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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Establishing a Legacy

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 20, 2017

A visit to the Minnesota’s Greatest Generation (MGG) at the History Center is not complete until you’ve experienced volunteer and Air Force veteran Ted presenting on his experience of war during the C-47 media piece. He has not only been an asset to the Minnesota Historical Society’s volunteer program, but to the experiences of visitors of all ages. Ted has played a huge role in the Jenny, the C-47, and the Huey Helicopter projects as well. Ted has been volunteering with MNHS for over 9 years and has dedicated nearly 3,000 hours.

Ted has become a huge asset and advocate for MNHS. He is deeply connected to the community where he gives presentations at senior living home, libraries, and VAs. His hope is to help establish support groups for veterans suffering the effects of war.

Because of Ted’s humility, his presentation is not about him, but the importance of honoring the men and women who serve and have served our country. Ted’s presentation does not glorify war. He offers real-life experiences so others can understand the hardships many went through. His presentation has become such a staple to MGG that people have started bringing in groups just to see Ted.

Ted is quick to credit any success he may have to the incredibly gifted and creative professional staff that surrounds and supports him. He says “their willingness to mentor, answer every question, and help guide his presentations was the key to its success. Being around them makes this a volunteer heaven.” 

Ted has three main reasons why he gives the presentation. First, he does not want anyone to forget the sacrifices made during the war. Second, it is important to go to others and say thank you for their service. Lastly, it teachers the lesson that if you have something you want to do, don’t ever give up. Those who were a part of this war sacrificed their lives for children of the future to do or try anything they want.

It is not uncommon for visitors to leave comment cards or send letters to let us know how Ted’s presentation has touched them and to thank him for his service. Comments such as “Ted’s presentation was awesome!”, “Excellent presentation that will stay with me,” or “We’d like to personally thank him for his service. This experience was amazing because of his personal passion” are just a few of many wonderful messages from visitors.

One particular letter was written by a Hamline professor after visiting with his class. Part of the letter said, “Nevertheless I was impressed by Ted’s presentation. He brought a particular event of the war, D-Day, alive and added greatly to it by bringing attention to the unglamorous aspects of war in general, and that operation in particular. I was so impressed by his presentation that I emailed the director of the History Center to voice my belief that in Ted the Center has a treasure whose enthusiasm and energy are phenomenal.”

Volunteering at the MNHS has had a lasting impact on Ted as well. He said “I volunteer at MNHS because it meets my desire to feel useful and valued in an organizational mission that will leave the world better than I found it, and that primarily benefits my fellow human beings as a result.”

Establishing a Legacy

Gold Star Roll Project

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 15, 2017

Several volunteers have been working hard on the Gold Star Roll project. The Gold Star Roll is now live and searchable on our website!  Check it out at -- make sure the box is checked next to Gold Star Roll in the Record Type field (you may want to deselect the other record types) and put in a name; click on the name to view details about that person and click "Download PDF" to view the actual Gold Star Roll.

This was a whole new kind of project for MNHS and a large effort in its own right. Supervisor Sarah Barsness said “I'm incredibly proud of the work they’ve done. Not only have we made a really important set of records more widely available to researchers, but we've created sustainable model for future projects like this one.”

Thank you all!

Submitted by Sarah Barsness 05/15/2017

Dynamic Duo

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 10, 2017

Todd and Mary have been volunteering at MNHS for a combined total of more than 20 years! They have individually served more than 2,000 hours each!

Mary has been volunteering weekly in the Registrar’s Office for nearly four years and has been a tremendous asset. Her attention to detail and willingness to take on new duties and learn new skills has been remarkable, and a great help in keeping the wheels rolling to meet exhibit deadlines. She has also been able to help clean up some old records and files long in need of attention. Staff supervisor Nicole Delfino-Jansen said “I don’t know what we would do without her!”

Mary has also helped in the Exhibits department. Supervisor Kate Roberts said “Mary brings so many skills to the exhibit department. The thing about Mary is she has a background that’s very different from the backgrounds that many of us come from.” Mary has experience in both medical technology laboratory work and computer programming. Kate said “The skills she brings are skills that we simply don’t have in the department. For example, she has worked a lot with databases… When we are planning a project from start to finish, we really do look at the skills our volunteers bring us, and use those people to, honestly, sometimes plug holes and to do work that otherwise wouldn’t get done.”

Todd volunteers in the Development Office. He has had numerous projects, which include gathering demographics of schools who visit MNHS’s metro sites, creating internal programs, doing preliminary prospect research for new donors and contacts, helping Historic Sites pull demographics for the surrounding areas to help with short and long-term planning, and has even helped with database research and data entry!

One of the best finds Todd has was identifying the Tawani Foundation as a prospect for the Civil War Flag restoration project. Through the research and information he provided, the request was successful and received $148,000 in support of the project!

Supervisor Sherri Gebert-Fuller said “Todd has been so flexible and willing to do what is asked of him with an enthusiastic attitude. MNHS is very fortunate to have such a great volunteer helping us with our fundraising goals.”

Submitted by Sherri Gebert-Fuller, Nicole Delfino-Jansen, and Kate Roberts

Ken Finishes Another Project

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 2, 2017
Ken Hasselfeldt Finishes Another Project
Ken Hasselfeldt Finishes Another Project2

Two weeks ago, Volunteer Ken finished the Norton Peel color negatives and has started to scan the removed for preservation originals.

The Norton & Peel images are 350 uncataloged 8 x 10 images from the early 1960's and will be added to collections online this summer after cataloging is completed. This work started in November 2016 and ended March 28th, 2017.

