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.

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Happy Pride Month!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 3, 2021

Happy Pride!
Today we are highlighting "A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns."

This book combines a graphic art format with characters and good information. It was created in 2018 by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson. 

Pig's Eye!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 2, 2021

On this day St. Paul's founder, Pierre Parrant, built the city's first structure, known as the "whiskey seller's cabin," in Fountain Cave.
This portrait of Pierre Parrant is copied from an uncataloged print and dated 1840.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 1, 2021

It definitely has been sundress weather around here lately!
Today we share this one from 1958. This summer sundress features a modern stained glass block print, with a skirt flared from fitted waistband.  And ladies rejoice, it has pockets! It is a Tina Lesser Original design.

Memorial Day Travel

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 28, 2021

We've missed travel, haven't we?
This photograph shows passengers purchasing tickets during the Memorial Day travel peak at the St. Paul Union Depot in 1949.

Have a great and safe weekend!


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 27, 2021

This is a Coronado brand tabletop radio, model 636. The radio has five white Bakelite dial slides with paper labels on which are printed the call letters of the radio stations WKBH, KWNO, WEAU, WCCO and WHO.

It was retailed at local Gamble stores, circa 1939.

Cycle Runs, 1896

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 26, 2021

This map show the principal cycle runs from Minneapolis. 
It was taken from L.A.W. record and the notes of A.A. Hansen and published in The Minneapolis Times, 1896.

Happy 80th Bob!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 24, 2021

Today is Bob Dylan's 80th birthday. To acknowledge such an important milestone, we share the earliest piece of Dylaniana from our significant collection. From 1956 we have his self described "Good/Bad Poem" along with a photo of him on his friend's motorcycle, which inspired these poems. We would characterize this as a rough start on the road to becoming a Nobel Laureate.  

"Wine & Crime" Podcast Sweatshirt

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 21, 2021

This 2020 sweatshirt was created in the early months of the COVID lockout and reads "STAY THE F[wine glass image]CK HOME". The wine glass is part of the logo used by the true crime podcast Wine & Crime, who designed and distributed the sweatshirt, with a portion of proceeds going to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to support COVID-19 relief efforts. The full logo is found in white near the end of the left sleeve, along with the text "XOXO The Gals". The hosts of Wine & Crime are from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and often incorporate Minnesota references and language into their episodes.

Sinclair Lewis Map

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

"A map of Sinclair Lewis' United States, as it appears in his novels"
With notes by Carl Van Doren; illstrated by George Annand, 1934
On view in Sinclair Lewis: 100 Years of Main Street, now on view at the History Center!

Greenleaf Clark

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




Is his name or moustache more remarkable?
This is Greenleaf Clark. He was Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in March 1881 through January 13, 1882; his tenure was short after his party did not endorse him.
He also served as a regent of the University of Minnesota from 1879 until his death in 1904 and was active in the formation of the law school there. Clark also served on the council of the Minnesota Historical Society including as president 1904.