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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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Minnesota Health Department COVID-19 Videos Transferred to the State Archives

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 18, 2021

Recently cataloged in our Library collection is the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) web page with examples of digital videos done by local media producers and community organizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of the Minnesota Historical Society’s effort to chronicle Minnesota’s response to the pandemic, and State Archives staff are working with the MDH to document the department’s public health response.

Already, the MDH has transferred to the State Archives digital copies of many videos documenting how communities of color, American Indian residents, LGBTQ residents, residents with disabilities, and residents with limited English proficiency have responded to the pandemic. Additional digital videos, public service announcements, media briefings, and selected data from the online MDH COVID- 19 Dashboard will be transferred to the State Archives this year and next.

See the videos here.


Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 17, 2021

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Today we are going old school, and taking a look at a Saint Patrick's Day parade from 1916. Looks rather different, doesn't it? Remember this is the midst of World War I, before America's entry in that war.

This is a page from Floyd Brown's photograph album, dating from 1910 - 1916.  It shows views of friends, social, and recreational activities, including views of St. Patrick's Day parades in 1915 an 1916, swimming and boating, Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, and trips to Terre Haute and Chicago. 

It can be seen in its entirety here.

Jessie Diggins!

By: Lori Williamson | Collections Up Close | March 16, 2021

Last week, Afton native and Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins won cross-country skiing’s world cup. No American woman has ever won this before!

Thinking of her amazing achievement and given that it’s Women’s History Month, we are sharing three ski bibs she donated to our collection.

One is from the 2014 Olympics, the other two are from World Cup competitions in Lillehammer 2017 and Falun 2018.

Pi(e) Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 15, 2021

Happy Pi(e) Day!
3.14 is our annual excuse to talk about pie-related materials in the collection, so here we are, a day late.
Today it is this photograph of an apple pie display at Chain Store Age. It forms part of Norton & Peel photograph collection and was taken in 1949.
Twenty cents for a slice of pie and ice cream? What a deal!

Cake Mix

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 12, 2021

This Softasilk Cake Flour packaging was made by General Mills, Incorporated in Minneapolis, circa 1943.

Cakes of Ice

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 11, 2021

This stereograph is titled "Cakes of Ice" and was taken by photographer Charles Zimmerman in 1870. On the edge it notes "Minnesota Ice Harvest." 
Stereographs are made with two nearly identical photographs, side by side. They are meant to be viewed with a stereoscope, where the image will appear to be three-dimensional.

Streets in March

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 10, 2021

This painting is called "Streets in March." 
It was created as part of the Works Progress Administration in 1937 by Stanford Fenelle. 


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 9, 2021

With the gift of the expected warm weather today, we feel compelled to share some shorts, as no doubt many people will be wearing them.
These are a pair of plaid wool Bermuda shorts, circa 1968.

International Women's Day

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 8, 2021

Happy International Women's Day!
This poster commemorating International Women's Day is from 1977. 
This day was first officially observed in 1911!

National Frozen Food Day!

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

This Saturday, March 6, is National Frozen Foods. If you are surprised by this or that we are celebrating, don’t be! The world’s first refrigerated transportation system was patented in 1939 by Frederick McKinley Jones when he was working for U.S. Thermo Control in Minneapolis. Jones would eventually patent more than sixty inventions, making him one of the most prolific African American inventors ever. We are lucky enough to have his paper in our manuscript collection, accessible through the Gale Family Library. This photo shows Jones with one of the trucks, circa 1950.