Minnesota State Archives

Minnesota State Archives The Minnesota State Archives is a department of the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), collecting historical records from almost 4,000 units of government in the state from the territorial period to the present day.

The State Archives collections are available for public use through the Minnesota Historical Society Library (http://sites.mnhs.org/library/home). For more information on what the State Archives collects, visit http://sites.mnhs.org/library/content/state-archives If you're interested in volunteering with the State Archives, visit http://www.mnhs.org/volunteers/volunteer For more information on other activities of the State Archives, visit http://www.mnhs.org/statearchives

Mission: Using the Power of History to Transform Lives Preserving - Sharing - Connecting

Today the Green Line, which connects Minneapolis and Saint Paul by light rail, turns 6 years old!  The cars have come a ...
06/14/2020

Today the Green Line, which connects Minneapolis and Saint Paul by light rail, turns 6 years old! The cars have come a long way from how they looked in 1901...can you imagine riding that open streetcar in rain or snow?

Earlier today, the Minnesota Board of Pardons pardoned Max Mason posthumously. Mason was a Black circus laborer who was ...
06/12/2020

Earlier today, the Minnesota Board of Pardons pardoned Max Mason posthumously. Mason was a Black circus laborer who was one of two young Black men tried for the alleged rape of Irene Tusken in 1920. (The other man was William Miller.) Although little evidence linked him to the alleged crime, Mason was convicted of rape, and was sentenced to seven to thirty years in the Stillwater State Prison, beginning in August, 1921.

He appealed his case to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but the guilty verdict was sustained. Per the pardon application (link in comments), he also applied for a pardon or commutation twice while in prison, but was denied. In 1925 the Minnesota Parole Board discharged Mason from prison with the condition that he leave the state. Mason died at age 46 in Memphis, TN.

Documents from Mason's Stillwater State Prison case file, including a transcript of his trial, were digitized for the MNHS Duluth Lynchings website and are available here: https://www.mnhs.org/duluthlynchings/documents.php?name[]=Mason%20Max&spatial[]=Stillwater

News article about his pardon today: https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/crime-and-courts/6532876-Max-Mason-gets-long-overdue-posthumous-pardon

Photo shows the memorial in Duluth to Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie, three Black circus workers who were lynched the night of June 15, 1920.

Next week, the Minnesota Historical Society will be memorializing the 100th anniversary of the lynching of three Black m...
06/04/2020
Minnesota Historical Society

Next week, the Minnesota Historical Society will be memorializing the 100th anniversary of the lynching of three Black men in Duluth - Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie. The Documents tab on the website linked to in the post below includes digitized versions of several documents from the State Archives related to the lynchings, among many other resources for you to read. Be aware that some of the content is graphic.

On the evening of June 15, 1920, in Duluth, Minnesota, three young black men--Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie--were falsely accused of raping a white woman, pulled from their jail cells and lynched by a mob numbering in the thousands. Yet for years this travesty of justice was nearly forgotten.

MNHS is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Duluth lynchings with a week of remembrance June 8-15. Join us on the Minnesota Historical Society page for a live conversation between Michael Fedo, author of The Lynchings in Duluth, and historian and author William D. Green. They will illuminate the history of African Americans in Minnesota and how racism has played out in our state over time.

Stay tuned to MNHS social media channels throughout the week of remembrance for related posts and to view a compilation video featuring perspectives from Minnesota historians and prominent community members. And keep exploring with our resource page on the history of the Duluth lynchings. https://www.mnhs.org/duluthlynchings/

There are records of the State Board of Health (later the State Department of Health) in the State Archives; see this fi...
06/03/2020

There are records of the State Board of Health (later the State Department of Health) in the State Archives; see this finding aid for more:http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/hlth022.pdf

On This Day in MN History:
Happy Birthday to Charles N. Hewitt, the doctor whose work established the Minnesota State Board of Health in 1872. It was the third such board in the country. It shifted the management of public health to the state instead of local services. Today we call it the Minnesota Department of Health.

As the Board's first Secretary, Hewitt set it on a track that would lead to national recognition. In addition to improving sanitation, testing the safety of public water, and advocating quarantine procedures during epidemics Minnesota was on the leading edge of bacteriology in the 1890s. In 1977 the Board was dissolved and replaced with the Department of Health.

