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July 9, 2010

Photo Archaeology

Filed under: Book Excerpt, MHS press — pennefesm @ 11:20 am


Ever thought of doing archaeology, but worry about not having the training? Try it with an old family photo. A fine example is the picture above, showing employees at the U.S. Customs Bureau in 1901. It contains a “tyrannical” supervisor, an accused embezzler, a man who would live just a month longer, and the owner of the diary who shared these details.

The story is told in Emily F. Ganzel’s “Thawing a Frozen Moment: A Photograph and the Diary That Brought It to Life,” one of twenty-four essays in The State We’re In: Reflections on Minnesota History edited by Annette Atkins and Deborah L. Miller. Just published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, the book is the product of a conference by the same name, held in 2008 to mark the 150th anniversary of Minnesota statehood and supported by Project Logos of Saint John’s University.

The book’s essays, organized in sections titled Memory, Up North, Identity, and Method, offer some of the most recent and best thinking about Minnesota’s past and its people.

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