Minnesota Local History

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Advice and help with building history capacity.

The Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History Services helps Minnesotans preserve and share their history. This blog is a resource of best practices on the wide variety of museum, preservation, conservation, funding, and non-profit management topics. We’re here to help.

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Sharing access to your organization's domain, email, and passwords

By: Joe Hoover | September 23, 2020

Don't limit access to your organization's accounts to just one administrator. Share access to ensure continuity of control for your most important accounts.

From MNHS Collections. AV2015.109

When you have only one account/password administrator, you have problems: You're completely dependent on that person for access. An accident, emergency, or a job change may leave your organization without an administrator to manage accounts. Many organizations struggle to access all sorts of accounts after an administrator leaves.

Share access to three important services--your domain name, your email, and your passwords. It goes without saying, share access only with people you trust, typically employees or a board member.

Shared Administrative Access
Some online applications like G Suite and Office 365 allow more than one account to hold "super administrator" or "global admin" privileges.

Password Manager Application
A password management system offers two additional options: Shared passwords and emergency access. Shared password systems, such as 1Password for Teams, Lastpass for Teams, or Dashlane for Teams, allow different people to login to a site with the same password synced and shared across accounts. If one person changes the password, the change syncs, too. Emergency access allows full access, as well, and can be configured to only allow access if the account holder doesn't respond.

Encrypted Word Documents As A Password Manager
For those looking for a more affordable and simpler alternative (assuming you already are using Microsoft Word). Using Word 2007 or later, (and ideally it would be Word 2013 or later) it should be reasonably secure to use an encrypted Word Document as a password manager. Versions prior to 2007 will not be secure at all.
How to Password Protect a Word Document - Video
How to password protect Microsoft Office documents

Representation and The National Register in Minnesota

By: Julia Larson | Preservation & Facilities | August 17, 2020
Lena Olive Smith and client at Olive Hair Store, Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis. Courtesy of MNHS.

The National Register of Historic Places recognizes places with national historical significance. But, does this recognition extend to places that represent different ethnic and regional identities? What does the data from the National Register tell us and what are some organizations, states and individuals doing to reconcile lack of representation?

What is the National Register?

The National Register of Historic Places is a list of places that are considered worthy of preservation at a national level. The worthiness of a place is determined by an advocate for that place working with State Historic Preservation Office staff and a National Register Review Board at the state level. Their recommendations are sent to the State Historic Preservation Officer for signature and then to staff at the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. The final step in the process is for the Keeper of the National Register to officially add it to the National Register list. 

The places that are nominated to be listed in the National Register have to meet Criteria for Evaluation. While the National Register Criteria brochure was last updated in 1997, the actual Criteria have not been updated since the National Historic Preservation Act was passed in 1966. The National Register Bulletin: How to Complete the National Register Registration Form has guidance on choosing “Areas of Significance” within each Criterion. This can be one or more categories from the list “Data Categories for Areas of Significance”. The category in the Area of Significance related to ethnic and regional identities is “Ethnic Heritage.” On the National Register application form an applicant can choose Asian, Black, European, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander or Other if they believe the place is significant because of its Ethnic Heritage. The Area of Significance is not required to have an Ethnic Heritage affiliation. Other categories an applicant can choose from are Architecture, Education, Engineering, Law, Religion, Transportation and so forth.The National Register application also has a section called “Cultural Affiliation,” but that is only used for Criterion D, which is a resource’s potential to yield important information, most commonly used for Archeological Sites. This blog post focuses on places listed under Criteria A-C.


Now to take a turn, I’ll come back to the Area of Significance in a bit. I want to clarify who I am referring to when I mention representation within the National Register. According to the Minnesota Legislature, Minnesota has Ethnic Minorities that are defined as American Indians, Hispanics/Latinos/Latinas, Asians and Blacks. In brief, the U.S. Census shows Minnesota residents currently identify as 84% White / 7% Black or African American / 1% American Indian and Alaska Native / 5% Asian / 0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander and 3% Two or More Races. Also, 6% of Minnesotans identify as Hispanic.

Now, back to the National Register requirements--nowhere does the application require racial identification or ethnic heritage, nor does the application require a certain percentage of applications be related to a certain ethnic identification. Also, nowhere in the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office requirements do they call for identifying as an ethnic or racial minority on or within applications. Due to the lack of this type of requirement, the only way to determine if a certain identity’s history is represented on an application is that it is identified as an Area of Significance on the form or if it is mentioned in the Description and Statement of Significance (categories on the application form). Also, ethnic and regional identities and population variations are considered fluid in Minnesota. As a 2009 disclaimer by the Minnesota State Demographer’s Office states, 

Racial and ethnic groups are social, not biological, categories, and they change over time. For example, the Hispanic/Latino category was not used in Census data before 1970, and multiple race data was not collected before 2000. It is likely that racial and ethnic concepts will continue to change in the future. New identities may emerge. The growing diversity of the population and the increase in the number of people of mixed backgrounds could make racial identity less salient. On the other hand, unforeseen societal changes could lead to more focus on racial differences than we have now. 

Representation in the National Register 

When attempting to look up what is listed in the National Register in Minnesota right now, the Statewide Database is not currently available. There is a National Database. The website says it only lists properties from 2013 and earlier with details. I did check if more recent listings were included and they were not. When searching the National Database, it shows 1,766 properties are listed in Minnesota from 2013 and earlier. You can Advanced Search by “Area of Significance.” The first table below shows the properties for each Ethnic Heritage group in Minnesota and the name of the resource listed under that category. The second table shows the Ethnic Heritage categories as the percentage of the 1,766 total properties listed in Minnesota.

Table 1: Ethnic Heritage categories and places listed in the National Register for Minnesota
Asian Black European Hispanic Native American Pacific Islander Other
• Fujita, Jun,
• Smith, Lena O., House

• Avalon Hotel

• Bullard, Casiville,

• Hall, S. Edward, House

• Harriet Island

• Holman Field
Administration Building

• Pilgrim Baptist

• St. Mark’s African
Methodist Episcopal
54 Total*
*not listed
due to
space constraints
None • Church of Sts. Joseph
and Mary–Catholic

• Church of St. Francis

• Yucatan Fort Site

• Traverse des Sioux

• Pipestone Indian
School Superintendent’s

• Birch Coulee School

• Lower Sioux Agency

• Inyan Ceyaka Otonwe

• Maka Yusota

• Upper Sioux Agency

• Wood Lake
Historic District
None None
Table 2: Ethnic Heritage categories percentage of the total listings in the National Register in Minnesota.
Ethnic Heritage Asian Black European Hispanic Native American Pacific Islander Other
Total 1 8 54 0 11 0 0
Total % out of 1,766 .06% 0.45% 3% 0% 0.62% 0% 0%

Looking at the census data in 1960, the percentage of Blacks in Minnesota (page 36)  was 0.7% of the population, 0.9% in 1970, and 1.3% in 1976. This is roughly 50 years ago which could be an indicator of the percentage of properties listed in the National Register. One rule of the National Register is that the place must be 50 years or older to be listed, in most cases. Minnesota has some catching up to do if it wants to base representation of listings in the National Register to the population 50 years ago. This type of comparison to the representation of the population 50 years ago does not take into account that the places listed in relation to certain identities should actually be more as history extends earlier than 1960. This comparison also fails to acknowledge the destruction of significant spaces due to Urban Renewal and other public places and systems. As it stands, Minnesota would need to roughly double their listings associated with Black history to reach the 0.7% of the 1960 population identifying as Black.

This comparison to representation within a population is a flawed comparison, but could be a starting point to clarify that representation is not where it should be. The example calculation is for Black identifying people and could also be done for the other population identifiers. This comparison can also be noted as flawed because some places may be listed due to an identity but are not marked as related to an Ethnic Heritage on the nomination form. 

Importance of Representation

Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, talks on NPR’s Ted Radio Hour about what having more Black sites on the National Register means. 

Making amends means Black Americans are appreciated, that our community is recognized for a 400+ year contribution, that our history and the physical places where the history is held are preserved. Making amends means that our nation is making new investments to address years of disinvestment and inequity. I believe that making amends is to understand that the Black experience is an American Experience.

According to Leggs, on a national scale, of the over 95,000 total entries in the National Register of Historic Places, only 2% focus on African American History. Leggs believes the National Register mirrors social issues of the country. He stated on a national level, officials are working to rectify this inequity. 

In my experience as a reviewer in the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant program, working at the Missouri DOT and interning at the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, places listed due to non-European Ethnic Heritage happen through three avenues: (1) specific advocacy from a person or people towards listing a place; (2) stories that are conveniently tied to European properties; or, (3) the obviously significant places that cannot be ignored. This leaves out places that do not have one of those three avenues to get them listed in the National Register. A couple examples are 470 Hopkins Street in St. Paul, a house used for an exhibit at the Minnesota History Center and 612 E. Summit Ave. Fergus Falls, MN,. The latter is the house of Prince Honeycutt, the town’s first African American, a barber and baseball player. The Honeycutt House was evaluated in 2012 for National Register eligibility and was determined it needed further information to make a determination if it is eligible for listing in the National Register.


Public entities and organizations are working to reconcile the discrepancy in representation in the National Register. For example, some state historic preservation offices have divisions with a direct mission to represent certain identities such as the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office’s African American Programs and the Black Heritage Council of Alabama. The National Council on Public History recently reported on the importance of reviewing current and past nominations to tell yet untold stories. Some states are listing and updating places that have significance to Native Americans identities including the recently listed Higginbotham Turnpike in Van Buren, TN and advocacy toward renaming a historic district, Indian Village, in Detroit, MI. The National Park Service continues to administer their Underrepresented Community Grants, started in 2014, to diversify “the nominations submitted to the National Register of Historic Places.” This year, they include $750,000 towards 18 projects. In Minnesota the National Register nomination for the Fort Snelling Historic District is also in the process of being updated to reflect the deep history of the Dakota people and the nationally significant story of Dred and Harriet Scott. 

By using existing data and information, the field can come together to advocate for representation of identities whose histories are often not told. This includes using two of the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants administered by the Minnesota Historical Society to reconcile nominations. The National Register grants are for the determination of eligibility for the National Register and writing, updating or revising a National Register Nomination. Feel free to join in this discussion by reaching out to the Minnesota Local History Services with ideas and thoughts.

Conditions Assessment: What is it? Why is it necessary?

By: Tamsin Himes | June 24, 2020
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

What is a Conditions Assessment? 

A conditions assessment is a report that details the present state of a building. It identifies the different elements, assesses their condition, and gives advice about proper treatment. It is comprehensive but non-invasive. It focuses on historically important areas. 

Why is it important? 

  • In the process of historic preservation efforts, a conditions assessment is not the most exciting step, but it is one of the most important. It provides the base for careful and appropriate preservation work. Relevant historical information, architectural details, and professional advice give valuable guidance for moving forward. 
  • If an organization is working through the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant program, a conditions assessment is the first step in this process. It becomes the foundation for all further Legacy Grant projects. 

Who should I hire to complete a Conditions Assessment?

  • Architects hired to complete a conditions assessment must be qualified historic architects. This means they must meet the qualification standards set by the Secretary of Interior. They must have both experience and training in dealing with historic structures. You can find the standards here.
  • Qualified historic architects will be able to provide a historical recap of the building, detail architectural elements, and provide a list of work priorities. A historical recap gives context for historic features and treatment recommendations. Details of architectural elements give clarity about the age and significance of the building. A list of work priorities (or “treatment recommendations”) provides a roadmap for other preservation projects. 

When is a Conditions Assessment necessary? 

  • Ideally, any historic building should have a current conditions assessment. Even buildings with no obvious issues benefit from an up-to-date, professional report. Architects often identify potential trouble spots early on. This gives owners the chance to prevent future damage. 
  • A conditions assessment is essential before beginning any project involving a historic building. In this case, it serves two purposes: 1. protecting the building from harmful work and 2. Focusing resources on the most necessary work. As mentioned before, it also provides a roadmap for planning a long-term preservation strategy. 

Any questions about conditions assessments? Contact Tamsin Himes at tamsin.himes@mnhs.org

Tips for Caring for Street Art

By: Megan Narvey | Conservation | June 15, 2020

What is street art?

Street art is a cultural and artistic expression that has been created or installed in a public space. When there is prior permission and planning, it is often referred to as public art. Sometimes street art is considered vandalism, but other times it is embraced and valued by the neighborhood.

Street art can take a number of forms, including paintings, sculpture, posters, or even yarnbombing. Murals are paintings that have been created on walls and other architectural spaces, and are not portable. Street art paintings can also be applied on fabric or plywood boards.

Three images showing different types of street art in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Different kinds of street art seen in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Why is street art difficult to preserve?

Street art is usually not intended to last forever. A mural that is created after careful planning, using the most stable materials, and receiving regular maintenance, might have a lifespan of 20-30 years. Conservation and maintenance over time costs money, and it’s very rare for there to be long-term financial support for street art. Additionally, it’s often unclear whose responsibility it is to care for street art. Typically, the intellectual property belongs to the artist while the physical work might be owned by the building owner where the artwork was installed. Ideally, the decision to preserve street art should be agreed upon by the artist, building owner, and neighborhood. 

Here are the most typical problems with preserving street art: 

  • Materials used in its creation were not designed or tested for longevity
  • Misguided attempts to preserve might cause more damage
  • Vandalism
  • Exposure to weather, light, and pollution
  • No funding for maintenance or conservation treatment
  • Artist is unknown
  • Removing street art to preserve in more ideal conditions, such as in a gallery or museum, can strip the artwork of its context and identity, preserving the material but not the meaning 

Recommendations for preserving existing street art

Document the mural with high resolution photographs. Try to record the artist’s identity and the types of paints and other materials used. Add this documentation to a local street art register if possible (examples: George Floyd & Anti-Racist Street Art, Chicago Mural Registry). 

Regularly assess the condition of the street art using a condition report form such as this version provided by the Canadian Conservation Institute: Outdoor Mural Condition Report Form. Conducting an annual inspection will allow possible issues to be addressed before they cause irreparable damage.

Encourage artists to become familiar with best practices for creating street art in order to choose materials and locations that will naturally enhance preservation - for example, avoiding south-facing walls where light damage and heat damage from the sun will be more intense, and choosing paints with light-resistant pigments. 

Coatings can be applied to protect the paint layer and to make it easier to remove graffiti. Coatings should be durable, permeable, reversible, and compatible with the artwork, so that they can be removed later without damaging the paint layer. Always test a coating in a small area before applying overall. Depending on a number of conditions, a clear coating can become cloudy, yellow, or begin to chip and flake. Don’t apply impermeable and irreversible coatings (such as polyurethane), as these will cause more damage over time. Find more advice on coatings here

Don’t attempt to preserve the artwork by covering it with glass or Plexiglass. This will trap moisture and dirt and speed up deterioration. It will also alter the appearance of the artwork, and make it more difficult to see. 

Use overhangs and gutters to redirect water away from the artwork. 

Maintain street art by sweeping around it, cutting back nearby plant growth, keeping gutters clean, and promptly removing graffiti or vandalism. You can install signage nearby with contact information for reporting graffiti or vandalism. 

If the mural is washed, it should be done as gently as possible without detergents and with minimal water pressure. Test a small area before cleaning overall. 

Try to obtain the permission of the artist, building owner, and neighborhood before moving street art to a protected location for preservation purposes. Document the original location and context as much as possible beforehand, and keep these records associated with the artwork. 

Further Reading

Best Practices for Creating Street Art

“Conservation guidelines for outdoor murals”. Canadian Conservation Institute. (2017) https://www.canada.ca/en/conservation-institute/services/care-objects/fine-art/conservation-guidelines-outdoor-murals.html

“Mural Creation Best Practices”. Rescue Public Murals. (n.d.) https://www.culturalheritage.org/docs/default-source/resources/mural-creation-best-practices-full-document.pdf?sfvrsn=4

Williams, B. “Techniques of Community Murals” Community Public Art Guide. (n.d.) http://www.cpag.net/guide/2/2_pages/2_1.htm


Di Giacomo, G. “Top Tips in Street Art Conservation”. Street Art Today. (2018) https://streetart.today/2018/07/24/top-tips-in-street-art-conservation/

Garcia, R. “Ephemerality, Values and New Models: an Approach to Graffiti and Street Art Conservation” Plowden & Smith. (2019) https://www.plowden-smith.com/ephemerality-values-and-new-models-an-approach-to-graffiti-and-street-art-conservation/

García Gayo, E. “Street Art Conservation: The drift of abandonment” SAUC Journal Vol 1 No 1. (2015) http://urbancreativity.org/uploads/1/0/7/2/10727553/gayo_journal2015_v1_n1.pdf

Hoagland, S. “Art or Awful: The Conservation of Graffiti”. National Trust for Historic Preservation: Preservation Leadership Forum. (2019) https://forum.savingplaces.org/blogs/special-contributor/2019/05/30/art-or-awful-the-conservation-of-graffiti

Rainer, L. “The Conservation of Outdoor Contemporary Murals”. The Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter, Volume 18, No. 2. (2003)  https://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/newsletters/18_2/feature.html

Santabárbara, C. “Street art conservation: beyond mural restoration” Opus n.s. n. 2. (2018) https://www.academia.edu/38624223/Street_art_conservation_beyond_mural_restoration_Conservazione_della_street_art_oltre_il_restauro_murale?auto=download

Smith McNally, R. and Hsu, L. “Conservation of Contemporary Public Art”. Conservation Perspectives: the GCI Newsletter. (2012) https://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/newsletters/27_2/public_art.html

Museums Allowed to Reopen, with Restrictions, on June 10

By: Todd Mahon | Preservation & Facilities | June 9, 2020
Neon Green Open Sign

On Friday, June 5, it was announced that museums can reopen on June 10. Guidelines from the state are found on the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s website

The document can be used to adapt the COVID-19 Preparedness Plan template and instructions. Museums are required to have this completed business preparedness plan. It is not required to be submitted to Department of Labor and Industry for approval but needs to be made available upon request.

The Key Requirements:

  • Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan 
  • Limit occupancy capacity to no more than 25% not to exceed 250 persons 
  • Ensure social distancing and a minimum of 6 feet between persons 
  • Strongly encourage masks for workers and customers

Worker Protections And Protocols For All Workplaces 

  1. Ensure sick workers stay home
  2. Social distancing – Workers must be at least six-feet apart 
  3. Worker hygiene and source controls
  4. Workplace building and ventilation protocols
  5. Workplace cleaning and disinfection protocols
  6. Drop-off, pick-up, and delivery practices and protocols
  7. Communications and training practices and protocol 
  8. What patrons can do to minimize the transmission
  9. Additional protections and protocol for receiving/ exchanging payment
  10. Additional protections and protocol for managing occupancy 
  11. Additional protections and protocol for arrival and assignment 
  12. Additional protections and protocol to limit face-to-face interaction
  13. Additional protections and protocol for distancing and barriers
  14. Additional protections and protocol for concessions
  15. Additional protections and protocol for exiting 
  16. Additional protections and protocol for sanitation and hygiene

Here are some of the key findings in some of these sections. This summary should not take the place of reading and understanding the full document. 

  1. Ensure sick workers stay home
    • Establish health screening protocols for workers at the start of each shift (e.g. health screening survey, taking temperature). 
  2. Social distancing – Workers must be at least six-feet apart 
    • Workers who are able to work from home must work from home.
    • Evaluate traffic patterns, choke-points, consider one-way traffic flow, etc.
  3. Worker hygiene and source controls
    • Ensure that workers regularly wash their hands.
    • Provide recommended protective supplies (face-coverings, gloves, disinfectant, guards, etc).
    • Post “Hand-washing” and “Cover your coughs” signs
    • If touching something (door handle, button, etc) is needed to open a bathroom door, provide a station with paper towels and a waste bin stationed nearby.
  4. Workplace building and ventilation protocols (Ventilation System Start-up)
    • Consult the Center for Disease Control guidance for re-opening buildings after prolonged shutdowns.
    • Increase the outdoor air-percentage to increase dilution of contaminants, and eliminate recirculating, whenever possible, while maintaining indoor air-conditions.
    • Continuously maximize fresh-air into the workplace, and eliminate air recirculation. 
    • Maintain relative humidity levels of RH 40-60% 
    • Keep systems running 24/7.
    • Add a flush cycle to the controls of the HVAC system, and run HVAC systems for 2-hours before and after occupancy.
  5. Workplace cleaning and disinfection protocols
  6. Communications and training practices and protocol 
    • All workers must be trained on procedures, practices, and protocols.
  1. What patrons can do to minimize the transmission
    • Advise them to conduct a self-check prior to arrival.
      1. Have them review a screening survey. 
    • Have patrons wear a face covering unless not recommended for health or physical ability reasons. 
  2. Additional protections and protocol for receiving/ exchanging payment
    • Use contactless payment whenever possible.
    • When contactless payment is not available ensure six of distance.
    • Install physical barriers between staff and patrons.
  3. Additional protections and protocol for managing occupancy
    • Venues must defer to the occupant capacities as established by applicable state or local authorities.
    • Stagger reservation times.
    • Post signage at entrance.
    • If using reservations, send protocols to visitors before arrival.
  1. Additional protections and protocol to limit face-to-face interaction
    • Evaluate all face-to-face activities.
    • Staff should always use masks when working with a patron.
    • Avoid performance-related demonstrations between staff and patrons that conflict with social distancing. 
  2. Additional protections and protocol for distancing and barriers
    • Space, configuration and flow of the establishment should be evaluated to allow for physical distancing of 6-feet by all workers and patrons.
  1. Additional protections and protocol for sanitation and hygiene 
    • Schedule reservations for longer than their typical duration to minimize the congregation of patrons waiting, allow for social distancing during arrival and departure, and provide for ample time for sanitation and air-circulation.
    • Provide hand sanitizer at the entrance, point of purchase, and prominent locations for customers

Historic Building Window Protection

By: Tamsin Himes | June 8, 2020
Royalty-free stock photo.

Installing window protection is important for historic buildings that may be in danger of vandalism.  This can be difficult to do in a sensitive way while still providing the protection your building needs. Given that every building is unique, there are different methods that would be better or worse for your particular building depending on its situation and material. Take the time to assess what kind of boarding-up technique is best before beginning. As you secure your building, be careful how you are securing plywood coverings to historic material. As with any situation, minimally invasive methods are preferable. For example, if forced to secure directly to the building, opt for using screws, not nails. Fasten to mortar instead of masonry, brick, or terracotta. 

Here are a few tips and resources which may be helpful as you work to protect your building: 

  • Detailed instructions for window coverings on historic buildings are spelled out in this Preservation Brief. Look for the section titled “Mothballing.”
  • Be sure to add additional padding and protection if you are boarding up stained glass windows. This could be any kind of softer material between the glazing and the boards such as packing styrofoam, thick fabric, or packing blankets. 
  • If you’re wondering about what type of window covering or securing method is best for your building, this document provides an overview of different options with the pros, cons, and uses of each.
  • When boarding up a building, ensure that there is still ventilation throughout.
  • On some buildings, storm window panel clips may be the least invasive option. Check out this video about how they work. Storm window panel clips can be acquired at most larger hardware stores. 
  • These suggestions for temporary window covering solutions may also be helpful.

Window protection is a simple step that can save your building from irreparable damage. Regardless of whether or not your building is in danger at the moment, it's a good idea to take the time and effort now to prepare and plan ahead. This can be as simple as measuring your windows, finding out what kind of fixtures you need, looking over the instructions in the preservation briefs, and getting a few supplies. A little planning now can make a big difference in the future.

How Minnesota's History Network Initially Responded to COVID-19

By: Todd Mahon | Mission & Management | May 28, 2020

Survey Report found here.

Minnesota has a strong network of organizations that reach from border to border. The total number of organizations, agencies, and more is understood to be greater than 500. The network, like all aspects of social, civic, and economic life in Minnesota, has been strained by the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health measures put in place by a series of executive orders from the Office of Governor Tim Walz.

