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Minnesota Historical Society Press Closed During Shutdown

Posted byAlison Aten on 30 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: MHS press

The Minnesota Historical Society and all of its museums, sites and programs are closed because funding from the State of Minnesota, which comprises more than half of the Society operating budget, has not yet been approved for the fiscal year beginning July 1. This includes the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

However, if you would like to place an order for MHS Press books, you may still do so through the Chicago Distribution Center at 800-621-2736. Our e-books will also continue to be available from popular e-book vendors.

The Minnesota Historical Society website,, will announce our reopening date as soon as it becomes available.

Borealis Books Summer E-book Sale!

Posted byAlison Aten on 23 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: MHS press

Kevin Kling\'s The Dog Says How

Take Minnesota with You Wherever You Go!

Ten Minnesota e-books by Minnesota writers for $4.99 each from popular e-book vendors including,, and Apple’s iTunes/iBooks store.

We are excited to share these specially priced Borealis Books titles with our digital readers.

Click here for the list of titles and details!

Minnesota Basketball Fans Know It’s Always Worth the Wait

Posted byreyescarlosa on 21 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: MHS press, Sports

The wait is over! After two long years, Ricky Rubio, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ fifth overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, has finally arrived in the North Star State. He was greeted by 200+ fans and reporters ready to give him a warm ‘Minnesota Nice’ welcome. Upon being drafted in ‘09, Rubio decided to stay in Spain to play out the remainder of his contract, which did not allow for his release until 2011, and to take time to mature as a player on the court.  Below is an exclusive one-on-one interview with Ricky Rubio.

If you think two years is a long time, try roughly two decades! That’s how long the state had gone without a professional basketball team before the Timberwolves settled here. This story and more are collected in Minnesota Hoops: Basketball in the North Star State, written by Marc Hugunin and Stew Thornley.

The state’s first professional basketball team was the Minneapolis Lakers, which began competing in 1947. Sadly, the team departed in 1960 to become the present-day Los Angeles Lakers. Though the American Basketball Association attempted to make a lasting impression with the Minnesota Muskies and Minnesota Pipers, each team stayed only a year before moving elsewhere, having played in front of mostly empty seats at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington. After much patient waiting, Minnesota finally got to field a professional basketball team again when on November 3, 1989, the Timberwolves played their first regular season game against the Supersonics of Seattle. After hearing that story, two years of waiting for Ricky Rubio does not seem so bad, now does it?

To learn more about the rich history of basketball in Minnesota, be sure to check out Minnesota Hoops: Basketball in the North Star State.

Hubert Humphrey’s 100th Birthday

Posted byregana on 26 May 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, History, MHS press

Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey (Minneapolis Tribune)Friday, May 27, marks a century since the birth of Minnesota’s Happy Warrior, Hubert Humphrey. He was the mayor of Minneapolis, a founder of the DFL party, a U.S. senator from Minnesota, the 38th vice president of the United States, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency in 1968, and a tireless champion of liberal causes.

All this week Iric Nathanson, author of Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century, has been writing informative and thoughtful articles for that highlight significant aspects of this remarkable man’s career. And on Friday, St. John’s history professor Annette Atkins will talk about him on MPR’s Morning Edition with Cathy Wurzer.  If you hunger for still more, check out Carl Solberg’s great book, Hubert Humphrey: A Biography.

Celebrating Minnesota’s Native Heritage and Foods

Posted byAlison Aten on 24 May 2011 | Tagged as: Book Excerpt, Cooking, Event, MHS press

The Minnesota Ethnic Food BookThis Saturday, May 28, the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis celebrates  Minnesota’s Native heritage and foods: wild rice, maple syrup, and bison.

Interested in learning more about traditional Native American foodways? The Minnesota Ethnic Food Book begins with a chapter on the Ojibway:

“Traditionally, the Ojibway migrated in the spring to obtain sugar sap from the maples, in the summer to find berries, wild greens, and herbs, in the fall to harvest wild rice, and in winter to kill game and spear fish. Consequently the lunar phases of the yearly cycle were identified by food availability. For example, September was Moon of Ricing, and April was Moon of Sugar Making—names that modern Ojibway remember . . .

