Historic Fort Snelling Summer 2018

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Lead Release

Experience Many Different Eras in a Single Visit to Historic Fort Snelling This Summer

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 17, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Experience Many Different Eras in a Single Visit to Historic Fort Snelling This Summer

New daily experiences allow visitors to explore 10,000 years of history, including expanded stories of Dakota people, the military, African-Americans, and more

This summer at Historic Fort Snelling visitors will be able to explore a wide variety of eras and diverse people all in a single visit. The new daily program and special events are being developed alongside the Historic Fort Snelling revitalization efforts, timed to roll out for the fort’s bicentennial in 2020.

Through 11 interpretive stations, visitors can learn about this location’s many stories, including the Dakota people’s experiences at Bdote—the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers—and how military men and women have healed from physical and mental injuries throughout history. Or head to a WWII-era classroom to learn about the Military Intelligence Service Language School where Japanese-Americans trained as linguists, and then hear about the extraordinary lives of Dred and Harriet Scott, whose fight for freedom from slavery was a catalyst for the Civil War.

“We’re excited to work with Dakota experts, veterans, the Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League and more to create and pilot new programs this summer,” said Kevin Maijala, director of experience development at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Throughout the summer, staff will gather visitor feedback to evaluate programming as well as an exhibit prototype on soldiers’ stories throughout history. “All of these new programs are building toward our expanded interpretation plan for 2020, and visitor feedback will help us shape what the site looks like going forward,” Maijala said.

Historic Fort Snelling will also host two national African-American historians this summer—culinary historian Michael W. Twitty and Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project—as well as the national traveling exhibit,“Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American Experience,” developed by the Go For Broke National Education Center.

Historic Fort Snelling Revitalization Project
As the Minnesota Historical Society advocates for $30 million in state funding to support needed revitalization and renovation at Historic Fort
Snelling, this summer season will serve as a kickoff and testing ground for the larger site plan that is currently in development in time for the fort’s bicentennial in 2020.

For nearly 40 years, the interpretation at Historic Fort Snelling has centered on the site’s early military history, using live costumed interpretation to detail life at the fort during the 1820s when it was first built. Moving forward, MNHS is working in partnership with community groups to develop a new interpretive plan that will add important stories and expand the military history shared at the historic site. Stakeholders include the Dakota Community Council and other Native American groups, veterans, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, educators and more.

About Historic Fort Snelling
Historic Fort Snelling is Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark. Located on Dakota homeland known as Bdote, the area has a human history spanning 10,000 years. Once the farthest outpost of the U.S. military, Fort Snelling was actively used from the 1820s through World War II. The site is located near the MSP airport at state Highways 5 and 55 overlooking the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. For more information, visit www.mnhs.org/fortsnelling.  

The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.

Daily Experience

Historic Fort Snelling Daily Experience

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 17, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Daily Experience

This summer visitors will find a revamped daily experience at Historic Fort Snelling with new and expanded content and new ways to engage with this site’s history. Visitors can also offer feedback on summer programming, which will help staff develop site plans for 2020.

Daily Activities
Visitors can explore a variety of stories at 11 staffed interpretive stations:

  • Bdote/Dakota Homeland: Explore the landscape outside the historic fort and learn about the Dakota people who have called Bdote home for thousands of years.
  • Military Intelligence Service Language School: Step into a World War II-era classroom where Japanese-American soldiers trained to become linguists and experience a language lesson from a costumed interpreter.
  • Dred and Harriet Scott: Visit the space where the Scotts likely lived and worked while enslaved at Fort Snelling and learn about their struggles for freedom and lasting impact on U.S. history. Plus, engage in a facilitated conversation about the meaning of citizenship.
  • Soldiers’ Stories: Help staff test how best to share the history of various Minnesota veterans by engaging with this prototype display on soldiers’ stories. Visitor feedback will help shape the final exhibit featured in the new visitor center in 2020.
  • Treaties: Join a conversation about the various treaties made between Native American tribes and the U.S. government and their lasting impact on Native communities.
  • Zachary Taylor Household: After many years of interpretation as Col. Josiah Snelling’s home, the commandant’s house will transform into the household of Zachary Taylor, who took command of the fort in 1828. See how the home was likely furnished during Taylor’s tenure and learn about his time in Minnesota before becoming president in 1849.
  • Race and Slavery: In the kitchen of the commandant’s house, hear stories of the enslaved men and women who did domestic work for Zachary Taylor and others at the fort, despite Minnesota’s status as a “free” state. Visitors can also experience hearth cooking demos and learn about African-American foodways.
  • Immigration: Listen to stories of immigrants who arrived at Fort Snelling from the early 1800s through World War II and draw connections to issues today.
  • Commerce and Trade: Inside the Sutler Store, delve into how the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers has been a center of trade and commerce for centuries.
  • Healing: Learn how soldiers have healed from the physical and mental wounds of military trauma throughout history. Discover how soldiers recovered at Fort Snelling after World War I or try your hand at tying a Civil War-era bandage.
  • Labor, Class and Education: Costumed interpreters will demonstrate rotating historic trades, like blacksmithing, woodworking, leatherwork, bread baking and wood turning.

