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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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"March Kites"

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 2, 2020

This water color on paper was created by Faith Miriam McNaughton Lowell in 1970, and is titled "March Kites."

I hope we can see this much ground soon!

Century Cycle

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 28, 2020

We close out Black History Month with an epic by one of our finest playwrights, August Wilson. 
This collection of Wilson's "Century Cycle" was published in 2007. The Cycle is 10 plays set between 1904 and 1997, with one play for each decade of the twentieth-century.
This set consists of ten volumes issued in a single slipcase; each volume is bound in black cloth with a dust jacket.

Church Hat

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 27, 2020

This is a women’s yellow cloche hat worn by Merrie Barr in 1956. Barr, a Rondo resident, wore this hat to Pilgrim Baptist Church in Saint Paul.



By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 25, 2020

Given yesterday's stereograph image, a stereoscope viewer seemed appropriate today.
This wood and brass stereoscope features a folding handle that can be set on a stand for storage or display, circa 1880s. It was owned by Magdalene Wagner of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Frozen Waterfall

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 24, 2020

This photo from 1880 was taken at Minneopa State Park near Mankato in winter, showing the frozen waterfalls. 
The photographer was Elias F. Everitt. It is a stereograph, which is meant to be viewed using a stereoscope which showing left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene appears as a single three-dimensional image. 


The Learning Tree

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 21, 2020

Happy Black History Month! Throughout February we will feature as Item of the Day books in our collections written by African Americans across many genres.
Today's book is "The Learning Tree" by Gordon Parks, written in 1963. A photographer, writer, and composer, Parks wrote this semi-autobiographical novel about growing up black in this country;  he later turned it into a movie. 

Wall Telephone

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 20, 2020

This oak wall telephone with silver metal transmitter and dial was manufactured by the Stromberg-Carlson Telephone Manufacturing Company in Rochester, 1915. This was one of the first dial sets installed in the Twin Cities; it was in continuous service in Saint Paul until 1937.

Bed warmer

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 19, 2020

This is a pine cage-style bed warmer, in which an electric light bulb could be placed. Katherine Dreves had it made and used it during her work as a nurse to heat patient's beds, circa 1920.

Photo of Capitol Approach, 1953

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 18, 2020

This photo show the Capitol Approach in 1953. It seems so much less crowded back then, but perhaps that's due to the angle of the photo.

Happy Presidents' Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 17, 2020

Okay, so Humphrey wasn't a president, but he ran for it! In observance of the day we are featuring Hubert H. Humphrey promotional cuff links. This pair of gold-colored metal cuff links were likely used during his 1968 United States presidential campaign. Cuff links are one of the many items for sale in Humphrey-Muskie campaign promotional material booklet from that era.