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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The Meaningful Impact of Hill House Volunteers

By: Rebekah Bjork | October 31, 2017
Woman opening door from the inside of the James J. Hill House

The event assistants at the James J. Hill House are a vital part of the evening event operations. They are on the frontline of customer service from greeting and welcoming visitors when they first arrive to thanking them for coming and reminding them to watch their step when they depart. The enthusiasm they bring to their work revitalizes staff and makes them even more excited to work with them every day. Their assistance with plating, serving, and cleaning up refreshments, and their help with vacuuming and moving tables and chairs allows the tour guides and the manager greater freedom and flexibility for other tasks that come up during the evening.

MNHS volunteers allow us to further our collective goal of preserving, sharing, and connecting people to the past through their gifts of themselves and their time. Their willingness to give has a meaningful impact on improving the health and vibrancy of our community.


Submitted by Jessica Sutherland

Friendly Smiles and Warm Welcomes

By: Rebekah Bjork | October 24, 2017

The History Center can be an intimidating building, especially for first time guests and our volunteer Greeters provide a friendly smile and a warm welcome. Our 18 volunteer Greeters have contributed more than 840 hours since January 2017! Most of our guests visit the museum and Greeters recommend favorite exhibits, kid-friendly activities, elevator locations – you name it. Besides museum visits, guests attend library classes, workshops, and lectures. Ask any Greeter their most frequently asked questions is, you got it, “Where are the restrooms?” We all know how important that answer is.

Thank goodness for our Greeters!


Submitted by Merry Prose

Man holds up map brochure while sitting at the information desk at the Minnesota History Center

39,000 Brochures in 56 Hours

By: Rebekah Bjork | October 24, 2017

This summer we had a team of 14 volunteers who helped fill brochures for the Minnesota State Fair History Walking Tour. They contributed more than 56 hours to make sure the brochures stayed filled for the visitors who completed the tour. These volunteers helped distribute more than 39,000 brochures throughout the duration of the State Fair!

Fort Snelling Special Event Volunteers

By: Rebekah Bjork | September 26, 2017

The Minnesota Historical Society’s (MNHS) Special Events volunteer team contributes thousands of hours each year to help support special events and public programming at the Minnesota History Center, Historic Fort Snelling, the Alexander Ramsey House, Mill City Museum, and multiple off-site locations.

Historic Fort Snelling special event volunteers have contributed more than 250 hours since January 2017. Volunteers have helped assist at events like Memorial Day Weekend, July 4 Celebration, World War I Weekend, History on the Go Bus Tours, and CSI Fort Snelling, to name a few. Staff supervisor Tom Lalim said “There's no way we could do what we do without the help of volunteers.”

Thank you to all volunteers who contribute their time, talents, and efforts to make events at Historic Fort Snelling a success!

WW1 Intercept Survey Volunteers Exceeded Goal!

By: Rebekah Bjork | September 26, 2017

WW1 Intercept Survey volunteers were busy this summer surveying Minnesota History Center visitors. Volunteers easily reached the goal of 386 responses, and continued to exceed that goal by collecting 412 responses total!

Staff supervisor Kate Roberts said “Each time we conduct a History Center survey, I'm impressed by the professionalism and commitment of our volunteers. Participants in our recent World War 1 exhibit survey exceeded my expectations. Some were seasoned veterans of the survey routine; others were brand-new surveyors. Their combined enthusiasm and expertise resulted in a record number of surveys completed during a 7-week run. I've said it many times--we couldn't conduct our History Center surveys without our volunteers!”

Summer 2017 Interns

By: Rebekah Bjork | September 26, 2017

The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) Summer Interns were hard at work this summer in numerous departments, including Collections, Development, DICE, Evaluation, Multimedia, Oral History, Public Programs, Web Design, and many more! A group of 30 interns worked across MNHS sites at the Minnesota History Center, Historic Fort Snelling, the Lindbergh House, and Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post. Throughout the Summer 2017 program, these interns contributed more than 4,500 hours!

"I liked that I had one big project that I focused on and took the lead on. Also, everyone I worked with was very welcoming and friendly, and wanted me to succeed."

One summer intern said “I liked the freedom I had within my internship to work on projects that interested me and gave me the chance to gain new skills.” Through the internship program, these students gained professional experience in a particular field of interest, had the opportunity to build relationships and network with staff, and took on projects that contribute to the overall function and goals of MNHS. Another intern stated "I liked that I had one big project that I focused on and took the lead on. Also, everyone I worked with was very welcoming and friendly, and wanted me to succeed."

Thanks to all our summer 2017 interns for their hard work and dedication to MNHS!

War Dogs and Homing Pigeons: HiJinx volunteers were crafty!

By: Rebekah Bjork | September 7, 2017

The summer History Hound HiJinx volunteers who facilitate the Tuesday-Friday art activities in June, July, and August are an essential part of the History Center's hands-on art projects. Their skill set requires them to be organized, self-directed, crafty, and great with people.

Sixteen volunteers were busy assisting visitors with a WW1-themed craft project this summer. These volunteers dedicated their time and talents and contributed more than 280 hours to Summer HiJinx! Staff supervisor Wendy Freshman said “We could not implement this program without these wonderful ambassadors and mini-historians who engage our multi-generational visitors in the exhibit-related art project. (This year WW1 Animal Heroes -- Stubby the War Dog and Cher Ami the homing pigeon.) Hats off to these remarkable volunteers who have been so generous with their time!”

Thank you to all volunteers who helped support this project!

Volunteers and Interns work in Oral History

By: Rebekah Bjork | August 31, 2017

Oral History volunteers and interns have been making a huge impact by making these stories accessible and available online. Currently, they are working on a project of 3,000 oral history interviews. There are about 1,000 of them that are not online, so they are working to digitize, transcribe, fact-check, and do some light catalogue work to make them available.

Transcribing and working with oral histories has an impact on volunteers and interns. Volunteers seem to like the stories they work with and learning more about those individuals. Interns are able to listen to stories but also gain job experience by working with collections.

Thanks to all volunteers and interns who help assist with oral history projects!

New State Capitol Volunteers

By: Rebekah Bjork | July 14, 2017
Steve Lee

In late June, the MN State Capitol Information, Tours, and Guest Services area began utilizing volunteers to assist with visiting adult groups. These volunteers help greet various groups at the newly restored Capitol building and direct them to the guest services desk. The Capitol is a large space with minimal signage and having volunteers guide incoming groups to this area has streamlined the check-in process. They have been shadowing the larger tours and helping to keep the group together as they moved from one spot to another. The volunteers have been helping to maintain the appearance of the new retail space, assisting with restocking merchandise, and helping to sell the products.

Submitted by Ted Bores 07/14/2017

Volunteers Help Guests Fully Experience the Farm

By: Rebekah Bjork | July 12, 2017

As the summer continues to heat up, the volunteers at Oliver Kelley Farm are doing a wonderful job helping guests experience everything there is to see and do at the farm.

We have Visitor Services Specialists who give orientations to guests, help stock the museum store, and assist in building windmills in the exhibits area.

Our School Programs Greeters are busy greeting, orienting, and guiding daycare and adult groups in the right direction for their tours and to their lunch areas.

The Golf Cart Drivers are kept busy moving guests from the Visitor Center to the Historic Farmstead. From mobility challenges to families, the guests have really appreciated the transportation.

All of the positions are vitally important to the everyday running of the farm. We do not know where we would be without our marvelous volunteers! Thank you!

Submitted by Beth Lochen 07/12/2017

Volunteers Help Guests Fully Experience the Farm image