“Today, as in former times, important occasions in Indian life are associated with food—naming a child, marriages, deaths, the change of season, and religious events. Many aspects of food and diet are sacred to the Ojibway; they are intertwined with religion and provide a guide to the treatment of the land and its products. Plants, trees, animals, and grasses all have a purpose and are a gift that the Ojibway hold in reverence. Because this bounty was placed on earth to be used as food or medicine, it must be managed carefully to ensure its presence for generations to come. Wild rice, maple sugar, and various wild game are integral parts of religious feasts and private powwows. This sacred use of food is a personal matter that most Ojibway prefer not to discuss . . .

“In most instances, the men hunted and fished and butchered the meat. Women cooked, gathered berries, herbs, and wild greens, raised crops, processed the animal hides, and preserved the meat. Children helped in all of these activities, observing the procedures and practices and learning by doing it for their own later use as adults. The family as a whole was involved in ricing and maple-sugar making.

“Until the early reservation years, Indians in general used two thousand different foods derived from plants alone, not to mention the available wildlife. Nuts, berries, greens, onions, turtle eggs, camas bulbs, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, and numerous other foodstuffs formed part of the Ojibway diet.

“Because of the nomadic life the Ojibway led, they frequently prepared one-pot meals over an open fire. Whenever weather permitted, this fire would be outdoors, but on rainy days or in the depths of winter it was moved to the center of the large wigwams, which housed one or more families. Foods were cooked in a birch-bark container suspended from a tripod over a low fire that provided continuous heat. The cooks dropped hot rocks, taken from the coals, into the water-filled bark containers, which would not burn as long as there was still water in the vessel. The rocks brought the water to a low boil sufficient to cook all the ingredients of the one-pot meal. Later the manomin (wild rice) or napodin (dumplings) might be added.”

Norwegian American Women

Posted byAlison Aten on 11 May 2011 | Tagged as: Book Excerpt, Event, Immigration, MHS press

Norwegian community picnic, WI, ca. 1873. Used with permission from Wisconsin Historical SocietyNorwegian American Women: Migration, Communities, and Identities, a new book edited by Betty A. Bergland and Lori Ann Lahlum, explores the vital role of women in the creation of Norwegian American communities–from farm to factory and as caregivers, educators, and writers.

Meet Betty and Lori at The Best of Times Bookstore in Red Wing this Saturday, May 14, at 11 a.m. as they share their research into the lives of women in Norwegian America.

They will also be the keynote speakers at Norwegian Heritage Day at St. Olaf this Friday May 13th.

Below is an excerpt from the chapter “Women, Work, and Community in Rural Norwegian America, 1840-1920″ by Lori Ann Lahlum.

In addition to their work in the Ladies Aid, Norwegian American women participated in other community activities, and in many ways gender framed the nature of their participation. Indeed, it  was often women’s domestic skills that made community activities and events possible. When Norwegian Americans gathered socially to celebrate events, especially weddings, women  cooked, cleaned, brewed beer, and sewed in preparation for the event. In times like these, the exchange of labor and the sharing of resources became important. Weddings also represent efforts to retain  Norwegian cultural traditions as well as the acculturation of Norwegian Americans. Some Norwegian immigrants held to the tradition of hosting large wedding parties like those celebrated by well-to-do farmers in Norway. Other couples opted for small weddings at home with few guests or a ceremony before a justice of the peace.