Their work continues to be invaluable in modern times as we navigate through this most recent public health crisis with the help of their guidance and services. Learn more about Hewitt and the work of the Board of Health in this MNopedia article: https://www.mnopedia.org/event/state-board-health-established-march-4-1872
#MNHSHistoryAtHome

Historical context is important when trying to understand current events, and the death of George Floyd on Monday, May 2...
05/31/2020
Minnesota Historical Society

Historical context is important when trying to understand current events, and the death of George Floyd on Monday, May 25th, is no different. There are several MNopedia articles and research guides from the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota Historical Society, among other MNHS resources, for you to read up on, including the one below on the history of race and policing in the Twin Cities.

Read about the history of race and policing in the Twin Cities with this MNopedia article, including efforts to reform law enforcement through community organizing as well as from within through serving as officers #GeorgeFloyd https://bit.ly/3dhmzec

Check out this cool letterhead from the 13th Minnesota Regiment.  See the motto about carrying the flag overseas?  It's ...
05/27/2020

Check out this cool letterhead from the 13th Minnesota Regiment. See the motto about carrying the flag overseas? It's an interesting story.

#OTD in 1898 the 12th, 13th, and 14th regiments departed for training to fight in the Spanish-American War; only the 13th would see combat, in the Philippines. You can learn more about the Thirteenth Minnesota and its role in the Battle of Manila on MNopedia! https://www.mnopedia.org/event/thirteenth-minnesota-and-battle-manila

Happy Memorial Day!  In the State Archives we're lucky to work with military records from early statehood onward, preser...
05/25/2020

Happy Memorial Day! In the State Archives we're lucky to work with military records from early statehood onward, preserving and sharing the deeply moving stories of those Americans who fought and lost their lives in war. Today we want to particularly thank those who serve or have served for their sacrifice.
Below we have a very colorful booklet about "Poppy Day" from 1923, found in the subject files of Governor J.A.O. Preus. The national holiday we're familiar with wasn't formally established until 1971, but the holiday's roots go back to Decoration Day which started shortly after the civil war. The U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs has a nice summary of the holiday's history, available at: https://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp

Happy Birthday to Aitkin, Anoka, Carlton, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Jackson, Martin, Mille Lacs, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone,...
05/23/2020

Happy Birthday to Aitkin, Anoka, Carlton, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Jackson, Martin, Mille Lacs, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, and Rock counties, which all turned 161 years old yesterday!
We are lucky to house some of the records of the 1857 census that helped establish these counties, and were intrigued when we found this letter inside the ledger that holds the rolls for Martin County -- Judge Julius Haycraft, president of the Martin County Historical Society in 1937 wrote that the census records were fraudulent!
According to an article published in Minnesota History, a complex relationship between residents, land developers, and state government led to a census that is, well, let's say it may be less factually reliable than one might hope.
Want to learn more about the 1857 census? You can read the article in Minnesota History, originally published in 1933, online:http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/14/v14i03p243-262.pdf

We know how great it is when collections are available online, but we also intimately know just how much work behind the...
05/20/2020
What Our Experts Want You to Know About Digitization

We know how great it is when collections are available online, but we also intimately know just how much work behind the scenes is involved with making it happen, which most people wouldn't necessarily realize. The Smithsonian published this blog post yesterday describing all that work and it's worth a read. It makes us especially proud of our digitization staff at MNHS who work hard to get digitized collections to you.

"Digitization takes a lot of resources. It takes an incredible amount of money, staff resourcing, and specialized imaging equipment to have a streamlined digitization workflow. It is also, perhaps surprisingly, a very manual process - archival materials are too rare and fragile for automated digitization workflows, so each item must be carefully and methodically handled by digitization staff."

https://siarchives.si.edu/blog/what-our-experts-want-you-know-about-digitization

As part of its five-year strategic plan, 2017–2022, the Smithsonian committed to reaching one billion people each year through a digital-first strategy. And one big part of that strategy includes making our collections available through digitization—the process of transforming analog material in...

