Ramsey County Historical Society

Ramsey County Historical Society The mission of the Ramsey County Historical Society is to preserve our past, inform the present and inspire the future of the residents of Ramsey County and beyond.
(9)

The RCHS Mary Livingston Griggs & Mary Griggs Burke Research Center: Hours: Mon-Thurs, 12:30-4:30pm Basement, Landmark Center RCHS Offices: Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00am-5:00 pm Third floor, Landmark Center RCHS Exhibit Gallery Open during Landmark Center hours, located on first floor, North end The Ramsey County Historical Society preserves, presents and publishes the stories of Ramsey County, and makes them available to the public and to researchers through exhibitions in our Exhibit Gallery in the Landmark Center and throughout the County, and through the publication of books and "Ramsey County History" magazine. RCHS also owns and manages the Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakota Life on Cleveland & Larpenteur Aves. The Gibbs is open to school and private tours, field trips, and rental events by appointment; organizes special historical events; and is open to the public, weekends mid-May through the end of October, 10am-4pm.

Nellie Griswold Francis was a musician, a suffragist, an organizer, and the belle of St. Paul’s African American society...
02/25/2020

Nellie Griswold Francis was a musician, a suffragist, an organizer, and the belle of St. Paul’s African American society. Nellie Griswold came to St. Paul as a girl from Nashville, and attended from Central High School, where she made a rousing civil rights oration as a graduation speech. She married rising lawyer William T. Francis. It didn’t matter what organization she joined, she soon led every one. She met two presidents of the United States and raised money from Andrew Carnegie for a new organ for Pilgrim Baptist Church. She organized for women’s suffrage and against lynching. She created and led a singing group, the Folk-Song Coterie, that performed only African-American music. She lived until 1969, and you can read more about her life and accomplishments @ http://bit.ly/2ZwneRh.

William T. Francis and his wife Nellie were St. Paul residents who had a cross burned on their lawn in the Macalester-Gr...
02/21/2020

William T. Francis and his wife Nellie were St. Paul residents who had a cross burned on their lawn in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood 1925. A few years later, William died in the service of his country. W.T. Francis came to St. Paul from Indianapolis as a teenager, started work as a messenger for the Northern Pacific, rose to chief clerk in its legal department and graduated from St. Paul College of Law in 1904. Mr. Francis took over a legal practice from a well-known African American attorney in 1912. For Fact Check Friday, do you know who that was? Find the answer @ http://bit.ly/2ZwneRh, or wait and see the answer here later in the comments section! An active Republican campaigner, Francis was appointed U.S. minister to Liberia in 1927; there he investigated the Liberian government’s complicity in forced labor. He died of yellow fever in Monrovia in 1929.

In 2013, thirty-four years after his death, Jimmy Lee was inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Hall of F...
02/19/2020

In 2013, thirty-four years after his death, Jimmy Lee was inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame in recognition of his years as a respected baseball umpire and basketball and football official. The Mechanic Arts High School graduate played on several local all-black and integrated baseball teams in the 1920s. He loved sports, so when he landed a job as an umpire with Saint Paul Municipal Athletics, he was thrilled. He also worked as an elevator starter and later greeter at the First National Bank of Saint Paul. He knew everyone. “If Jimmy Lee greeted you by your name, you had arrived.”

RCHS Editor Meredith Cummings will emcee a fascinating discussion on three Jewish writers who made their homes in Saint ...
02/18/2020

RCHS Editor Meredith Cummings will emcee a fascinating discussion on three Jewish writers who made their homes in Saint Paul, but who were national figures – William Hoffman, Norman Katkov and Max Shulman. Readings from their writings, video clips of their films and TV episodes, the stories of their lives as told by family members, and the history of their neighborhoods in Saint Paul will be part of the discussion. You’ll find a full list of the panel members and more information on the literary and film works of Hoffman, Katkov and Shulman @ http://bit.ly/2RCrC0o, and then we’ll see you there this Thursday at 7pm at the Roseville Library.

Today we celebrate the founding fathers and our presidents. In particular, we’re featuring our 44th president and first ...
02/17/2020

Today we celebrate the founding fathers and our presidents. In particular, we’re featuring our 44th president and first African American president Barack Obama, who won Minnesota in the 2008 election with 54.06% of the state’s votes and was chosen for re-election in 2012 with 52.65% of the votes. Accolades throughout his eight years of service as President of the United States and beyond include the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction in 2007; the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009; and the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2017. He was twice named Time’s “Person of the Year” in 2008 and 2012.

