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 | March 28, 2022

This photos shows a checker tournament in Logan Park, Minneapolis in 1934.
Soon it will be time for outdoor games again! Right?
Until then, find photos that amuse or interest you in our online database!


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

Since we are observing Water Week within Women's History Month, today we share a painting by Clara Mairs. 
It is titled "Swimmers" and undated.
Mairs was an painter, printmaker, and decorative artist active over a long period. Learn more about her here:
And see a few of her painting in person in the "Art Speaks" exhibit!

Bill on the Ice

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

Continuing on our spring and water themes of the week, we were looking for something to represent ice out (when bodies of water are finally freed of ice). This photo, however, was too strangely funny not to share. Maybe next year, Bill!
This photo shows a man, possibly named Bill, out ice-fishing with his home made shelter. It forms part of Minneapolis and St. Paul Newspaper Negative Collection and is dated 1948.

Rain Coat and matching hat

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 23, 2022

This women's reptile skin print vinyl raincoat and matching hat were made and worn by Bess Stiegler of Minneapolis, circa 1970s. 

World Water Day

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

Today is World Water Day. World Water Day is held every year on March 22, to celebrate water and raises awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water.
Today's item is a Civil Defense half-gallon water carton. It was produced by the United States Army, Corps of Engineers and distributed in Duluth, 1975-76.

Spring Storm

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

This acrylic painting is titled "Spring Storm: Red River Valley." It was painted in 1984 by Carl Oltvedt.
This kicks off our Water-themed week! Also it's officially Spring now; we made it!


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

As it is Women's History Month, we are featuring women artist whose work is currently on view in the Art Speaks exhibit.
This is a bronze sculpture titled "Bird." It was made by Katherine Nash in 1967. 
The Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota Department of Art's Regis Center for Art is named for her. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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

To all the Irish and Irish at heart, a happy day to you and yours!
Enjoy this short and spring-y TikTok! Click image to start.

Recent Acquisitions February 2022

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

Recent Acquisitions Update 

February 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.



  • Under Purple Skies: The Minneapolis Anthology. This is a gift from the editor, who did an amazing job of collecting the signatures of most of the authors. Many important contemporary authors are to be found in this collection, reflecting on Minneapolis.
  • "Successful Co-op In St. Paul" in Eyes: The Negroes' Own Picture Magazine (June 1946). This story highlights the Crejafawn Co-op in Rondo; it also includes new to us photos of the store.
  • Transfers from Main Street exhibit from Patrick Coleman: a mix of Sinclair Lewis related materials including magazine articles about Lewis and books by Lewis including German language publications.

3D Objects

  • MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium) and Oregon Trail materials (transfer from State Archives):
    • Oregon Trail/Cheerios box: MECC + General Mills in one item
    • CDs, floppy disks
    • Commemorative Lucite items highlighting important moments in company history
    • Honeywell ID of MECC founder
    • Oregon Trail II box kit
    • An Oral History was recently done with the creator of Oregon Trail
  • Jessie Diggins clothing: 2018 Olympics clothing, including jacket she wore when receiving the gold medal. 
    • Ongoing relationship with the Diggins and will be working with them further
  • Plymouth Clothing House tailcoat suit jacket
    • Have a few items related to the Plymouth, primarily advertising and a few clothing items including women’s hats, marching band uniform. High end clothing store, not as long-lasting as some other names. Custom made and dated with a hand-written label. The Carpenter family was wealthy and influential at the time.
    • Men’s clothing is relatively under-represented compared to women’s, so this helps fill it out.
    • Seller doesn’t have much information to share, but we do know that he purchased it vintage and wore it a few times.


  • Sue Dickey Hough and other early women legislators
  • Hunt’s Baking Powder poster


  • The focus of the Art Curator this month has been getting ready for the Art Speaks exhibit, which is open now! It is amazing - don’t miss it!


Fish Houses by Charles Beck

State Archives

1.  Hennepin County.  Auditor.  Tax lists dated 1971.  Six reels of 16mm master negative microfilm on non-standard size reels.  

2.  Hennepin County.  Wayzata (village, city).  Birth and death records dated 1887-1953; Wayzata Cemetery Association minute book dated 1882-1906; Old Wayzata Cemetery records of deaths dated 1855-1897; Greenlawn Cemetery record of interments dated 1909-1923.  1 box.

3.  Legislature.  Electronic Real Estate Recording Commission.  Minutes dated 2016-2019.  1 folder.  

4.  Secretary of State.  Election returns (dated 2006-2008) for national, state, judicial and county primary and general elections; House and Senate bills dated 2007.  9 boxes.

5.  Washington County.  Records dated 1867-1994.  11 boxes (including 97 reels of 16mm positive microfilm, and 21 reels of 35mm negative microfilm).


Newly cataloged books and articles

  • Letter from Minneapolis: the uprising : people who took to the streets for George Floyd are finding their lives--and their city--transformed. In June 2020 New Yorker Magazine.
  • Letters to Antonio Andrew Anderson from his mother. Minneapolis: General Mills, 1946. Cardcover; 28 pp; contains full-page illustrations and large illustrations throughout, including a map of the locations in the book and an image of the "Basic 7 Food Groups" wheel on the back cover.

Recently Cataloged Manuscript & State Archives Collections

Newspaper added the Digital Hub!

A content update to the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub today added 10,390 new issues 

and 108,169 new pages.

Newly publicly available titles & date spans:

Mankato union (Mankato, Minn.) 1870-1879 added

Mankato record (Mankato, Minn.) 1859-1879

Mankato free press (Mankato, Minn.) 1879-1923

Alexandria post (Alexandria, Minn.) 1868-1894

Crookston Tribune (Crookston, Minn.) 1891-1899

Twin-City herald (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1927-1940

Timely digest (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1931-1932

Saint Paul dispatch (St. Paul, Minn.) 1956

New issues for the years 2012-2021 were also added to many existing current newspaper  titles, available to view only in the MNHS Library.


Clelland Card of WCCO asked Dorothy Deeny about college life during the program Inquiring Reporter, 1940

Your thoughts?

Are you interested in specific Minnesota topics or resources you’d like to

consider? Let us know!


March Kites

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

This watercolor titled "March Kites" shows an outdoor scene of three children (at left) flying red and yellow kites (at upper right). The foreground is brown and tan hillside, with bare bushes; trees and houses in the background.

It was painted by Faith Miriam McNaughton Lowell in 1970.