Field Trip: Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, WI
While attending the Center the History of Print and Digital Culture conference I had a chance to do a little research at the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS).
The WHS has a great library (ceiling pictured above) and archives. I went to the archives and requested some collections on the Wisconsin 22nd Infantry, trying to find a little more on my ancestor Knud Knudson. All of the materials were handwritten (it was the 1860’s) and the organic ink was quite faded. I did find there was a Typhoid fever outbreak in December 1862 that put many men of the regiment in the hospital. Knud probably caught Typhoid fever and never really recovered until after his medical discharge in July 1863.
I also expanded my knowledge on zines and found out Barnard College has a zine library. Special Collections is also interested in collecting zines from local zine publishers. Please contact us if you are interested in donating your zine collection to us.
Grain Belt Beer sign at night, Nicollet Island, 1970s
An image from the Municipal Information Library slide collection which we are in the process of digitizing.
This sign was built in 1940 and faces downtown. It was lit until 1976 when Grain Belt Brewery was sold to G. Heileman Brewing Company. Convinced by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (Nicollet Island is in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District) and the Eastman family (that own the land the sign sits on) to renovate it and relight it, Heileman did so in 1989. The sign went dark again in 1991 when Grain Belt was sold to Minnesota Brewing Company (the maker of Pig’s Eye Pilsner). It was re-lit briefly in 1992 by Minnesota Brewing and stayed lit until 1996 when the financially strapped brewery could no longer afford the maintenance contract. When lit it contains 1,400 light bulbs and 800 feet of neon tubes. In 2010 a developer proposed converting the sign to LED lights and current Grain Belt owner August Schell Brewing was on board to contribute to the renovation but it did not go forward.
Jeannette Piccard, balloonist, Episcopal priest, 1895-1981
A recent episode of 60 Minutes chronicled the story of the Solar Impulse, the first solar powered airplane that could also fly at night. The driving force behind the airplane is Bertrand Piccard, grandson of pioneering balloonist, Auguste Piccard. Auguste’s twin brother Jean and sister-in-law Jeanette also were balloonists. Jean was a professor at the University of Chicago when he needed a pilot for a stratospheric flight. His wife Jeannette volunteered for the job and in 1934 she guided the balloon 57,579 feet above Lake Erie while Jean studied cosmic rays and other space mysteries. Jeannette held the altitude record for women until 1963 when Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova undertook an orbital space flight. Jeannette was considered a pioneer for women in the aerospace field and later served as a consultant to NASA.
The Piccards moved to Minneapolis in 1937 when Jean became a professor at the University of Minnesota. Jeannette earned a Master’s in chemistry from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Minnesota but since the age of 11 she had wanted to be a priest. She graduated in 1918 from Bryn Mawr college with a degree in philosophy which she hoped would prepare her for the priesthood. Fifty-six years later in 1974, Jeannette, along with 10 other women, were ordained priests in the Episcopal church. The ordination ceremony was controversial and the women were first considered “outlaws” by some until the ordinations were upheld in 1977. Jeanette continued to live in Minneapolis after her husband died in 1963 until her own death in 1981. Until she became ill with cancer, Piccard served as the associate pastor at St. Phillip’s church in St. Paul.
Women in the War Effort during WWII
We have a new display on World War II that focuses on women at home (canning, victory gardening) and at work (Rosie the Riveter, women in the military). It was created by our intern Lindsay Keating. This poster is from our Kittleson World War II Poster Collection.
This display showcases the way patriotism was promoted towards women in WWII propaganda posters. Women were either marketed to as homemakers or as possible replacement workers for men. The homemaker posters reinforced women’s traditional role as domestic homemaker and cook. The worker posters sought to pull women into manufacturing out of sheer need due to so many men being overseas. They appealed to women’s sense of civic duty. When women came to manufacturing jobs in droves, it proved that they were capable of much more than previously imagined.
"Anti-Blackout" Flying Suit, Munsingwear, 1945
Caption attached to photo from the Minneapolis Tribune:
THE ANTI-BLACKOUT FLYING SUIT is modeled here by Kenneth R. Larson (center), 5153 Thirtieth avenue S., Munsingwear industrial engineer, and Charles W. Pauly, 165 Peninsula road, Munsingwear mechanical engineer. At right, Frances Balck, 3028 Fremont avenue S., helps zip up the suit for Larson while Pauly “blows up” the gear.