Dr. Valdo Turner came to St. Paul from Tennessee, where he graduated from Meharry Medical College in 1898, thus becoming...
02/13/2020

Dr. Valdo Turner came to St. Paul from Tennessee, where he graduated from Meharry Medical College in 1898, thus becoming Minnesota’s first African American physician. With Fred McGhee, W.T. Francis. John Quincy Adams, and a handful of others, Dr. Turner helped establish a black professional community in Minnesota. He practiced medicine in St. Paul and also participated in fraternal, civic, and civil rights organizations; he was one of the founders of the NAACP in Minnesota. Turner was also an abortionist; he was tried, (defended by Fred McGhee), acquitted in 1910 and charged again in 1928. The judge allowed him to leave the state rather than face prison. Turner died in Tennessee but is buried in Maplewood.

William R. Morris was the first African American lawyer in Minneapolis and the second in the entire state of Minnesota. ...
02/10/2020

William R. Morris was the first African American lawyer in Minneapolis and the second in the entire state of Minnesota. In 1889, he was one of two black lawyers that the Twin Cities gained: one, Fred McGhee, came to St. Paul, and the second, Morris, came to Minneapolis. Both were connected to Edward Morris, a very successful black lawyer in Chicago: McGhee had been his partner, William Morris was his brother. Morris practiced law in Minneapolis for nearly 40 years, without fame or notoriety. He lacked the zeal for combat that makes a trial lawyer, and of course was limited by the color line. His real passions were music -- he sang -- and the fraternal organizations, like the Elks and Odd Fellows, then so important to African American life. He took his own life in 1929.

We’re pleased to announce it’s almost time for tomorrow’s 7pm event at the East Side Freedom Library for an exploration ...
02/05/2020

We’re pleased to announce it’s almost time for tomorrow’s 7pm event at the East Side Freedom Library for an exploration of Transpacific Antiracism. Here we’ll be introduced to the dynamic process out of which social movements in Black America, Japan, and Okinawa formed Afro-Asian solidarities against the practice of white supremacy in the twentieth century by presenter and author Yuichiro Onishi. This event is free and open to all, plus copies of Onishi’s book will be available for purchase and signing, so we look forward to your attendance and remember to bring your family and friends! More event info @ http://bit.ly/2RXOExz.

"North Star:Civil War Stories" the documentary that RCHS produced in partnership with TPT with help from our generous me...
02/04/2020

"North Star:Civil War Stories" the documentary that RCHS produced in partnership with TPT with help from our generous members, will be re-aired this month. Four stories bring to light the hidden histories of African American Minnesotans during and after the Civil War. These unsung heroes made unique contributions to the Union and their new state, but the details and records of their involvement still challenge historians. North Star: Civil War Stories was nominated for a Regional Emmy in 2019.

Broadcast Dates on TPT
Sunday, Feb 16 at 7pm TPT MN
Sunday, Feb 23 at 1am TPT MN
Sunday, Feb 23 at 7am TPT MN
Sunday, Feb 23 at 1pm TPT MN

This month’s events are an enlightening collection of diverse history and observations, including topics like Afro-Asian...
02/04/2020

This month’s events are an enlightening collection of diverse history and observations, including topics like Afro-Asian solidarity, backstage rock ‘n roll photography, and Jewish writers/national figures with St. Paul origins. Scroll through these events for the dates and times to mark your calendar, and then visit http://bit.ly/2Gx8Jph for more detailed information on each. We hope to see you this month at one or more presentation!

This February we are celebrating African American History Month with a series of posts highlighting just a few of the in...
02/03/2020

This February we are celebrating African American History Month with a series of posts highlighting just a few of the influential African Americans that have helped to shape our community from its early history, some of whom may have been overlooked or forgotten as the years have passed. Please join us in exploring these monumental stories and lives lived, and feel free to share your own stories or family history in the comments.

We’re wrapping up January’s theme by mentioning an entertaining way that you can spend time with family and friends all ...
01/30/2020

We’re wrapping up January’s theme by mentioning an entertaining way that you can spend time with family and friends all year round—an RCHS membership! With a membership, you’ll receive free general admission to Gibbs Farm, exclusive invites to RCHS special events and more. If you’re interested, just visit bit.ly/2Q88dnU or reach out to us if you have any questions. Thank you for joining us as we celebrated our creative community’s past that we all get to enjoy today.

