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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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 Perry Schussler on 03/28/2017

Enthusiastic Volunteer is an Asset to the State Archives

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.