Collections Up Close

collections up close Blog

Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

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MEA Weekend, continued

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 22, 2021

And as it is the MEA long weekend, we thought it appropriate to share this photo of a Minnesota vacation information booth at Dayton's, downtown Minneapolis, in 1955.

Welcome back, MEA!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 21, 2021

The annual Minnesota Education Association (MEA) conference dates back, in some form, to 1861. This Minnesota Education Association button dates to 1990.
Enjoy this much beloved long weekend!

Recent Acquisitions Newsletter, September 2021

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 20, 2021


The Recent Acquisitions Newsletter for September 2021 is ready for your perusal.
Take a look and enjoy!


Band Leader

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 19, 2021

This navy blue wool band leader's jacket has a black cord designs and velvet cuffs. It was used by Frank Danz, Jr., the co-founder and first concertmaster of the Minneapolis Symphony (later known as the Minnesota Orchestra) between 1900-1910.

Taylor's Falls

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 18, 2021

This is a birdseye view of an intersection in Taylor's Falls with houses, stores, and other buildings. It was made in 1928 by Alexander Masley.

Sunday is Black Poetry Day

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 15, 2021


On October 17, 1761 poet, writer, and preacher Jupiter Hammon became the first Black author published in America. To celebrate his work and the contributions of Black poets thereafter, October 17th is Black Poetry Day.

We have multiple examples of the work of Black Minnesotan poets in the Library collection. These are just a few examples. 


An early example is this one from 1918, written on Armistice Day after World War I. It is part of a set of ten poems by A.V. Hall, a “long-time prominent resident of St. Paul’s Black Community.” [Quote from a letter accompanying these poems.] These are housed within the MN Black History Project papers and were compiled by David Taylor from A.V. Hall's scrapbook after Hall died in 1982.

Guild Press of Robbinsdale was focused on publishing the work of Black poets during the 1970s and 1980s. We have 19 examples of these works in the collection, including Survival: Cycle of a Black Woman, one of the titles from 1985.


And finally, we’d like to highlight a contemporary work: Danez Smith’s book Homie. This book of poems about the necessity of friendship and much more was released in January, 2020. It won the 2021 Minnesota Book Awards for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and 2021 NAACP Image Award for Poetry.


Wash Your Hands

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 14, 2021

Tomorrow is Global Handwashing Day!
Always a good practice; especially important now.
Here we see a photo of a child washing their hands in bowl of water outdoors in 1920.

Constitution(s) Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 13, 2021

On this date in 1857, 164 years ago, the Minnesota State Constitution was ratified by popular vote. 
Oh, but we have not one, rather two State Constitutions!
During the constitutional convention to found our state, the Democrats and Republicans refused to meet together. After bitter debate, the whole (yet separate) constitutional conventions agreed to the same proposed language; however, they still refused to sign the same official document. In order to make it happen, two version of the final, formal document were created, as seen above.
Some things never change, alas.
Learn more here:

Silver comb, 1860 - 1880

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 12, 2021

This sterling silver comb with fan-shaped handle and five tines was owned by Mary T. Hill of Saint Paul and used between 1860 - 1880.

The handle has several small etched designs on front and back.

Learn more about the Hill Family here:

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 11, 2021

In honor of this day, we share a 2013 print map from our collection. 

However if you visit The Ways web site, the group who created this map, you can see it in a number of different views. Highly recommended!