Collections Up Close

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.

All MNHS Blogs

Subscribe by e-mail:

 Subscribe in a reader

Happy Women's History Month!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 4, 2022

As it is Women's History Month, we wanted to share our Minnesota's Women Vietnam Veterans Oral History Project. 
This project chronicles the lives of Minnesota nurses who participated in the Vietnam Conflict. One focus of the interviews discusses suffering from and helping those who suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Another aspect of these interviews chronicles postwar involvement including work with veteran's organizations and the development of two monuments dedicated to the military service of women. The interviews often address the importance of women's roles in the military.
Learn more here:

Recent Acquisitions Newsletter - January 2022

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 3, 2022

Learn more about what was added to the collections in January!
Click on image above to go to newsletter, please.

Jim Denomie

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

Koochie and Tuffy
Jim Denomie
Oil on canvas

Today’s Item of the Day is dedicated to Jim Denomie, who passed away yesterday. 
In addition to Koochie and Tuffy, Man and Woman and Off the Reservation (or Minnesota Nice) are part of the collection, the latter of which is on display as part of the Art Speaks exhibit now on view at the Minnesota History Center.
He was a great presence in the art scene, both in Minnesota and internationally, and will be deeply missed.

Pancake Mix!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 1, 2022

Today is Pancake Day!
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent is the season in the Christian calendar where special observances are made leading up to Easter, often in "giving up" of favorite things for the season.
It is also an excuse to eat pancakes for dinner!
This is a package of Globe A1 Pancake and Waffle Flour. It was made by Globe Mills, which was a trade name used by Pillsbury Mills in Los Angeles, circa 1950.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 28, 2022

With Ukraine on people's minds, here are a few Ukrainian items from the collection. We also have over 30 books about Ukraine and its people in the Library collection.


The cap for a Ukrainian costume was made by donor's mother, Anastasia Prystupa Scholuch, from Lipinki Biala-Podlaska, Poland. It was to be worn for special occasions and holy days; it was modeled by parishioners at held at St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in Minneapolis. It was made and used in 1910.


The button was made by Wendell's Inc. of Minneapolis for a Ukrainian Day celebration held in Minnehaha Park; at the center is the Ukrainian coat of arms. This was created between 1949-1984.


This is a Ukrainian Easter egg, or pysanka, made from a real egg decorated with beeswax, circa 1962.

Happy Black History Month - Barbara Jo Davis

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 25, 2022


Packet of note size stationery with an image of Barbara Jo Davis, President, Ken Davis Products, Incorporated. Circa 1990s.

Wood recognition plaque awarded to Barbara Jo Davis with engraving on black metal plate, circa 1989.



This year’s Item of the Day theme for Black History Month celebrates food and food-related inventions.

Today we are highlighting Barbara Jo Davis. She created an amazing career and life for herself. While marketers only presented images of a White Betty Crocker, Barbara Jo decided she wanted to be Betty Crocker, and she did it! She worked hard to get the education and eventually a job at General Mills. She worked for about 10 years in the Test Kitchen with other home economists, nutritionists, and cooks to create new products and recipes. While doing this, she received a call from Ken Davis, a local restaurateur who was looking for help in creating a recipe for his barbeque sauce. Together, they launched Ken Davis Products, which made and sold sauces in the five-state markets. Barbara Jo and Ken married, and Barbara Jo became President of the company until 2010, when she sold it. 

Barbara Jo was involved in several community matters, and the business often sponsored benefits to help local food shelves. She also served as the first national president for the Coalition for Black Development in Home Economics.


The MNHS is honored to hold both artifacts and papers relating to their business and personal life.

Learn more here:

Manuscript collection:

Tpt’s Minnesota Experience:


Winter Art

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 24, 2022

In anticipation of the opening of Art Speaks exhibit next week, let’s take a look at Winter in Minnesota art again with Art Curator Brian Szott!
Click on image to play.

Needle Book

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 23, 2022

This is a green velvet needle book with white beadwork decoration used by Bessie Cambell of St. Cloud during the Civil War. 
The book encloses a single needle and is lined with green checked silk.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 22, 2022

These are a pair of Army issued fur gloves, possibly made of muskrat fur. 
They were issued at Fort Snelling and used during the Spanish-American War, 1898-99.

Happy President's Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 21, 2022

While Minnesota has not (yet) given the country a President, we can still celebrate with one of our Vice President's along with a former President!
This photo is of Walter Mondale speaking to Gerald Ford on the day of Mondale's inauguration as Vice President, 1977.