Plus enjoy additional daily demos, including:

  • Costumed demonstrations of military tactics, such as musket and cannon firing
  • Historic games, including baseball/rounders, a favorite pastime of soldiers at the fort
  • Early 19th-century laundry
  • Outdoor children’s games, like graces and footraces

The site will also offer a new guided tour each day, rotating between two topics:

  • Bdote/Landscape Tour: Tour the area around the historic fort and discover how the land has changed over time. Learn about the Dakota people and the importance of Bdote in their history.
  • U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 Tour: Explore Fort Snelling’s role in the U.S.-Dakota War and its aftermath while visiting significant locations around the site.

Use of Costuming
MNHS is working to reimagine how clothing is used to interpret this place’s history over time. This summer visitors may notice more staff in polo shirts, which allow flexibility to interpret across historical eras. However, costuming still remains important to the site’s interpretation. Historic costuming will be used in specific daily activities and demonstrations—such as cannon and musket firing demos— as well as large-scale theme events, like Memorial Day Weekend.

Exhibits

Historic Fort Snelling Summer 2018 Exhibits

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 17, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Summer 2018 Exhibits

This summer Historic Fort Snelling will host a national exhibit on Japanese-Americans during WWII, including additional Minnesota content. MNHS exhibit developers will also test a prototype on soldiers’ stories throughout the fort’s history in preparation for a final exhibit in 2020.

“Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American Experience”
When: June 30-Sept. 3, 2018
Location: Historic Fort Snelling visitor center

This exhibit, created by the nonprofit Go For Broke National Education Center, chronicles the Japanese-American experience during World War II and features local and regional stories of bravery and extraordinary support of Japanese-Americans. Through the use of images, audio and interactive elements, “Courage and Compassion” provides a 360-degree perspective on these WWII stories while exploring their relevance today. The exhibit also honors everyday people in cities and towns across America who rose above the wartime hysteria to recognize Japanese-Americans as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens.

This exhibit’s time in the Twin Cities is a partnership between Historic Fort Snelling and the Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League. Additional local content will explore Fort Snelling’s time as the location of the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS), where Japanese-American linguists trained for the war effort. Prior to WWII, about 50 Japanese-Americans called the Twin Cities home, and today, in part due to the MISLS, the area has a vibrant Japanese-American community.

This project is funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Site Grant Program. Additional support is provided by the Earl K. and Ruth N. Tanbara Fund for Japanese American History in Minnesota.

Prototyping Soldiers’ Stories
When: During summer open hours
Location: Stone barracks of the historic fort

This prototype project will allow exhibit developers to test how best to tell the stories of several Minnesota veterans with connections to Fort Snelling from the Civil War to today. It will examine topics like why these men and women joined the military, how their service shaped their lives and Fort Snelling’s role in their experiences.

Staff will gather visitors’ thoughts and feedback on the prototype work, and this feedback will help shape the finished exhibit featured in the site’s new visitor center, scheduled to open in 2020.

Special Saturday Events

Historic Fort Snelling Special Saturday Events

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 17, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Special Saturday Events

This summer Historic Fort Snelling will welcome two nationally recognized leaders in the African-American history field. 

Saturday July 28: Michael W. Twitty 
Culinary historian and food writer Michael W. Twitty is the author of the blog Afroculinaria.com and “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South,” tracing his ancestry from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom. “The Cooking Gene” was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize in 2017.

During his visit, Twitty will present on African-American history and foodways and offer ongoing historic cooking demonstrations throughout the day.

Saturday, August 4: Joseph McGill 
Joseph McGill Jr., founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, will visit Historic Fort Snelling to lead a public program and stay overnight in the historic fort. McGill works to preserve African-American slave dwellings and share the history of the people who lived there. To draw attention to these stories, McGill’s work includes staying overnight in the spaces enslaved people once called home.

In the 1820s and 1830s, an estimated 15-30 enslaved people lived and worked at Fort Snelling at any one time, including Dred and Harriet Scott. McGill will offer a presentation on the Slave Dwelling Project and an evening tour for the public at Historic Fort Snelling.  

Stay tuned to www.mnhs.org/calendar for final details on these two events and other Saturday programs this summer.

Annual Summer Events

Historic Fort Snelling Annual Summer Events

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 17, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Annual Summer Events

Historic Fort Snelling will continue to offer popular annual events in 2018.

Memorial Day Weekend
May 26, 27 & 28: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Visitors can explore the grounds and engage with the many stories that make up this location's history, including those of enslaved people, Native Americans and soldiers. Watch demonstrations like cannon firings and blacksmithing, and kids can try out historic children’s games.

Throughout the weekend, visit the stone barracks to learn about the experiences of U.S. soldiers and the role of the military in the growth of the nation. On Monday, don't miss a special "living timeline" of America's military past on the fort's parade ground with costumed staff and reenactors.

