Minnesota Historical Society has an amazing number of items!

The Minnesota Historical was founded in 1849. I have remembered that for many years. I wanted to share some statistics about all that it holds. I found some older statistics and then the most recent ones I could find were on Wikipedia:

“MNHS holds a collection of nearly 550,000 books, 37,000 maps, 250,000 photographs, 225,000 historical artifacts,[2] 950,000 archaeological items,[3] 38,000 cubic feet (1,100 m3) of manuscripts,[4] 45,000 cubic feet (1,300 m3) of government records, 5,500 paintings, prints and drawings; and 1,300 moving image items.” The footnote numbers refer to sources listed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Historical_Society.

I have been researching at MHS for 30+ years and have been a member for that long, too. Even in that long a time, I don’t think I’ve made a real dent in the 38,000 cubic feet of manuscripts, 550,000 books, or the 45,000 cubic feet of government records. Those numbers have routinely changed as material is donated by individuals, organizations, and businesses. The government records number changes as counties and state agencies deposit more records at MNHS. I didn’t see a number for the reels of microfilm or the number of microfiche. I have viewed exhibits, gone on behind-the-scenes tours, and participated in events. It’s all amazing.

Part of the reason for writing all this is that I urge members to keep up with a paid membership, donate funds to keep the materials safe, the building taken care of, and be ready at some point to reopen. Like so many individuals and families, MNHS has lost a lot of income during the Pandemic. Weddings, meetings, concerts, sponsorships of events and exhibits, and other items usually found on the MNHS calendar have not brought in the usual income. The same holds true of the various MNHS sites around the state and all the gift shops at these.

I have a long list of things to check for myself and for research clients when it reopens and I feel it’s wise to venture out. While we all wait for all of MNHS to reopen, why not do some reading on MNopedia, an encyclopedia of Minnesota. Visit the MNHS website and click on the Explore tab for this. While on the website, look at all the information under each of the tabs on the main page. Read some back issues of Minnesota History magazine, explore the history of the historic sites around the state (for next year’s vacation), check for ancestors in Minnesota People Records, find photos of an ancestral hometown, or maybe a photo of a relative.

© 2020, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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3 comments on “Minnesota Historical Society has an amazing number of items!

  1. I need to check out some things there. How does their online catalog work? Are there researchers available for looking up things?

    1. Hi Sue,

      The catalog is only one part of the search for items at MHS. The Minnesota People Search is another, the various finding aids is one, and I often just do a search using the search box at the top of the main page for names and places. The catalog includes books, manuscripts, county and state government records and more. For info on what you can obtain during this time period, I see that the Research Services page has been updated. http://sites.mnhs.org/library/researchservices.

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