Special Collections Newsletter - November 2022

hennepin county library special collections

November 2022

Check out what is new and noteworthy this month in Special Collections.


Better browsing in the Digital Collections



We’re making updates to the language we use to describe material types in our Digital Collections. Instead of things being described as “Still Image” or “Text”, we’ve expanded the types to include Audio-Visual, Documents and Manuscripts, Graphics, Maps, Newspapers & Magazines, Photographs, Property Records, and Yearbooks. We hope this will improve your experience using filters in the Digital Collections to narrow down your search results. Email us with comments or feedback on this change.

Meet Special Collections Librarian Bailey Diers


Bailey has been a familiar face in Special Collections since 2011 when she began working part time in the department as a substitute librarian. She became the Special Collections Librarian in 2013. Her responsibilities include reference and information services, Digital Collections content creation and management, community outreach (including programs, exhibits and pop-up archives, and our blog), archival collection processing, and development of the Book Arts and Fine Press Collection. 

She holds degrees in Journalism and Art from the University of Minnesota and an MLIS from the University of British Columbia. On weekends you can find her exploring parks and libraries with her 2-year-old.

Q: What’s your favorite part about working with archives and local history?

A: I love learning about things through our patrons that I otherwise wouldn’t know or choose to research and connecting those bits from the past to the present. In a typical week I might help someone research the history of their house, then help someone find statistics on police personnel, then 19th century brothels, then early 20th century hat shops, then sewer systems, then Native education in Minneapolis. It’s especially satisfying to help someone find an answer to something they’ve been wondering for a long time.

Q: What’s the most memorable or unusual reference request you’ve received?

A: I’ve gotten a surprising number of requests from people looking for the name of the ghost that haunts their house. Interestingly, in most cases I’ve been able to find an obituary for someone who died in the home. In one instance a woman was murdered in the house!

Q: What is your favorite place or building in Minneapolis?

A: My favorite outdoor place is the Mississippi River Gorge. Biking West River Road between Bridge No. 9 and the Ford Bridge is gorgeous any time of year. My favorite indoor place is the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Thousands of years of art and history, free for everyone. I could sit in the room of portraits from the Myron Kunin Collection for hours.

Q: What is your favorite collection in the HCL Digital Collections?

A: I love the artwork in the Mary Moulton Cheney Collection, especially the bookplates (pictured). And the Joseph Quigley aerial photos in the Minneapolis Public School Collection are amazing.


New in the Digital Collections


Minneapolis Fires Department Photographs

Over 450 photographs of fires in Minneapolis, Fire Department personnel and equipment, Fire Department safety demonstrations, and participants in the "Miss Flame" pageant. The collection was donated by the Fire Department in the 1950s and 1960s. You can also find over a thousand images of fire and Fire Department related images in our other digital collections.

1980 Minnesota Heritage Preservation Photographic Study

We reported in our May newsletter about a mysterious collection we received from the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) that concerned a 1980 photographic survey of buildings in Minneapolis. Late last winter, MNHS staff transferred a binder of some 2200 35mm black and white negatives along with some documentation suggesting this survey actually produced as many as 160,000 photographic images! We have been completely unable to locate the missing images or even establish that this number was accurate. However, we went to work digitizing the images we had. With minimal information accompanying the negatives, our excellent project worker Abbey Hemken was able to identify over 80% of the images. These 1,845 images are now in our Digital Collections. The collection includes photos of many churches, schools, office buildings and hundreds of houses all around the city over 40 years ago.

In the Archives: New Finding Aids


Lowry Hill Residents, Inc. Records 

Lowry Hill Residents, Inc. (LHRI) records contain general and board of directors meeting minutes, notes, memos, fliers, membership information, administrative and financial documents, correspondence, project and subject files, print photographs, and publications created or compiled by the LHRI. Legal proceedings, court documents, inspection reports, building plans, zoning proposals, and property advocacy are separated by specific addresses and dates.

View finding aid online

From the Blog


Payne Calhoun’s Wrongful Discharge 

When Payne Calhoun was hired in 1944, he was the Minneapolis Fire Department’s only Black firefighter. But he was fired on October 1, 1944, soon after he was hired, for wearing a blue rather than gray shirt to a fire call. It would be 28 years before another Black firefighter would be hired by the Minneapolis Fire Department.

Read more of the story on our blog.

In-person and Remote Research


Special Collections is open Monday through Thursday 9am-4:30pm. Appointments are not necessary, but you do need to call Special Collections or check-in at the 4th floor reference desk upon arrival for department access. You can speed up your visit by requesting materials be pulled in advance.

Don’t forget, even though Special Collections is now open, we can still help you with your research needs remotely. Email specialcoll@hclib.org or call 612-543-8200.

Phone photo: Students work on a telephone project at Lind Elementary School. Photo from the Minneapolis Newspaper Photographs Collection.

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