History Players

Meet the people who helped shape the city! These costumed museum interpreters portray real people from history through interactive monologues illustrating themes connected to their lives.

History players most often perform on weekends. Each performance lasts about 15 minutes, with time for questions and discussion afterwards.

William de la Barre was an Austrian engineer who traveled to Minneapolis in 1878 to sell C. C. Washburn a flour dust collector just a month after the great Washburn A Mill explosion. His performance spans the 50 years he spent engineering the falls to maximize their power, giving him the nickname “The Sage of the River.”

Pat O’Butter is a fictional spokes-character who covers all the big campaigns in Minneapolis flour marketing, from “Eventually — Why Not Now” and “Because Pillsbury’s Best” to Betty Crocker and the Pillsbury Doughboy. She sings jingles, shows ads, and talks about the ways that advertising has changed over time.

Connie Consumer is a fictional character whose performance covers convenience food development from cake mixes to TV dinners and more. Connie Consumer’s performance will challenge you to figure out the secret convenience food ingredient in her homemade cake!

Gratia Countryman was the first woman to head the Minneapolis Public Library system. She shares how she championed innovations in library service, such as city and statewide outreach through opening branches in places such as Bridge Square, shelters, hospitals, and immigrant neighborhoods.

Mary Dodge Woodward’s performance recounts her work feeding up to 32 threshing crew members during the harvest, but also the beauty of the Red River Valley in the early days of its settlement. Her monologue includes excerpts from the book The Checkered Years, a diary she kept from 1884 to 1888.  

Eva McDonald Valesh (also known as Eva Gay) was a labor writer who known for her series of labor exposes about working conditions for women in Minneapolis, which appeared in the Saint Paul Daily Globe in 1888 and 1889. Her performance recounts her investigations and time as a public orator.

Ruth Andre Krause (also known as Ann Pillsbury) became the director of the Pillsbury Home Service Department in 1950. She shares how she was the public face of Pillsbury while also developing new products and balancing the responsibilities of being a working widow.

Franklin Steele, a native Pennsylvanian who came west in 1837, became involved in numerous aspects of Minnesota history between the 1830s and 1860s. His performance is based on his first-person accounts, which included a stint at Fort Snelling, the claiming of land on the east side of St. Anthony Falls, the founding of the town of St. Anthony, and the building of the first bridge across the Mississippi.