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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Mall of America turns 30!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 11, 2022

The Mall of America opened 30 years ago today! 
This collectors shopping bag was designed by Alex Boies in that first year of 1992.

The Prision Mirror

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 10, 2022

The Prison Mirror started publication on August 10, 1887.  It is the newspaper of the Stillwater State Prison and is the longest, continuously published prison newspaper in the country.
The initial motto was "God helps those who help themselves;"  a few issues later it changed to "It is never too late to mend." 
The Prison Mirror was co-founded by brothers Cole, Robert, and James Younger, members of the James-Younger Gang who were serving life sentences after taking part in a raid in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1876.
See more in our Digital Newspaper Database!

Mississippi River

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 9, 2022

This photo shows visitors enjoying a view of the Mississippi River in Itasca Park. 
It was taken in 1900.

Title IX Library Lobby Display

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 8, 2022

After taking a break during the pandemic and the reopening of the Library, we have a new small display in the Library Lobby!
It celebrates the 50th anniversary of what is commonly referred to as Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school that receives funding from the federal government.
The display contains photos, books, and artifacts relating to women and girls in sports. Take a look if you're in the vicinity!
This photos show here is the Women's hockey team from the University of Minnesota in 1925.

National Lighthouse Day

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 5, 2022

This coming Sunday, August 7, is National Lighthouse Day.
To recognize that we share this United States Light House Service uniform hat, worn by Orren Young, the first head light keeper at Split Rock Light Station.
The wool flannel hat has a lighthouse badge, an oilcloth visor, and a patent leather chin strap. It was made by D. Klein and Brothers in Philadelphia and used between 1910-1928.

Minnehaha Map

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

 This is a map of from our collection of Minnehaha Park, showing land for sale by the Minnehaha Park Syndicate in 1891.

Mississippi Steamboats

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

This carte-de-viste shows a gathering of steamboats on the Mississippi in 1865.
It forms part of Views of Dakota, Ojibway and Winnebago Indians and other early Minnesota views, Reserve Album 58, from Whitney’s Gallery.

Equality Button

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

This button from our collection is dated 1984.

35W Bridge Plans

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

On this date fifteen years ago the 35W Bridge collapsed. 
In remembrance of that, today we share one of the original bridge plan from our collection. This is just one in a series of over 90 sheets relating to this bridge.
Learn more about the 35W Bridge in this MNopedia article.

Castone Painting

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 29, 2022

These are the last days of our fantastic "Art Speaks" exhibit! It closes July 31!

On view is this painting is called "River Scene." It is an oil on canvas by George Castone, 1914. 
Born in Missouri, George William Castone was the son of a formerly enslaved woman. In 1911, after years working as a butler in Evanston, Illinois, Castone moved to St. Paul with his wife and four children. He took up painting and worked as a waiter at the Ryan Hotel. He was nine days short of his 100th birthday when he died.