The large weddings depended on the abilities of women. In 1880, Johanna Wroolie married Chris Weholt in southern Minnesota. As in Norway, the wedding was announced three times in church. Wroolie’s mother baked, cooked, and brewed beer, and guests danced “all night.” When Ane Vatne married near Cooperstown, North Dakota, in 1889, more than a hundred “Norwegians” attended the celebration. Vatne served veal for dinner and cold cuts for supper. Although the meal consisted of a variety of foods, they were foods unfamiliar to her family in Norway and Vatne did not know how to describe them. She also emphasized that guests feasted on grapes between dinner and supper, again, something not common in rural, Norwegian, peasant communities. A few years later, Vatne’s brother, Ole Lima, married. Vatne did the cooking and baking, and the meal consisted largely of American foods. According to Martha Lima (Ole’s bride), “To be sure we had neither ‘lefse’ nor ‘gome,’ but many fine cakes, fruit, and baked spare ribs, and mutton, and many other things.” At the time, Martha and Ole lived with the Vatnes, and Vatne also sewed Martha’s dress. Christine Dahl estimated that 350 people attended her daughter Martha’s 1880 wedding dinner in Texas, many of them staying for festivities in the evening and the following day. In Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, wedding guests attended a morning ceremony followed by dinner and lunch. Whether a wedding included a dance varied, but when the celebration did so, guests frequently “danced till morning.” In some Norwegian American communities, hosts served alcohol to guests, adding to the festivities, and interestingly, in North Dakota this custom continued in some locales even after the state became dry in 1890.

. . .

Norwegian Americans also took part in more organized social activities. In 1884, Scandinavians in the Waco, Texas, area celebrated the new year with a masquerade ball. Because it was a leap year, the young women paid for the tickets. Such festivities were not common in all Norwegian American communities because some Norwegian immigrants objected to such behavior. Dancing was a popular but also a contested activity in Norwegian American communities. Members of the High Prairie Lutheran Church (LaMoure County, North Dakota), for example, opposed drinking, dancing, and gambling. Particularly pious Norwegian Americans objected to dancing, placing it in the same category as drinking excessively. Some ministers used the pulpit to preach against the twin evils of drink and dance. Thurine Oleson recalled that in one Wisconsin community, the church actually split over these issues. Those who objected to the minister’s position on drinking and dancing left and formed a new congregation so close that members of the two congregations could “hear each other singing.”

–excerpt from Norwegian American Women (source notes omitted), published by Minnesota Historical Society Press

A History of Jazz in the Twin Cities

Posted byAlison Aten on 03 May 2011 | Tagged as: African American, Book Excerpt, History, MHS press

Joined at the HipJoined at the Hip: A History of Jazz in the Twin Cities, by Jay Goetting with a foreword by Leigh Kamman, is the story of jazz music, musicians, and venues in Minneapolis and St. Paul from the early days through Prohibition and the Swing Era, then to bebop and beyond.

Jay and Leigh will be at the Artists’ Quarter this Saturday, May 7, from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. to discuss and sign their book. Books will be available for sale courtesy of Common Good Books. After the event, stay at the club to enjoy the music of  Atlantis Quartet. (Book event is free; $10 cover for the show.)

Listen to Jay on Minnesota Public Radio

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter titled “The Clubs”

Finding live jazz in the Twin Cities today requires some planning. Gone are the days when nightspots clustered in the two downtowns or in neighborhoods like the Near Northside. The Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis and the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul have regular offerings, but what else? Rossi’s, Jazzmines, and the Times are past tense. Occasional venues include the Riverview Cafe, the West Bank School of Music, O’Gara’s Garage, Famous Dave’s, and the Capri and Old Log Theaters. There are others, to be sure, but most spots feature jazz interspersed with an eclectic mix of R&B, pop, rock, and hip-hop, sometimes to the confusion of would-be patrons who are not sure what to expect or who arrive expecting jazz and get something else. But there was a time when listeners knew what they wanted and where to get it, and they returned again and again to hear first-rate talent at well-known local clubs and large venues.

For a long time, the tiny community of Mendota on the river bluff was a locus for jazz. Jax Lucas, a professor and a stringer for DownBeat magazine, once dubbed Mitch’s “the Nick’s of the Midwest,” after the famous Dixieland house in Greenwich Village. Herman Mitch first opened the club in 1939, having previously run the Silver Stripe at Dale and Selby in St. Paul. Pianist Red Dougherty served as mayor of the hamlet in the late thirties and early forties. He also owned the popular Parker House restaurant, an upscale eatery that became Axel’s River Grille.

