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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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Tony Oliva!

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

Yesterday Tony Oliva was (finally!) inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Here we share a few items from our collection relating to his amazing career, including a book he wrote in 1973; a photo of him in his Twins uniform in the 1960s; and a bobblehead of him from 2000.
Congratulations and well-deserved, Tony O!

Recent Acquisitions June 2022

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

Recent Acquisitions Update - June 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.


3D Objects

Buchanan RF Organ: used during religious services by Seabees unit during WWII. This type of material is rare. This organ has a really compelling story–used by a submarine unit in the UK while stationed overseas. For a while it was handed off to another chaplain overseas, and eventually made its way to the US. Has potential for exhibit, ties into a lot of different elements/narratives we might want to highlight.


Gilbert Munger’s 1872 View of Duluth. Hudson River School painter. It helps show an early scene of Duluth. On loan currently; will eventually be donated.

Clara Mairs: watercolor depicting Clara and Clem with family member

William Saltzman: 1949, taught at Macalester. Excellent example of abstraction of landscape.



His Name is George Floyd, a biography by two Washington Post reporters, has arrived.

Essential Worker Portraits: a full catalog of the pastels done by Carolyn S. Olson, representing front-line workers during the COVID19 pandemic.


Paula J. Gray papers - Retired Army Major; served in Bosnia around same time as recent Eric Ahlness donation. Has a powerful life story: served in the Army for more than 20 years. 

Her service in Iraq included classified assignments so some materials related to this service will be restricted for a time period, but not the whole collection.

This collection helps expand many high-priority topics including: women in military, more recent conflicts, experiences as a veteran in the US, service at Ft Snelling.

Has also transferred materials to 3D, including: commendation medals, pins and service bars, other accessories; hats; shoes; uniforms including dress blues.


Photo album of Minnesota with focus on mining areas (1910s). The album is focused on living in mining communities more than the mines. Show home life with excellent identification. In particular IDs Italian family who settled and remained in area Have some unique use for researchers because of really solid identification, especially of less-documented side of mining experience

Sweet Adelines: Red Rock Ridge. This Sweet Adelines group is based in Windom (southwest Minnesota), choral organization chapter. A small chapter but active and proud. People are identified in photos. Had to do a lot of fundraising to afford going to national/international events–this collection includes hand-designed posters for these drives. Shows community engagement, has personal stories, helps document rural life. 3D components include name tags, vest and hat–documented in photographs

St. Anthony Falls stereo card.  We don’t have this particular view; the area around the Falls built up very quickly with a lot of changes, so it makes sense to document the changes and development in a period of high activity. Donor has also provided background research on the history of the photographer and this photo.

State Archives

1.  Anoka County.  Rice Creek Watershed District.  Records (dated 1972-2021), including board meeting minutes and agenda packets, organization and history files, rules, watershed management plans, bylaws, boundary files, and published reports.  The records are entirely in digital form; 4,568 files (7.8GB).

2.  Natural Resources Department.  Administrative rules proceedings files:  Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA), 2000-2016.  1 box.

3.  Natural Resources Department.  Parks and Recreation Division.  Annual park passes dated 2014-2021.  1 folder

Newspaper added the Digital Hub!

A content update to the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub yesterday added 5,109 new issues and 55,083 new pages.

Newly publicly available titles & date spans:

Le Sueur news-herald (Le Sueur, Minn.) 1929-1943

Stillwater messenger (Stillwater, Minn.) 1856-1857 added

Todd County Argus (Long Prairie, Minn.) 1883-1887 added

Hendrum news (Hendrum, Minn.) 1898-1899

Red River review (Hendrum, Minn.) 1927

Sanningens vittne (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1911-1939

Sanningens vittne trons härold (Chicago, Ill.) 1939-1940

Le Sueur courier (Le Sueur, Minn.) 1866-1873

Twin City guardian (St. Paul, Minn.; Minneapolis, Minn.) 1918-1919 added

Tower weekly news (Tower, Minn.) 1923-1924 added

Nordstern (St. Cloud, Minn.) 1885-1904 added

Lafayette ledger (Lafayette, Minn.) 1905, 1907, 1909-1912 added

Anoka County record (Columbia Heights, Minn.) 2011-2018

New issues for the year 2020 were also added to several existing current newspaper titles, available to view only in the MNHS Library.


James J. Hill Arrives

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

James J. Hill arrives in Saint Paul on this date in 1856 to become a shipping clerk.
This photo of him is from that year.

First Aquatennial

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

The first Minneapolis Aquatennial started on this day in 1940. All of these photos are from that first event.
Yacht race at Bde Maka Ska, from the Minneapolis Tribune
Aquatennial parade
Dayton Company Aquatennial float, Norton & Peel


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

It's a little warm out, which got us thinking about fans.
This brown plastic "Deskair" electric desk fan was made by B & B Remembrance of St. Paul, circa 1960.

Civil War Era Rain Hat

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

This is a non-regulation tarred cloth (oilcloth) rain hat, reportedly used during the Civil War by First Lieutenant Abner St. Cyr of the 4th Minnesota Regiment, Company G. The hat has a visor and a shoulder-length cape that can be wrapped across the face to cover all but the eyes.

Creepy but effective!


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 15, 2022

We are so excited to learn that we have hit over 10,000 subscribers on the MNHS YouTube channel! 
And what better way to celebrate than with another video about the number 10,000, as in lakes, of course. Enjoy!
Click on the image when it premiers at 10:00 a.m. this morning.

Humphrey's Civil Rights Speech

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 14, 2022

On this day, July 14, 1948, Hubert H. Humphrey gave his famous Civil Rights speech at the Democratic Convention, declaring that: “The time has arrived for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of state’s rights and walk forthrightly in the bright sunshine of human rights.”

Shown here is the first page of that magnificent document.

Here is the complete speech.

Learn more about HHH on mnopedia.

Additionally, this provides an excellent opportunity to announce that researchers now have electronic access to an additional 458 cubic feet of Humphrey’s papers! This has been many, many years in the making and we are thankful to have it. 


Picking Blueberries

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

We don't want to sound alarmist, but the exhibit Art Speaks closes at the end of the month!
Stop by before then and see this lovely painting, which is currently on view in the show. This oil on canvas is titled "Women Picking Blueberries." It was painted by Dorothea Lau as part of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) project, between 1935-1942.

National Picnic Month!

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

July is National Picnic Month!
We have picnic baskets, photos, and cookbooks relating to picnics in our collection, but today we are looking at the third book in a series of narrative rhymes entitled County Road Tales created by Two Guys from Scott County Inc.

Two guys are Gordon W. Fredrickson, the author, and Delmar Holdgrafer, the illustrator. The title is "County Road Picnic" and is was published in 2001.