Books Bands and History this Summer

Can reading make you happier?

Effective use of graphics. – Library of Congress collection

Text and book summaries of popular books

Bands on the Blvd are back at the Minnesota Historical Society – Tuesdays in July

For those that seek to learn about some of our important and darker past:
The Poetic Hannah Arendt

The Convict Leasing System: Slavery in its Worst Aspects


Mississippi River Blogs

Spring has sprung and the Mighty Mississippi bursts from its banks to refresh river-lovers from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.   Follow the Friends of the Mississippi River blog ( to learn about the wonders of the river and the land through which it flows.   Several other blogs share stories of the Mississippi – one of the most fun is this blog sponsored by the National Park Service.  Check here to learn about the Mississippi River visitor center and much more about the history of the river valley.  

Interesting Finds in the Virtual World

You know the mantra – “Make new friends, but keep the old…One is silver and the other gold.”

It’s like that with life in general – good reads, thespian performances, stories of the past, even the printed – now virtual – written word.

Think about the amazing range of virtual options:

If you’re a local history buff don’t miss The Historyapolis Project (  The project was launched in 2013 in the History Department of Augsburg University, funded by a grant from state Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.  Focus on overlooked and essential history (e.g. a ground-breaking study entitled “Mapping Prejudice” topped with a host of fun facts, e.g. an underground history of the Minneapolis Riverfront, and stories of long-forgotten landmarks including The Persian Palms and the Pioneer Hotel.

Or explore the real reality of some virtual reality video samples:

Local VR with Rem5vr.

Music is available online of course, but now you can hear and see the orchestra.

Virtual theater

Sports can be virtual now too; here is another example.

This is shameless self promotion but you will get the idea.

And if real life fails to feed the mind, explore a mix  of virtual applications:

The New Yorker on crossing paths with strangers

PBS on what Thoreau going to Walden can teach us about being socially distant

Or explore the random postings of what’s happening in the World of Tumblr –

Virtual Kudos to Pulitzer Prizewinners Louise Erdrich and Natalie Diaz.

Online Tidbits

The Wandering Naturalist podcast explores the natural and cultural history of Three Rivers Park in Minneapolis and the surrounding area.  Brandon Baker, interpretive naturalist at Eastman Nature Center and wildlife biologist Angela Grill cover a new topic each month.  Listeners are invited to “wander from park to park and discuss the stories of the past, the nature of the present, and how they have shaped our parks. 

Poetry Archive – which includes the Children’s Poetry Archive, is a not-for-profit organization that produces, acquires and preserves recordings of poets reading their own work aloud.  Substantial excerpts from recording sessions freely available online.  Includes Children’s Poetry Archive, dedicated to poetry written for children and presented in a website that “is easy and fun to use.”  

E-Books Minnesota  Award-winning and/or nominated books and authors.  The curated collection contains fiction and non-fiction for children, teens and adults. 

Minnesota Digital Library Great photographs, maps, documents and more contributed to MDL by cultural heritage organizations throughout the state.  Items from historical societies, libraries, archives and cultural organizations across the state.  Curated collections range from the lumber industry in Minnesota, the state’s three major railroads, Sinclair Lewis letters, TC’s streetcars and much more. MDL is now on Instagram.

Maps – Library of CongressNearly a half-million maps of sites known and yet to be discovered by the energetic itinerant or armchair explorer of the known world!


Celebrating Pride Month

All across the country, people are celebrating L.G.B.T.Q. Pride this month. For decades, The New Yorker has taken a lead in chronicling the remarkable challenges and changes that have defined the battle for human rights for all. This week, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about the progress of this:

  • “The Perfect Wife,” Ariel Levy profiles Edith Windsor, who fell in love with her partner and won a landmark Supreme Court case for same-sex marriage.
  • In “Larry Kramer, Public Nuisance,” Michael Specter examines the life of the playwright and activist and considers how his barbed, audacious advocacy helped transform the national conversation around AIDS.
  • In “Love on the March,” from 2012, Alex Ross reflects on the momentous efforts to advance gay rights in America.
  • In “Netherland,” Rachel Aviv reports on the lives of homeless L.G.B.T.Q. young people in New York.
  • Finally, in “Coming Out, and Rising Up, in the Fifty Years After Stonewall,” Masha Gessen contemplates the sweeping changes that have occurred since the history-making uprising, in 1969.  

