University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Project Description

The site of Historic Fort Snelling was selected because it is one of the strategic priorities for MnHS, because its river confluence location thematically connects it to the Bohemian Flats/river flats communities project, and because its complex, plural history suggests appeal to a broad range of potential contemporary communities.  MnHS partners suggested that the goal was to bring focus to new historical periods as well as a diversity of the Fort’s residents, including enslaved and free African Americans, Native Americans, and later military families.  The goal of this project is to both create new materials for such interpretive programs, and to do so in a way that brings students (pre-college, undergraduate, graduate) into the process as a means of engaging more public and professional interest in the Fort.  The partnership core group initially identified of Fort Snelling as a pilot project locus during an October 2013 meeting, however due to scheduling issues collaborative activities did not begin until December.


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Seated Liberty_mod
1743 Spanish reale_mod2

Pierced coins recovered from archaeological excavations at Historic Fort Snelling. This practice may be related to the practice of coin modification as charms as noted from burials in the Freedman’s Cemetery, a late-19th-century (1869-1907) urban African American communities from Dallas, Texas (Davidson 2004). Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.


A boot polishing brush recovered from archaeological excavations at Historic Fort Snelling. The handle has been inscribed with what may be “W” or a stylistic motif associated with Native American populations in Minnesota and surrounding states known as the thunderbird. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Key Personnel:

UMN: Kat Hayes, Kevin Murphy, Greg Donofrio, Pat Nunnally, Phyllis Messenger, Jammi Ladwig (dedicated graduate researcher)

MnHS: Richard Josey, Tom Pfannenstiel, Patricia Emerson, John Crippen, Tim Hoogland, Matt Cassady, Nancy Hoffman, Bobbie Scott