 3-5 years broad fundraising experience; prior experience in a not-for-profit agency or setting; demonstrated ability to organize and carry out a successful fundraising plan; excellent written and verbal communication skills; passion for agriculture a plus. Competitive salary, plus benefits offered. For more information, contact search consultants Stephen E. Snodgrass or William M. Wood of Wood-Snodgrass, Inc. at (913) 681-2200 or (800) 207-1958.  To make an application, send resume and salary history in confidence by email or to Wood-Snodgrass, Inc, 12980 Metcalf Avenue, Suite 130, Overland Park, KS 66213.

Deputy Director

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, a dynamic 100,000 sq. ft. visual and performing arts complex in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is seeking an experienced, talented leader—preferably from the museum field— to direct its business operations. See the website for a position description and to learn about the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. To apply, send cover letter, resume, and contact information for 4 professional references to: Anne Tritz, Manager-Human Resources John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

Local Events

Finding Betty Crocker in Shakopee

Ever wonder whose picture is on the cover of the Betty Crocker cookbook?  Author, Susan Marks researched this mystery woman and wrote an intriguing book titled Finding Betty Crocker. On Monday evening at 7 p.m., July 24, 2006, Susan talks about her book and the mysterious Betty at the Shakopee Branch Library. Everyone is invited to bring their “Betty Crocker” cookbooks to this informative and fun presentation! A Q&A will follow, giving you an opportunity to pick Susan’s brain regarding Betty.  A book signing will conclude the evening. Refreshments provided. Free admission. For further information contact the Scott County Historical Society.


Duluth Commercial Historic District Listed in National Register of Historic Places

The Duluth Commercial Historic District, a 20-block area, located along Superior and 1st Streets between 4th Avenue West and 4th Avenue East was listed in the National Register on May 31, 2006. The 107 buildings in the district are generally one to three stories in height and represent significant commercial adaptations of architectural styles popular during the district’s period of significance (1872-1929), including Romanesque, the Revival Styles, and vernacular commercial modes. Although nationally known architects such as Peabody and Stearns earned commissions in Duluth, local architects such as John Wagenstein, William A. Hunt, George Wirth, and Oliver Traphagen, to name a few, designed numerous buildings in the district. In addition to being architecturally significant, the district is historically significant representing Duluth’s emergence as the commercial, industrial, financial, transportation, and social and cultural heart of northern Minnesota’s foremost urban-industrial center. Named the “Zenith City” in 1868 by journalist and publisher Thomas Foster, Duluth’s geographical position at the western end of Lake Superior and its proximity to three key natural resources – lumber, wheat and iron ore helped establish the city as one of the nation’s major timber processing centers from the 1880s to the 1920s and a significant grain and ore shipping port from the 1880s into the early twentieth century.  The outstanding location of Duluth as the nexus for railroad and Great Lakes shipping routes made the city’s growth as an important economic trade center inevitable.  Christina Morris, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Michael Koop, State Historic Preservation Office, prepared the nomination.    

The Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute web site new address and look

The Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute mission is to become the center for specialized technical collection research and conservation care for all Smithsonian museums and collections. To fulfill this mission MCI staff combine their knowledge of materials and the history of technology with state-of-the-art instrumentation and scientific techniques to provide technical research studies and interpretation of art, as well as anthropological, and historical objects. MCI conducts these in-depth studies of artistic, anthropological, and historic objects using state-of-the-art analytical techniques to elucidate their provenance, composition, and cultural context of Smithsonian collections, and to improve our conservation and collections storage capabilities. Many of our projects will be found on our new web site, we hope you find it informative and easy to navigate.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

New AASLH Workshops

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) is offering three new workshops this year:  Digitization and Museums: Bringing our Collections into the 21st Century, co-sponsored by the Collaborative Digitization Project, August 23-25, 2006 in Columbus, OH; Collections Camp: The Basics of Furniture, August 10-12, 2006, in Harrodsburg, KY; Advanced Training for Historic Site Managers: Cultural Landscapes Workshop, co-sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, October 12-13, 2006 in Washington D.C.

Field Note

Large Functional Objects from snowmobiles to airplanes are a part of local historical society collections. By far the most popular types are fire equipment and tractors. Below is a fire engine on exhibit at the Koochiching County Historical Society in International Falls.

Red and black Fire Engine from early 20th century with wagon wheels and brass accents, at Koochiching County Historical Society in International Falls, Minnesota.

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