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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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Women's straw hat

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

This women's circular straw hat was designed by Richard Englander, circa 1940s. The crown is woven tightly, and the brim is made up of loose straw.
Was the intent fashion? It doesn't seem like it would offer much sun protection.

Recent Acquisitions for May

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 8, 2022

Recent Acquisitions Update - May 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.


The Golden Northwest / Southern Minnesota and Eastern Dakota – Simmons, Charles E. & H. M. Burchard. This is very rare and will help build out our collection around this topic. Good condition, fair price & have private  funds to cover it. Only institution with a copy is Yale.

Reception Banquet to the State Officers and Legislature ... Visit to the Capitol of Wisconsin 1869.  Shows relationship between neighboring states, right after Civil War. Also rare, good condition & have private funds. No other institution holds a copy.

His Name is George Floyd. Written by two Washington Post reporters, it both a  biography of George Floyd and an examination of racism in America. Really timely due to the upcoming anniversary of death & protests.


3D Objects

Daniel Gavin military materials: decorated Minnesota veteran, served as radar tech during Vietnam. Builds Vietnam era materials, complements other military materials. Includes duffel bag, Class A uniform, helmet liner, field jacket, fatigues, NCO token; foot powder

Gagnon Family collection. Significant Rondo community family. Active in speed skating and golf.  Also have oral history in collection from Kathy, the First African-American member of Como Speed Skating Club. Photographs will be coming & offered to AV.  Golf bags used by Kathy/her father. Twin Cities Golf Association materials including shirt, trophies, medals. The trophies have strong specific location connections and tie well into the overall collection; good condition. Paper materials: will be kept in 3D paper files/accession files

Pysanka eggs: chosen from a larger collection of eggs given as gifts between a couple. Each shows a different style. Purchased in Minneapolis from Minneapolis Ukrainian community shops/churches. One is signed by the maker. Helps build out Ukrainian-American cultural collection, with better provenance than existing collection items. 


Gerald Martin workshop: these demonstrate the “third chapter” of printmaking in Minnesota; expansion of screenprinters and lithographers. Martin was one of the first independent workshops and influential in the scene. Brian selected six prints and one collage, all produced in the workshop. Very reasonable price for a strong suite demonstrating this moment in Minnesota art. Includes Bruce Nygren, Gerald Martin, Carole Fisher, Hugh Kappel, Jerry Rudquist, Julie Zick, Carl Grupp.


Institute for Agriculture Trade and Policy: international group met in 1980s in Geneva to talk about farming crises that had been significantly impacting Minnesota; Minnesotan group formed to discuss the international sustainable farming practices. Worked with WTO. Ties in with Land Stewardship project and other agricultural policy materials, this time with international focus. Helps document how agricultural policies and land stewardship have changed over the years. Will also be workin with Kate in the future to build on this collection.

Frank Trnka Honeywell Project: Project protested Honeywell’s manufacture of weapons, at height of Vietnam War protests. Frank became involved as member of Mennonite church, eventually led rest of his congregation to get involved. Papers help document the community experience. Really well documented/organized with personal notes about the experiences. Some documentation of personal life and how this project impacted him. Will be quick to catalog, has a great entry to point to other avenues of research, provides a great snapshot of time period.



Ted Hovey Cold War photo collection: 3D component presented in the last few weeks; donated photographs accompanying some of his experiences especially in Germany. Well labeled, focused on Hovey in uniform or at work.

Nicollet Field billboards: panorama showing Nicollet Field in the 1940s with all of the billboards. Other photos of the field don’t show these views, shows ads for local businesses and national brands. Could be useful for upcoming ad exhibit work. Could also be useful in articles, illustrative purposes, etc.

State Archives

Metropolitan Council.  Organizational charts dated 2005-2018.  Complement existing records preserved in the State Archives.  11.8MB.

Pine County.  Records (undated, 1870-2004), including meeting minutes of various county committees and commission (extension, parks and recreation, planning, and solid waste advisory;  dated 1965-1980;  selected subject files (undated, 1870-2004) of the Auditor concerning such topics as county planning, land condemnation, natural resources, sluice dams, and the Rose Hill Cemetery in Hinckley;  Superintendent of Schools’ school district consolidation files (dated 1876, 1950s-1974) and related records;  District Court civil case file transcript dated 1929;  and Board of Equalization meeting minutes dated 1904-2004.  3 boxes, 1 oversize folder.

Steele County.  Highway Department.  Annual reports dated 1944-2013.  2 boxes.


Newspaper added the Digital Hub!

A content update to the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub today added 3,445 new issues and 37,168 new pages.

Newly publicly available titles & date spans:

Minneapolis spokesman (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1964-1978 added

St. Paul recorder (St. Paul, Minn.) 1964-1978 added

Atwater herald (Atwater, Minn.) 1964-1975 added

Eveleth news-clarion (Eveleth, Minn.) 1951-1953 added

Askov American (Askov, Minn.) 1925-1943 added

Lafayette Nicollet ledger (Lafayette, Minn.) 2021 added

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


Your thoughts?

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


Summer poems

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 7, 2022

This small poetry book by Shirley Ensrud is called "Lures of the north: (of fishing and relaxing)."
The poems share the experiences of summer, fishing, and vacation. It was published in 2008.

Remembering Philando Castile

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 6, 2022

Today we remember Philando Castile, who shot and killed by police during a traffic stop July 6, 2016.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 5, 2022

The Civil War battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg happened at nearly the same time: July 3, 1863. The Union victory in both, in vastly different parts of the country, marked the beginning of the end of the Confederacy. Minnesota regiments played important roles in each of these battles.
Gettysburg holds a more prominent place in the collective memory, but Vicksburg was as important if not more so. General Grant’s success at Vicksburg secured Union control of the Mississippi, and led to Grant’s increasing importance. 
The image here shows when the Fourth Minnesota Regiment entered the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, 1863.

Learn more:

Happy 4th of July!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 4, 2022

Happy 4th of July!
This photos shows children with a decorated car for a 4th of July parade in Marine-on-St. Croix, 1925.

Conoco Touraide

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 1, 2022

The Jaglowski family lived in Hibbing  and wanted to take a car camping trip to Glacier and Yellowstone Parks. Having a membership in the Conoco Travel Club allowed the Jaglowskis to request Conoco’s Travel Bureau to create a “Touraide,” an itinerary that included every piece of information they would need along the way, including location of Conoco gas stations!
This was created and used in 1936.

Road Trip Book

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 30, 2022

How can we talk about road trips without mentioning a guide to them?
This book is Country roads of Minnesota: drives, day trips, and weekend excursions. 
It was written by Martin Hintz and published in 1999.

Stop in Minneapolis

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

The joy of being on the road!
This photograph shows two women traveling by automobile at a stop over in Minneapolis, 1924.

Northeastern Minnesota

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

Continuing our road trip theme, this is a map of the Minnesota Arrowhead found in the middle of a tourism pamphlet from 1962.
We love the tag line at the top: "Where every season has a reason."