Register for Gibbs Farm Day Camps now and save!
01/29/2020

Register for Gibbs Farm Day Camps now and save!

Registration for Gibbs Farm day camps is open!
This summer we have camps for kids from 4-15. Campers explore Minnesota history in our fun outdoor setting. Check out all camp offerings at RCHS.com and register soon to receive early bird pricing.

Now is a great time to renew your Ramsey County Historical Society Membership! Members support programs that bring history to life and get some great benefits, including discounted camps and free admission to Gibbs Farm all summer long!

Today, St. Paul is home to a variety of outdoor sculptures memorializing figures of significance to local groups. The fi...
01/29/2020

Today, St. Paul is home to a variety of outdoor sculptures memorializing figures of significance to local groups. The first wave of construction was between 1900 and World War I, when the statues of Schiller and Ibsen were erected in Como Park by the German and Norwegian communities, respectively. Not long after, the Daughters of the American Revolution honored Nathan Hale with a sculpture on Summit Avenue. The first native-born governor, John A. Johnson, received his statue in 1912 on the Capitol Mall, bringing the first era of memorials to a close. Since then, the Capitol Mall has continued to be the focus for various memorials, some attracting periodic controversy, but all testaments to the passions and memories of local people.

On April 5, 1881, eighty-four residents of that neighborhood [Irvine Park] signed a petition to the Common Council of St...
01/27/2020

On April 5, 1881, eighty-four residents of that neighborhood [Irvine Park] signed a petition to the Common Council of St. Paul arguing that, although land for the park had been given freely to the city, no park had ever been developed. Residents had already paid for a fence and were willing, if not eager, to fund a music bandstand if the city would agree to grade the streets, provide police protection so that ‘thieves, tramps and immoral persons of all sexes, ages, races, and colors’ would cease ‘indulging in open and disgraceful drunkenness and debauchery.’” They also requested a fountain, a replica of which still stands in the park today.

The popularity of the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” translated very quickly to the stage, and it inspired a wide variety of ...
01/24/2020

The popularity of the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” translated very quickly to the stage, and it inspired a wide variety of shows, from the dignified to the absurd. First performed in St. Paul in 1858, during the following decades the show became so commonplace that bizarre modifications were added. For Fact Check Friday, what did they duplicate on stage for an odd modification? Guess in the comments or try to find the answer @ bit.ly/2ZkKwuB and check back to see if you’re correct! We want to share a separate incident as well, this one from 1855: “The bloodhounds of an Uncle Tom Company broke loose recently and killed the donkey. The manager, in dire distress, had the donkey’s skin removed and sent an actor on in it to impersonate the part, but the accomplished artist, for the first time in his life, failed to make an ass of himself.”

The early days of theater in St. Paul were filled with bizarre spectacles that attempted to attract punters by appealing...
01/23/2020

The early days of theater in St. Paul were filled with bizarre spectacles that attempted to attract punters by appealing to their more prurient natures. A sampling of the names of various traveling female companies from the last quarter of the 19th century gives some indication of their marketing strategies. Here are a few: “Maggie Leclair’s Lovely Ladies,” “The Mormon Queen’s Female Company,” “The Floating Angels Company,” “The Female Magnets,” and “Mlle. Sidonia’s Frisky French Favorites.” We’ll feature more bizarre theater instances tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Have you heard of a “living flag”? Apparently, St. Paul was the first city in the United States to create one in 1896. C...
01/21/2020

Have you heard of a “living flag”? Apparently, St. Paul was the first city in the United States to create one in 1896. Composed of hundreds of schoolchildren, the girls in red and the boys in blue, it was created outside the federal courthouse and post office, now the Landmark Center. The occasion was a national encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War. The living flag performed various patriotic songs, including “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” while the veterans marched through downtown St. Paul.

Nicholas R. Brewer (1857-1949) is a Minnesota artist best known today for his landscapes, but in his own lifetime, his w...
01/20/2020

Nicholas R. Brewer (1857-1949) is a Minnesota artist best known today for his landscapes, but in his own lifetime, his wide reputation rested mainly on his portraits. He painted many prominent Minnesotans, and his circuit exhibitions in the 1920s and 1930s also featured portraits of some of the most famous men and women of his day. This Thursday at the Roseville Library, presenter and award-winning author Julie L’Enfant will focus on a few of these portraits that show Brewer’s intimate engagement with his era’s cultural and political events. Julie’s latest book, Nicholas R. Brewer: His Art and Family (Afton Press, 2019), will also be available in a new softcover addition for purchase and signing at the event. Meet us there by 7pm so you don’t miss out, and learn more beforehand @ bit.ly/34Nldmk.