We're still working from home and are missing handling physical collections. Thanks to our archival digitization staff, ...
05/18/2020

We're still working from home and are missing handling physical collections. Thanks to our archival digitization staff, we have an increasing amount of digitized State Archives records to look at from afar, like this construction log of the state Department of Highways, a predecessor to Minnesota Department of Transportation. Even though the log is digitized, you can see evidence of how it was used before it was transferred to us. The cover has what looks like a coffee mug stain on it, and the bottom of each page, where people typically turn pages, has evidence of damage and staining (from dirt and oil on fingertips). These are signs that this volume was heavily used by the department.

One page has an outline on it, and we wondered if a piece of paper used to be taped there and later fell off - well, the next page has the answer. Tape from a blueprint on the facing page stained the page next to it, leaving a telltale outline.

Seeing little signs of use and deterioration, even on a digital object, is an interesting exercise and at least a partial replacement for getting to experience them in person.

Here's the link to the finding aid with two digitized construction logs, including the one featured here: http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/gr00168.xml

We can't recall seeing anything like these student quarantine records, from the collection of the Utah State Archives an...
05/15/2020

We can't recall seeing anything like these student quarantine records, from the collection of the Utah State Archives and Records Service, in our set of school records, but you never know - some may be hiding in a school record book waiting to be seen. Good find! Sometimes you really don't know what you'll come across in school records, or archives in general, for that matter.

Our Local Government Archivist Alan recently found a school roll book from the 1900-01 school year. The book is from the Hamilton School, which stood on the corner of 800 South and 800 East in Salt Lake City. The roll book was converted into a book for keeping various school administrative records. Among these are records related to quarantining students who were sick and might potentially spread disease to other students. It appears that any child who was sick required a release certificate from the Board of Health before he/she could return to school.

Check out the most recent What's New in Archival Collections Cataloging post to see what our archival catalogers and dig...
05/15/2020
Collection Finding Aids - What's New : Library : MNHS.ORG

Check out the most recent What's New in Archival Collections Cataloging post to see what our archival catalogers and digitization staff have been working on the last month.

The set of military service cards from the Adjutant General, circa 1860-circa 1945, which were on microfilm, have been digitized and are available online through the finding aid. (Example shown below.) Find that and many more updated finding aids at the link below.

http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/index-WhatsNew.htm

New finding aids added to the library, manuscripts, sound and visual, and archival collections .

Today is National Apple Pie Day!  To celebrate, we wanted to share these images come from a one-of-a-kind, comprehensive...
05/13/2020

Today is National Apple Pie Day! To celebrate, we wanted to share these images come from a one-of-a-kind, comprehensive apple record book, dated 1899-1901! It contains descriptions and prints of 500 varieties of apples, crabapples, and pears. It was compiled by John S. Harris, and can be found in our collection of records from the State Horticultural Society.

Happy Birthday, Minnesota!  That's right, today the State of Minnesota turns 162 years old.  Did you know that we even g...
05/11/2020

Happy Birthday, Minnesota! That's right, today the State of Minnesota turns 162 years old. Did you know that we even got a birthday present for ourselves?

Well, it's not exactly a birthday present, but a time capsule created in 2008 (our 150th birthday), to be opened in 2057 to kick off the year that Minnesota turns 200. As tempting as it may be to open the box and see what's inside, it is pretty well sealed and has a nice ribbon around it...no peeking allowed.

If you were going to put together a time capsule to describe 2020 to people in 50 years, what would you put inside?

Today is the Minnesota fishing opener, and good luck to all those anglers out there, doing their physical distancing, en...
05/09/2020

Today is the Minnesota fishing opener, and good luck to all those anglers out there, doing their physical distancing, enjoying being outside, and maybe catching a fish or two! Good luck!

Today (May 8) is the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, VE Day.  Thank you to the men and women who ...
05/08/2020

Today (May 8) is the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, VE Day. Thank you to the men and women who fought in the war and supported the war effort on the home front.

We're a day late, but we still wanted to celebrate National Nurses Day, and say THANK YOU to all of the nurses and other...
05/07/2020

We're a day late, but we still wanted to celebrate National Nurses Day, and say THANK YOU to all of the nurses and other health care workers out there. These fantastic pictures of new nurses come from the records of the Nopeming Sanatorium which opened in 1912 and closed in 2002.

