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

This painting is named "Spring Thaw." It is an oil on board by Fred Anderson, from 2009.
Let the roller coaster of March begin!

Moccasin Book

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

This book, "Nookomis Obagijigan (Grandmother's Gift)," brings together the knowledge of moccasin makers from Minnesota and Wisconsin. This pattern and book of stories is beautifully illustrated and written completely in Ojibwe and English.
Former MNHS Native American Artist in Residence Sarah Agaton Howes worked with apprentice Michelle Defoe and translator Maajiigwaneyaash to create this book, bringing together their knowledge and that of their teachers. It was recently added to the Gale Family Library collection at MNHS.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 2, 2021

This photograph show cattle at the Schroeder Farm in 1920.
Looks like they are about to start a race, doesn't it?

Women's History Month

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 1, 2021

Happy Women's History Month!
We will kick it off with this button which states: "Write Women Back Into History." The word "woman" in different languages appears around the outer edge. 
This button was given to a member of the Young Feminists Club at Christ the King School in Minneapolis to commemorate Women's History Month in 1991.


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

Today is the Jewish celebration of Purim.
This photograph shows members of the Sons of Jacob Synagogue in Saint Paul plan for the Purim celebration in 1962.

Ojibwe Double Ball

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 25, 2021

Ojibwe and other Woodland tribal groups have a game called double ball which is similar to lacrosse and played primarily by women.

This double ball set is from the Grand Portage Reservation and collected by Frances Densmore for MNHS in the 1930s.

Letter from Samuel Woods to Franklin Steele

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 24, 2021

In this letter dated February 17, 1851, Samuel Woods informs Franklin Steele of his current affairs and business deals. In the first paragraph of the second page he mentions that a bill to sell Fort Snelling has passed and speculates that "our expectations will be realized" to buy the fort and surrounding land. The letter predates the eventual sale of the fort by six years, suggesting that Woods and Steele possessed insider knowledge.
See whole letter and transcript here:

Food Schedule

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 23, 2021

This poster was created during World War I; it is a suggested Food Schedule to "Help Win the War."
It consists of a chart showing foods to be omitted from meals on particular days, in order to conserve them as part of war effort. 
This was created between 1914 - 1918  and printed in Minneapolis.

Nellie Griswold Francis

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 22, 2021

Griswold’s high school graduation photograph, 1891. From St. Paul Central High School records.

Happy Black History Month! 
Throughout the month in Item of the Day we will focus on various influential and inspirational African American women.
Nellie Griswold Francis founded the Everywoman Suffrage Club (ESC) in 1914. It was the only Black woman suffrage organization in Minnesota. 
Later, she was almost single-handedly responsible for the authorship and promotion of the bill for an Act to Prevent Lynching in 1921.
Learn more about her and her work here:

Ski Wax Guide

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 19, 2021

This Northland Ski Wax guide hails from 1940 and could still be useful today, if one has skis that needed waxing.