The Minnesota Commission of Public Safety (MCPS) was a watchdog group created in 1917. Its purpose was to mobilize the state's resources during World War I. During a two-year reign they enacted policies intended to protect the state from foreign threats. They also used broad political power and a sweeping definition of disloyalty to thwart those who disagreed with them.
When James C. Burbank began his transportation business in 1851, it was a one-man operation. By 1859, Burbank's Minnesota Stage Company controlled all the major stagecoach lines in the state. In the years before railroads linked Minnesota, the Minnesota Stage Company played a crucial role in shaping the commercial and social life of the young state.
The Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children operated from 1886 to 1947. The campus is one of the most intact examples of a state cottage school standing in the United States, and is significant on a national level.
In 1906, construction began for the Minnesota State Sanatorium for Consumptives, or Ah-Gwah-Ching, about three miles south of Walker in Cass County. Overlooking Shingobee Bay on the south shore of Leech Lake, the hospital evolved into a massive complex of distinctive buildings.
Minnesota State University, Mankato was founded as Minnesota's second normal school in 1868. It went through phases as a normal school, teachers college, college, and university. By 2011 it was one of Minnesota's largest and most comprehensive universities.
From 1881 to 1920, the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) struggled to secure women's right to vote. Its members organized marches, wrote petitions and letters, gathered signatures, gave speeches, and published pamphlets and broadsheets to force the Minnesota legislature to recognize their right to vote. Due to their efforts, the Minnesota Legislature approved the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919.
By 1880, Goodhue County held within its borders four significant Euro-American immigrant enclaves: Minnesota's largest group of Swedish settlers and the second largest assembly of Norwegians, as well as one of the most densely populated German tracts. There was also an Irish colony at the county's center. The settling of Goodhue County serves as a case study of the state's early immigration patterns.
In 1962 and 1963, industrial accidents spilled 3.5 million gallons of oil into the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. The oil covered the Mississippi River from St. Paul to Lake Pepin, creating an ecological disaster and a demand to control water pollution.
Before World War II, operating streetcars was considered a man’s job. A 1916 Twin City Rapid Transit (TCRT) report shows sixty-eight female employees out of a workforce of 4,300, and those few were telephone operators and clerical office workers.
In 1856, eight German-Jewish families in St. Paul founded the first Jewish congregation in Minnesota. It was called Mount Zion Hebrew Association. In 2012, Mount Zion Temple had 1,000 members. The synagogue building on Summit Avenue in St. Paul was designed by internationally recognized architect Erich Mendelsohn.
When George D. Munsing came to Minnesota in 1886 to produce a new line of woolen union suits, he founded an underwear empire. From long johns to girdles, the Minnesota company urged generations of consumers, "don't say Underwear, say Munsingwear."
Divorce in Minnesota's nineteenth century Norwegian-Lutheran community was a rarity. Legal separation between a leading pastor and his wife was unheard of. But an 1879 court case in Holden Township led to both those outcomes, and triggered a public debate about married women's legal rights.
Ruth A. Myers was known as the “grandmother of American Indian Education in Minnesota.” A persistent voice for American Indian children and their families, Myers focused on education policy. She focused on learning opportunities for American Indian children. She also worked for curriculum and resource materials that reflected the American Indian history and culture for all Minnesota learners.
In July 1902 St. Paul hosted the most important African-American political event of the year: the annual meeting of the National Afro-American Council (NAAC). St. Paul lawyer Fredrick McGhee organized it and hoped that it would produce a more united and effective national civil rights organization. The opposite occurred.
Following the death of her husband and their only child, Julia Bullard Nelson of Red Wing, Minnesota bravely headed south to Texas in 1869 to teach former slaves in U.S. government-backed Freedmen's Bureau schools. Nelson spent the summers of the 1870s and 1880s in Minnesota, where she emerged as a state and national leader in the movement for women's suffrage and the temperance campaign against alcohol use.
Norwegian immigrant Knute Nelson served state and country throughout his life, first as a soldier and a lawyer, then as a legislator and the twelfth governor of Minnesota. He was the state's first foreign-born governor.
The Ninth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment played an important role in defending its home state as well as in operations in the South. Its three years of service for the Union culminated in the Battle of Nashville, a battle in which its members fought side by side with men from three other Minnesota regiments.
Eric Norelius traveled to the Minnesota territorial town of Red Wing in 1855. He planned to meet with groups of immigrant Swedes looking for a Lutheran minister to lead them. The twenty-one year-old churchman thus began a six-decade ministry that served the state's Swedish Lutheran population.
General Lauris Norstad helped engineer World War II victories for American air forces in Africa, Europe and Asia from 1942 to 1945. As Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 1956 to 1963, he faced an even more dangerous challenge—the very real threat of nuclear holocaust.
With its lavishly illustrated seed catalogs and store displays, Northrup, King and Company became a household name at the turn of the twentieth century. The company sold hardy, Northern-grown garden seed before expanding into Northern field seed and plant hybrids.
The O'Connor layover agreement was instituted by John O'Connor shortly after his promotion from St. Paul Detective to Chief of Police on June 1, 1900. It allowed criminals to stay in the city under three conditions: that they checked-in with police upon their arrival; agreed to pay bribes to city officials; and committed no major crimes in the city of St. Paul. This arrangement lasted for almost forty years, ending when rampant corruption forced crusading local citizens and the federal government to step in.
As Minnesota's first Farmer-Labor Party governor, Floyd B. Olson pursued an activist agenda aimed at easing the impact of the Great Depression. During his six years in office, from 1931 to 1936, he became a hero to the state's working people for strongly defending their economic interests.
Built in 1867, the Chubb House is the oldest residence standing in Fairmont, and the only of the town's houses known to have been built with brick from Fairmont's first brickyard. It was the home of prominent homesteader Orville Chubb, who was the community's first physician. The house is an example of a property associated with the early Yankee American development of southern Minnesota town sites.
Expert Essay: Thomas D. Peacock, member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and author of many books and articles on Ojibwe history and culture, reflects on the Ojibwe influence on Minnesota, from language, literature, and the arts to education, economics, and politics.