#OTD in 1896, ground was broken on the third (and current) Minnesota State Capitol building, designed by Gilbert Cass.  ...
05/06/2020

#OTD in 1896, ground was broken on the third (and current) Minnesota State Capitol building, designed by Gilbert Cass. The construction was documented in the records of the State Capitol Commission, including this picture from the groundbreaking, found in a photo album.

The Gale Family Library at the Minnesota Historical Society might be closed at the moment, but you can still get your research on -- the entire photo album has been digitized and is available online in the collection finding aid (http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/gr01252.xml)

For National Teacher Day, we wanted to say THANK YOU to all of the educators out there.  We know that teaching from home...
05/05/2020

For National Teacher Day, we wanted to say THANK YOU to all of the educators out there. We know that teaching from home is tough, that creativity is key, and that you all have it is spades. Take Mechanic Arts teacher Frances Ek, for example, teaching students how to use a slide rule in her classroom (1958). We're currently taking bets on whether she needed a giant slide rule or she just really, really wanted one.

04/27/2020
Gale Family Library at the Minnesota Historical Society

Without the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota Historical Society, the vast majority of our records in the Minnesota State Archives would be inaccessible. We love our library workers!

In celebration of National Library Week, we reached out to our colleagues across MNHS to ask them to tell us more about what the library means to them, what their favorite library places are, and how the library impacts their work.
Here is a sampling of the post-its they gave us from their home offices.

Care to add your own post-it below? We'd love to hear from you!

Today is Arbor Day, a day on which we are all encouraged to plant and take care of trees, and we have here a particularl...
04/24/2020

Today is Arbor Day, a day on which we are all encouraged to plant and take care of trees, and we have here a particularly poetic proclamation from April 17th, 1899, signed by Governor John Lind, proclaiming it Arbor and Bird Day. Here's an excerpt, although the entire proclamation is worth reading:

"Genial sunshine and gentle showers are calling forth the slumbering bud and the vernal green. The robbin [sic] is here to greet and to serve us. The thrush and oriole will shortly join him and they will come again to gladden our people with their song...Providence did not intend that any portion of this fair state of ours should become or remain a treeless waste, mute to nature's cheeriest songs."

Did you know that the Minnesota state tree is a red pine? Here's more information on the red pine from our colleagues at the DNR: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/trees/red-pine.html
Also, see this article on John Lind on MNopedia's site: https://www.mnopedia.org/person/lind-john-1854-1930

Since April in National Poetry Month I combed our past posts and found these "beauties".  I suppose bad poetry is still ...
04/23/2020

Since April in National Poetry Month I combed our past posts and found these "beauties". I suppose bad poetry is still poetry!

Are any of our facebook fans knitters, crocheters, spinners, or weavers?  We have a special treat for you today: a trio ...
04/16/2020

Are any of our facebook fans knitters, crocheters, spinners, or weavers? We have a special treat for you today: a trio of WW1 flyers encouraging the conservation of cotton and wool for use in uniforms and dressings. Women were encouraged to keep sheep to raise for wool, to save fabrics, and to create clothing for soldiers overseas -- socks, caps, and everything in between could be made by homefront volunteers.
These fantastic images come to us from the Correspondence and Subject Files of the Women's Committee of the Public Safety Commission. To learn more about the Public Safety Commission, we recommend the MNopedia article here: http://www.mnopedia.org/group/minnesota-commission-public-safety. To see more from this collection, check out its finding aid here: http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/gr00963.xml

