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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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Hmong Story Cloth

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

Since May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we want to share a Hmong story cloth.
This example illustrates traditional village life. It was made in Ban Vinai, Thailand, and available for sale at Hmong Handiwork in Saint Paul by vendor Youa Vue. 
It depicts Hmong men and women at village chores including pounding rice, feeding animals, and harvesting grains and vegetables. Story cloths were made for sale by Hmong refugees in Thailand and were sold around the world.

Steamboat Cruise

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

With Memorial Day coming up this weekend, we've been thinking about boats. 
Minnesota has a rich history and connection to boats, both as an industry and recreationally. 
This steamboat was being used for the latter purpose on Christmas Day in 1860. Brrr!

George Floyd

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

Today, May 25, is the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. 
This new book will be added to the library collection for use now and in the future.

Bob Dylan's Birthday

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

Bob Dylan turns 81 today. Born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing, he became an international superstar; a living icon; and a Nobel prize winner.
This is just one example of a recent addition to our collection of Dylaniana. 
In 1965 a songbook of Dylan's early hits was published. Dylan himself had a copy that he used to indulge his visual artistry. On each page he drew an image that the song evoked, wrote out some of his favorite text from the song, and signed and dated each new creation. This is the music to "Girl of the North Country," with his own hand-drawn image.

Learn more about Bob Dylan here:

Snacks fit for Prince

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

This is the list of refreshments requested by Prince and his band before a show at First Ave., 1986.

From the First Ave. Manuscript Collection, MNHS.

This is just one small example of the treasures that can be found in manuscript collections!

Card Game

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

In celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, we want to be sure to mention communities from Southeast Asian as well. 
This photograph shows Vietnamese immigrants playing cards in the house of Mr. Chinh Dao of St. Paul, 1978.

Learn more about the history of immigration to Minnesota here:

Feeding the World

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

This trade card was created and distributed by the Pillsbury-Washburn Flour Mills Co.'s Office Bowling Team.  
Please note both the cheer and image of young girl feed bread into the world's mouth.
This was created circa 1950.


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

After the long winter and short spring, this watercolor by Clara Mairs shows what we all deserve now.
It shows a man on an outdoor lounge, reading the paper. It was created in 1935. 

No Mow May

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

Between the talk about No Mow May (the idea of leaving early lawn growth alone to help pollinators) and our love of early ads, sharing this 1865 poster was an obvious choice.
"It Mows, It Reaps, It Rakes!" the poster declares, with four illustrations show different uses for this piece of farm machinery named The Kirby. 

Pacific Islanders Oral History Project

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

As it is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we want to highlight our oral history project featuring narrators discuss their personal stories of living in the Samoa, Hawaii, and Minnesota. The project interviews a wide range of individuals from musicians to social activists. 
The Pacific Islander Community Oral History Project is part of the larger Asian American and Pacific Islander Oral History Project, a partnership between the Minnesota Historical Society and the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans.

Learn more here: