Tag Archives: Minnesota Newspaper Museum

Minnesota Newspaper Museum shares story of a proud legacy

Journalism is what we need to make democracy work. Walter Cronkite

One way to commemorate National Newspaper Week 2017 is to stress about the decline of print, the intrusion of corporate interests, robots, the proliferation of alternative facts and the perils of weaponized information.

Another way is to go back to the roots, to explore the ways in which freedom of the press lives in the minds and hearts of Americans.  Belief in the right and power of the press is embedded in the Constitution.

The history of the role of the press begins with the ways in which, since the founding of the nation, the news has been shaped and shared by newspapers.  Journalists gathered and wrote the news – newspapers delivered it.  At times this was, and remains, the work of one devoted individual or family.

To understand the history of the ways in which newspapers functioned in earlier times, there is no better place to learn than at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum at the Minnesota State Fair.  Now in its 30th year, the Museum, now located at 1416 Cosgrove Street (street level of the 4-H Building) is a beehive of letterpress equipment operated by volunteers knowledgeable and eager to share digital age visitors with the basics of setting the type that tells the story.

Back in the day, the Minnesota Newspaper Museum received Legacy Grant support to create a videotape record of the Museum, then in a different site on the Fairgrounds. It’s a bit dated, with an emphasis on production, the video tells the story of the commitment to a free press and the role of every link along the information chain that continues to link publishers to readers. http://legacy.mnhs.org/projects/904

Since 1987 the Minnesota Newspaper Museum, sponsored by the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation and staffed by a host of volunteers and Friends, has been one my favorite and most frequently visited exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair.  Several years ago I delved a bit into the history of the Museum, reflected in a post that tells more history, including the story of The Maynard News, a State Fair special edition (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/maynard-mn/)

Years later I continue to marvel at the power that lies behind those cumbersome machines and in the hands of those press operators. The posters and flyers that proliferate at the exhibit tell the backstory of the journalists who pursued and shared the facts because they believed that words matter and that the strength of the democracy is the responsibility of the informed electorate who receive and act on the print words conveyed by the newspaper.

The Minnesota Newspaper Museum at 30 makes a powerful statement and a chance for Fair visitors to learn and think about the rich legacy of the press in Minnesota.  Here’s the official Fair guide description of the 2017 Newspaper Museum

A newspaper living-history exhibit with demonstrations of the Linotype and Miehle printing press. See how type is set for the newspaper “The Maynard News.” The lead to set type is heated to 550 degrees and creates one “line-of-type” at a time. This Miehle Printing Press prints newspaper pages, one side of one sheet with each revolution. To print the other side of the page, the operator must turn the pages over and print on the back side of each sheet. Demonstrations begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Operated by the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation.

Location: State Fair Buildings -> 4-H Building
Date: Sun, Aug 27
Time: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm 
On the map: View on the State Fair Map

And here’s how Facebook captured the response of Fair goers who followed those clear directions at this year’s Great Minnesota Get-together. https://www.facebook.com/TheMaynardNews/ It goes without saying that every visitor learned about letter press publishing – and about the legacy of a free press is Minnesota.

Journalism can never be silent: That is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.— Henry Anatole Grunwal

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Presses Keep on Rolling at the Great Minnesota Get Together

Photo of a man at a large printing press

Geezers and geeks alike have a chance to capture the sounds, the smells and the stories of Minnesota’s newspapers at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum.  You’ll experience the process of mid-1930’s era news production when Linotype, letterpresses, and a maze of mechanical and manual tools kept Minnesotans up to speed on everything from the weather and the economy to matters closer to home, including weddings, funerals, births and out-of-town visitors.  Scores of volunteers, including many retired newspaper men and women, are more than pleased to demonstrate, explain and even share hot off the press souvenirs with all comers – especially the young who’ve never seen a working letterpress or elders who stop to reflect on the influence of Minnesota’s vital newspaper industry in their lives.

The Minnesota Newspaper Museum, opened in 1985, reflects the commitment of newspaper leaders to their profession.  Earlier this summer past presidents of the Minnesota Newspaper Association pooled their resources, including their normal mileage and pre-diem allowances, to make a generous contribution to the Museum.  Their largesse echoes the spirit of Bernie Shelrud, publisher of the Maynard News, who kick-started the Museum;  in 1984 Selrud sold his letterpress shop and all of the equipment so Minnesota State Fair-goers could remember and learn about hand set lead type and the mechanics of getting the news readers to throughout the state.

This year the story of the Museum and the work of letterpress printers are part of a film being produced with Legacy funds.

Stroll through Heritage Square to the far end where you’ll be treated to a lively learning experience, a great chat with a printing pro, a copy of the day’s newspaper produced right before your very eyes on a letter press that rolls 9-8 every day of the Fair.  Free and open to all, whether you can still smell the ink of the morning’s paper or whether you depend on Twitter for the news that matters.