Taken together, these pieces reflect the struggle, the accomplishments, and the myriad opportunities that lie ahead in legal, housing, athletics, employment, academics, the arts and myriad other aspects of American society.

Proclamation on Pride Month:


Memorial Day – Resources


Today in history – Tulsa Day Massacre – from the Library of Congress

Things to Remember about Memorial Day – from Mental Floss


Open Book – 1011 South Washington, Minneapolis or on Facebook

Downtown Minneapolis Street Art Festival – August 12-14, 2021. Press Release


PBS – American Masters

Films that are streaming right now.

Minnesota Digital Library  

Photographs, maps, documents and more contributed to MDL by cultural heritage organizations across the state.

DPLA – Digital Public Library of America 

Online collection of four 40 million free digital materials from libraries, archives and museums.  Digital exhibitions and primary sources cover “everything from the 1918 influenza pandemic to the golden age of comic books….

Poetry Archive

Not-for-profit organization that produces, acquires and preserves recordings of poets reading their own work.  Excerpts from recording sessions freely available online through the website and through the related Children’s Poetry Archive

EBooks Minnesota  

Award-winning and/or nominated books or about Minnesota authors.  Fiction and non-fiction for children, teens and adults.  No cost to Minnesotans  

Online Resources on American Indian Heritage

The month of May has celebrated several programs and series celebrating the state’s American Indian heritage and current activities.  In April, the Cabrini church community launched a series entitled Tegeder Talks, a commemoration of their former pastor Reverend Michael Tegeder.  This was the first in a series entitled “Tegeder Talk: Native American Women = Hear their voices, Discover their leadership.  The series continues – and, more important, each of the talks in the series is now available on YouTube.  Search under “Tegeder Talk” for links to each of the related talks presented by scholar and lecturer Linda LeGarde Grover.    

Radio station KFAI has also celebrated “American Indian Month with special programs on native culture, discussions and music.  Check out @FreshAirNDNs on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates on programs.

May also reminder the reader to check the Indigenous Representations newsletter, a collaboration between Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, St. Cloud State University, the St Catherine University Master of Library and Information Science program, the U of M Kerlan Collection Birchbark Books, Minnesota State Library Services and the Minnesota Department of Education Office of American Indian Education.  The May edition of their newsletter features book and resource recommendations for use in the classroom or library (

This generation’s test – Lessons from Seneca Falls


We all know that each generation has its own test, the contemporaneous and current standard by which alone it can adequately judge of its own moral achievements, and that it may not legitimately use a previous and less vigorous test. The advanced test must indeed include that which has already been attained; but if it includes no more, we shall fail to go forward, thinking complacently that we have “arrived” when in reality we have not yet started ~Jane Addams

On July 19 and 20, 1848, some three hundred brave souls, supporters of a common cause, gathered in Seneca Falls, New York.  They shared a common cause, to affirm and eventually guarantee, the rights of women, including a woman’s right to vote.   The enormity of their challenge is matched only by the results of the progress they envisioned, sought, and ultimately achieved.

As we grapple with the challenges that face this democracy today we may lose hope, not to mention stamina.  Thinking about the Seneca Falls Convention may shed welcome light on these dark days.

To preserve and strengthen our democracy will demand nothing less than a movement of informed, committed American truth-seekers who care – and dare — to speak out, join forces and share energies towards a common purpose.

As always, we can draw strength and wisdom from those who have fought the good fight in the past.  A glimpse of the humble beginnings of the Nineteenth Amendment offers a sense of how a movement is born and how it grows with time and effort.  We may draw strength from a look back at the movement born at Seneca Falls some 170 years ago.

Some manageable starting points:

Previous posts related to ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.



