Since 2013 staff from the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) and the University of Minnesota (UMN) have participated in a Heritage Studies Partnership, meeting on a regular basis to develop collaborative programming and initiatives. During 2014-15 the Partnership facilitated a public exhibit about the history of life on the Bohemian Flats, currently on display at the Mill City Museum; carried out ongoing research on Ft. Snelling collections by graduate students working with MNHS and UMN archaeologists; continued development of a Masters in Heritage Studies and Public History program to be taught by UMN faculty and MNHS staff; and launched an exploration of Minnesota agriculture in the 20th century, centered at the Oliver H. Kelley Farm in Elk River.
Bohemian Flats Project
Partnership efforts focused on bringing research carried out in 2014-15 to the public through an extensive exhibit on display in the Mill City Museum (MCM) lobby. Researchers Rachel Hines and Stefanie Kowalczyk collected graphical context, identified panel themes and wrote label copy accordingly, and worked with MCM staff and a design group (5×5 Design). Designers created the final files for panel printing, in time to install the exhibit in mid-April titled “Remembering the Bohemian Flats: One Place, Many Voices”. MCM staff Dave Stevens and Laura Salveson coordinated with the UMN researchers to plan public programs related to the exhibit. This has included, to date, a very well-attended April 2015 opening reception and public lecture by State Archaeologist Scott Anfinson, and several walking tours of Bohemian Flats led by Hines and Kowalczyk. The project will culminate with the keynote lecture for the Midwest Historical Archaeology Conference in October 2015, cosponsored in part by the IAS Heritage Collaborative. During Summer 2015 Anthropology Professor Kat Hayes and students began carrying out remote sensing test projects at Mill Ruins Park and other Minnesota sites, in preparation for more extensive archaeological research in collaboration with MNHS. There is the possibility of another associated public program, connecting the exhibit with a demonstration of ground penetrating radar.
MNHS and UMN archaeologists and graduate students continued to collaborate throughout the year on projects to reassess archaeological collections and continue to build an electronic database of materials from Ft. Snelling excavations. Grad RA Kelly Wolf worked in both fall and spring semesters to assist in the cataloging and in coordinating the work of undergraduate interns. In Spring 2015 Anthropology PhD candidate Jammi Ladwig taught a Historical Archaeology course using Ft. Snelling materials, coordinating with the MNHS Archaeology and Collections Depts. on a short-term loan of artifacts for student learning.
In 2015-16, UMN archaeologists will continue working with the MNHS Archaeology Dept. in their inventory and digitization of the Fort Snelling archaeological collections, while providing additional research and interpretive content to be used in programming at Historic Fort Snelling. This content will be focused on the diversity of lives and stories at the fort, beyond the 1820 military setting—for example, looking to the Civil War and post-war era, relations with Native communities in the area, and the influx of diverse families through stationing at the fort. While the collections work to date has focused on digitizing artifact records, future work will build out from those records to create relational databases connecting artifacts with spatial features and records. Being able to locate artifact finds to specific places within and around the fort will allow better contextualized interpretive narratives to be created around those artifacts, and will facilitate future intensive analysis of the collections. Two graduate researchers will 1) contribute to the digitization of site records, particularly historic maps and site drawings, 2) create a geospatial database of the site and associated spatial data, and 3) work with interpretive program staff to integrate material culture and spatial perspectives with HFS programs.
Heritage Studies and Public History Graduate Program Development
Development continued to progress with a joint MNHS/UMN writing team meeting regularly through the academic year and summer 2015, and staff continue to work on jointly developed courses that will be part of the masters program, anticipated to be piloted in fall 2016, pending submission for approval by the Board of Regents in the fiscal year 2016. At least one course will be piloted in spring 2016.
This project, focusing on the Oliver H. Kelley Farm, was launched in summer 2015 with the oversight of Graduate Assistant Anne Drolet, who is collecting materials for future projects to be developed in the coming year. The research being undertaken examines agriculture in Minnesota, and more specifically in the immediate vicinity of the Kelley Farm, during the 20th century. In 2015-16, staff will continue broad-brush research and conduct additional, more detailed, studies that flesh out information useful for the development of public programming at the site; in particular, developing more detailed information on agricultural changes during the period 1910-1930, a time of great and enduring change in the Minnesota countryside. Research will be conducted in coordination with Kelley Farm staff in order to support their “soft launch” in fall 2016 and their grand re-opening in spring 2017.