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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WW1 MNopedia Articles

By: Rebekah Bjork | March 26, 2017

As MNHS gears up for the newest WW1 Exhibit in April, volunteers Ehsan and Anja have each written an article for MNopedia!

Ehsan has been a volunteer for almost 2 years, and his article focused on Anti-German Nativism. MNopedia Program Manager Linda Cameron said “Ehsan is a real ace right now.” Anja has been volunteering for one year and focused her article on the IWW Lumber Strike. “They are doing a fantastic job. I really enjoy working with them,” said Cameron.

Thanks to Ehsan and Anja for their hard work and dedication to MNHS and MNopedia!

WW1 Project Volunteers

By: Rebekah Bjork | March 24, 2017

Four volunteers, Ginny, Jean, Nicole, and Sara, are working with the Digital Collections Services department to get the Gold Star Roll ready for the public. These volunteers have been processing raw scans, matching them up with the original index, and getting them ready to be viewed by the public electronically.

The Gold Star Roll was mailed to families during WW1 about service members who died during the war, and families would send back pictures, letters, and memorials about their fallen soldiers. Before, if someone wanted to view these records, they would have to come in-person to find it or pay a researcher to do so on their behalf. With the help of Ginny, Jean, Nicole, and Sara, these records will be available on People Finder, electronically, within the next couple of months!

Another project these volunteers are working on is processing WW1 Military Service Questionnaires. These were sent to soldiers right out of service. The volunteers have been able to read the personal responses and stories, and have really valued the personal connections they have developed while reading them.

Ginny, Jean, Nicole, and Sara will work on the WW1 Military Service Questionnaires on an ongoing basis, as well as processing Civil War records, tax records, and naturalization records.

Submitted by Sarah Barsness 03/24/2017

Images William Frederick Dunlap

Volunteer Researcher and Writer Extraordinaire

By: Rebekah Bjork | March 22, 2017

Aaron has been a volunteer researcher and writer for MNopedia since February 2016. With an extraordinary knowledge of Minnesota railroad history, he wrote about the Minneapolis Great Northern Depot for his first article, which was published in June 2016. Since then, Aaron has completed six more articles on railroads across the state that are key to Minnesota’s economic development, and is in process on another article on the history of the Como railroad shops in St. Paul (now Bandana Square).

When MNopedia started to repurpose the old Minnesota Place Names database, they needed Warren Upham’s original entries geocoded and proofed for inclusion on an interactive map feature. There was a snag with a number of obscure railroad stations that Upham noted in his book as “location unknown.” Tapping into Aaron’s expertise, he did a little sleuthing and was able to find several within a few days!

Aaron is very enthusiastic about his work for MNopedia. In a recent email update he wrote: “I really enjoy this and it means the world to me to be able to contribute.” Aaron has been a real joy to have on the project, and the team is very grateful for his dedication and superb work. Since he started in February 2016, Aaron has completed about 300 hours of service to MNHS!



Submitted by Linda Cameron 03/22/2017

Curatorial Assistant Intern Gaining New Experiences

By: Rebekah Bjork | March 22, 2017

Curatorial Assistant Intern Anne-Marie is doing fabulous work! She's been processing incoming artifact donations, which includes all kinds of database work and research, as well as printing donation forms, drafting acknowledgement letters, and sewing on ID numbers. Anne-Marie's internship also marks a collaboration

between collections and historic sites, where she's gone to our warehouse several times with Paul Storch to assist with an inventory of material in our backlog.
She picks up every new task quickly and with great aplomb, much to the delight of the many staff who have had the privilege of working with her.

The 'in action' photos attached here depict a textile numbering session and the inventory and final acquisition of backlogged material (official gifts) from the office of Vice President Walter Mondale, complete with the Collections database in the background.


Submitted by Sondra Reierson 03/22/2017

Image of Anne-Marie Card Intern

Collections Project Finished

By: Rebekah Bjork | December 19, 2016

Volunteer Ken has finished digitizing the remaining 1700 color 8x10 inch photographic prints from the Charles Chamblis Collection. He has worked on this project the past 3 months within the Digital Collections Services Department. This work will make the images available through Collections Online. Originally about 300 Charles Chamblis photographs were on exhibit here at the MN History Center and completing this collection will be a unique insight of the African-American music community in Saint Paul.
Bottom image: Kirk Johnson in gold shirt (far left); Kim Johnson (piano); Wendell Thomas ( bass, far right). Photographer: Chamblis, Charles Collection I.368.29. (image 1)

Ken is now starting a new project of scanning 400 uncatalogued 8x10 color negatives from the Norton & Peel Negative Collection. These negatives are from the 1960's and show professional interior and exterior color views of hotel, restaurant and commercial businesses within the metropolitan area of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The entire collection is over 22,000 images and are all black and white. This small group of 400 color images will be a great addition to our Collections Online resource.
Top image: NP 275054 Interior of Cafe Di Napoli Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis 1963. (image 2)


Submitted by Eric Mortenson 12/19/2016

 Interior of Cafe Di Napoli Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis 1963
 Kirk Johnson in gold shirt (far left); Kim Johnson (piano); Wendell Thomas ( bass, far right). Photographer: Chamblis, Charles Collection I.368.29.

2016 State Fair Fun

By: Rebekah Bjork | November 12, 2016

This summer we had a team of 20 volunteers who worked at the State Fair to fill the brochures for the Minnesota State Fair History Walking Tour. They contributed 95 hours to making sure the brochures stayed filled for the visitors who completed the tour. After surveying the volunteers, 79% said they are very likely to volunteer for this program again. One of our volunteers said what they liked most about this program was “I could experience the Fair and at the same time help out MNHS.”

Heritage Preservation

By: Rebekah Bjork | October 28, 2016

A skills-based volunteer has worked on multiple projects. Most recently he has been sorting through old property files conducting research on the property and adds additional information as needed. He is also checking the database to make sure there is an inventory number so that others can easily find information.

11 years in the making - Alexander Ramsey House

By: Rebekah Bjork | August 28, 2016

We celebrated the accomplishments of volunteers Roger and John who transcribed nearly all of Governor Ramsey's journals. These volunteers came weekly for 11 years and became masters of reading Governor Ramsey's handwriting. This information will be used to develop programs for the site.

165 Boxes and 132 Doughnuts

By: Rebekah Bjork | June 20, 2016
165 Boxes and 132 Doughnuts
165 Boxes and 132 Doughnuts

Our State Archives Volunteers celebrated their accomplishment of processing 165 boxes in 11 months, and eating 132 doughnuts, too!

These volunteers were responsible for unfolding and flattening materials from files and records, putting materials into new folders, and organizing and labeling materials in boxes.

Some members of this group have been processing these records for 17 years! The original group was from HB Fuller and Excel Energy, formerly NSP. Additional individual volunteers have been added to this group throughout the years.


Submitted by Anjanette Schussler 06/20/16

MNopedia volunteers have been busy this year

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 24, 2016
  • The MNopdedia volunteer team has logged more than 762 hours so far this fiscal year and some hours are still to be recorded!
  • Rick turned in his first article on G.K. Warren, the first St. Paul District Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is working on revisions.
  • Mary has turned in her first article on the Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park and is in the editing process. Mary managed to get a number of beautiful photographs from the Park/DNR, with permissions to use them - quite a challenge!
  • Aaron has submitted two articles, one on the Minneapolis, Northfield, and Southern Railway, and one on the Minneapolis Great Northern Union Depot.
  • Sarah's article on the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District was published on April 13, and was picked up by MinnPost as a featured article.
  • Janet, Anja, and Catherine have been checking in regularly and have reported great progress on some very interesting research. Watch MNopedia for more, new articles!


Submitted by Linda Cameron 5/24/16