A state full of history and the people to tell it

  • Article by: MARY JANE SMETANKA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 10, 2010 - 11:02 PM

Despite funding challenges, local Minnesota historical societies have won national recognition for their professionalism and elan.

  • 11
  • Comments

  • Results per page:
icu812Dec. 11, 10 9:54 AM

Get rid of the extremely wasteful and pigish MNHS and support your local historic groups. The MNHS is a private organization that is not accountable to the citizens of MN but rather to its own self-serving (egos) interests.

1
7
merkinDec. 11, 10 1:20 PM

I've worked with both the St. Louis Park Historical Society and various people at the MNHS and they're all doing a heck of a good job. You can't figure out where you're going to if you don't know where you are. And it's that history that lets you know how society got here today.

5
0
icu812Dec. 11, 10 5:07 PM

The importance of maintaining history is not at question. The private organization, MNHS, is chock full of idiots and zealots and realy does not do a good job. They should leave it to the real pros - the local historical societies.

0
3
wwallace67Dec. 13, 10 5:34 PM

e'lan? That word is so fetch.

0
0
eterrellDec. 14, 10 8:50 AM

ICU812: Not demeaning the locals, but how do you see ad hoc groups of more or less volunteers who may not have any formal training in curation, research or public exhibit design are more "pros" than the people who actually took education and degrees in those fields? Remember pro means paid! Even the little historical societies depend on the expertise of their professional cohorts at MHS, and they would not be doing the great job they can do without those resources. Giving money directly to locals does create a trained workforce. Yes MHS has some severe focus problems at the upper levels, but the actual worker bees are dedicated professionals.

1
0
eterrellDec. 14, 10 8:53 AM

argh, does NOT create a trained workforce..darn tiny keyboard.

0
0
eterrellDec. 14, 10 9:29 AM

What is frustrating about these cute articles about quaint little houses and the adorable little old ladies and gents who maintain them, is they leave the impression that history just happens, and is just out there free for the telling of a good story. There is little or no discussion, other than references to noble old timers who "donated" money to keep a building at one time, of the actual costs and effort involved. Just telling grandpa Jack's story about how the "injuns" came and burnt the barn down is only one part of an area's history, and is dubious, since the barn was never near any hostilities. But this type of story is frequently the one told. Actual "history" includes indepth research that takes time, and only a handful of really generous volunteers can afford to spend it. Even fewer are trained and know how to do it well. So that leaves the grunt work to specialists to do the kind of tedious work that is necessary to try to get the story of an area as right as possible, to keep precious old time objects in one piece, to tell the stories so that eveyone can relate to them, details aren't left out, the exhibit isn't just propogating local myths, or even to make sure an important piece of history doesn't get whacked by the new shopping mall because no one remembered it was there! That part is always glossed over.

1
0
northbordersDec. 14, 1010:30 AM

Eterrell, I appreciate your comment. I am working on a masters in history, specifically economic and environmental history. Most don't have a real understanding of the in depth research required for the accurate and balanced study of history, which is why I have to read 30 books a semester for two classes, plus write. I also appreciate your note of the history getting whacked by the shopping mall. Environmental and economic history is all a part of this.

1
0
vikesgal69Dec. 14, 10 2:07 PM

To Eterrell: Actually, a high majority of those at the county level are paid staff with degrees (usually BAs and MAs) in History, Public History, Museum Studies, Non-Profit Management, American Studies and/or Business. I happen to work at one of those "cute" little places you mentioned and both my director and myself have Master's Degrees.

0
0
eterrellDec. 14, 10 6:07 PM

At vikesgal: and how much time just running the place do you two have left over to devote to the minuitae of researching, specialty curation and exhibit design? If you are disagreeing with me, your organization must be blessed to be fully funded, financially stable, and never require any volunteers or outside assistance to keep the programs going, and everyone on staff has all the knowledge needed to maintain and create exhibits, safeguard artifacts and handle all the regulatory questions that come your way. If so, I agree then, the discussion doesn't really pertain to you. I was careful to address my comments to the outfits that are run mostly by volunteers, (you must know there are many) realizing that yes, there may be an overworked, educated paid staff member or two...so, I am not sure why you are taking exception to my comment that the little societies need MHS and its professionals for back up and consulting. I too have an advanced degree, and my firm works with both the local orgs and the big players...all of them are strapped for time, personel and resources, and often need to hire professionals like us to help out. If nothing else sometimes Federal or State regs require a special assessment no one in the organization is qualified to do by the Secretary of the Interior's standards. I was answering a comment that said MHS should be dismantled and the funds disbursed willy nilly to local societies. If that were to happen, what would become of the library and the thousands of documents MHS curates? The 10s of thousands of artifacts in the collections? The protection and regulatory responsibilities handled by the State Historic Preservation Office? And let's admit, some history is statewide history, and no one local org could or should be expected to tell that story, even with additional budget from gutting MHS. Reset MHS's priorities, yes, but dismantle it? No...

0
0

Comment on this story   |  

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT