Special Collections Newsletter - March 2023

hennepin county library special collections

March 2023

Check out what’s new and noteworthy this month in Special Collections!

Curious Minnesota

Riverside Plaza (Cedar Square West)

The “Curious Minnesota” column in the Sunday Star Tribune is a popular regular feature of the newspaper in which reporters attempt to answer readers’ questions on what happened to something or why things are the way they are. Reporters frequently tap into our resources for information on these topics, sometimes speaking directly to staff, other times drawing from our Digital Collections. The past month has been a particularly busy time with no less than four of the columns using images and other resources from our collections: The story behind back-of-lot homesWhat Happened to the Weatherball?, The Cedar Square West development, and Minnesota Senator Ernest Lundeen’s Nazi leanings. The Star Tribune uses our images at no cost. We do not license or charge for the use of any of our content for anyone, we just ask for credit. Be sure to look at the credit line in future “Curious Minnesota” columns!

Upcoming Events

Archival box with files, papers, and photographs


Archiving Basics for Community Groups – Learn how to archive, organize, and preserve the records of your organization or group for the future. Led by our archivist, Jenna, this class is designed for staff and volunteers from any type of community group and anyone who has an interest in preserving local history. Leave class knowing how to store and preserve documents, photos, digital files, recordings, and more, and be prepared to organize your group's history.

Thursday, March 16, 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Washburn Library (Register online)

Researching the History of Your Home – Learn about the historical resources at the library and across the county that will help you piece together a history of your Minneapolis house, neighborhood or property. We’ll explain and demonstrate resources, emphasizing online resources in the Digital Collections that will allow you to jump-start your research from home – including permit records, maps, city directories, photos and more. This class is best suited for researching properties in the city of Minneapolis, though some resources will be countywide.

Register online for one of the following sessions:

Saturday, April 1, 10-11:30 a.m. – Pierre Bottineau Library

Saturday, April 29, 10-11:30 a.m. – Washburn Library

Meet Special Collections staff member Hannah Callahan

Hannah Callahan

Hannah started working in Special Collections in January of this year, processing a large collection from the Hennepin County Communication and Engagement Services Department. The bulk of the collection is photographs and so far Hannah has mainly encountered photos from the 1980s and 90s, ranging from staff portraits and county board activities to community events, like the Minnesota Twins 1987 World Series victory parade. Hannah was inspired to pursue a master’s in library science after working for a rare book dealer in North Carolina in 2014. She’s been involved with rare books and special collections in some form ever since. Hannah grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and moved to Minneapolis for a job in 2018. She likes to roller skate and watch movies, and she has an adorable little rescue dog named Joni (pictured on a joy ride). Here’s more from Hannah:

Q: Have you found anything weird, unusual, or especially interesting in the CES collection?

A: Recently I came across some photographs showing construction of a stage in the Armory for the filming of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” music video. At the time, this was “the largest video shoot ever done in the Twin Cities outside of Prince’s world” (from the Star Tribune, May 5, 1995). Yesterday, something else was the most interesting, tomorrow it will be something new, I’m sure.

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

A: I love getting to delve deeply into subjects I might otherwise never learn about. In my last position, I worked with a collection of early and rare children’s books. As a result, I learned a lot about the Western printing and publishing industries of the 18th and 19th century, and the evolution of children’s literature—subjects I previously knew almost nothing about. With the CES collection, I am learning a lot about our local government and administration from a very lively time in Hennepin County, and I’m enjoying getting to know that history through this collection.

Q: What archival format do you prefer working with (paper, film, photos, etc.) and why?

A: I’m really enjoying this current foray into photographs, but books are my true love. Rare and antiquarian books, as objects, can tell many stories simultaneously. You can learn about the historical bookbinding and printing methods of when and where a book was made, about readers who may have left marks in or altered the books in some way, and about works that were once popular and are now scarce. And that’s all to say nothing of the content! In my nearly 10 years of working with rare books, I have never found them boring.

Q: What book are you currently reading or what’s your favorite book of all time?

A: One of my very favorite books is Dracula by Bram Stoker. It’s a classic horror novel, but I think it’s also a wonderful story about reading, documenting, and being good archivists. There’s too much to say about that for the newsletter, but I am truly always happy to talk about (and recommend) Dracula.

In the Archives: New Finding Aids

Hennepin County Library advertisement


Hennepin County Library Administrative Subject Files – Forty boxes of memoranda, budgets, policy proposals and reviews, building information, program and event files, correspondence, evaluations, workshop materials, legal opinions, and other administrative records created and compiled by Hennepin County Library administration from 1922 to 2010. The bulk of the collection is from 1970s-1990s. View finding aid.

Weiming Lu Papers – Writings, planning documents, and 35mm slides from Weiming Lu's work in the Minneapolis City Planning Department during the 1960s and 1970s. The bulk of the collection is draft articles reflecting on the Metro Center '85 project. Weiming Lu was chief of urban design for the Minneapolis City Planning Department for 12 years, ending in 1971. View finding aid.

Exhibits on View

Collection of artists' books

Bound/Unbound Pierre Bottineau Library, February 10 – April 1, 2023

View a selection of artists’ books by local artists from our Book Arts and Fine Press Collection. Artists’ books are works of art that utilize the form of the book. They may be hand-crafted, fine press printed, or computer generated and can be any size, shape, or structure. Forms may include the traditional codex (bound pages between two covers), scrolls, fold-outs, concertinas (accordion fold), or even loose items contained in a box. Many artists’ books challenge the conventional “book” format, becoming sculptural objects.

More opportunities to see Special Collections materials:

From the Blog

African American Cultural Center newsletter


African American Cultural Center Newsletters – Founded at Sabathani Community Center in 1970, the African American Cultural Center was an important cultural institution in South Minneapolis. The Center hosted art exhibitions and history exhibits celebrating Black artists, pioneers, and visionaries. Starting in 1977, the Center published a monthly newsletter. In addition to highlighting events at the Center, the newsletter included editorials, original artwork, mention of other events around town, and a host of additional content. An incomplete set of these newsletters from 1977 to 1980 is available in Special Collections.

Contact Us

Special Collections vault

James K. Hosmer Special Collections

Hennepin County Library
Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Hours: Monday - Thursday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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. Photocopier and scanners are available. Please bring a flash drive to store your scanned images.

Photo: Inside the climate-controlled Special Collections vault, where rare books, negatives, and AV material is stored.

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