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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What does it take to be a local historian?

By: admin | September 26, 2006
Recently the National Council on Public History has been discussing this question through its forum. Does one need a degree? If so, to what level is necessary? How much does experience count? This is fairly broad question, and I will be curious to learn thoughts from the field in Minnesota. What prompts the question for NCPH has been the growth of academic degree programs offering Public History degrees. How does that growth change the profession?

Importance of Museum Stores

By: admin | September 5, 2006
"Museum Store" sales can often be an underrated channel of support for Minnesota's local history organizations. In the 2005 survey MHS (read the results on page 4-6) asked about income and expenses at local historical organizations in Minnesota. There were 105 that reported operating a museum store. Only two lost money, and those amounts were very small, and may have been due to when stock was purchased. Profitability often depends on when the question is asked.

Here are some more results from the 2005 survey:
  • Range of net sales was $7 to $157,175

  • Average net sales was $6,063

  • Expense from purchasing stock ranged from $0 to $102,466

  • Total cost in 2005 for store stock was $425,463

  • Average cost for the same store stock was $4,212

Mary brought up a good point about rethinking what's offered at a museum store. Are "trinkets and doodads" a good way to go? How well do $50 books sell? How do you gear your museum store's offerings to your public?

Here are some further thoughts about museum stores from the Museum Store Association website.

Accepting Credit Cards

By: admin | August 30, 2006
Do you accept credit cards as payment for services rendered at your museum/historical society? If so, how did you set up the system? What company are you using? Anything else we should know before embarking on this path? - Mary Warner, Museum Manager, Morrison County Historical Society.

Smithsonian's Agreement with Showtime

By: admin | July 24, 2006
Mary Warner, Museum Manager at the Morrison County Historical Society:

Have you heard? The Smithsonian Institution has negotiated a deal with Showtime to create Smithsonian On Demand, a service that will provide digital cable programs for the network using Smithsonian resources. Heres the kicker: The deal allows Showtime exclusive access to Smithsonian resources whilst excluding other commercial filmmakers from using the resources for more than incidental use. The full extent of the Smithsonian/Showtime contract is confidential. It should be noted that 75 percent of the Smithsonians funding comes from taxpayers. The Smithsonian is arguing that the deal will bring in money to finance its mission and also give the public more access to its collections via the digital cable programs. So, local museum professionals, what do you think? Has the Smithsonian made a deal with the devil? Or, are they just being smart capitalists?

Vintage Bicycles Available

By: admin | July 10, 2006
Vintage bicycles, well used, free to historical museum: man's 3 speed English style mid-1960s; woman's 3 speed English style mid-1960s; and child's high handle bar style mid-1970s. Contact Thelma Boeder, or 651 489-2604. Free delivery to any location in Minnesota probably can be arranged.

Large Functional Objects

By: admin | July 10, 2006
In the July/August issue of the Minnesota History Interpreter the issue of how to care for Large Functional Objects (LFOs) in your collection was discussed. Tell us about your LFOs. To get the discussion started, here are a few LFOs from around the state:
  • Cattail Bailer at the Marshall County Historical Society in Warren. This implement tells about homefront activity during World War II, namely the harvest of cattails to fill life vests used by the U.S. Navy.

  • Fire Engine at the Koochiching County Historical Society in International Falls. This object highlights early 20th century public safety history in International Falls.

  • 1906 Auto Bug at the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum in Tracy. The Auto Bug illustrates the transition from horse and buggy to automotive transportation.

What kinds of LFOs do you have in your collection? What stories do you tell with them? What challenges do you have in making the best use of LFOs? Where do you draw the line between full restoration and retaining historical patina?

Question about financial management software

By: admin | June 20, 2006
What types of financial software are historical societies using? I am looking at QuickBooks Nonprofit and would like to know who is using this program and what their thoughts are. I still want to know what others are using to make an informed decision. We have been using a spreadsheet for many years now, but the time has come to upgrade and have the computer do the payables, etc. June Lynne, Executive Director, Chippewa County Historical Society, PO Box 303, Montevideo, MN 56265, 320-269-7636, cchs@maxminn.com.

Local History Blog Welcome

By: admin | June 7, 2006
Welcome to the Minnesota Local History Blog! We hope you will find it useful to hold discussions on issues, questions, and more that matter you. It is easy to use. If you wish to create a posting, please email the blog administrators: Tim Glines or David Grabitske. Postings will be made in a timely fashion. To answer a posting, click on Comments, fill in the brief form, and click "Post." Your comments will be posted immediately. Tell us about your reactions to the new Local History News format and the Blog. What do you like about it? What still needs improvement? How might you now use these new tools in your work of preserving local history?

Public Library Model

By: grabitsdm | May 16, 2006
Public libraries have been in most Minnesota cities since the establishment of those municipalities for the purpose of encouraging literacy among citizens. These libraries are furthermore supported by local government and staffed with qualified, albeit inadequately compensated professionals. Many cities similarly have historical organizations in them


By: admin | May 12, 2006
TRACES is seeking to borrow (longer-term) or buy (if affordable) a mannequin from 1945 or before. If your museum has such an item (in decent shape) to loan or sell, please contact Renae Youngs at 651-292-8700 or TRACESedu@yahoo.com.