Special Collections Newsletter - Jan/Feb 2024

hennepin county library special collections

January/February 2024

Happy New Year! The Special Collections newsletter is moving to an every-other-month schedule. Check out what’s new and noteworthy this winter in Special Collections.

Upcoming events

Researching the History of Your Home

Image of homes in Minneapolis

Saturday, March 9, 1:30-3pm

Webber Park Library

Register online

Learn about the historical resources at the library 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 located in the city of Minneapolis, though some county-wide resources will be discussed.

This class will also be offered at Nokomis Library on April 13 and Hosmer Library on May 11.

Archiving Basics for Community Groups

Thursday, March 14, 5:30-7:30pm

Brookdale Library

Register online

Learn how to archive, organize, and preserve the records of your organization or group for the future. 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.


Meet Special Collections staff member Ted Hathaway

Portrait of Ted Hathaway

Ted has been the manager of Preservation, Special Collections, and Digitization at Hennepin County Library since 2011, but began working at the library in the 1980s. In addition to managing our team, he works on a wide variety of projects involving our physical and digital collections—and he supplies the donuts. Ted once worked as a carpenter and is frequently in the midst of a building project or renovation at home. His latest passion projects are making sourdough bread and aged cheeses and he's gotten pretty good! He’s happiest when he’s outside. Here’s Ted with one of his dogs, Button. More from Ted:

Q: What’s one of the most memorable or surprising things you’ve encountered while working in Special Collections?

 A: Memorable: The hard-working and highly talented staff I’ve been blessed with over the years. I’ve been very lucky. Surprising: The degree of independence I’ve enjoyed in running and changing the department.

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

 A: The Minneapolis Newspaper Photographs Collection. It’s an amazing collection of visual imagery, endlessly fascinating. Also a window on lost cultural values.

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

A: One of them: The Stone Arch Bridge. A brilliant idea to turn it into a pedestrian walkway. The bridge and the views are wonderful.

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

A: Currently reading Frank Dikötter’s series on Mao’s China. One of those instances where history can provide a corrective to current perspectives: Whatever we’re going through now looks like a picnic compared with life under Mao. Sometimes you need to read of such things to stop your whining.


New to the Digital Collections

Humans of Minneapolis Collection

Humans of Minneapolis

We’ve added over 700 photographs and over 80 audio recorded interviews of people in Minneapolis, taken by Stephanie Glaros for Humans of Minneapolis from 2010 to 2021 to our Digital Collections. 

Humans of Minneapolis was founded by Stephanie Glaros in 2013. In 2010, Glaros began talking with and photographing people she met on her daily walks in downtown Minneapolis. Inspired by Humans of New York, she founded Humans of Minneapolis as a nonprofit organization working to "bridge differences and encourage empathy through dialogue, storytelling, and community engagement." Glaros posted many of her photographs and brief interviews on her social media channels. She published a book, Humans of Minneapolis: Portraits and Interviews by Stephanie Glaros in 2017. Stephanie Glaros is a local Minneapolis artist, speaker, author and educator. Her work has been featured in many local publications and media outlets.

View the collection online.

Over 400 more audio recordings are only available for use in Special Collections. Contact us for access.


Hundred Flowers

Hundred Flowers

73 issues of Hundred Flowers, an underground newspaper published in Minneapolis from April 17, 1970 to April 4, 1972, have been added to the HCL Digital Collections. The weekly (later biweekly) tabloid was produced by a radical-left communal collective, led initially by activist and publisher Ed Felien. It blended antiwar activism and civil rights with hippie counterculture and featured special issues on topics like the Women's Liberation and Gay Liberation movements and the Black Panther Party.

View the collection online.


In the archives: New acquisitions

AAUW Minneapolis Chapter Records

In 1889, the first local branch of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, later the American Association of University Women, was founded. This collection of the local AAUW's organizational records includes directories, minutes, president's and historian's files, scrapbooks, photos, VHS tapes, CDs, audio cassettes, and digital board minutes documenting decades of activities.

Audubon School PTA Scrapbooks

Scrapbooks compiled by the Audubon School PTA in the 1950s and 1960s, containing documents, photographs, and clippings. Audubon School was renamed Lake Harriet Lower School in 2000. View finding aid.

Clinton Singers

Clinton School Mother Singers Scrapbook 

Scrapbook compiled by Anna Kranz which documents the Mother Singers choir at Clinton School from 1947 to 1953. Materials include photos, programs, newspaper clippings, promotional materials, name tags, and a record album. Clinton School was located at Clinton Ave. S and 28th St. E in Minneapolis’s Phillips West neighborhood. It closed in 1975.

Jordan Area Community Council Records (Accrual)

Minutes, reports, publications, financial records, subject files, and other administrative documents created or compiled by the Jordan Area Community Council from the 1980s to 2010s. The Jordan Neighborhood is located in North Minneapolis.

Northeast churches

Kendra Mack Photographs of Northeast Minneapolis Churches

136 digital photographs of churches in Northeast Minneapolis compiled for the 2008 publication "Churches of Northeast Minneapolis." Also includes lists noting church name, address, phone number, ministers, service times, website, brief history, email, congregation size, and information about attached buildings and services.


Search finding aids in the catalog

Screen shot of catalog result

You might come across new results in your www.hclib.org catalog searches—archival collections!

All 500+ processed archival collections housed in Special Collections are now included in the catalog. On the search results page, each collection has a link labelled "Archival Collection Information (Finding Aid)." Click here, or on the same link in the full catalog record, to learn more about what is included in each collection. If material from the archival collection is available in our Digital Collections, you’ll also see a link labelled "Hennepin County Library Digital Collections". Note that most of the time there are additional materials in the archival collections that have not been digitized.

Archival collections may be viewed in Special Collections during regular hours (Mon-Thurs, 9am - 4:30pm). No appointment necessary.


2023 by the numbers

Photo: Minneapolis Community Chest Women's Division Co-Chairmen examining charts

In 2023, more patrons returned to in-person research in Special Collections, with visit counts nearly double what they were in 2022.

Item usage of our Digital Collections increased by almost 20% to 475,210 – our highest annual total to date! The addition of the Park Board annual reports and proceedings helped make December the busiest month of the year (indeed, the busiest since May 2021).

The top 5 most heavily used digital collections were Yearbooks, WWII Posters, Maps, Newspaper Photos, and the City of Minneapolis Collection.

Use of our finding aids increased dramatically in 2023 – 48% for sessions (14,382) and 40% for users (11,170). We added 56 new archival collections throughout the year, 20 of which have already been processed, with another 14 in progress!

Many thanks to our 2023 project workers Adam, Emily, Hannah, Katie, Lauren, Michael, Mike, and Sara and to our dedicated volunteers Bill, Brian, Chuck, Dave, Jeff, Josephine, Karen, Rita, Steve, and Will.

Photo: Minneapolis Community Chest Women's Division Co-Chairmen, Helen Clifford and Renee Ross, examining charts mapping the progress of their campaign drive, 1946. From the Minneapolis Newspaper Photograph Collection.


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, 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. 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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