Collections Up Close

collections up close Blog

Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future

About

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

Autumn Scene

By: admin | Item of the Day | October 27, 2010
Autumn Scene

Autumn Scene, oil on canvas, painted by John Banvard, circa 1870. Banvard (1815-1891) is known for his panoramic oil paintings, which were often created from preliminary sketches made during his travels throughout the Mississippi River Valley.

Other works by John Banvard

Star Trek Rapid Fire Tracer Gun

By: admin | Item of the Day | October 26, 2010
Star Trek Rapid Fire Tracer Gun

From the Minnesota Historical Society’s extensive collection of weaponry comes this 1967 Star Trek Rapid Fire Tracer Gun which “shoots the new jet discs with exciting rapid-fire tracer action.” The universe is all the safer for it.

Immigrant Oral Histories

By: admin | Podcasts and Slideshows | October 25, 2010
Since 1948 the Minnesota Historical Society has used oral history to collect stories of our state’s past. Project Assistant Jillian Odland shares oral history interviews conducted with new immigrants and refugees, which have recently been digitized and are now available in two web resources: Becoming Minnesotan and Immigrant Oral Histories.
[display_podcast]

Handpainted Wayzata soldier's flight bag

By: admin | Item of the Day | October 25, 2010
Handpainted Wayzata soldier's flight bag backHandpainted Wayzata soldier's flight bag front

U.S. Air Force officer's issue type B-4 flight bag of olive canvas with illustration of Mt. Fuji with a body of water and sailboat in the foreground. The other side is painted with "AL JOHNSON/WAYZATA,/MINNESOTA" with lightning bolt insignia of U.S. Army 25th Division field artillery regiment and  8th Field Artillery crest with caption "AUDACIEUX ET TENACE." Interior has a dark olive cloth pocket and two olive cloth flaps. Owned by Al Johnson, circa 1947.

Immigration Week: Hmong earrings

By: admin | Item of the Day | October 22, 2010
Hmong Earrings

In celebration of the new “Becoming Minnesotan” web site at the Minnesota Historical Society, this week’s Item of the Day theme is the history of immigration in Minnesota and the experiences of contemporary immigrant populations.

Today's item is a pair of traditional Hmong fine silver earrings ( > 92.5 % silver) made in a slip-on style.  A "U" shaped loop slips over the ear and has a tiny spiral in the back and a silver cone with a beaded base in the front. Suspended freely from the "U" are seven spiral pendants that end in two flat arrowhead shapes.  Earrings were made in Thailand by a Hmong refugee from Laos, a relative of May Yang, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Voting instructions to recent immigrants

By: admin | Our Favorite Things | October 21, 2010
Voting instructions in SwedishVoting Instructions in French Voting Instructions in Polish

Above, left to right, are posters in Swedish, French, and Polish.

In celebration of the new “Becoming Minnesotan” web site at the Minnesota Historical Society, we are highlighting pieces from the Collection which reflect the immigrant experience and relate to contemporary immigrants.

These posters, in a multitude of languages, are some of my favorite things in the Collection. We've all seen recent instruction to voters in Somali, Hmong, and other languages; these posters remind us that immigration has been part of life in Minnesota for a long time.

Voting Instructions in Finnish Voting Instructions in NorwegianVoting Instructions in Russian

Above, left to right, are posters in Finnish, Norwegian, Russian.

These were issued by the Secretary of State's office between 1920 - 1930. Not only were they written in the language of the particular immigrant group, but they also used a specific font where appropriate.

Voting Instructions in BohemianVoting Instructions in German

Above, left to right, are posters in Bohemian and German.

Contemporary Quilts at the James J. Hill House Gallery

By: admin | What's New | October 21, 2010


Minnesota enjoys a long and continuous history of quiltmaking. The quilts in this exhibition can be viewed as contemporary expressions with historical roots. The talented artists whose work is seen here were inspired by landscape, historic figures, current events, or other traditional textiles. We see the versatility of textiles that we call quilts, as the artform continues to be both an outlet for artistic expression and recognition of women’s needlework traditions.

The Society’s quilt collection numbers over 350 quilts dating from the mid-eighteenth century to the present. The quilts on view here are not representative of the types of quilts found in the Minnesota Historical Society’s collection, but reflect twenty-five years of collecting contemporary Minnesota quilts. The quilt collection is available on the Society’s website at //collections.mnhs.org/cms/.

This exhibition is one of several organized to coincide with The American Quilt Study Group’s annual seminar held in the Twin Cities between October 14-17, 2010. This event brings quilt enthusiasts and scholars together to view quilts from new perspectives, discuss aspects of women's and cultural history, and learn the latest in documentation and research.

Thanks to MHS volunteers who helped prepare the quilts for exhibition:  Jeannette Root and Dorothy Stish. Judy Calcote, Stephanie Drinkard and Laura Oyen deserve thanks for their research and cataloging assistance. A special thanks to Nancy Eha for lending us her most recent quilt.

For local guild information, contact Minnesota Quilters, Inc. at http://www.mnquilt.org/ or Minnesota Contemporary Quilters at http://www.minnesotacontemporaryquilters.net/.

The exhibit is on display at the James J. Hill House from October 2, 2010- March 1, 2011. Click here for more information.

Immigration Week: Immigration Ceremonies

By: admin | Item of the Day | October 21, 2010
pf033956pf033955

In celebration of the new “Becoming Minnesotan” web site at the Minnesota Historical Society, this week’s Item of the Day theme is the history of immigration in Minnesota and the experiences of contemporary immigrant populations.

Immigration ceremonies, now and then. Left, immigrants taking oath of citizenship, Minneapolis Council of Americanization, circa 1925. Right, naturalization ceremony for 113 new U.S. citizens, Citizenship Day, Minnesota State Capitol, 1976.

Immigration Week: Wild Geese

By: admin | Item of the Day | October 20, 2010
Wild Geese

In celebration of the new “Becoming Minnesotan” web site at the Minnesota Historical Society, this week’s Item of the Day theme is the history of immigration in Minnesota and the experiences of contemporary immigrant populations.

Martha Ostenso was born in Bergen, Norway. She moved to Minnesota when she was two but didn’t learn English until she went to school. She was cruelly teased but loved the English language and kept a list of words that she thought sounded wonderful, like “cyclone” and “potato.” Her first novel, Wild Geese, was based on her experience teaching in a one room log school house in Manitoba and concerns immigrant farmers in the Red River Valley. It won her a prize worth more than $150,000 in today’s dollars and allowed her to become a full time writer.

Echoes of Fitzgerald

By: admin | What's New | October 20, 2010

Scribner's 1931


One of our favorite donors just dropped off the November 1931 issue of “Scribner’s Magazine.” Not something we would normally be interested in, this issue has a lead article by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Titled “Echoes of the Jazz Age,” the text may ring familiar to baby boomers too. Fitz admits that in ’31 it is too early to write about the Jazz Age “with perspective” but goes on to do so. He writes, “Now once more the belt is tight and we summon the proper expression of horror as we look back at our wasted youth.”

Pages