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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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Looking Back/Moving Forward

By: admin | Podcasts and Slideshows | November 21, 2007
Brian Szott, Curator of Art, shares five of his favorite new additions to the Minnesota Historical Society's fine art collection. (3 min. 38 sec. / 2.08 MB)

I-35W Bridge Resources at the Minnesota Historical Society

By: admin | Podcasts and Slideshows | November 21, 2007
Shawn Rounds, Government Records Specialist, describes plans, photographs and records from the Interstate 35W bridge across the Mississippi River that collapsed on August 1, 2007. (3 min. 33 sec. / 17.3 MB)

Find more on the bridge at the Minnesota Historical Society Library's I-35W Bridge Resources page.

Pulp Fiction

By: admin | Podcasts and Slideshows | November 21, 2007
Acquisitions Librarian Patrick Coleman takes a look at the seamy, steamy and entertaining world of Minnesota pulp fiction. (5 min. 12 sec. / 26 MB)

Explore more books from the 1930s through the 1950s with the Books of an Era timeline at the Minnesota's Greatest Generation In Their Words web site.

County School Records

By: admin | What's New | November 15, 2007
County school recordsThis collage depicts selected records of the King School, which was located in Belfast Township in Murray County. The items pictured are souvenir booklets (1930s) presented by the teacher to her students, teachers' contracts from the school board clerk's book (1890s), and a page from a school attendance register. Seventy years ago, in the 1930s, more than 8,000 school districts existed in Minnesota, many of which were one-room schoolhouses. In the 1950s and 1960s the "country schools" consolidated or merged with larger independent school districts, and state-wide all school districts were renumbered. Now there are just over 400 school districts in Minnesota. School records are a valuable resource not only for family history research, but also for local history. Often the schoolhouse was a community center, and several generations in a family would attend the same school.

While not all school district records in the State Archives collection are as colorful as these, the information a researcher can find about students, teachers, and school buildings is rich. The State Archives currently preserves records of about 3,000 rural and independent school districts. Many of the records are the official records (meeting minutes, school board election results, summaries of receipts and expenditures) of the school district clerk and treasurer, but there are also teachers' class record books and attendance registers, school censuses, photographs, and much more. There is lots of information listing the kids who attended individual schools, who their teachers were, what subject the pupils were taught, and the books they read.

Learn More:

Search the Library Catalog by:

1. the county name and school district number,
2. the name of the school, or
3. the township or city name and the term "school," plus the county name if the township or city is a common name.

Search the Visual Resources Database to find individual photographs of schools by:

1. the county name and school district number,
2. the name of the school, or
3. the township or city name and the term "school," plus the county name if the township or city is a common name.

Schoolhouses of Minnesota By: Photography by Doug Ohman

Family History Resources: School Records

Walter Mondale Memorandum to Jimmy Carter

By: admin | Our Favorite Things | November 14, 2007
Walter Mondale and Jimmy Carter sitting at desk"In an otherwise masterful document, the Founding Fathers created the vice presidency with almost no thought as to how it would fit into the structure of the new federal government."

With these words, Richard Moe, chief of staff to Walter Mondale during the latter's term as Jimmy Carter's vice president (1977-1981), begins “The Making of the Modern Vice Presidency: A Personal Reflection” (Minnesota History, volume 60, Fall 2006). His essay describes a crucial memorandum from December 1976 in which Mondale, at Carter's invitation, spelled out his recommendations for making the office an engaged and significant part of the Carter administration.

Mondale and Carter shared the opinion that the vice presidency was, in Moe's words, a “wasted national asset,” and that there were opportunities for a real partnership with a president willing to delegate authority. Mondale's memo outlined his thoughts on the role the vice president could play, some specific contributions that he personally could make, and the degree of involvement in the Carter administration that such a relationship would require. Moe's essay describes how that relationship became a reality.

A copy of that landmark memorandum resides in the Walter F. Mondale Papers at the Minnesota Historical Society. It is reproduced here in two PDF files; one is a searchable transcription of the memorandum, the other presents scanned images of the actual document.

Other documents in the Mondale Papers include subsequent staff reviews and analyses of this new type of vice presidency. The Mondale Papers are scheduled to be publicly accessible in January 2007.

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The writers are capable of writing papers of any length, complexity including format such as APA, MLA and Turabian/Chicago. The center is a safe and reliable center that will deliver to you quality and original academic essay.