In 1949 Leigh Kamman’s Dixieland Caravan emanated from the reopened Mitch’s, run by Herman’s son, Bob. The program featured the Mendota Buzzards, Harry Blons’s band with Eddie Tolck on drums and vibes. Tolck said, “Those were fun days. Anybody that meant anything who was in town would be there. Bob Eberle, [Jack] Teagarden, [Lawrence] Welk’s sidemen. The program was somewhat scripted but informal.” Also in Blons’s new band were several players from the first Mitch’s, Hal Runyon, bassist Willie Sutton, and saxophonist Dick Pendleton. The newcomers included Lyle Smith, Russ Moore, and Warren Thewis, successively, on drums, Jerry Mayeron followed by Hod Russell on piano, and Bob Greunenfelder on trumpet. Shortly after, however, highway construction closed the club for good in October 1950.

Mendota had more than its per capita share of clubs over the years. There was Doc Evans’s Rampart Street Club (1958–61), which had been the Bow and Arrow and later morphed to become a rock club, Ragin’ Cajun. There was also the Colonial, Gay Paree, and the Hollywood. Listeners found the nearby River Road Club—known for its unruly clientele and the music of Cornbread Harris and Augie Garcia—by taking a shortcut through the Emporium’s parking lot. Prior to the club’s closing, several people misjudged the road and ended up in the river.

. . .

St. Paul also had its live-music clubs. It hosted the Dakota beginning in the 1980s before the club left Bandana Square for its posh digs on the Nicollet Mall. The city is still home to one of the Twin Cities’ premier listening rooms, the Artists’ Quarter, now in its second downtown location since leaving Twenty-sixth and Lake Street in Minneapolis. Drummer Kenny Horst, who runs the Artists’ Quarter, quipped during the recent economic downturn, “The good thing about jazz is you don’t notice the recession. It’s never great, but the audience is steady.” Horst also noted changes in the jazz-club scene: “You used to get Bill Evans or Dizzy Gillespie for two weeks. Now, you’re lucky if you can book someone for a couple of nights.” Horst adds that musicians call him from New York and elsewhere offering to play for a percentage of the door: “In our day, we wanted a guarantee. Now, club owners want a guarantee. There are not a lot of people out there that can draw.”

Jazz historian Kent Hazen says that Horst has had a keen sense for programming: “Kenny was very entrepreneurial in his ability to seek out a backer or talk some club owner into having a jazz quality. He was very persistent and has kept the public awareness of jazz at as high a level as it could be with little or no help.” Horst now co-owns the Artists’ Quarter along with musicians Billy and Ricky Peterson and Hod Boyen, plus Jerry Kennelly.

The Artists’ Quarter has managed to bring in some big names in jazz as well as some familiar visitors who were once a part of the local jazz fabric.

From Joined at the Hip: A History of Jazz in the Twin Cities by Jay Goetting


MPR’s Writing Minnesota

Posted byMary Poggione on 22 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, Literary, MHS press

Where One Voice EndsBe sure to check out MPR’s series on Minnesota writers:

“What does it mean to be a Minnesota writer? It means obsessing over the sound of the Mississippi River. It means writing about small towns. It means you’re a refugee who refused to speak as a child.

“It means writing about butter. It means New York might find you provincial. It means you’re not as stressed out as New York writers about your status. It means you write about Chicago. It means you grew up on a farm and saw your dad kill a cow with a pitchfork. It means your characters have secrets.

“It means watching a girl flirt with your husband in a St. Paul wine bar–and wishing she’d flirt yet more.”

Annie Baxter interviews eight Minnesota writers: Charles Baxter, Kao Kalia Yang, Nicole Helget (author of the Borealis book The Summer of Ordinary Ways), Philip Bryant, Steve Healy, Robert Hedin (editor of the MHS poetry anthology Where One Voice Ends Another Begins), Katrina Vandenberg, and Matt Rasmussen. Check out the web page for audio and excerpts.