When Alice Lilliequist Sickels, the executive director of the International Institute of Minnesota from 1931-1934, insti...
01/17/2020

When Alice Lilliequist Sickels, the executive director of the International Institute of Minnesota from 1931-1934, instituted what would become the organization’s signature public event – the Festival of Nations, she knew it was more than just entertainment for visitors. It was and is to this day, an opportunity to learn about and celebrate with many different cultures from around the world through dance, music, art, lectures, food and vendor booths, and is still held on the first weekend in May. For Fact Check Friday, what year do you think this image was taken at the Festival of Nations market in the St. Paul Civic Auditorium @ bit.ly/2sgdG1V. Guess in the comments and we’ll reveal the answer shortly!

Max Shulman, Norman Katkov, and William Hoffman were all from St. Paul, Jewish, University of Minnesota School of Journa...
01/16/2020

Max Shulman, Norman Katkov, and William Hoffman were all from St. Paul, Jewish, University of Minnesota School of Journalism graduates, and writers. If you’re the right age, you’re sure to remember their work. Shulman was known for television’s The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and the book Potatoes are Cheaper. Katkov wrote books along with TV scripts for Bonanza, Ben Casey, and other shows. Hofmann’s columns and books told tales of life on the city’s West Side. They were talented men, whose films, television shows, books, magazine articles, and newspaper columns today provide memories and a glimpse into our past. If you’re one who remembers these works fondly or just interested to expand your knowledge on the topic– here’s an article that that tells more @ bit.ly/2QcIRU3.

A century ago, a group of St. Paul leaders formed a social organization called the Sterling Club. One club objective was...
01/14/2020

A century ago, a group of St. Paul leaders formed a social organization called the Sterling Club. One club objective was “the proper entertainment of persons of note who may visit.” Members welcomed traveling athletes, entertainers, and speakers, including Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and William Monroe Trotter. The club and its associated women’s auxiliary hosted formal balls, golf outings, an annual picnic at Cedar Lake Farms, and a Palm Sunday tea and musicale. The club still exists today, opening its doors to the community during Rondo Days and helping youth through community mentoring programs.

St. Agatha’s Conservatory of Music and Art was established in 1884 (it closed in 1962), and was the first school for the...
01/13/2020

St. Agatha’s Conservatory of Music and Art was established in 1884 (it closed in 1962), and was the first school for the arts in Minnesota. Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph, it was housed in what is now known as the Exchange Building in downtown St. Paul. In addition to bringing arts education to the public, it helped to provide financial support for the Sisters’ work in education, social service and health care. Classes offered to children and adults included piano, organ, violin, zither, guitar, mandolin, banjo, theory, history of music, counterpoint, voice culture, elocution, languages, painting, china decorating, and drawing. There’s much more to this school’s past to appreciate, so learn more @ bit.ly/2ZsGbpD.

One of the oldest neighborhoods in the Twin Cities is the focus of next Thursday’s 60-minute discussion at Waldmann’s Br...
01/10/2020

One of the oldest neighborhoods in the Twin Cities is the focus of next Thursday’s 60-minute discussion at Waldmann’s Brewery, presented by Dan Reed. Clips from the TPT documentary, in partnership with the Ramsey Hill Association, will explore its birth, growth, decline and reclamation over the course of more than 150 years. Remember, 10% of all sales to members and their guests go to fund RCHS initiatives, so please register @ bit.ly/2SlYZFs and come out to raise a toast to history, starting at 7:45pm, and remind your server that you’re an RCHS member. Thank you for your support!

Gibbs Farm: Pathways to Dakota & Pioneer Life
01/10/2020

Gibbs Farm: Pathways to Dakota & Pioneer Life

Registration for Gibbs Farm day camps is open!
This summer we have camps for kids from 4-15. Campers explore Minnesota history in our fun outdoor setting. Check out all camp offerings at RCHS.com and register soon to receive early bird pricing.

Now is a great time to renew your Ramsey County Historical Society Membership! Members support programs that bring history to life and get some great benefits, including discounted camps and free admission to Gibbs Farm all summer long!