Towards the end of World War II warplanes were getting fast enough to put significant g-forces on the pilots. G-suits like the one above would allow pilots to stay alert and conscious as the gravity forces would try to force the blood away from the pilot’s head during high-g maneuvers. The g-suit would put pressure on the legs and abdomen, restricting blood flow away from the brain and eliminating the possibility of the pilot “blacking out” during flight.
Honeywell Diamond Jubilee Game, 1960
For 2 dollars you could get yourself the Honeywell Diamond Jubilee Game in 1960. Game play follows the shape of an H and features a time line with Honeywell and American historical landmarks on most of the playing spaces. As Honeywell is part of the military-industrial complex, many of the dates highlighted on the timeline relate to U.S. military history and the Cold War.
Honeywell perfected its first thermostat in 1885. The pink spaces would highlight a “product first” and would allow a player to earn a diamond. The object of the game is to get the finish with three diamonds first.
Another product first - 1906 - clock thermostat (couldn’t have a programmable thermostat without this invention!).
Game play isn’t especially changing and not at all cerebral. The Honeywell Diamond Jubilee Game is governed by chance, not the choices a player makes. Unless you land on a “product first” or “direction block” space, you are just waiting for your next turn. If you do land on a “direction block” space you receive a “profit or loss” card. These cards may make you go back spaces, go forward spaces or even make you give your hard earned diamonds to someone else.
This is interesting to compare to the bookshelf games series that 3M produced around the same time period. The very excellent Acquire is probably the most enduring and asks much more of a player than the above Honeywell game does.
For the casual fan, the story of the Castaways begins in late 1965 when they broke out regionally, then nationally, and eventually internationally with their hit “Liar, Liar.” They played American Bandstand. They appeared in the movie It’s a Bikini World. For a brief time they, along with the Trashmen, were the most famous musicians in Minnesota.
But as Castaways co-songwriter and singer Jim Donna tells it, their story actually began in the early ’60s when the members of the band were still in high school. Donna still performs as the Castaways to this day (he’s the only founding member still in the group). He’ll bring his band to the Parkway Theater this Saturday night to relive those early days as part of a new series called “Return to Mr. Lucky’s,” which pays tribute to a once-popular teen venue on the corner of Nicollet Ave. and Lake St. in Minneapolis.
(text & image via Local Current Blog)
Mr. Lucky’s was located at 2935 Nicollet Avenue. In 1919 a brick and concrete garage was built at that address. It spent some time in the early 1930s as an indoor golf course but by 1933 it was converted into a dance hall.
For decades it was the Friendship Club -a dance club with over 10,000 members by 1951. It was open three nights a week: Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. It did not serve liquor, it served coffee, cookies and 3.2 beer. You also had to be 28 years old or older to be admitted. It was best known for its “Get Acquainted” dances:
"There are two of them during the evening. The dance lasts for about 20 minute, and stats out with a march which is flolwed by a waltz, a circle two-step and a Paul Jones. You start out with your own partner, Bob blows a whistle. That means all dancing stops for a second or two. The couples promenade in twos, fours, or sixes and then girls step back one partner. The new partners, greet each other, shake hands makes themselves acquainted and the dancing is resumed." - Cedric Adams, Minneapolis Tribune, October 22, 1939.
The Friendship Club closed in 1961. By 1963 Mr. Lucky’s had opened in the same building. It was replaced by Magoo’s restaurant in 1966. The building was torn down in 1977 to make way for the K-Mart parking lot.
Authors, Reenactor, Archivist and Historian Will Present ‘Minnesotans in the Civil War’ Series at Hennepin County Libraries Beginning Dec. 3
Minnesota was far from Civil War battlefields but Minnesotans played significant roles in the fight against the Confederate States’ secession and slavery. To educate area residents about American history on the 150th anniversary of the war, Hennepin County Library will present “Minnesotans in the Civil War,” a free program series, Dec. 3-Feb. 26 at eight libraries. Registration is required.
Programs are “Pale Horse at Plum Run,” “An Interactive Experience,” “Letters From Local Brothers,” and “General William LeDuc.” The programs are funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.