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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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Bob Dylan's Birthday

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 24, 2022

Bob Dylan turns 81 today. Born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing, he became an international superstar; a living icon; and a Nobel prize winner.
This is just one example of a recent addition to our collection of Dylaniana. 
In 1965 a songbook of Dylan's early hits was published. Dylan himself had a copy that he used to indulge his visual artistry. On each page he drew an image that the song evoked, wrote out some of his favorite text from the song, and signed and dated each new creation. This is the music to "Girl of the North Country," with his own hand-drawn image.

Learn more about Bob Dylan here:

Snacks fit for Prince

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 20, 2022

This is the list of refreshments requested by Prince and his band before a show at First Ave., 1986.

From the First Ave. Manuscript Collection, MNHS.

This is just one small example of the treasures that can be found in manuscript collections!

Card Game

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 19, 2022

In celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, we want to be sure to mention communities from Southeast Asian as well. 
This photograph shows Vietnamese immigrants playing cards in the house of Mr. Chinh Dao of St. Paul, 1978.

Learn more about the history of immigration to Minnesota here:

Feeding the World

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 18, 2022

This trade card was created and distributed by the Pillsbury-Washburn Flour Mills Co.'s Office Bowling Team.  
Please note both the cheer and image of young girl feed bread into the world's mouth.
This was created circa 1950.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 17, 2022

After the long winter and short spring, this watercolor by Clara Mairs shows what we all deserve now.
It shows a man on an outdoor lounge, reading the paper. It was created in 1935. 

No Mow May

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 16, 2022

Between the talk about No Mow May (the idea of leaving early lawn growth alone to help pollinators) and our love of early ads, sharing this 1865 poster was an obvious choice.
"It Mows, It Reaps, It Rakes!" the poster declares, with four illustrations show different uses for this piece of farm machinery named The Kirby. 

Pacific Islanders Oral History Project

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 13, 2022

As it is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we want to highlight our oral history project featuring narrators discuss their personal stories of living in the Samoa, Hawaii, and Minnesota. The project interviews a wide range of individuals from musicians to social activists. 
The Pacific Islander Community Oral History Project is part of the larger Asian American and Pacific Islander Oral History Project, a partnership between the Minnesota Historical Society and the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans.

Learn more here:

The Big Prohibition Automobile

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 12, 2022

Check out this advertisement from the August 30, 1902 Red Wing Republican!
The vehicle features a cruising speed of 10 - 12 miles an hour.

Have Sticker, Will Travel: Minnesota State Park Stickers

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 11, 2022

Summer time travel season is almost upon us!
Click on image to see a variety of Minnesota State Park Permits over time.

Maria Sanford Model

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 10, 2022

This is a plaster model for a life-size bronze portrait of Maria Sanford, made by Evelyn Raymond, circa 1958. 
Evelyn Raymond was a sculptor from Duluth; Maria Louise Sanford was a professor of rhetoric and elocution at the University of Minnesota from 1880 to 1909.
The life-size bronze version of the state was given to the National Statuary Hall Collection in 1958.