MNHS Blazes a New Trail by Sharing Vast Collection of Oral Histories on 'Voices of Minnesota' Site

For immediate release

Release dated: 
September 10, 2014
Media contacts: 

Laura Weber, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3039,
Ryan Barland, Oral History,
Jillian Odland, Oral History,

MNHS Blazes a New Trail by Sharing Vast Collection of Oral Histories on 'Voices of Minnesota' Site

Voices of Minnesota

Throughout the world, oral history has survived as an essential means of preserving rich accounts of days gone by. The Minnesota Historical Society has had the privilege of hearing many such accounts. Since 1948, MNHS has collected oral histories of Minnesotans from all walks of life and all corners of the state on a vast range of topics. These interviews have spanned from decades-old memories of wartime and accounts of the medical industry to more recent recollections of minority and immgrant groups underrepresented in the MNHS archives.

Now, MNHS has done what was once unthinkable - we have made these oral histories available to everyone. The Minnesota Historical Society is the first large organization in the United States to completely digitize and make available its audio and transcript collection of oral histories with the "Voices of Minnesota" project. The following is a small sampling of those histories:

Buzz Ryan - Forest History Oral History Project. Buzz was a lumberjack at the turn of the 20th century. In this interview, he recalls how logging camps worked and what life in northern Minnesota was like.

Kay Bauer - Vietnam Women Oral History Project. This project explored the lives of nurses during the Vietnam War. Kay, a great storyteller, provides a firsthand account of life as a nurse and a woman in the American military.

Earl Bakken and C. Walton Lillihei - Medical Device Industry in Minnesota Oral History Project. These charismatic men were pioneers in the medical industry, and the ramifications of their work are globally significant. Bakken, who invented the pacemaker, and Lillihei, who performed the world's first successful open-heart surgery, discuss Minnesota's significance in the field of medical research.

"Voices of Minnesota" presents over 1,300 interviews from MNHS' Oral History collection and includes mediums from audio and video to written transcripts available online in digital formats. Just as history constantly evolves, so too will this collection. New oral history projects will be added to this site as they are completed.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.