Gibbs Farm: Pathways to Dakota & Pioneer Life
01/08/2020

Gibbs Farm: Pathways to Dakota & Pioneer Life

Go in depth on Victorian era manners, fashion and history in this 3 day camp for ages 11-15. Victorian Ladies camp includes cross stitching, tea parties, and an etiquette obstacle course! This year incorporates special programming about the passage of the 19th Amendment, a huge step in securing the right to vote for all women.

Registration opens January 10th at https://www.rchs.com/gibbs-farm/day-camps/

Special thanks to the Living History Society of Minnesota (www.lhsmn.org) for sharing their knowledge and amazing costume collection with us last year!

Address

75 5th Street West, Suite 323 (Landmark Center)
Saint Paul, MN
55102

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(651) 222-0701

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Ramsey County Historical Society posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Videos

Category

Our Story

Equity & Inclusion Statement:

History informs us, inspires new choices, brings people together, and builds community. Likewise, it can be mis-used to inspire fear, create division, and perpetuate racism and other injustices. We resolve to present history in accordance with our values of Authenticity, Innovation, Inspiration, Integrity, and Respect. We believe that by doing so our community will be more informed, more engaged, and will become stronger.

Values:


  • Authenticity: We strive for historical accuracy in all our programs and activities.

  • Innovation: We consciously seek new ways to educate and create unique programming.

  • Inspirational: We raise awareness of our past and how that informs our understanding of our present and future.

  • Integrity: We adhere to the highest standards as a nonprofit organization in all our operations.

  • Respect: We provide experiences that respect our collective heritage and the diverse cultures of our community.
  • Nearby museums


    Other History Museums in Saint Paul

    Show All

    Comments

    I am wondering if anyone has any pictures(or info) from a fire that gutted much of The Angus Hotel in St. Paul during the mid to late 1960's. Thank you in advance.
    Join us for an evening with journalist and historian Curt Brown. He will share tales from his 2008 book, So Terrible a Storm, which chronicled a 1905 gale that smacked Duluth. He will then cover his latest book, Minnesota 1918, which retells the human stories of the year when the flu pandemic, WWI and wicked fires in northern Minnesota all converged on the state. Details are online. http://bungalowclub.org/events/ St. Mary’s Episcopal Church 1895 Laurel Ave., St. Paul www.saintmarysepiscopal.org
    Hello to whoever does your media releases..I didn't get an announcement that Moira's program had been cancelled. If we hadn't been fact checking it would have been in the paper and readers would be unhappy with us and you. Please be sure to follow up on any releases sent to us. thanks. Mary Ann Grossmann
    If you have an interest in Genealogy and vintage photographs or documents I'd like to invite you to join our groups "Family Treasures Found" and "Forgotten Faces, Forgotten Places" on facebook. "Our Mission is to rescue vintage photographs, letters, etc., from languishing on dusty shelves and long-forgotten boxes. Through research we strive to reconnect long-lost ancestral history to descendants AT NO CHARGE." The groups, have been formed to display "lost" Identified/Unidentified Photos & Documents so they may be returned to their descendants (or an appropriate historical society, library, etc). Our hope is that, as more people join the group, they will identify our unmarked photos by comparing them to existing photos which they may have in their possession.
    Hello, just a note to inform you of a 1905 photo album with lots of Ramsey County photos in it. Thank you
    Didn't Abraham Lincoln hang 30 native Americans on this day?
    Does anybody have, or can tell how to obtain, photos of the Roseville library in the 1960s?
    Hi! My name is Viveca Andersson and l live in Sweden. My paternal grandmother's grandmother had a brother, LOUIS JOHNSON, who left from Landskrona for America in 1882 with his wife and children. He was christened Lars Jönsson, b. 21 Jan 1847 in Sireköpinge. He and his family settled in Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota. Louis Johnson died there on 11 Oct 1915. His wife's name was Karin/Karen. Their children were: - Ellida (a k a Elita), b. 2 May 1872. She married Edward J. Oswald and they had two sons, Edward Joseph and Adolph Thomas - Johan/John, b. 16 Feb 1874 - Herti, b. 2 July 1876 and - Lina, b. 1 Mar 1882 I wonder if there might be anyone who knows of now living descendants of Louis and Karen Johnson? My email address is [email protected] Thanking you in advance.