Collections Tours

By: admin | Our Favorite Things | November 14, 2007
Tour of the Minnesota Historical Society’s collections storageLinda McShannock, Costume and Textile Curator, provided a behind-the-scenes view to the Minnesota Needlework Guild in October 2005. Participants from their needlepoint study group toured the History Center's storage area for costume and textiles and viewed 19th and 20th century examples of needlework in the Society's permanent collections.

Specialized group tours with curators are available for a fee. Arrangements are made through individual curators. Contact Lori Williamson at 651-296-9984 for further information.

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Munsingwear Victory Promotion Bra & Girdle Set

By: admin | Our Favorite Things | November 14, 2007
Munsingwear Victory Promotion Bra and Girdle SetThis cotton bra and girdle with a stars-and-stripes motif was not marketed but used as a gimmick to support the war effort and promote Munsingwear’s wartime underwear sales.

The company, headquartered in Minneapolis, designed and manufactured a wide variety of undergarments for men, women and children. This collection documents the availability and use of a variety of fabrics--silk, lace, synthetics and rubber--in the underwear industry from the 1880s to the 1980s.

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U.S.S. Ward Model

By: admin | Our Favorite Things | November 14, 2007

U.S.S. Ward Model

On the morning of December 7, 1941, this 1,247-ton destroyer was patrolling the Hawaiian waters near Pearl Harbor. On board were 85 reserve officers and enlisted men from the 47th Division stationed at the Naval Training Center in St. Paul. That morning the Ward encountered a Japanese midget submarine near the harbor entrance, attacked and sank it, thus firing the first shots of the Pacific War a few hours before the Japanese air attack.

On the morning of December 7, 1944, three years to the day after her Number Three Gun fired the opening shots of the war, Japanese aircraft attacked the Ward. Severely damaged, the crew abandoned ship and the vessel was sunk by gunfire from an adjacent U.S. destroyer.

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By: admin | Our Favorite Things | November 14, 2007
Grouping of pottery objectsArtists have long brought the joy of art to everyday life through the application of their creative force to Minnesota's material culture. We have a rich craft heritage and generations of Minnesotans have found pleasure in the use of functional and beautiful objects that provide sensory experiences and add vigor to everyday life. The Minnesota Historical Society has been collecting contemporary fine crafts for about 25 years and our region is recognized nationally particularly for the quality, creativity and influence of its ceramic artists. The six clay objects illustrated here are in the Society's collections and were acquired between 1988 and 2005.

Object Identification

From top left and moving clockwise:

  • Ceramic vase, Kirk Freeman. 2002 MCF Purchase Award. 2002.170.2.

  • Raku ceramic vase, Richard Gruchalla and Carrin Rosetti. 1993 MCF Purchase
    Award. 1993.207.1.

  • Porcelain platter, Chris Holmquist, 1988. 1988.213.1.

  • Ceramic jar with cover, Joe Christensen and Judith Ryan Reiling, 2001.

  • Stoneware platter, Peder Hegland, 1990. 1990.339.1.

  • Carved porcelain vessel, Becky Lloyd, 2005. TD005.1.2005.

Department 56 Ice Palace Model

By: admin | Our Favorite Things | November 14, 2007
Image of Department 56 Ice Palace ModelEstablished in 1886, the St. Paul Winter Carnival remains one of Minnesota's most enduring seasonal celebrations. Perhaps the most renowned symbol of the festival is the Ice Palace, an ornate edifice made of ice from Minnesota lakes. Over the years, the image of the Ice Palace has been applied to everything from buttons to advertising cards, providing a wealth of memorabilia for Winter Carnival collectors.

In 1995, acclaimed Minnesota giftware manufacturer Department 56 introduced the "Snow Carnival Ice Palace" as part of their line of fine quality collectibles. In keeping with company tradition, the model was made for a limited time and then retired from production to enhance its rarity.

The Minnesota Historical Society maintains a rich and diverse collection related to the Saint Paul Winter Carnival dating from the late 19th century to the present. The collection includes clothing and uniforms, medallions and buttons, musical instruments, flags and banners, plaques, commemoratives, film footage, posters, and photographs. These items document the evolution of the festival and its royalty and clubs, as well as the participation of Saint Paul businesses and organizations.

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