Minnesota - Local History
The Children of Lincoln: White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota, 1860-1876
The Children of Lincoln
White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota, 1860-1876
Hardcover      ISBN: 1517905281

How white advocates of emancipation abandoned African American causes in the dark days of Reconstruction, told through the stories of four Minnesotans


White people, Frederick Douglass said in a speech in 1876, were "the children of Lincoln," while black people were "at best his stepchildren." Emancipation became the law of the land, and white champions of African Americans in the state were suddenly turning to other causes, regardless of the worsening circumstances of black Minnesotans. Through four of these "children of Lincoln" in Minnesota, William D. Green's book brings to light a little known but critical chapter in the state's history as it intersects with the broader account of race in America.

In a narrative spanning the years of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the lives of these four Minnesotans mark the era's most significant moments in the state, the Midwest, and the nation for the Republican Party, the Baptist church, women's suffrage, and Native Americans. Morton Wilkinson, the state's first Republican senator; Daniel Merrill, a St. Paul business leader who helped launch the first Black Baptist church; Sarah Burger Stearns, founder and first president of the Minnesota Woman Suffragist Association; and Thomas Montgomery, an immigrant farmer who served in the Colored Regiments in the Civil War: each played a part in securing the rights of African Americans and each abandoned the fight as the forces of hatred and prejudice increasingly threatened those hard-won rights.

Moving from early St. Paul and Fort Snelling to the Civil War and beyond, The Children of Lincoln reveals a pattern of racial paternalism, describing how even "enlightened" white Northerners, fatigued with the "Negro Problem," would come to embrace policies that reinforced a notion of black inferiority. Together, their lives--so differently and deeply connected with nineteenth-century race relations--create a telling portrait of Minnesota as a microcosm of America during the tumultuous years of Reconstruction.

The Little Brown Jug: The Michigan-Minnesota Football Rivalry
The Little Brown Jug
The Michigan-Minnesota Football Rivalry
Paperback      ISBN: 1467112739

When the Michigan Wolverines arrived in Minneapolis to battle the Minnesota Gophers in 1903, a simple 30cents, five-gallon Red Wing stoneware water jug began football s first rivalry trophy game. The Little Brown Jug has been the subject of conspiracy theories, theft, national championships, and most of all pride, with each game s victor prominently displaying the jug on its campus until it is fought for again."

White Birch, Red Hawthorn: A Memoir
White Birch, Red Hawthorn
A Memoir
Paperback      ISBN: 1517901324

"This is conquered land." The Dakota woman's words, spoken at a community meeting in St. Paul, struck Nora Murphy forcefully. Her own Irish great-great grandparents, fleeing the potato famine, had laid claim to 160 acres in a virgin maple grove in Minnesota. That her dispossessed ancestors' homestead, The Maples, was built upon another, far more brutal dispossession is the hard truth underlying White Birch, Red Hawthorn, a memoir of Murphy's search for the deeper connections between this contested land and the communities who call it home.

In twelve essays, each dedicated to a tree significant to Minnesota, Murphy tells the story of the grove that, long before the Irish arrived, was home to three Native tribes: the Dakota, Ojibwe, and Ho-Chunk. She notes devastating strategies employed by the U.S. government to wrest the land from the tribes, but also revisits iconic American tales that subtly continue to promote this displacement--the Thanksgiving story, the Paul Bunyan myth, and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Murphy travels to Ireland to search out another narrative long hidden--that of her great-great-grandmother's transformative journey from North Tipperary to The Maples.

In retrieving these stories, White Birch, Red Hawthorn uncovers lingering wounds of the past--and the possibility that, through connection to this suffering, healing can follow. The next step is simple, Murphy tells us: listen.

They Sang for Norway: Olaf Oleson's Immigrant Choir
They Sang for Norway
Olaf Oleson's Immigrant Choir
Paperback      ISBN: 168134047x

They were brothers from Norway's "Red County." One was a guerrilla leader, the other a president of a singing association. One emigrated to America, the other stayed home to fight for Norwegian independence. Both had an impact on their nation's history. This is the story of the one who left.