Libraries of Minnesota

Posted byAlison Aten on 19 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Event, Literary, MHS Author in the News, MHS press

Libraries of MinnesotaLegacy logoA veritable who’s who of Minnesota’s best-known writers of books for children and young adults will testify to the special significance of libraries in their lives this Thursday, April 21, at 7:00 p.m at the Minneapolis Central Library’s Pohlad Hall to celebrate the publication of Libraries of Minnesota.

With images by Doug Ohman, photographer of the Minnesota Byways books, which include the well-loved Barns of Minnesota and Cabins of Minnesota, and essays by Will Weaver, Pete Hautman, John Coy, Nancy Carlson, Marsha Wilson Chall, David LaRochelle, and Kao Kalia Yang, Libraries of Minnesota is a rich exhibition of Minnesota’s beloved libraries. The book is a cooperative project of the Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators and the Minnesota Historical Society Press, funded by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Thursday’s event is sponsored by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Library Service Agency, and the MHS Press. Doug will give a visual presentation of photos from the book, followed by anecdotes from the contributors. Books, including select titles by the authors, will be available for purchase at the event courtesy of Magers & Quinn Booksellers, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Library Foundation of Hennepin County.

Last week’s Star Tribune Variety section featured a slide show and excerpt from the book. You can also see a preview of the book on the KARE11 website: Doug and Pete talked about the project on the air this past Saturday.

The image below is not from the book but is featured today on the popular website boingboing and originally comes from the L. A. Library via the Boing Boing Flickr pool from Bart King. Since it features a kid in a library with a copy of a book by another beloved Minnesota author and illustrator, Wanda Gag, we thought it worth sharing!

New friends, new sandwiches

Posted byPamela McClanahan on 15 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, Cooking, History, MHS press

Minnesota LunchA couple of weeks ago we organized a Minnesota Lunch Bunch at the MHS, prompted by our excellent new book: Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi, edited by James Norton, who also edits the popular online food magazine Heavy Table.

Our lunch bunch was made up of six staff members from different areas of the workplace, including a technology manager, two reference specialists, a curator, a publisher, and a programmer. We wanted a variety of takes on a range of sandwiches–and, of course, we wanted to get to know each other better. The collective knowledge in the group was astounding: as we visited different eateries and tasted different sandwiches, everyone contributed facts about the geography of the place, the history of the building, the immigration patterns of the people who lived in the area, the community celebrations of those neighborhood folk. We were, after all, a group filled with a love of history. And food. 

Looks like our lunch bunch is in good company, too. Sandwiches–they’re everywhere these days! Food trucks in the Twin Cities are out and about for spring, offering tasty pulled pork on buns and buffalo chicken on toasted bread. The Chicago Tribune recently featured a slide show: “30 sandwiches in 30 Days.”  And Saveur magazine’s new spring issue theme? Sandwiches, of course.

LK and Manny, Manny's TortasIt was a really enjoyable “Sandwich Salon,” if you will, that we recommend you try in your own workplace (or with friends and family), guided by the stories and photos of the eleven featured sandwiches–and all their variations and cousins–in Minnesota Lunch, which also has a companion blog by the contributors. Ours was a terrific assignment and gave us something to look forward to a few times a week. We didn’t have to drive far and we certainly didn’t have to spend much money. Journalist James Lileks, who was quoted in the introduction to the book, said about his leaving an office job: “The only thing you really miss is lunch. Where you went, who you went with, what you said and did. . . .” 

Next week we’ll feature the highlights of our sandwich tour, which began with banh mi at Trung Nam French Bakery in St. Paul and ended with the infamous Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis. I smile every time I think about one of the first statements made by LK at our shared table: “Sandwiches. They are one of my favorite things. They’re perfect. If I were on a desert island and could have only one thing, I’d have a sandwich.”

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