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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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New Year Pow Wow button

By: Anonymous (not verified) | Item of the Day | December 30, 2022

Today's collection item is this button promoting a New Year Pow Wow celebrating the start of 1992. It is likely from the White Earth Reservation.

ID: 2003.88.12 (Accession Number)

U of MN Gophers at the Rose Bowl

By: Anonymous (not verified) | Item of the Day | December 29, 2022

The Minnesota Gophers men's football team plays in the Pinstripe Bowl today. As we cheer them on, we share this video clip of the on-field celebration after another bowl game - the 1962 Rose Bowl, which the Gophers won 21-3 over the UCLA Bruins. From the KSTP archive.

ID: 15044 (Video Clip Number)

Handbill for New Year's Eve concert

By: Anonymous (not verified) | Item of the Day | December 28, 2022

Today's New Year's party promotion is for a 1981 concert featuring a number of Minneapolis musical mainstays of the era. Were any of you there that night?

ID: 2003.92.19 (Accession Number)

Celebrate New Year's Eve

By: Anonymous (not verified) | Item of the Day | December 27, 2022

New Year's is almost here! This week we will highlight some New Year's Eve party promotional materials from our collection, starting with this 1940 poster for a dance hosted by the Credjafawn Social Club, one of the oldest Black social clubs in the Twin Cities.

ID: GT5.3 a1 (Locator Number)

Kwanzaa doll

By: Anonymous (not verified) | Item of the Day | December 26, 2022

Happy Kwanzaa! Today is the first day of the annual seven-day celebration of Black culture. This Kwanzaa doll was made in about 2012 by Minneapolis artist Phyllis Chatham.

ID: 2017.160.2 (Accession Number)

My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy

By: Anonymous (not verified) | Item of the Day | December 23, 2022

December 23 is the birthday of famed Minnesota poet and activist Robert Bly. We share this book of poetry, a copy of his 2005 work My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy.

ID: PS3552.L9 M9 2005 (Library Call Number)

Blizzard Footage

By: Anonymous (not verified) | Item of the Day | December 22, 2022

Snow is flying, but it's far from the first time in Minnesota history! Today we share this video of B-roll from the KSTP archives of a 1965 blizzard, complete with abandoned cars, kids playing, and snowplows coming to the rescue.

ID: AV2006.41 (Accession Number)


On the Shortest Day

By: Anonymous (not verified) | Item of the Day | December 21, 2022

Today is the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year. So we share On the Shortest Day, by Laura Sulentich Fredrickson and Laurie Caple, from our collection of children's books, You can get your own from the MNHS store!

ID: 9989780338604294

Hanukkah menorah

By: Anonymous (not verified) | Item of the Day | December 19, 2022

The Jewish religious celebration of Hanukkah began last night at sundown. This menorah in our collection features two tablets representing the Ten Commandments, flanked by lions representing the Lion of Judah.

ID: 2016.5.1 (Accession Number)

Gopher State

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 2, 2022

This political cartoon is from 1858. This cartoon answers the age-old (okay, actually 164 year old) question – why are we the Gopher state? This very cartoon started it all.

One of the first acts of the legislature of the new state was to amend the brand new constitution, enabling them to issue credit and loan $5 million (or $ 137,000,000 in today’s dollars) to railroad interests. While some were against this, most people supported the amendment: it passed with 25,023 votes in favor and 6,733 against.

This cartoon is clearly in the nay column. It shows a railroad car full of bondholders being pulled by nine striped rodents with human heads, representing the legislators (many of whom also had a stake in the railroads). The issue of business looking for money never gets old, does it?

Why gophers though? A good theory is that gophers were a major nuisance to homesteaders in the western, prairie-part of the state – the same place the railroads were going.

The artist is R. O. Sweeny from Saint Paul; this was published as a broadside when the issue was being debated. From the messy ordeal of state development, we got both the railroads and our nickname.