We the People deserve, depend on and demand truth

The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people~ Tom Clancy

Yesterday, as we Americans celebrated the Fourth of July 2018 we honored this nation’s tradition of giving a nod to the Forefathers, joining the community festivities and relaxing on our shared national observance of the truths “made evident” in the Declaration of Independence.  And yet, in these troubled times, many Americans eschew the festivities and stress out instead on the swamp-draining reality in which we are drowning….

As a fierce proponent for open government my thoughts inevitably turn to the fact that it was on July 4, 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act– a factoid notably absent from public discourse, much less presidential proclamations…..

In truth, reflections on the passage of FOIA are fraught with pain for many.  We had such hope.  Skimming through the scores of FOI-related blog posts I’ve written In recent times (145 in total according to the omniscient system….)  I am appalled at the profound impact that changing times are having on the tone and focus of those posts.

Earlier posts honed in on information-seeking skills – “information literacy”, “critical thinking,” “information power” and related topics.  The onus was consistently on the seeker of truth, a truth that was presumed/assumed to be true……

Over time, particularly over the past year, emphasis of the posts is on the source of information – the eroding of truth, manipulation of the facts, “fake news” “alternative facts” and malevolent efforts to debunk the truth.

In relatively recent times Information has become a commodity to be manipulated, twisted, ultimately weaponized.  Essential data are missing because data are not collected – real facts are twisted to shape opinion – data are weaponized to influence discourse and decisions.  Clever forces, eager to seize the opportunities of information technology, have seized the power of information.  The result is a citizenry that is drowning in the misinformation/disinformation swamp.

As with all liars weaponizers of information depend on their victims to be hapless believers of alternative facts and innuendo.  They feed on weakness, fear, lack of confidence, devoid of critical thinking skills.

More than any time since our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence  We the People must exercise – flaunt – our independence by embracing our power.  Our mighty challenge is to hone the skills and exercise our power to  seek the truth.

Our challenge today is difficult and critical.   In this era of well-crafted lies we must strengthen in ourselves and in others the confidence that critical thinking demands.  The forefathers expected no less.   History demands that we rise to the occasion, that we reach out, affirm our values, hone the skills and the internal strength to resist – and eventually repel – distortion of truth and manipulation of a complicit citizenry

The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.    J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
See also this and other previous posts:

Mid-May Memo – It’s Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

It’s weird for me to say I’m lucky when I can’t go into a bookstore and have more than five choices if I want to read something about Asian-American characters.    Jenny Zhang

Though this nation has commemorated Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month since 1992 we have much to learn to earn about the history, ethnicity and contributions of our neighbors.  Though we have reached half-way through the month we have been focused on Spring than on the reflecting on the heritage of Asian Pacific neighbors.

For starts, it is worthy of note that the month of May was chosen to this nation has proudly commemorated Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month because of two major anniversaries in this nation’s history – The first Japanese immigrants came to the US in May 183, and the transcontinental railroad was completed on May 7, 1869.

A good starting point for the “big picture” of This Web portal is a collaborative project of the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The contents of this site highlight only a small portion of the physical and digital holdings of the participating partners.  The LC site includes great links to the National Archives, the National Park Service and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

One fun resource that will spark ideas for honor a broad range of immigrants to the state is this accessible guide created by the Minnesota Historical Society

Another Minnesota-specific guide produced by the Department of Human Services provides a great deal of information about ongoing activities related to the heritage of Asian-Pacific Minnesotans :

The wealth of accessible resources for celebrating APAHM is remarkable – Please take time to explore the elegant poetry written, read and recorded by Asian-Pacific American poets.  The site also includes prose, critiques, essays, a great bibliography  and more that has been written by and about Asian-Pacific word people.  As always, the Academy of American Poets captures the spirit of the people and the occasion.

I bring quadruple diversity to the Senate:  I’m a woman; I’ll be the first Asian woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate; I am an immigrant; I am a Buddhist.  When I said this at one of my gatherings, they said, “Yes, but are you gay? and I said, ‘Nobody’s perfect.’   Senator Mazie Hirono