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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Affinity Groups

By: grabitsdm | March 4, 2008

Does your organization have an affinity group? Recent reports from experts in the history field have shown that relying on heritage tourism will not by itself improve use of museums and historic sites. It is one component of usage, which happens to have people who stay longer and spend more. However, for the history museum and historic site that want to improve the number of users and to grow users into significant donors, developing affinity groups appears to be a promising method. Some of Minnesota's local historical organizations offer book clubs and art shows in communities that are too small to support them otherwise. There may be others, such as veteran's and living history groups; card, dance, food, model railroad clubs; hiking, canoeing, bicycling, snowmobiling, and other outdoors affinity groups.  Two questions:

  1. If you have such an affinity group, in what ways does that group partner with and enhance your organization?

  2. If you have no affinity groups, can you speculate on what kinds of affinity groups might be needed in your community?

Boy Scout Centennial Traveling Exhibit

By: grabitsdm | February 29, 2008
The North Star Museum of Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting plans to produce a traveling exhibit that would be available to county and local historical societies beginning in the Boy Scouts of America's centennial year of 2010.  The exhibit will be similar to the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service's (SITES) "Museum on Main Street" program:

  • easy-to-install

  • general content that establishes a context for your own local collections.

  • includes program ideas, educational materials, publicity materials,

  • helps identify and make sense of your local Boy Scout collections, and more.

As with most of the exhibits available from SITES:

  • a small rental fee will be charged, and

  • the borrower will arrange for delivery, and

  • pay incoming shipping costs. 

Space requirements are to be determined. The exhibit would be available for 6 or 8-week bookings. Since many details (content, size, time, cost, etc.) have not yet been decided, this is your opportunity to help us determine in what ways a traveling Boy Scout history exhibit would be the most useful to you and your community. 

If you are potentially interested in booking such an exhibit, please either e-mail Claudia Nicholson, Executive Director of the museum, or write to her at North Star Museum of Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting, 2640 E. Seventh Avenue, North St. Paul, MN  55109.

Learning from nonprofits

By: grabitsdm | February 26, 2008
Over the years a lot has been said about what government and nonprofits could learn from business. In the latest issue of the McKinsey Quarterly, Richard Haass says in an interview that businesses could learn much from government. such as building up protections from man-made and natural disasters, or investing in literacy to create a more skilled workforce. Thinking about what businesses could learn from government is an appropriate reversal of common assertions to the contrary. The article then prompts the next question: what could businesses learn from nonprofits? In this case, specifically what could businesses learn from nonprofit historical organizations?

Using the Blog at a Glance

By: grabitsdm | February 12, 2008
The following user guide will help you get more out of your blogging experience.

Creating a new account

You do not have to register to add a comment; however by registering, your comments (after your first comment) will appear directly without waiting for approval.

  • To create an account scroll down to the "Login or Register" section in the right hand menu and select "Register"

  • On the next Screen, enter a username and an e-mail address click "Register"

  • Go to your email addresses inbox and retrieve the automatically generated password.

  • To log in, go back to Local History Blog and enter password and your username on the Login page. Click "Login"

  • You should be forwarded to a Profile and Personal Options page. There you can add your real name, personal or organization's web site address, Instant Message ID, biographical information and most important, change your password.

  • Note: If you forget your password, the website gives you the option of having it sent to your e-mail address so you can retrieve it.

  • The page also gives you the option of selecting what public profile name you wish to appear with your comments. Be aware that you first have to add your First/Last Name and Nickname and save the profile before you will be able to select them to use as your public profile name.

Leaving a comment

  • You now have the option of not only commenting on the post, but also commenting on other people's comments.

  • You have the option of being notified of follow up comments via e-mail.


In addition to several anti-spam features, the blog now is protected by the service, "reCaptcha".

  • Before anyone can leave a comment, they have to verify they are human (as opposed to a spambot) by entering the two words (with the space) shown to them.

  • The service also provides an audio verification method for those unable to see the words.

  • If the words are unreadable you can click the refresh/recycle symbol to get a new verification challenge.

Remembering Our Own

By: admin | February 11, 2008
With the death of Mona Nelson on February 6, 2008, a moment of reflection is appropriate. Mona led the Kandiyohi County Historical Society and formation of the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums. Other leaders since the 1920s, both volunteer and paid staff, have shaped local history in Minnesota, too. However, collectively the record and analysis of Minnesota's vibrant historical organization community certainly is difficult to find. Many of the blog's subscribers know many of the legendary leaders of this community. If you could  nominate one of those leaders as worthy to be remembered, who would that be, and why?

Archives Training on PastPerfect

By: admin | February 5, 2008
Is there anyone out there with archives training who is now using PastPerfect for archives? I would like to find a resource person to talk to about the best way to set things up and the most efficient way of using PastPerfect for archival management.


Bobbie Scott
Programs Manager
Sherburne History Center

Online Registrations

By: admin | February 3, 2008
The Minnesota Association of Museums is looking for a way to accept online conference registrations and memberships. Being a small, all volunteer non-profit with a very small (really) budget, we need something affordable and easy to use. Does anyone have experience with a good, affordable, reliable online system or company?

Thanks -
Shana Crosson and Megan Schaack, for MAM

Threat to Tax Deductions

By: admin | January 10, 2008
Back in December the Christian Science Monitor ran "Retink Tax Breaks for Charitable Giving" by Daniel Grant. In his opinion charitabe giving should be restricted to helping the poor. He points to a Clinton-era proposal to allow full deduction for gifts to help the poor, and partial deduction for gifts to any other public good, such as our historical organizations. Grant notes that current tax code will not likely change soon. As 501(c)(3) tax deductible organizations, how might we join this discussion? Is there any reason to be concerned about opinions like Mr. Grant's?

Where's the Line?

By: admin | Information Technology | December 10, 2007
An article last week on GuideStar's newsletter reminded me of the classic Wendy's commercial with an elderly woman demanding to know, "Where's the Beef?" The article, Branding as a Fundraising Tool by Larry Checco, suggests that transparency, accountability, tracking and measuring results, professionalizing development efforts, having a web presence, and promoting your brand are what successful business people would recognize and find relevant at nonprofits.

He writes: "When asked how they would feel about operating in a more businesslike fashion, as well as incorporating branding strategies into their daily activities, many nonprofit leaders still tell me that "it would make us look too much like the for-profit sector." And my response is always the same - Get over it!" Yet Checco does not advocate "nonprofits compromise their passion for their missions or co-opt their values or program strategies to appease business-oriented donors."

Keeping Steven Miller's comments in mind from the Under a Microscope discussion, are Checco's remarks in line with Miller? Above all, where's the line between charity and business?

Working with Scout Groups

By: admin | November 26, 2007
Do you have a successful program for working with groups of Scouts either Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts? Scouts are always looking for activities, whether it is a field trip, service project or badge earning activity. Museums are always looking for new audiences. How do we get these two together?

Share some successful and not-so-successful ideas.