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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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 Perry 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


Volunteer Fulfills Lifelong Dream of Learning About Fort Snelling

By: Rebekah Bjork | May 10, 2016

Terry has been a volunteer at the Minnesota Historical Society for more than 12 years. The majority of this time he has worked with photography (still and video) and document scanning.

Recently, he worked with photographing old patent medicine bottles for a display at Historic Fort Snelling this summer. This exhibit explores the use of patent medicines at the Fort in the early days. The four bottles photographed belong to a private party who has a very large collection of patent medicine items. The bottles were in good condition with the paper labels still intact. Use of photographs will allow visitors to see the articles while protecting the originals. This also enables us to have a digital record.

A second recent project was photographing ceramic potsherds. These artifacts more recently were returned to Minnesota by the University of Michigan, which had borrowed them in the 1950s. As part of a documentation process, the returned artifacts were photographed for archival purposes. These artifact pictures will assist a new generation of Minnesota archaeologists who have probably never seen this collection.

Terry said, “One of the aspects of my volunteer work that has been exciting for me, is to discover new areas of exploration and learning. In addition, I am able to use my skills and expertise to add information about a place that has been of interest to me since I was a young child: Fort Snelling.”


Submitted by Terry McGibbon 05/10/16

Volunteer fulfills Lifelong Dream of learning about Fort Snelling

Thrivent Employee Shawn Judges at History Day!

By: Rebekah Bjork | March 31, 2016

Minnesota's History Day competition is one of the most vibrant competition in the nation; each year 30,000 kids around the state explore historical topics through projects ranging from performances, exhibits and documentary films to websites and research papers. In a typical year, more than 50 Minnesota students go to the National History Day competition in Washington D.C. Shawn is one of the 500 regional event judges are needed throughout the month of March and all around the state. Thank you, judges!



Submitted by Karen Kendall 3/31/16

Thrivent Employee Shawn Stuart Judges at History Day

Providing an extra hand

By: Rebekah Bjork | February 21, 2016
A Volunteer's ability provide a much needed extra hand

Cadie has been very involved at the Lindbergh Historic Site. She has many talents and skills and helped assisted in multiple tasks. She helped at the front desk greeting, directing visitors and starting the Lindbergh Documentary; worked in the "games tent" playing historic games with visitors on Living History days; and played Christmas music at Christmas events. Her customer service and work ethic was a huge asset!

A Very Important Piece to the Collection's Relevancy

By: Rebekah Bjork | February 19, 2016

Claire worked on two projects back in 2013. In both, she unfolded and arranged series of letters and postcards, put them in chronological order, and wrote a summary paragraph about their contents. Claire's volunteer work was most helpful to us. Unfolding and organizing take substantial amounts of time that would otherwise have had to be done by paid staff. The collections department and the MNHS owe a big "thank you" to Claire for her dedication to accuracy, her care with fragile manuscripts, and her willingness to read (sometimes difficult) handwriting.

Custom Enclosures Created by Colleen

By: Rebekah Bjork | February 18, 2016

The Minnesota Historical Society has more than 400 panorama photographs in its collections. Because of the long narrow shape of panoramas, they present special storage challenges. The Curator of Photography and Moving Images consulted with conservation staff about how to better protect our panoramas in storage. Conservators designed custom portfolio enclosures to meet this need. Volunteer Colleen came on board to construct the enclosures. The project proved to be more complicated than anticipated but, thanks to the good problem-solving skills of Colleen, all turned out well. Colleen made 32 portfolio enclosures to house 10 to 15 panoramas each plus two extra to accommodate future growth of the collection. Colleen and Jenna Bluhm, Conservation Assistant, made a 24-inch by 60-inch covered box to house the oversized panoramas. The project took 140 hours to complete, and the photographs now are safely housed in one of our storage vaults. Thank you, Colleen!

Custom Enclosures Created by Colleen