In an effort to better understand how the network was responding to this crisis and gauge their capacity and resilience, the Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History Services created a brief survey that asked about the respondents’ current status, their capacity to work from home, the barriers they faced to conduct their work, the financial impact of the pandemic and the restrictions caused by the public health measures, and their plans to address the situation.

This document provides a summary of the responses to the questions and provides further context by breaking down the responses by the size of the organization's budget and by the region of the state.

The survey responses confirm some things that we already knew. The network has a wide range of capacity levels. In general, that capacity is not very strongly associated with a particular region of the state. Organizations located in the metro region do not necessarily have capacity advantages over other regions of the state.

Among the easiest to read issues, regardless of budget size or region of the state, are the barriers associated with completing our work in a Work From Home (WFH) environment. Across the demographics of the survey there were discrepancies between having a Work From Home policy and having people working from home. Organizations are in an environment that they have not adequately created policies.

It’s likely not unique to this sector, but the survey responses also reveal a gap in the tools and resources needed to work from home. Less than half of the respondents indicated that their organizations provided a laptop or desktop computer to conduct work from home. The numbers decline even more so when asked about mobile devices, data plans, and internet access. On the individual side of the ledger, the staff was providing these tools at their own expense.

The responses to the questions about the coronavirus response indicate that early on steps were largely targeted to public-facing areas like public events. When asked about what steps they would likely take if the situation were to continue, the responses indicated steps that would have a more transformational impact on the structure of the organizations, including accessing reserve funds and changing staffing patterns.

The Paycheck Protection Program and How it Can Help Your Small Nonprofit Survive the Pandemic

By: Todd Mahon | Funding | April 8, 2020

Nonprofits of all sizes and missions are struggling to maintain their financial health as the COVID-19 pandemic is shutting doors across the country. Congress has provided some relief for the small nonprofit community through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, otherwise known as the CARES Act. The PPP is administered by the Small Business Association (SBA). It provides forgivable loans to eligible organizations, including 501c3 nonprofit organizations. 


  • Includes 501(c)(3) nonprofits and 501(c)(19) nonprofits (veterans organizations)
  • Small nonprofits (500 or fewer employees)

What the Funds Can Be Used For

  • Payroll (and benefits), interest on mortgage, rent, utilities, and prior debt
  • Expenses incurred between February 15 and June 30, 2020

How Much Can Be Applied For

  • The average monthly payroll for the previous 12 months, multiplied by 2.5 -OR- $10 million---whichever is smaller.

What “Forgivable” Means

  • Forgiveness is available for the portion of the loan used for the following expenses during the covered period (8 weeks from origination)
    • Payroll costs (as defined above)
    • Interest on mortgage incurred before February 15, 2020
    • Rent obligation incurred before February 15, 2020 and
    • Utilities (electric, gas, water, transportation, phone, internet) for service that began before February 15, 2020

How to Apply

Resources and Links

The MInnesota Historical Soceity’s Local History Services office is interested in learning about the experiences of organizations that apply for these funds. We’d love to hear from you. E-mail us at localhistory@mnhs.org

Website Development / Design Helpful Worksheets

By: Joe Hoover | Information Technology | September 12, 2017
Thinking about creating a new web site or updating your old one? Take a minute to download and review these documents, most which have been composed by us over time, to help guide you in your planning and your communication with your web developer.

2013/2014 Monitoring Reports

By: rjohnson | January 14, 2014
Greetings grant recipients! The Grants Office will be sending the next round of monitoring reports out in April of 2014. As you know, the Letter of Agreement (LOA) your organization signed upon receipt of your grant requires notification to our office of any planned visual or structural alterations to the property the grant was awarded to. Since the spring is when many construction projects begin, this is a perfect time for your organization to re-iterate to us any work you may have planned.
The reports sent in the spring will be considered your 2014 reports, but we ask that you include any work done since the completion of the last monitoring report at the end of 2012.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your monitoring report(s), you may contact Becca Johnson at: 651/259-3468 or rebecca.johnson@mnhs.org.