Tag Archives: Eugene McCarthy

Exhibits and programs showcase archival treasures

Each of the letters, photos, tools, recordings, clippings, including that protest placard, has a life and a story. Those stories are shared because of the talent and vision of archivists who understand and convey the context that instills meaning. So perhaps the most meaningful way to commemorate National Archives Month 2016 is to highlight events that unlock the digital treasures.

This is a totally random sample, intended to give a sense of the diversity, the depth, and the unique character of just a few of the hundreds of archives in this region’s historical societies, corporations, colleges, religious institutions and special libraries.

These programs shine the light on what’s on those shelves and in those files. Some samples:

  • The archives of the St Paul Cathedral, including images tracing the 175 years of parish history beginning with the early French Canadian settlers who helped build their first chapel, are on exhibit now at the Cathedral.   Visitors will find photos from the Cathedral School, which operated as the parish school from 1851 to 1977. Exhibits are on display on the lower level of the Cathedral through December 31. Free and open. cathedralsaintpaul.org or 651 228 1766.
  • Stories of Minnesotans’ role in the Civil Rights Movement a half century ago are told through the Selma 70 Exhibition now on display at the Ramsey County Exhibit Gallery in the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul.   The narrative is told through historical photos, documents and stories from the original Freedom March. Free and open through January 30. (http://www.rchs.com/event/selma-70-exhibitions/)
  • “Mansion in Mourning” is the intriguing title of the current exhibit at the American Swedish Institute. The exhibit includes personal memorial hair jewelry and wreaths to widow’s weeds, death masks, painting, books and other forms of memento mori. The exhibit emphasizes the objects, clothing, relics, and icons that draw connections between the living and the departed. ((http://www.asimn.org/exhibitions-collections/exhibitions/mansion-mourning)
  • As we flounder in the politics of the season, the ongoing exhibit at the James J. Hill House will conjure reflections on the role of Minnesotan Eugene McCarthy and the 1968 Presidential Election. The exhibit includes campaign literature, editorial cartoons, photographs and materials from his personal papers. It’s open Saturday, October 15, through January 22, 1917, at the James J. Hill House, 240 Summit Avenue, St. Paul. http://www.mnhs.org/event/2106
  • Friends of the Libraries, University of Minnesota   (http://www.continuum.umn.edu/friends/#.V_kzs1edeJW) is sponsoring the First Fridays Series during and post-National Archives Month – the series boasts the delightful title, “Down the Archival Rabbit Hole…and what we found there.”
  • U of M Libraries will also sponsor a program on “Telling Queer History” on Sunday, October 9, 2:00 -4:00 p.m. at the Elmer L. Andersen Library, Room 120. One of the speakers is Andrea Jenkins who leads the U of M Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies’ Transgender Oral History Project.
  • The Magrath Library on the U of M St. Paul Campus is home to the Doris S. Kirschner Cookbook Collection. Beth Dooley and J. Ryan Stradal will share the story of the collection in a presentation entitled “Farm Fields, Gardens, Kitchens, and Libraries of the Great Midwest.” This is the Third Kirschner Lecture sponsored by the Friends of the U of M Libraries. It’s Thursday, December 1, 7:00 p.m. in the Cowles Auditorium, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the West Bank. Free and open, reservation requested to the Friends of the U of M Libraries.’

Like politics, most history is local. Archives can be most meaningful when they shape the world from the local perspective. Fortunately, archivists, working with local historians, families, genealogists, artists, writers and storytellers, keep the stories alive.

Local history centers preserve the records; they also create exhibits and delightful programs that celebrate the unique story or special feature of the town, county, region, industry or oddity  (consider the famed Ball of Twine in Darwin.) To learn more about local history organizations check out MHS local history services. http://www.mnhs.org/localhistory/mho/

There are at least 10,000 reasons and ways to put a Minnesota spin on National Archives Month!

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Northern Lights & Insights: Conversations Come Alive as Videotaped Interviews Go Digital

Obsolescence never meant the end of anything, it’s just the beginning.

The words of Marshall McLuhan, guru of an earlier time, came to mind when I learned that Northern Lights and Insights, a library of videos produced in an earlier time, has been added to Minnesota Reflections, the Minnesota Digital Library collection. http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/search/collection/p16022coll38

Conversations with Minnesota writers, political leaders, publishers, athletes, activists and more are now accessible to researchers, readers, students and Minnesotans who just want to know more about their heritage. There are interviews with Bill Holm, Carol Bly, with Evelyn Fairbanks, resident historian of the Rondo neighborhood, and with Genny Zak Kieley, chronicler of all things Northeast Minneapolis. Patrick Coleman chats with Governor Elmer L. Andersen while Freya and Frederick Manfred interview each other. Jon Hassler enjoys a lively exchange with J.F. Powers. Preserved in digital format are conversations with Will Weaver, Kay Sexton, Julie Schumacher, William Kent Krueger, Anne Bancroft and Eugene McCarthy – plus dozens of other Minnesotans of today and yesterday.

The saga of Northern Lights and Insights is long and occasionally bumpy, marked by changes in technology and provenance of the project. Begun by cable advocate and pioneer Dave Carlson, then on staff at Hennepin County Library, NL was originally taped in the well-equipped studios of the HCL; tapes were distributed and cablecast on local systems throughout the County and on the Metro Cable Network, the regional system carried on all metro area cable systems.

When HCL discontinued cable production, NL was adopted by Metronet/Minnesota Center for the Book where Dave Carlson joined the staff and continued to produce episodes into the early 21st Century.   Lacking production facilities, Dave and his equipment went on location, met interviewees in their homes or offices, or found a quiet after-hours interlude to record in the Metronet office. In the late 1990’s the Legislature funded a program to distribute videotapes of selected interviews through the state’s regional public library systems.

Enter the digital age… Video formats were rendered obsolete, production and playback equipment languished, and Northern Lights video interviews were yesterday’s news.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota History Center retained its archival collection of the irreplaceable tapes. Tapes were cataloged, annotated and made accessible to users who still had video equipment in working order… It is the tapes from the Minnesota History Center collection that have now been digitized and made accessible through the Minnesota Digital Library.  

And it is through the diligence and generosity of a committed chain of willing interviewees and interviewers, producers, sponsors, funders and archivists that the taped conversations have stood the test of time.

Thought for a perfect winter afternoon:  Reserve time to browse the collection from the comfort of a favorite armchair, read the annotations, remember the personalities of the interviewers and the interviewees and the accomplishments of both. Slow down to appreciate the legacy captured in the conversations.  Then select one or two of the interviews, sit back, click on the “view” icon, remember, reflect and make a plan to read or  re-read the work of a favorite writer.