The preservation originals are rare and fragile images created during and around the end of 1890's through 1910 in Minnesota's early statehood history.




Submitted by Eric Mortenson 05/02/2017




Exceptional Proofreader

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 2, 2017

Volunteer Karn has been working with the Marketing Department for the past 4 years. She comes in every Tuesday and Thursday to work on proofreading numerous materials, including the MNHS magazine, legacy reports, web pages, the online calendar, press reports, press kits, advertising materials, and much more!

She does a great job working on both small and large projects by proofreading and double checking all the information to make sure it is accurate. Supervisor Beth Black says “she does an awesome job because she knows our style.”

Thanks, Karn!


Submitted by Beth Black 05/02/2017

Facilities & Risk Management Volunteer

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 27, 2017
Facilities and Risk Management Volunteer

Volunteer Matt is an astounding volunteer for Facilities & Risk Management. Matt brings his talents and enthusiasm to MNHS in title research and documentation for the Society's properties throughout the state of Minnesota. 

We are so grateful for Matt's enthusiasm, his attention to detail, the expertise he brings to his work, and his wonderful contributions! Thank you, Matt!


Submitted by Diane Adams-Graf 04/27/2017

Library Registration Desk Volunteers

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 17, 2017

There are currently 33 active volunteers who help out at the Library Registration Desk. These volunteers help sign-in all visitors, assist with library card requests, data entry, renewing library cards, and answering questions.

Volunteers also have history and genealogy knowledge which helps them answer visitor questions! In the past two years, these volunteers have worked more than 4,000 hours!

Volunteer supervisor Nick Duncan says everyone is great and does a great job!


Submitted by Nick Duncan 04/27/2017

Library Registration Desk Volunteers

WW1 Daybook Intern Gaining Research Experience

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 15, 2017
WW1 Daybook Intern Gaining Research Experience
WW1 Daybook Intern Gaining Research Experience2

WW1 Daybook Intern Sarah has been working hard to produce content related to WW1 and the centennial of when the war happened. Her posts include information about artifacts, letters, newspapers, and even diaries! She mostly focused on posts from September-December 1917, but will be working on posts for later dates as well!

One of her favorite parts has been reading the handwritten manuscripts and how people communicated to their families and friends. She has really enjoyed getting to see the paper they wrote on, too!

Sarah’s posts will be on Collections up Close starting this fall on September 17th.

Mill City School Programs Greeters

By: Rebekah Bjork | April 4, 2017

Elaine and Jerry are part of the School Programs volunteer program at Mill City Museum. They are both huge assets to the program. They write out the schedules on all of the teachers' and chaperones' admissions stickers for the week and organize/count scavenger hunts for the groups. Elaine and Jerry help move the school groups' lunches from the 3rd floor entrance to the Education lobby on the 2nd floor.  They also help school and youth groups find their way around the building. Groups enter the Museum on the 3rd floor, their coatrooms, orientation and lunch take place on the 2nd floor, and the gallery/exhibits are on the 1st floor of the Museum.

Jerry works on Tuesdays and some Fridays during the busy field trip season, (February-May). Jerry is always a pleasure to work with. He is great with teachers and students, always offering to help hand out the paperwork to teachers, move heavy coolers and bins full of lunches and lead groups to their activities. He never hesitates to jump in and lend a hand. Jerry has beautiful penmanship and often writes out 2-3 days worth of admission stickers when he's in. When he found out I'd had trouble finding a Friday volunteer, he offered to come in any Friday that he doesn't have other plans!

Elaine works on Thursdays. She is so cheerful and knows exactly what needs to get done before anyone asks for her help. She moves large lunch coolers/bins and large groups of students with more efficiency and patience than anyone! She is really great with children of all ages. When groups are busy moving from activities to the lunchroom, she directs them to the restrooms, where to find their lunches and where the lunchroom is. This is often the most hectic part of my day, with 30-90 students moving in and out of the lunchroom every half-hour. I know it always runs smoothly on Thursdays when Elaine is in, greeting groups with her smiling face.

Elaine and Jerry are not only great workers, they are also great companions to work with every week. They help the busy days run smoothly and they make the quiet days a lot more fun! My job would simply not be possible without the invaluable work they both put in here at Mill City Museum.


Submitted by Becky MacDonald on 04/04/2017

Enthusiastic Volunteer is an Asset to the State Archives

By: Rebekah Bjork | March 28, 2017

Bob has been volunteering for the State Archives for over a year with nearly 2,000 hours, and he is a fantastic, enthusiastic, and conscientious worker. Bob is responsible for responding to comments people leave on Death Certificate Index entries in the People Records Search, and he very capably handles many different types of requests very promptly. Some of these comments involve: fixing transcription errors, investigating information in the index that may be incorrect, helping with ordering a certificate, and referring people to the Reference department, among others.  

He also spends his time routinely cleaning up data in the birth and death certificate index, so that they are more accurate and easier to use, and so that patrons are able to more quickly find who they're looking for in our system. His background as an experienced genealogist and his IT know-how make him perfectly suited to these tasks, and the Birth and Death Certificate Index is more accurate, thanks to his tireless work.

A special accomplishment of Bob’s has been improving one year of death certificates in particular, on top of his regular duties- for some reason, the 1996 deaths on our index have many more duplicate and missing entries than other years. Bob started working on this almost a year ago, and is now over 80% done!

Thank you, Bob!



Submitted by Anjanette Schussler on 03/28/2017

Enthusiastic Volunteer is an Asset to the State Archives