Olaf Martin Oleson was among the hundreds of thousands of Norwegians who emigrated to the United States during the nineteenth century. With strongly rooted connections to the homeland, Oleson settled in the Midwest and became a successful businessman, philanthropist, and politician. He also helped form influential organizations in his new land, including the Norwegian-American Historical Association and the Norwegian Singers' Association of America. With the choir group, Oleson shared songs of his native Norway throughout North America--while raising money to support the illegal army and new political party forming back home in the fight for liberation from Sweden.

In They Sang for Norway, Ane-Charlotte Five Aarset tells the story of O. M. Oleson--her great-grand-uncle--and his contributions to the politics and culture of two nations. It is an immigrant's tale, an exploration of Norwegian-American life, and the story of music's importance to a community and people.

Too Hot, Went to Lake: Seasonal Photos from Minnesota's Past
Too Hot, Went to Lake
Seasonal Photos from Minnesota's Past
Paperback      ISBN: 0873516389

Boys with a sprinkler, nuns at a ball game, proud hunters with their quarry--this collection of more than three hundred pictures dating from the earliest cameras to the mid-twentieth century offers a trip back in time. Peg Meier, award-winning former reporter for the Star Tribune, also shares excerpts collected from diaries and letters that allow Minnesotans of ages past to comment on pine tree vistas, harvest bounty, and the weather, always the weather.

First published in 1993, the beloved Too Hot, Went to Lake promises a history of the state and its people that's easy to enjoy.

African Americans in Minnesota
African Americans in Minnesota
Paperback      ISBN: 0873514203

While making up a smaller percentage of Minnesota's population compared to national averages, African Americans have had a profound influence on the history and culture of the state from its earliest days to the present. Author David Taylor chronicles the rich history of Blacks in the state through careful analysis of census and housing records, newspaper records, and first-person accounts. He recounts the triumphs and struggles of African Americans in Minnesota over the past 200 years in a clear and concise narrative. Major themes covered include settlement by Blacks during the territorial and early statehood periods; the development of urban Black communities in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth; Blacks in rural areas; the emergence of Black community organizations and leaders in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries; and Black communities in transition during the turbulent last half of the twentieth century. Taylor also introduces influential and notable African Americans: George Bonga, the first African American born in the region during the fur trade era; Harriet and Dred Scott, whose two-year residence at Fort Snelling in the 1830s later led to a famous, though unsuccessful, legal challenge to the institution of slavery; John Quincy Adams, publisher of the state's first Black newspaper; Fredrick L. McGhee, the state's first Black lawyer; community leaders, politicians, and civil servants including James Griffin, Sharon Sayles Belton, Alan Page, Jean Harris, and Dr. Richard Green; and nationally influential artists including August Wilson, Lou Bellamy, Prince, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis. African Americans in Minnesota is the fourth book in The People of Minnesota, a series dedicated to telling the history of the state through the stories of its ethnic groups in accessible and illustrated paperbacks.

Brave New Workshop: Promiscuous Hostility and Laughs in the Land of Loons
Brave New Workshop
Promiscuous Hostility and Laughs in the Land of Loons
Paperback      ISBN: 1626196869

In 1958, former circus aerialist Dudley Riggs opened a Minneapolis coffeehouse with a stage for performers and created an American comedic institution. What started as a way to draw customers on slow nights became the Brave New Workshop, a comedy theater sinking its satirical talons deep into the culture of Minneapolis-St. Paul for over half a century. This theater helped launch the careers of many talented performers, including satirist-turned-senator Al Franken and his Saturday Night Live partner in comedy, Tom Davis, as well as comedian Louie Anderson, Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, screenwriter Pat Proft of the Naked Gun films and many others. Author Rob Hubbard tells the story of the hilarity, irreverence and imagination of the Brave New Workshop--a funhouse mirror to the world around it.

