Special Collections Newsletter - December 2023

hennepin county library special collections

December 2023

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

New Additions to the Digital Collections

Minneapolis Neighborhood Association Photographs

Minneapolis Neighborhood Association Photographs

Special Collections project worker Mike Hajostek has digitized over 4,000 photographs selected from the collections of the Whitter Alliance, Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc., Lowry Hill Residents, Inc., Cedar Lake Park Association, Seward Neighborhood Group, and Southeast Community Publications

Photographs include people, houses, buildings, events, and changes to these neighborhoods, mainly from the 1970s to the 2000s.

But don’t forget, you’ll find neighborhood photos in all our collections! Browse the Digital Collections by Minneapolis neighborhood or suburb.

MPRB Proceedings

Special Collections is the official home of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Records. Most materials in this collection are organized by committee and can be located through references in the published Board Proceedings, which are now digitized and fully searchable in our Digital Collections. The Index to Parks and Parkways, organized alphabetically by park name, is a useful tool for navigating the proceedings, but the proceedings can also be searched by keyword (such as park name, park commissioner, or topic—like playgrounds, wading pools, sports)

Library Videos

Videos of library buildings, library events, and programs produced by the library for local television in the 1980s and 1990s. Browse them here. These join other library videos already in our Digital Collections, including All About Kids!

All About Kids! YouTube collection

Meet Special Collections staff member Emily Denny

Special Collections staff member Emily Denny

Emily began working in Special Collections in July 2023, processing the Hennepin County Communication and Engagement Services (CES) Records. The collection includes primarily photographs, newsletters, video recordings, and news releases from the 1970s-early 2000s on subjects related to the people, departments, and functions of the county. Emily has previously worked only in small archives. Her hobbies include knitting, reading, and running. She speaks two foreign languages (poorly, she says), has taught English in Japan, and was a lighting designer for a burlesque/circus theater! Emily has six cats (not all in the same house) and volunteers at a lighthouse in the Apostle Islands for a whole month every year.

Here’s more from Emily:

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

A: Did you know the Merriam Street bridge on Nicollet island used to be a strut in the old Broadway street bridge? When they replaced the old Broadway bridge they just floated one part of it down river in 1986 to be the Merriam street bridge. I love learning the stories behind things that I pass by every day, without having previously noticed or questioned them. It encourages me to notice more things in my daily life, and be more present and curious. I'm also obsessed with seeing the amazing changes in workwear fashion over the years.

Q: What’s a favorite project you’ve worked on in any library or archive?

A: Reorganizing the Sisters of St. Joseph records from the 1960s, when the Sisters were expanding their social work and exploring and experimenting with new methods of governance and progression. Watching a group of passionate, talented people move from habits and formal social work into dozens of personally-inspired working groups and radical social justice efforts was inspiring to me. You could really see personal mission and belief connecting with community, right there on the pages of meeting minutes.

Q: Favorite place or building in Minneapolis or Hennepin County?

A: Inside the Clock Tower archives [at Minneapolis City Hall], of course! I'm also a big fan of the front steps of the Institute of Art. They're just so fancy.

Q: Book you’re currently reading or favorite book of all time?

A: My most beloved books are Pride and Prejudice, the Mary Russell series, and the Locked Tomb series. (I'm a librarian -- you can't seriously expect me to pick just one)

In the Archives: New Acquisitions

Minneapolis Symphony Programs of Concerts Outside Minnesota

Programs from Symphony concerts performed outside of Minnesota, 1907-1914. Most concerts were held in the Midwest, but Carnegie Hall concerts are also included. The programs have been added to our collection on the Minnesota Orchestra.

View finding aid

Programs from Symphony concerts performed outside of Minnesota, 1907-1914

Whittier Alliance Records (2023 Accrual)

CDs and DVDs containing Whittier Alliance Records, 2005-2015. Media may contain photos, audio, video, and documents. These records will eventually be added to our existing Whittier Alliance Records.

View finding aid for existing collection

Exhibits on View

Remembering Jody Williams' (1956-2023) books on display at Minneapolis Central Library

Remembering Jody Williams (1956-2023)

In August, I met with Minneapolis book artist Jody Williams. We gossiped about other artists, talked about tiny things, and she shared stories about her life-long love of books and her chaotic 1960s childhood, growing up near Chicago with five siblings. But the real reason she was visiting was to sell old work from her archive. I’ve been buying Jody’s work for the Hennepin County Library’s Book Arts and Fine Press Collection for over a decade, but didn’t have any of her early work and wanted to better document her legacy as a book artist. She brought with her nearly all of her books—work spanning over thirty years as a book artist—and it all fit in just one box. Jody’s work is tiny.

She had the first editioned artists’ book she ever made, her first book housed in a box, her first book under the name Flying Paper Press, her first book printed in her own studio, a book about phobias, an alphabet bestiary jack-in-the-box, books which melded her training in printmaking and metalworking, and her semi-annual periodical devoted to tiny things, among others. What they all had in common was their diminutive size, Jody-designed font, and impeccable precision. We now have 20 of Jody Williams’ books in our collection.

Jody died on October 17, 2023, after a long battle with cancer. She will be missed and will be remembered fondly for her contributions to book and printing arts in the Twin Cities.

Many of Jody’s books will be on display at Minneapolis Central Library, on the first floor, starting in mid-December through February 2024.

Other Special Collections exhibits in our libraries in December

  • Lake Names: A Brief History of Water Names in Minneapolis (Linden Hills Library)
  • The Golden Age of Department Stores in Downtown Minneapolis (Nokomis Library)
  • Black Twin Cities (Golden Valley Library)
  • Then and Now, A Look at Local LGBTQ+ History and Our Community Today (Eden Prairie Library and Webber Park Library)
Then and Now, A Look at Local LGBTQ+ History and Our Community Today (Eden Prairie Library and Webber Park Library)

From the Blog

1970s HCL graphic


Welcome to Hennepin County Library, where insurance, electricity, football, and antiques are top of mind! *wink*

This 1970s graphic covers one side of a large mailing envelope and was found in the Hennepin County Library Communications Records. This collection contains brochures, booklists, flyers, reports, posters, strategic plans, event and program calendars and other publicity documents from the library’s Communications Department, from 1952-2022. The purpose of the envelope is unknown, as is the designer “SJ.”

Schedule a Group Tour

Group of people on a Special Collections Tour at Minneapolis Central Library

Are you part of a group that may be interested in a “behind the scenes” tour of Special Collections? Tours are available for groups of up to 20 and cover all parts of the Special Collections department including the archives, rare book collections, and digitization. Tours can also be tailored to specific interests. Email specialcoll@hclib.org to request a tour.

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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