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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Patrick Coleman!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 24, 2021

Today's Item of the Day is not an item, rather a person!
Our dear colleague Patrick Coleman's birthday is today. Since he is retiring in early August, this is our last chance to celebrate/embarrass him!
We are not sharing his age, but he has worked here for 43 years as Acquisitions Librarian, making sure the MNHS Gale Family Library is always up to date on the best and most important printed works relating to our state and the upper midwest.

He is a font of knowledge and we will miss him!
Happy birthday!


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 23, 2021

This lithograph print made by Alexander Oja is titled "Government Boat (copy 1)." 
It shows a riverside scene with a small boat drawn up next to large stern-wheeler. Behind it on the shore is a locomotive, several buildings, and grain elevators.  
It was made for the WPA art project in 1941.


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

It's the time of year for camping adventures here in the great north!
This postcard is a generic one from 1940 showing several fun camping activities; there's a blank to fill in where one is sending the card from. This happened to come from Aitken.

Father's Day

By: Lori Williamson | Collections Up Close | June 21, 2021

We hope everyone had a good Father's Day yesterday!
Today we share this Poppin' Fresh Father's Day Sugar Cookies Refrigerated Dough packaging. It was created circa 1980. 
Hope all you dads out there got cookies too!

Happy Juneteenth!

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

Juneteenth is the holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States as announced on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas.

Juneteenth has been celebrated as a community holiday for over 30 years in the Twin Cities; Minneapolis declared it an official holiday this year. 

This "Minnesota Soul" T-shirt was designed and produced by Lee Jordan. It was sold at the 1990 Juneteenth celebration, Minneapolis. 

Lake Superior

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 17, 2021

This painting by Birney Quick of the Lake Superior Shoreline was done in 1956.

Too Hot!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 16, 2021

We know it's been hot lately, but at least we haven't been driven to this yet!
This photo shows people sleeping outside in St. Paul parks to avoid the heat in 1936.

Anniversary of the Duluth Lynchings

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

On this day, June 15, 1920, police arrested several young black men accused of raping a white woman. That evening, three of them – Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie – were taken from jail by a mob and lynched. Learn more about the tragedy here.


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

Who doesn't want to swim these days!
This photo show people swimming at Fair Hills Resort in Detroit Lakes, ca. 1930.

Arrowhead Tourism

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

Finally, we can travel again!
This Arrowhead Country tourism brochure is from 1926. It forms part of “Pamphlets relating to the Arrowhead Region in Minnesota, 1909–” collection. 
Perhaps a trip up north is in your future? If so be sure to stop by Split Rock Lighthouse!