"If you've lived in Chicago, you know what Second City is. If you've lived in the Twin Cities, you know what the Brave New Workshop is. Founder Dudley Riggs and the Brave New Workshop played a big part in my comedy career. Read the real history of this company and the actors and writers from it who have influenced comedy on television and the big screen for over 50 years."
- Louie Anderson
Metropolitan Dreams: The Scandalous Rise and Stunning Fall of a Minneapolis Masterpiece
Metropolitan Dreams
The Scandalous Rise and Stunning Fall of a Minneapolis Masterpiece
Hardcover      ISBN: 1517904161

The story of one of Minnesota's most famous and most mourned buildings, set against the history of downtown Minneapolis


When it opened in 1890, the twelve-story Northwestern Guaranty Loan Building was the tallest, largest, and most splendid commercial structure in Minneapolis--a mighty stone skyscraper built for the ages. How this grand Richardsonian Romanesque edifice, which later came to be called the Metropolitan Building, rose with the growth of Minneapolis only to fall in the throes of the city's postwar renewal, is revealed in Metropolitan Dreams in all its scandalous intrigue. It is a tale of urban growing pains and architectural ghosts and of colorful, sometimes criminal characters amid the grandeur and squalor of building and rebuilding a city's skyline.

Against the thrumming backdrop of turn-of-the-century Minneapolis, architectural critic and historian Larry Millett recreates the impressive rise of the massive office building, its walls of green New Hampshire granite and red Lake Superior sandstone surrounding its true architectural wonder, a dazzling twelve-story iron and glass light court. The drama, however, was far from confined to the building itself. A consummate storyteller, Millett summons the frenetic atmosphere in Gilded Age Minneapolis that encouraged the likes of Northwestern Guaranty's founder, real estate speculator Louis Menage, whose shady deals financed this Minneapolis masterpiece--and then forced him to flee both prosecution and the country a mere three years later.

Dubious as its financial beginnings might have been, the economic circumstances of the Metropolitan's demise were at least as questionable. Anchoring Minneapolis's historic Gateway District in its heyday, the building's fortunes shifted with the city's demographics and finally it fell victim to the fervor of one of the largest downtown urban renewal projects ever undertaken in the United States. Though the long and furious battle to save the Metropolitan ultimately failed in 1962, its ghost persists in the passion for historic preservation stirred by its demise--and in Metropolitan Dreams, whose photographs, architectural drawings, and absorbing narrative bring the building and its story to vibrant, enduring life.

The Minneapolis Riverfront
The Minneapolis Riverfront
Paperback      ISBN: 1467112763

With the Mississippi River s only true waterfalls at its front door, Minneapolis harnessed the power of the falls to become an international milling center. Changing market conditions, though, forced Minnesota s largest city to give up its preeminent position in the milling world after World War I. As the local milling industry gradually faded away, Minneapolis turned its back on its riverfront origins. By 1950, a once-bustling commercial area along the banks of the Mississippi had become an industrial wasteland. Then, a decade later, the seeds of renewal were planted when some urban pioneers recognized the potential of this long-ignored historic district. By the first decade of the 21st century, the riverfront had reemerged as a vibrant residential, cultural, and recreational center."

Scandinavians in the State House: How Nordic Immigrants Shaped Minnesota Politics
Scandinavians in the State House
How Nordic Immigrants Shaped Minnesota Politics
Paperback      ISBN: 1681340305

Beginning in the 1850s, thousands of immigrants from Nordic countries settled in Minnesota and quickly established themselves in the political life of their new home. These Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Finns, and Icelanders first sowed their political seeds at the local level--as town clerks, city councilmen, county commissioners, sheriffs--and then broadened their sights to the state and national realm. Nordic immigrants served as governors, as Minnesota state senators and representatives, as U.S. congressmen, and as vice presidents of the United States. Many came to this country for political reasons and became radicals and activists in Minnesota. Others served as key leaders within the state's political parties.

In Scandinavians in the State House, Klas Bergman explores who these immigrant politicians were and what drove them to become civically involved so soon after arriving in Minnesota. Profiling the individuals and movements at the forefront of this political activity, at the state and local level, Bergman examines the diverse political philosophies of the immigrant communities and reveals the lasting legacy of Scandinavian politicians in the creation of modern Minnesota--from Nelson and Olson, to Andersen and Carlson, to Humphrey and Mondale.