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.

All MNHS Blogs

Subscribe by e-mail:

 Subscribe in a reader


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 7, 2021

This map is titled "Louisiana." It was created by Samuel Lewis in 1804.
It is particularly interesting because it was made in the same year that the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, left from St. Louis. Also note the surprising perspective, and that it reaches up to Hudson's Bay.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 6, 2021

Come see this 1942 edition of "Arrowsmith" and many, many more works by Sinclair Lewis in the new exhibit, "Sinclair Lewis: 100 Years of Main Street."
It’s beautiful and fascinating!


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 5, 2021

How would you describe this hat? Jaunty springs to mind.
It is a soft shape brownish gray felt hat with upturned brim, felt edging, and one large flight feather from a Great Argus Pheasant wrapped around base of crown. 
Bessie Pearson of Saint Paul wore this hat in 1919.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 4, 2021

April shows bring May flowers!
This watercolor of the Blind Gentian was made as part of the WPA Art Project in 1941 by Lloyd Quackenbush.
It shows a single stalk with three showy blue flowers and large narrow leaves. The titles (including Latin) are written below.

Washburn A Mill Explosion

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 3, 2021

On May 2 the Washburn Crosby Mill exploded in 1878. 
This stereograph is title "Ruins after mill explosion, Minneapolis." It was taken by Henry Farr.
A stereograph is a double image that becomes three-dimensional when viewed with a stereoscope.

Thank you, Mr. Mondale

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 30, 2021

Walter Mondale gives eulogy at Hubert H. Humphrey's funeral.

Remembering Vice President Walter Mondale

On April 19, 2021, we lost one of Minnesota’s greatest statesmen and leaders.

Walter Mondale was born in Ceylon, Minnesota, in 1928. He spent most of his 93 in public service, starting as Attorney General and later Senator for Minnesota. He changed the role of Vice President when he served in that position; he and President Carter would work together as a team. He was the Democratic Party nominee for President in 1984. Later, he served as Ambassador to Japan.

In recent years, while in private law practice and richly deserved retirement, he still worked for the people. Mondale was incredibly generous with his time and knowledge, working with up and coming politicians as well as students in law school, graduate studies, and History Day. His commitment to students and the study of history was unwavering.

When Mondale gave the eulogy for another great Minnesotan, his mentor Hubert H. Humphrey, he said:

"While he was an international figure and a national figure, as we in Minnesota well knew, he was always a Minnesotan, and always a son of the prairie. There was something in this land and its lakes and, especially its people, that fed the springs of love, the strains of ideas, the torrents of enthusiasm, and which nurtured the special genius and the immense humanity of Hubert Humphrey... He was a special man in a special place, and I know he would want me to say today: Thank you, Minnesota."

Today, as Minnesotans, we say: Thank you, Mr. Mondale.


Mondale and Ferraro

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 29, 2021

The theme of Item of the Day this week is Remembering Vice President Walter Mondale.
This photo shows Walter Mondale and his running mate Geraldine Ferraro on the campaign trail in 1984. It was the first time a woman appeared on a major party ticket.

Office of the Vice President Seal

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 28, 2021

The theme of Item of the Day this week is Remembering Vice President Walter Mondale.
This is a cast plaster Vice Presidential seal to hang on the front of a podium. The seal was used by Walter Mondale, who served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States, 1977-1981. 

Memo about the role of Vice President

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 27, 2021

This is the momentous memo Vice President Mondale sent to President Carter, outlining his thoughts on the role the vice president could play in the new administration and some specific contributions that he personally could make. President Carter was eager to implement the ideas set forth here.
See the whole:

Grits and Fritz

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 26, 2021

This week’s theme for Item of the Day is Remembering Vice President Walter Mondale.
While Mondale had a storied political career before becoming Vice President, serving both as Attorney General and Senator for Minnesota, the fun slogan on this button provides a glimpse into the teamwork the Carter Administration would soon exhibit.
Jimmy Carter (Grits) and Walter Mondale (Fritz) presidential campaign button, 1976.