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Do you know if the Minnesota State Fair has its own archives, or is it part of the Minnesota State Archives? I am trying to find a contact for Keri Huber, whom I believe is the State Fair archivist. I'm doing research into farming history in the Spring Grove (Houston County) area of MN. Thank you!
Joyce Lewis
William T Lewis
Another Minnesota WWI story worth sharing.
Hello my names is Sue Welch live in akron ohio. I am working on my family tree and have hit a wall I am trying to find information on Olga Duffy She would be my great grandmother. The story's my gram always told me was she died after giving birth but no where seen to know anything on her. I found that is buried at Mt.Pleasant Cemetery in chaska but can not find a death record or burial record for her in 1920. She was married the Arthur Duff but can not find marriage records for that either. If anyone could help me that would be great Thanks Sue
What i really enjoy is the barn with its hundreds of farm tools from hand made wood rakes, plows, hammers, etc, etc. The music events and Christmas events are another favorite of mine. Really like that little one room cottage and small log church. https://gammelgardenmuseum.org/visit/ Meaning “old farm” in Swedish, the Gammelgården Museum is the only open air museum devoted to preserving, presenting and promoting Swedish immigrant heritage in the United States. In buildings that have been carefully preserved and restored, visitors can get a glimpse of the daily lives & artifacts of these immigrants and participate in events and classes. The main exhibit in the Välkommen Hus and the Butik gift shop are open daily May – December. Before Minnesota became a state dozens of Swedes travelled up St. Croix river and settled in the area and that’s why Gammelgården. Check out couple videos I made when i visited Gammelgården Swedish Fiddler Gathering, MN Swedish Museum Gammelgarden, Swedish Farm museum https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faMemtpHFiQ Brian Wicklund One of Minnesotas best fiddle musicians Gammelgarden Museum https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd0w-YJs9vg Couple music videos I made My Home Land Song for Scandinavian musicians https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz_tXyTAZdw Emigrantens Farvel Til Norge 1800 Poem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFBw5c7xU80
Hello, just a note to inform you of a 1905 photo album with lots of Ramsey County photos in it. Thank you
What makes the Minnesota History Center so valuable to a genealogist are the death records and the newspaper collection on micro film. In the death records you’re able to look up most of my parents and brothers and sisters, get the correct spelling and when they died and more. The newspaper collection can help you me find death notices and things your parents where involved with such as politics. Recently i found some newspaper articles about a Norwegian-American painter in Duluth and the 1942 project he was involved with. Many great articles in newspapers. WW II articles are very interesting. To visit the library is free. To find free parking you will have to park about half mile away in the James J Hill Neighborhood behind the Cathedral. Or I ride the bus to History Center. Hourly parking in a lot next to History Center
Two weeks ago I posted (on the Sons of Norway District 1 Facebook) images I captured of the St. Olaf College Genealogy Bygdebok (farm books) Collection and dozens of internet resources. An outstanding free library if you live close to the school and don’t mind the parking during the school term. One week ago i was able to photograph the University of North Dakota Genealogy - Chester Fritz Library - Arne G. Brekke Bygdebok Collection. A collection is as large as St. Olaf with the same parking problem durning the school term. Here’s photos i captured of the Genealogy bygdelag book collection created by members of the Norwegian-American Genealogy Association http://www.norwegianamerican.org located in the all new Minnesota Genealogy Society Center 1385 Mendota Heights Road, Mendota Heights, Minnesota. https://mngs.org Thought you would want to see what the resource looks like before you visit or use. The Norwegian-American Genealogy Association (NAGA) collection may not compare with NDSU or Olaf but is located in the Twin Cities, easy to get too, lots free parking, lots of computers, dozen of other Genealogy groups sharing the facility, each group having special classes, and most of all access to internet genealogy “sites few can afford”. Most important many of the members are Genealogists for “Sons of Norway Lodges” and Lag Genealogists for “Bygdelags” Check out the MGS web site for hours and days open (its a volunteer organization) https://mngs.org To pay for for operating costs of the MGS center all the groups pitch in $20 year for membership. If join NAGA you also belong to MGS. NAGA has some best N/A Genealogists in the USA. Join the NAGA members. What area of Norway did your kin folk came from - then contact a Bygdelag genealogist who often belong to NAGA. (Bygdelags are members from certain areas of Norway) Contact Norwegian-American Bygdelag Fellesraad for help from a Bygdelag genealogists to start and join NAGA to compliment your research. http://www.fellesraad.com/fell_roots.htm#Mylag Pictured on the wall are the organizations that share the MGS center.
Click on image for larger more readable jpg the could be down loaded and printed
It's not in the archives yet, but maybe it should be. The story of the Secret War in Laos and the thousands of Hmong that war brought to Minnesota.
Is there a listing of items that have been digitized? Are newspapers going to be digitized to a greater degree?