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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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By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 2, 2022

Although it has not felt very spring-like here recently, we have heard that the waterfalls along the North Shore are roaring, which is a sure indicator of spring!
This photograph is of the High Falls at the Pigeon River, taken in 1940.

Poison Ivy!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 29, 2022

In this photo a National Audubon Society ranger is pointing out poison ivy to two hikers near Lake Itasca in 1947.
It forms part of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Newspaper Negative Collection. 

First Minnesota Newspaper

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 28, 2022

On April 28, 1849 James Madison Goodhue printed the Territory's first newspaper, the "Minnesota Pioneer," on this press. It is a cast-iron hand press and weighs nearly 1,800 pounds.  
Also shown is a digitized edition of that first edition. Find this and more in our Newspaper Hub!

First Minnesota Newspaper

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 28, 2022

On April 28, 1849 James Madison Goodhue printed the Territory's first newspaper, "The Minnesota Pioneer," on this press. It is a cast-iron hand press and weighs nearly 1,800 pounds.  
Also shown is a digitized edition of that first edition. Find this and more in our Newspaper Hub!

Recent Acquisitions Newsletter - March 2022

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 27, 2022

Recent Acquisitions Update - March 2022

Welcome to the Minnesota Historical Society’s recent acquisitions update. Our goal here is to share new things coming into the collection to excite, inspire, and maybe even surprise you.



When The World Was Asked to Shelter: the first 365 days. This fine press book was created by artist Julie Baugnet, based on her COVID journals (which we also have). It has cardcover with dust jacket and hard shell case; unpaginated; screenprinted illustrations with printed text throughout; hand numbered 1/8 and signed by artist on colophon page.

Uncle Sam's Farm.  This broadside features lyrics to a popular 19th century American folksong composed by Jesse Hutchinson, member of the abolitionist Hutchinson Family Singers. Set to the tune "Walk in de Parlor and hear de banjo play," the song celebrates the "glorious Yankee nation" and promotes inclusiveness and expansion to the West.

3D Objects

Bison hide painting by Fern Cloud - This buffalo hide painting was made by Dakota artist Fern Cloud (Upper Sioux and Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate), circa 2015. It was purchased by MNHS Exhibits Department for Then, Now, Wow exhibit and removed for bathroom expansion project circa 2020. Transferred to Collections in 2021.

2020 Craziness Quilt  by Rachel King-Siert, using scraps from her masks making in early stages of COVID. From her artist’s statement: “I don’t usually make quilts, I DO hate wasting anything. The 2020 Craziness Quilt was made with some of the scraps for the “frantic Rachel making thousands of masks” stage of 2020 COVID and protests in Minneapolis. COVID freaked me out… then friends and family were out protesting, which also sent me into a new state of worry. The only thing I could think of to be helpful was to keep making masks and donating them…”


Boone and Erickson Show collection - Papers of radio personalities Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson. Collection includes radio and stage scripts (bulk); topical files; photographs;  audio/visual materials; and other ephemera.

Moving Images

Rick Fuller produced materials. This donation consists of two main parts.  Part one is 47 -  3/4" Umatic tapes and 3 -  1" tapes that were source material for the original “Koerner, Ray & Glover - Blues, Rags and Hollers” documentary. Also contains 1 VHS and 1DVD of the most recent iteration of the completed documentary.  The second part consists of Harder/Fuller Films and First Avenue DVD archives.  This contains a mix of videos of MN artists in the 1980s and 90s and a smattering of national artists where Harder/Fuller Films did the work.  Before his death, Tony Glover asked that these materials be donated to MNHS.  Also includes a few related MN music DVDs.


State Archives

1.  Education Department.  Published records and reports dated 1982-1994, primarily regarding music and art education testing, assessments and learner outcomes.  13 folders.

2.  Education Department.  Development and Partnership Division.  Records (dated 1970-2004) of Assistant Commissioner Nan Skelton, including AIDS prevention files, legislation files, secondary vocational education restructuring files, The Whole Child Initiative program files, and selected subject files.  2 boxes.

3.  Freeborn County.  District Court.  Adoption case files dated 1950 and 1952.  Two tri-folded case files.

4.  Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District.  Erosion control project files dated 1990-1994.  3 folders.

5.  Minnesota Experimental City Authority.  Otto A. Silha subject files, undated, 1966-1988, 1996-1998.  1 box.  

6.  Ramsey County.  Independent School District No. 625 (St. Paul).  Wilson High School.  Photograph album, dated 1957, of Richard A. Arndt.  1 volume.


Newspaper added the Digital Hub!

A content update to the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub today added 3,235 new issues and 19,723 new pages.

Newly publicly available titles & date spans:

Ely miner (Ely, Minn.) 1897-1915

Brainerd tribune (Brainerd, Minn.) 1872-1882

Red River star (Moorhead, Minn.) 1872-1877

Moorhead advocate (Moorhead, Minn.) 1877-1878

Clay County advocate (Moorhead, Minn.) 1878-1880

Moorhead advocate (Moorhead, Minn.) 1880

Moorhead weekly Argonaut (Moorhead, Minn.) 1881

Buffalo gazette (Delano, Minn.) 1891-1901

Rock County herald (Luverne, Minn.) 1876-1883

Bemidji pioneer (Bemidji, Minn.) 1903-1904 added

Bemidji daily pioneer (Bemidji, Minn.) 1923 added

Minnesota messenger (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1923-1924 added

National advocate (Minneapolis, Minn.; St. Paul, Minn.) 1923-1924 added

Labor world (Duluth, Minn.) 1923 added

Cook County news-herald (Grand Marais, Minn.) 1923 added

Echo de l'ouest (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1923 added

Fergus Falls ugeblad (Fergus Falls, Minn.) 1923 added

Redwood gazette and the Redwood County sun (Redwood Falls, Minn.) 1940

Sauk Centre herald and Melrose record (Sauk Centre, Minn.) 1886

Your thoughts?

Are you interested in specific Minnesota topics or resources you’d like to consider? Let us know!


Hmong Textile Art

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 26, 2022

Today's Item of the Day is this piece of Hmong paj ntaub (pa ndau) textile art. It is a reverse appliqué wall hanging with complex repeated patterns of pinwheel snail houses with sawtooth borders.

It was made by Cher Lee and sold at Hmong Handwork in Saint Paul between 1981 - 1998.

Maud Hart Lovelace's Birthday

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 25, 2022

Maud Hart Lovelace was born on this day in 1892 in Mankato. She was the author of the beloved Betsy-Tacy series; this is the first book in that series from 1940.
Learn more about her here:

Bonus IOTD: Mary Lucia's Rev 105 Card

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 22, 2022

Mary Lucas, a long-time radio host in the Twin Cities, signed off from the station she helped create yesterday. 
In honor of her work, we want to share her business card from an earlier station, the beloved REV 105, that is in our collection.
Thank you for all the joy you've brought us, Mary!

Immigration Pamphlet

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 22, 2022

This is the cover of ““Minnesota Och Dess Fördelar För Invandraren” (“Minnesota and its Advantages for Immigrants”), a pamphlet written in 1867 by Hans Mattson to encourage Swedes to immigrate to Minnesota.

Pamphlets promoting the beauty and resources of Minnesota to encourage immigration were written in a variety of languages in the late 19th century.

Minnesota Artist George Morrison

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 21, 2022

We are celebrating George Morrison’s work this week, as a US Postage Stamp honoring him will be released this Friday, April 22.
This pen and ink on paper work is titled "Big Sky Over Lake Superior." It was completed by George Morrison in 1981.
Learn more about him here: