Item of the Day

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Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future

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The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

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Item of the Day

Letter from Samuel Woods to Franklin Steele

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 24, 2021

In this letter dated February 17, 1851, Samuel Woods informs Franklin Steele of his current affairs and business deals. In the first paragraph of the second page he mentions that a bill to sell Fort Snelling has passed and speculates that "our expectations will be realized" to buy the fort and surrounding land. The letter predates the eventual sale of the fort by six years, suggesting that Woods and Steele possessed insider knowledge.
See whole letter and transcript here: https://bit.ly/3ayXbl6

Food Schedule

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 23, 2021

This poster was created during World War I; it is a suggested Food Schedule to "Help Win the War."
It consists of a chart showing foods to be omitted from meals on particular days, in order to conserve them as part of war effort. 
This was created between 1914 - 1918  and printed in Minneapolis.

Nellie Griswold Francis

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 22, 2021

Griswold’s high school graduation photograph, 1891. From St. Paul Central High School records.

Happy Black History Month! 
Throughout the month in Item of the Day we will focus on various influential and inspirational African American women.
Nellie Griswold Francis founded the Everywoman Suffrage Club (ESC) in 1914. It was the only Black woman suffrage organization in Minnesota. 
Later, she was almost single-handedly responsible for the authorship and promotion of the bill for an Act to Prevent Lynching in 1921.
Learn more about her and her work here: https://www.mnhs.org/historycenter/activities/museum/votes-for-women/profiles/nellie-francis

Ski Wax Guide

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 19, 2021

This Northland Ski Wax guide hails from 1940 and could still be useful today, if one has skis that needed waxing.

Fake Lakes

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 18, 2021

This humorous postcard made in 1985 depicts a map of fictional lakes. It was made by Eric Hanson Designs of Minneapolis.
It reads: "Another wonderfully unreliable map by Eric Hanson. This time of Lake Country with detailed directions to our cabin, guaranteed NOT to get you there."

Nellie Stone Johnson

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 17, 2021

Happy Black History month! 
Throughout the month in Item of the Day we will focus on various influential and inspirational African American women.
Nellie Stone Johnson was a prominent civil rights activist and union organizer, as well as the first African American elected official in Minneapolis. She opened and operated her own sewing and alterations shop in 1963; this is the electric/treadle sewing machine she used there. Good jobs was one of the issues she cared about most.
Learn more about her here.
https://www.mnhs.org/historycenter/activities/museum/votes-for-women/profiles/nellie-johnson
 

Valentine

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 16, 2021

While Valentine's Day is still fresh in our heads and hearts, we would like to share this valentine from about a century ago.
This stand-up valentine features two children with flowers and cards. It was created circa 1920.

Frederick Douglass's Birthday

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 15, 2021

Frederick Douglass, the great orator, writer, and statesman didn't know the exact day of his birth, so he picked February 14 to observe it.
Douglass visited Minnesota in 1867 and gave speeches in Saint Paul and Winona. 
Today's Item of the Date is an Association for the Study of Negro Life and History button, created in 1958.
Pictured are Abraham Lincoln (top), Frederick Douglass (bottom), and the founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History) Carter G. Woodson in the middle.
The Gale Family Library also holds many books about Frederick Douglass.
https://bit.ly/3jFUj8Q

Equal Equals Love

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 12, 2021

Happy early Valentine's Day!
These serigraphs (screen prints) on paper were created by Spunk Design Machine in 2012. 
These posters, included in the "Poster Offensive 6" exhibit, reference the 2012 proposed but defeated Minnesota state constitutional amendment which would have defined marriage as being "solely between one man and one woman."
Both posters are titled "Equal Equals Love."

Canada, 1807

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 11, 2021

This is map is title "A New Map of Upper and Lower Canada." The cartographer is John Cary and it was made in 1807.


The perspective of this map and the centering of the Great Lakes is different than what we are used to seeing.

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