Done By Volunteers & Interns

Done By Volunteers and Interns Blog

Activities and accomplishments of Minnesota Historical Society volunteers and interns


The Minnesota Historical Society's volunteer and intern programs welcome people from all communities to engage in mission-related projects. Over 2,660 volunteers and interns contribute 53,400 hours hours annually. This diverse volunteer corps helps to achieve the MNHS mission — Using the Power of History to Transform Lives.

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Special Events Volunteers

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 25, 2020

Minnesota Historical Society’s Special Events team consists of volunteers who are dedicated to making MNHS events successful. 88 volunteers assisted at more than 330 events at MNHS sites including Fort Snelling, the History Center, Mill City Museum, the Alexander Ramsey House, and also several non-MNHS site locations.

Volunteers support events and activities such as History HiJinx programs, Ramsey After Dark, State Fair Brochures, walking and brewery tours, clerical tasks, History Forums, History Lounges, Independence Day at Fort Snelling, Journey to the Falls, film screenings, and much more.

Event supervisor Danielle Dart said, “I rely on their intelligence and their guest service skills to run events. There is simply no way I could host larger programs or events without knowing that they've got my back and that our guests are being well cared for by them.”

MNHS Internship Programs

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 24, 2020

Multiple programs host interns from across the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS). The Fellows, Heritage Studies, College, and High School Intern Programs work in conjunction with one another through the Department of Inclusion & Community engagement (DICE) and Volunteers & Interns. Our goal is to develop future leaders and critical thinkers for cultural organizations by exposing students of all majors to museum and library environments. 

Last year 136 interns contributed 17,000 hours. Students from any discipline interested in gaining professional experience in a public museum environment have a unique opportunity to work directly with museum professionals. They participate in structured opportunities to learn more about the work of MNHS through the seminar activities. Students will be able to engage with employees from across the institution and develop a network of museum professionals.

Interns worked on these projects in FY2019:

  • Three archaeology interns completed an inventory of artifacts from the Lower Sioux Agency and cataloged a Woodland Period artifact collection from Bemidji State University.
  • A DICE intern created a “call to action” lesson plan and recruitment for the Nia and Creating Revolutionary Education through Cultura y Empode de Jovenes (culture and empowerment of youth) (CRECER) youth intern programs.
  • A social media intern worked with staff to create a weekly live video feature on MNHS’s Facebook page to share primary sources with teachers. His contribution helped double engagement on the MNHS page and greatly improved our organic impressions on Twitter.
  • A web design intern participated in the development of an API (Application Programming Interface) for multiple databases of historic record. The intern also coached staff on programming techniques, coordinated deployment, and created an interactive attendance data dashboard for historic sites.
  • Two design interns learned about marketing, illustration, graphic design, web design, and the print process. These skills helped them create multiple portfolio-worthy design and illustration projects.
  • Heritage studies and public history interns created the exhibit Owning Up: Racism and Housing in Minneapolis, which explores the history of racial housing discrimination in Minneapolis through the stories of three black families. The exhibit demonstrates the lasting effects of structural discrimination.

Long-time MNHS Volunteers

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 23, 2020

Minnesota Historical Society has numerous volunteers who have been volunteering for many years. There are 34 volunteers who have volunteered with MNHS for more than 20 years, and have dedicated a combination of more than 59,000 hours

We are very fortunate to have such outstanding and dedicated volunteers who work hard to make MNHS successful!


Recognizing FY2019 Volunteer Projects

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 22, 2020

Last year, 2,050 volunteers contributed 39,332 hours to the Minnesota Historical Society. But, what kind of projects did they work on?

  • 3M employees from the company’s Native American Network and the Women’s Organization of MNHS hand-lettered 70 stars for the First Avenue exhibit. The stars were hand-cut by a long-time MNHS volunteer. The 3M group also put together 2,000 bandolier bags for a school program project.
  • MNopedia volunteers and interns completed phase one of the Minnesota Place Names project by proofing geocoding for 87% of the project’s 6,114 entries, and published 15 articles.
  • A collections volunteer made over 3,000 corrections to our death certificate index and has also reviewed 200 death index comments and public emails.
  • 20 state archives volunteers completed the rehousing of 142 boxes of Ramsey County District Court criminal case files dated 1858–1930. The volunteers organized 13,000 file envelopes from the boxes. This 15-month project resulted in boxes that are better preserved and easier for library researchers to use.
  • 24 volunteers distributed nearly 40,000 State Fair walking tour brochures to fairgoers.
  • A group of volunteers—79% from Somali and East African communities—contributed 465 hours by advising and assisting with community events and MNHS programs associated with the Somalis + Minnesota exhibit.
  • Somalis + Minnesota intercept survey volunteers, or The Data Squad, reached the goal of 383 responses.

MNHS Historic Sites Volunteers

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 21, 2020

Many MNHS historic sites utilize volunteers and interns skills and talents for various projects and events. Volunteers can be found at the Alexander Ramsey House, Forest History Center, Forestville, Fort Snelling, James J. Hill House, the History Center, Jeffers, Lindbergh, Mill City Museum, Mille Lacs, North West Company Fur Post, the Oliver Kelley Farm, and Split Rock Lighthouse!

A new volunteer position was created for field trip facilitators at Historic Fort Snelling. This group of 31 volunteers contributed nearly 800 hours, served more than 300 schools, and interacted with 18,409 students during the 2018–2019 school year.

At the Oliver Kelley Farm, a fabulous group of volunteers helped in the kitchen, worked as school program greeters and visitor services specialists. They also helped guests around the site as golf cart drivers and helped with office projects.

Volunteers assisted with special events at North West Fur Post greeting guests and helping with children's activities.

Volunteers helped with the Ramsey Holiday program by playing the piano and greeting guests.

Volunteers at Mill City Museum helped organize school tour groups, assisted staff in the baking lab, engaged students in the gallery and greeted guests at special events.

A volunteer at Mille Lacs used his lunch hour to lead tour groups during the summer months.

Historic Fort Snelling Fifes and Drums gave 11 musical performances during the Independence Day Celebration at Historic Fort Snelling.


Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and interns who contribute their time and talents to MNHS historic sites!

MNHS Volunteer Program

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 20, 2020

Volunteers are essential to the Minnesota Historical Society. MNHS has more than 2,050 volunteers who help support MNHS and its goals. Last year, our volunteers contributed a combined total of 39,332 hours in 32 programs and departments across the organization. 

But, who are our volunteers? Our volunteers are from a variety of ages and backgrounds. They are well-educated people; over 91% have obtained additional education after high school, with 40% having graduate or professional degrees. Below is just a small sample of their fields of study:​​

  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Architecture
  • Aviation Safety
  • Biology 
  • Business       
  • Chemistry                        
  • Cinema & Media Culture                 
  • Communications        
  • Computer Science  
  • Conservation & Restoration                                             
  • Design & Apparel Studies 
  • Digital Media Arts & Marketing 
  • Economics                     
  • Education
  • Engineering      
  • English
  • Finance                                                          
  • Fisheries & Animal Science 
  • Folklore                               
  • Food Science                    
  • Geography                             
  • German                                     
  • Global Studies & Chinese 
  • Graphic Arts                 
  • Guidance Counselor                     
  • Historical Administration    
  • History                                                     
  • Humanities                                       
  • Information Technology                 
  • Intercultural Studies 
  • Journalism                   
  • Latin American Studies                  
  • Law Enforcement             
  • Library Science             
  • Linguistics                       
  • Mathematics                       
  • Medicine                           
  • Music                                            
  • Nursing                                                         
  • Painting                                 
  • Philosophy                        
  • Photography                              
  • Physics                                                     
  • Political Science                                
  • Psychology                                            
  • Public Affairs                                                         
  • Religion                                  
  • Secretarial                                   
  • Social Sciences                                                      
  • Soil Science                                                                  ​                                      
  • Tool & Die Making       

Thank you, volunteers, for making the work you do at MNHS a huge success.


National Volunteer Recognition Week

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 19, 2020

Volunteers and interns are essential to the Minnesota Historical Society. MNHS has more than 2,200 volunteers and interns who help support MNHS and its goals. In FY2019, our volunteers and interns contributed a combined total of 56,300 hours in 32 programs and departments across the organization. 

Last year, 136 interns (high school, college, fellows, and Heritage Studies) contributed 17,000 hours! 83% said their internships increased their confidence in their skills, and 89% said their internships expanded their job skills. Interns work in various departments across the organization.

Many historic sites besides the History Center utilize volunteers’ and interns’ skills and talents for various projects and events. Volunteers can be found at the Alexander Ramsey House, Forest History Center, Forestville, Fort Snelling, James J. Hill House, the History Center, Jeffers, Lindbergh, Lower Sioux, Mill City Museum, Mille Lacs, North West Company Fur Post, the Oliver Kelley Farm, Sibley, and Split Rock Lighthouse!

Minnesota Historical Society’s Special Events team consists of volunteers who are dedicated to making MNHS events successful. 88 volunteers assisted at more than 330 events at MNHS sites including Fort Snelling, the History Center, Mill City Museum, the Alexander Ramsey House, and also several non-MNHS site locations.

We have over 144 staff members who work with our volunteers and interns to provide them with support, encouragement, instruction, and guidance. 97% of our volunteers feel valued and their work is meaningful, and 96% of staff think volunteers expand the capacity of MNHS.

Thanks to all MNHS volunteers and interns who continuously add to the mission and vision of MNHS!

Developing a Volunteer Project

By: Rebekah Bjork | January 17, 2020

Volunteer Matt has been interested in history since he could remember. He even worked at a Collections Center at Southwest State University when he was in school. After he graduated, Matt started a 40-year career in real estate development. 

Matt’s volunteer project is to create real estate reports for the Facilities & Risk Management department. He looks at a combination of the physical layout of MNHS sites, ownership, boundaries, easements at the historic site property, underground items like fuel tanks, gas lines, electric lines, overhead stuff, anything that encroaches on the property, legal descriptions, and legal documents. In his 5 years of volunteering at MNHS, he has conducted 10 site reports!

Matt says he enjoys volunteering at MNHS because he enjoys going into the history of properties because it is useful and critical information. It is also another way for him to continue to learn, problem-solve, and stay in touch with the real estate development world.

MNHS staff Diane Adams-Graf said “Matt has given, and continues to contribute, invaluable research services to MNHS in his title research and reports. These are legal histories and recordings of various types of ownership and restrictions for any specific MNHS property. They provide critical information in identifying potentially dangerous problems associated with title and responsibilities with properties owned or under MNHS stewardship. Matt has created numerous title reports and has called attention to a number of problems or questions over the years. Matt has also given us great assistance in resolving identified issues. 

“The deep experience, highly technical and specialized skills, and devoted time Matt brings to the task make Matt a very special volunteer. MNHS is grateful for the significant findings he has documented and the research and recommendations he continues to donate. We are so thankful to have him part of our team!”

Public Relations Intern

By: Rebekah Bjork | January 16, 2020

Intern Abigail was the Public Relations Intern at MNHS in Fall 2019. She was an amazing help writing and editing a ton of news releases, articles, calendar event entries, and more. 

One standout project is the monthly MNHS series in Minnesota Good Age magazine, which is a 700-800 word article on some aspect of Minnesota history and involves some good research using MNHS resources, developing a compelling story with a historian and journalist eye, and working on editing multiple drafts with me. Abigail wrote stories for the January and February issues of Good Age, and her January story on environmentalist Sigurd Olson was published on the magazine's website. 


Submitted by MNHS staff Lauren Peck

Records Management Internship

By: Rebekah Bjork | January 16, 2020

Intern Francesca was the Records Management Intern in Fall 2019. She provided incredibly efficient assistance throughout her Records Management internship. Her project consists of inventorying all of the historic site files maintained by Facilities - Historic Properties, as well as archiving the pre-2010 project files. Her incredible work greatly benefits Facilities & Risk Management as it ensures our file inventories are up to date and comprehensive, as well as makes room for future incoming files. Her archiving the pre-2010 project files has also contributed to the department's goal for a concrete departmental records retention schedule, as we establish the retention parameters for our department files.


Submitted by MNHS staff Emily Conn