Item of the Day

collections up close Blog

Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


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.

All MNHS Blogs

Subscribe by e-mail:

 Subscribe in a reader

Item of the Day


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 21, 2020

Happy Solstice!
We all deserve some color and light on this, the longest night of the year. This abstract painting is titled "Blue of the Night." It was painted by William Saltzman in 1949.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 18, 2020

This woodcut shows an idyllic indoor winter scene; a fire burning in a fireplace with a mantle, stool, and candle. 
It was created by Flavia Gag in 1935. Flavia was the sister of more well-known Wanda Gag, but an impressive artist and author in her own right.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 17, 2020

Disentangling lights is a big job, but someone has to do it! 
This photo shows Oscar Fryckman (left), city electrical engineer, and Donald R. McReavy, chairman of the Minneapolis Christmas Lighting Committee, disentangling Christmas lights in 1940.
We wonder: is this a candid shot, or perhaps staged?



By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 16, 2020

This large wooden paddle was used in the Dayton's (later Macy's) Candy Kitchen. 
The Candy Kitchen was opened in 1913 in the Dayton's downtown Minneapolis store. The store closed in January 2017.

Bill of Rights

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 15, 2020

On this date in 1791, the new United States of America ratified the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution confirming the rights of its citizens. 
In this photo we see two youngsters looking at the original Bill of Rights on the "Freedom Train" during its May 4, 1948 visit to Minneapolis. This photo was taken by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Queen Buzzy Bee

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 14, 2020

Who fondly remembers toys such as this?
This wooden Queen Buzzy Bee pull toy consists of a wooden bee set on wheels with plastic wings and two coiled metal antennae. Pulling the bee forwards activates a noisemaker mechanism and rotates its wings. 
It was use by the Harpole family in Saint Paul between 1965 - 1968. 


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 11, 2020

Is it too early to think about holiday cookies? Never!
This is a cookie can housed Carlsbad Oblaten cookies, used between 1960-70.
An oblaten is a crispy, delicate dessert wafer historically known as Czech dessert. The Carlsbad Oblaten company was founded around 1949  in Minneapolis.

Chanukkah preparations

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 10, 2020

Happy first day of Chanukkah!
This photo shows two women making Chanukkah decorations at Temple of Aaron in St. Paul, 1960.

The Replacements

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 9, 2020

Who else misses live music?
This poster is for The Replacements show at Duffy's in Minneapolis, 1983. It was designed by the band's drummer, Chris Mars, who later became a full-time artist.
We doubt Merv Griffin was involved.

Dark Dawn

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | December 8, 2020

This book, "The Dark Dawn," was written by Minnesotan Martha Ostenso. It came out in 1926, a year after her most successful book,  "Wild Geese." Most of her work revisited similar themes of relationships between men and women and the land they worked. As the daughter of an immigrant family, she imbues their stories with dignity and realism.


Subscribe to RSS - Item of the Day