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collections up close Blog

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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Joan Mondale's Inauguration Coat

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 20, 2021

This Eleanor Brenner designed coat was worn by Joan Mondale at the presidential inauguration of Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale on January 20, 1977. 
This photograph shows Joan Mondale wearing this coat while Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill administers the vice presidential oath of office to Walter Mondale.

Inaugural Gown

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 19, 2021

This gown was worn by Alice A. Shepard Lind, wife of Minnesota governor John Lind, to the Presidential inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 when John Lind was a member of the United States House. 
The three piece pale yellow faille and brocaded satin gown has a short-sleeved under bodice and a long sleeved over bodice.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 18, 2021

This button features a photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. Square and a quote in red lettering that reads, "True Peace Is Not Merely The Absence of Tension; It Is The Presence of Justice." 
It was created in 1982.

National Hat Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 15, 2021

Happy National Hat Day!
Our colleague, Stephanie Olson, finished digitizing a total of 717 hats in our collection a few years ago. 
See them here!

Polar Kitchen

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 14, 2021

On this day in 1993, Minnesota native Ann Bancroft and the 1993 American Women's Trans-Antarctic Expedition reached the South Pole.

With them was this kitchen bag. It contains a small brush, stainless steel ladle, plastic spice bottles labeled Mexican, Cinnamon, Garlic, Salt, and Oregano. There are also two unopened packets of chemical hand warmers, a small green plastic toothbrush, a white plastic spoon, and a small metal spatula. 
Packing light takes on a whole new meaning here!

Ration Card

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 13, 2021

This humorous "nookey" ration card was created during World War II, 1942-43. Cards like this were a popular gag gift among soldiers, as everything during this time was issued by ration card.

The Great Gatsby

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 12, 2021

You have probably heard by now, but many important works enter the public domain this year, F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" among them!

This is the 1934 Modern Library edition of the book. Please note the “Discontinued Title” stamped on the front. This edition is the first and only time "The Great Gatsby" has been out of print since it was originally published in 1925. This edition is also interesting for Fitzgerald’s own preface, in which he defends his book and dismisses its critics.

Vaccines 1955

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 11, 2021

As we look forward to more of our fellow citizens receiving the vaccine for COVID-19, on Mondays in January we will share images of people receiving vaccines in the past. 
This photograph shows students at the Davis School in Saint Paul receiving the Anti-polio Salk vaccination in 1955. This comes from the St. Paul Dispatch-Pioneer Press photos.

Voyageurs National Park

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 8, 2021

On this date in 1971, President Nixon signed a bill creating Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota. 
This book from 2000 about the history of the creation of the Park is in our Library collection. It is also available online from the National Park Service here:

Survivor Button

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 7, 2021

This button features an image of a monk with text that reads: "Survivor Winter '82." This was in reference to record-setting snowfall and cold temperatures in 1982.
Think how many buttons we all deserve at this exact moment?