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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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Minnesota Sheet Music Collection

By: admin | What's New | December 2, 2010

Minnesota shake down

Over the years the Minnesota Historical Society has collected the sheet music that documents Minnesota's musical heritage. This month sees the publication of a new sheet music finding aid; two others were published over the summer. Many of the pieces of music in these collections have been digitized and can be viewed from their finding aids.

Do you feel like singing a rousing chorus of Rah! Rah! Ski-u-mah! for the University of Minnesota football team, cutting a rug with the Minnesota Cadet Lancers , or calling the steps for the Minnesota Shake-Down?


Or browse through all three finding aids for a tuneful reminder of Minnesota's past at:

Collection of Songs and Music about Minnesota Places, Institutions, Businesses, and Themes

Collection of Songs and Music by Minnesota Composers

Collection of Songs and Music by Minnesota Women Composers

The digitization of this portion of the Minnesota Sheet Music Collection was funded in part by a grant from the Bean Family Fund for Business History.

Sarah Quimby, Library Processing Manager

Minnesota cadet lancers

Mileage wheel used by Will Steger

By: admin | Item of the Day | December 2, 2010
Mileage wheel used by Will Steger

This bicycle wheel, fork and metal bar were attached to Will Steger's sled during his historic crossing of Antarctica on foot in 1989-90.  A mileage counter was attached to the hub and by the end of the trek it read 3471 miles! See photos of it in action on Steger's website.

"Police Line" Tape

By: admin | Item of the Day | December 1, 2010

This "Police Line Do Not Cross" tape was picked up at a protest against the construction of a new portion of Highway 55, otherwise named Hiawatha Avenue, in Minneapolis. The protests over the expansion of Highway 55 came to a head on December 20, 1998. After a four month occupation of a group of homes slated for demolition by activists known as the Minnehaha Free State, Governor Arne Carlson authorized a raid on the encampment, known as "Operation Cold Snap," which involved more than 600 police officers. The protesters were removed and the site was leveled. Protests continued throughout 1999.

The Color of Winter

By: admin | Our Favorite Things | November 30, 2010
Despite sub-zero temperatures and record snowfalls, Minnesota winters can be dramatic and spectacular. Curator of Art for the Minnesota Historical Society, Brian Szott, highlights several works of art from the collection by Minnesota painters and printmakers that are inspired by the season and its stark beauty.

Fallout shelter water storage can

By: admin | Item of the Day | November 30, 2010
Fallout shelter water storage can

Fallout shelter water storage can: a 17 ½ gallon barrel issued by the  Department of Defense, Office of Civil Defense, to be used primarily for storing drinking water. Instructions in yellow on this cylindrical olive green steel barrel explain not only how to properly store drinking water, but how to convert the barrel to a commode if needed. Manufactured by the Malleable Iron Range Company, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, 1963.

1963 Andersen – Rolvaag Election Recount

By: admin | Podcasts and Slideshows | November 29, 2010

Reposted from November 19, 2008

Acquisitions Librarian Patrick Coleman explains the complicated events that led to the 1963 recount. A variety of film from the KSTP-TV Archive shows us the players in this newly relevant drama including Elmer Andersen, Karl Rolvaag, the voters, the judges and vote-counters, and even JFK.


For Minnesota news outlets to rebroadcast any of this footage, the Minnesota Historical Society must be credited as well as an on-screen synchronous credit reading ‘KSTP-TV ARCHIVE’. This credit must appear on-screen, at the same time as the news film for a minimum of five seconds and be of such font style and size that it is easily legible to a reasonable viewer of the news film.

To learn more, see Patrick Coleman's article "No, this isn't an opportunity to steal an election," Saint Paul Pioneer Press, November 19, 2008.

See also the Governors of Minnesota homepage.

Bass drum used by Grant Hart

By: admin | Item of the Day | November 29, 2010
Bass drum used by Grant Hart

Bass drum used by Grant Hart of the influential Minnesota punk/indie band Hüsker Dü. Made by the Ludwig Drum Company in the late 1950s, the head has handwritten lyrics to the song “Diane” from the album Metal Circus, released in 1983.

Hotel, Motel, Resturant and Beverage Union button

By: admin | Item of the Day | November 26, 2010
Hotel, Motel, Resturant and Beverage Union button

Promoting unionization of the food and restaurant industry, this button was worn by a Local 458 union member and an employee of the Sheraton Ritz in Minneapolis around Thanksgiving, 1968.

Thanksgiving Postcards

By: admin | Item of the Day | November 25, 2010
Thanksgiving Postcards 3Thanksgiving Postcards 2

A collection of early 20th century Thanksgiving greetings cards sent between a family in Minnesota and North Dakota, circa 1910-1916.

Thanksgiving Postcards 1

Gobbles Magazine

By: admin | Item of the Day | November 24, 2010
Gobbles Magazine, May 1966Gobbles Magazine, August 1966

Gobbles Magazine, November 1966Gobbles Magazine, September 1967

Gobbles, the Official Publication of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

Top left: "M-M-M dis toikey's good" May, 1966.

Top right: "Our turkey exhibit at the state fair" August, 1966.

Bottom left: "Thanksgiving through the ages" November, 1966.

Bottom right: "Senator Mondale barbecues turkey" September, 1967.