Independence Day
Wednesday, July 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
This Fourth of July visitors can explore the history of freedom in 19th-century America at Historic Fort Snelling. Discover how many Americans celebrated the holiday nearly two centuries ago, complete with cannon and musket salutes, military dress parades, fife and drum music and much more.

But not all Americans viewed Independence Day this way 200 years ago. Interactive learning stations will also trace the struggles for freedom and independence for several different groups of Americans—such as enslaved people, Native Americans and women—while exploring the question, "What does freedom mean today?"

World War I Centennial Weekend
Aug. 18 & 19: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918 this summer. Visitors can explore the ways this conflict shaped the world we know today and learn about Minnesota's role in the war. Visit with costumed interpreters and reenactors, watch military demonstrations, stand in a recreated WWI-style trench, and experience what life was like for Minnesotans during this crucial time in U.S. history.

Revitalization Press Kit

For more information about the Historic Fort Snelling revitalization project explore the press kit.

News Releases

August 8, 2019 MEDIA ALERT: Dr. Daniel Immerwahr, Author of “How to Hide an Empire," Offers Free Talk at Historic Fort Snelling's Making of Modern America Day Aug. 17
June 10, 2019 MEDIA ALERT: Discover Stories of Minnesota’s Secret WWII Language School in a New Panel Exhibit
May 2, 2019 MNHS Expands Its Work with Veterans at Historic Fort Snelling, Including Free Admission Offer
February 5, 2019 Construction to Start Fall 2019 on Historic Fort Snelling Revitalization
August 9, 2018 Historic Fort Snelling Commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the End of World War I
July 19, 2018 Nationally Known Historian to Stay Overnight Where Dred and Harriet Scott Were Once Enslaved
June 20, 2018 Explore New Stories at Historic Fort Snelling at Two Media Events This Summer
April 17, 2018 Historic Fort Snelling Summer 2018 Exhibits
April 17, 2018 Historic Fort Snelling Special Saturday Events
April 17, 2018 Historic Fort Snelling Annual Summer Events
April 17, 2018 Experience Many Different Eras in a Single Visit to Historic Fort Snelling This Summer
April 17, 2018 Historic Fort Snelling Daily Experience
March 20, 2018 Two Minnesota Cities to Host "Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience"
January 16, 2018 Gov. Dayton’s Capital Budget Proposal Includes Funding for Historic Fort Snelling Revitalization
January 12, 2018 Fort Snelling Revitalization Public Meeting
May 4, 2017 ‘Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces’
April 28, 2017 Exhibit Juxtaposes Japanese Americans Incarcerated During WWII Alongside Photos of Them Today
March 29, 2017 Design Work, Program Development Get Underway to Revitalize Historic Fort Snelling
March 29, 2017 200-Year-Old Fort Snelling Book Provides New Insights into Early Minnesota History
November 30, 2016 MEDIA ALERT: Historic Fort Snelling Commemorates the Legacy of Dred and Harriet Scott
July 29, 2015 Historic Fort Snelling Remembers 150th Anniversary of Civil War’s End
July 2, 2015 New Traveling Exhibit on Lincoln Opens July 8 at Historic Fort Snelling
September 3, 2014 Solve Mysteries and Relive Ghost Stories at Historic Fort Snelling, James J. Hill House and North West Company Fur Post this Halloween
August 6, 2014 Explore History's Winding Roads on September Bus Tours at Historic Fort Snelling
July 2, 2014 Travel Back in Time Through Two American Wars this August at Historic Fort Snelling
June 11, 2014 Summer Workshops at Fort Snelling Teach Participants How to Care for Historic Houses
June 11, 2014 St. Paul Civil War Bus Tour and Independence Day Celebrations in July at Historic Fort Snelling
May 9, 2014 PHOTO OPP: Finishing Touches Put on Historic Clock Monday
April 9, 2014 Historic Fort Snelling Opens for the Season with New Exhibit and Memorial Day Programs
March 5, 2014 The Civil War in 1864 and WWII Battle for Rabaul Topics of Lectures at Historic Fort Snelling in April
February 12, 2014 World War II Roundtables at Historic Fort Snelling Discuss Operation Cobra and the War in China
January 15, 2014 World War II Officers Topic of Roundtable at Historic Fort Snelling Feb. 13
December 11, 2013 Meet Veterans of the Eastern Front at Historic Fort Snelling's WWII History Roundtable Jan. 9
August 7, 2013 Discover Historic Fort Snelling in September through Tours, Scout Camps and World War I Programs
May 1, 2013 Celebrate the Return of Summer With WWII Events and Summer Camps at Historic Fort Snelling in June
January 16, 2013 Popular Summer Camps Now Open for Registration
July 19, 2007 CEILING COLLAPSES AT HISTORIC FORT SNELLING, HISTORIC SITE OPEN DURING REPAIRS
July 19, 2007 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS HISTORIC FORT SNELLING OFFICERS' QUARTERS CEILING COLLAPSE
Historic Fort Snelling Images
Historic Fort Snelling Logos