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.
Pictured above: The University of Northwestern group
Recently, we’ve had three groups of college students from Macalester College, the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts, and the University of Northwestern, who worked to re-house contents of boxes of the St. Cloud State Reformatory inmate case files.
The University of Minnesota brought nine first-year students to work on re-foldering St. Cloud State Reformatory inmate case files. The University of Northwestern group has been coming to the Minnesota History Center once a year for the past nine years. This year, they also worked on re-foldering records from the St. Cloud State Reformatory inmate case files.
The group of students from Macalester College started in February 2018. Staff supervisor Charlie Rodgers stated “Again, I was very pleased with the work the Macalester students did for the State Archives. I estimate during their several weeks of work, they re-housed the contents of 25 boxes of St. Cloud State Reformatory inmate case files. They did accurate work and were a pleasure to work with.”
Thank you to students from Macalester College, the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts, and the University of Northwestern for the continuous support you provide to the State Archives at the Minnesota Historical Society!
MNopedia volunteer Mary has been one of our most dedicated and prolific researcher-writers since she started working with the project back in January of 2016. She has published eight articles to date covering a range of topics from horticulture to state parks and to pop culture icons such as the Hamm's Bear, SPAM, and Burma-Shave. Her Burma-Shave article has formed the basis of a the first MNopedia podcast from Historical Markers Media, Inc., a new partner for our project. Seven of her articles have been chosen to be featured on MinnPost.
Watch MNopedia for more articles from this talented volunteer! Mary is now digging deep into research on the flu epidemic of 1918, and reports being pulled down yet another history rabbit hole after discovering an interesting, little-known story about leprosy in Minnesota.
Recently Skip worked with FMD staff and the store staff on an out-of-the-ordinary project for the Sights Store at the History Center. The store employees realized that slim, flat merchandise had been slipping down, over the years, into the air register grilles in the ledges under the outside windows. They retrieved most of the sunken merchandise, but needed a way to prevent it happening again. Skip advised us on size and type of adhesive gasket to use to fill the extra gap along the side of the registers.
The store staff emptied four bookcases so the building engineers could remove them from sitting on the ends of the vents. Skip and I worked together about 6 hours to remove the register grilles from all four of the air vents, and install the gasket on both sides of all the grilles. While the grilles were out, we also removed any remaining objects from inside the vents, and day custodian Neil Metcalf vacuumed the vents. After we re-installed the grilles in the vents, the building engineers anchored the bookcases back in place and Skip and I reset the shelves, ready for store staff to replace the books when they opened the next day.
The air vents are low, and each vent is about 14 feet long. It was a workout, kneeling down and scooting along each grille twice to apply the gasket to both sides. We used about 112 feet of gasket!
Submitted by Juliann Kunkel
Our library has a wonderful collection of books. As they age, some of them need a little more protection against the elements, and that's where Bonnie B. and Bonnie M. come in! They help us increase the number of books we treat by creating custom boxes for fragile books that need more support on the shelf. While Bonnie B. is our most recent volunteer to come on board, Bonnie M. has volunteered in the book and paper conservation lab for more than 10 years. Together, they have already treated more than 200 books this fiscal year! Our volunteers and interns help us ensure that we are the best possible custodians of our collections.
Submitted by staff: Saira Haqqi
Volunteer Museum Assistant, Travelle, has been volunteering for the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) since 2008, and has contributed more than 1,000 hours! Staff supervisor Bill Dinon said “Travelle is a gem of a volunteer. He has willingly come in to help us out many times at a moment's notice. Thoughtful and respectful to all, he somehow manages to keep our excited and enthusiastic students engaged and involved in our gallery programs at all times.”
Thanks, Travelle, for your commitment to volunteer your time and talents to MNHS!
It’s official: our volunteers and interns have reached more than 1,000,000 hours of service to the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) since circa 1992! This is a milestone of enormous value, as MNHS volunteers and interns dedicated their time and talents to contribute to the organization and Minnesota communities.
We are so proud of the successes and accomplishments our volunteers and interns have achieved. We would also like to recognize those who have been with us for more than 20 years; their commitment and longevity are truly appreciated.
There are a million reasons MNHS volunteers and interns are the best. Their excellence and commitment helps drive the success of MNHS.
MNHS Volunteer and Intern Services Staff
In November of 2016, the editorial work on the manuscript for Marcia Anderson’s A Bag Worth a Pony: The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag was nearing completion—but crucial images were missing. Volunteer photographer James of Castle Productions came to the rescue! He and Anderson, a former MNHS curator, went on an epic trip across Minnesota to document beadwork and bead artists around the state. The dynamic duo drove from Minneapolis to Little Falls (photo shoot at Morrison County Historical Society) to Cass Lake (photo shoot of bead artist Mel Losh) and stayed the night, then drove to Grand Portage (photo shoot of bead artist Ellen Olson), and dodged a major snowstorm by pushing on to Cloquet, where they stayed another night, then did a photo shoot of several bags owned by the Fond du Lac Band, then sprinted home to the Twin Cities. The storm forced the rescheduling of the last leg of the trip, to Mille Lacs, which took place in December (photo shoot of several bags and of bead artist Cheryl Minnema). At each stop, Jim, a professional commercial photographer, set up his portable lights and sophisticated digital photography equipment, ensuring clear and beautiful images. The bead artists and the bag owners received copies of the photos.
Marcia and the Press are deeply grateful for Jim’s excellent photos—and his willingness to devote days of travel and image cleanup to this important project, which showcases thirty years of Anderson’s research, the work of the bead artists, and the spectacular bags at MNHS and elsewhere. The book has received many positive reviews and is a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award.
Submitted by Ann Regan
This holiday season was busy at the Minnesota History Center with a holiday-themed photo booth opportunity. Volunteers helped visitors check-out photo booth props, as well as take pictures with the visitors’ phones or cameras. Volunteers also helped promote for the 1968 Exhibit by encouraging people to post pictures on their social media pages using hashtags: #1968Exhibit or #MNHistoryCenter.
A group of 10 volunteers assisted with this event by helping more than 60 hours from November-January. Most shifts, the volunteers averaged 30-40 visitors who asked for photos, and some days more than 100 visitors stopped by!
Thanks to our wonderful volunteers who helped capture memories for Minnesota History Center visitors this holiday season!
The Alexander Ramsey House volunteers were at it again this year! 33 volunteers contributed more than 350 hours as cider servers, carriage house greeters, and piano players for the Ramsey Holiday programs in November and December.
Ramsey House staff said “Volunteers were spectacular. We are very appreciative of them because they do such a great job.”
Andy and Alex are a terrific father-son volunteer duo. They're the Batman and Robin of coat check. Coats, purses, and mittens are safe under their guarded supervision in Gotham (aka the History Center), nothing gets by them. They clearly enjoy spending time at the History Center together since they've been working as a coat check team for more than 10 years and request to work together every year on the same day. It's part of their holiday tradition and MNHS reaps the benefits! They engage with guests, eagerly go out of their way to help, never get cross or lose energy, even on those busy days when we see over 1,000 guests - they don't even stop for lunch. Supervisor Merry Prose said “When I think of the Sunday after Christmas I can't help but think of Andy and Alex!”
Submitted by Merry Prose