Memorial Day







The Northfield Historical Society will be closed on Memorial Day.  We will open back up on Tuesday May 31, 2016.

2016 History Month!

History MonthThe Northfield Historical Society will kick off its third annual Northfield History Month — a series of 10 events that include speaker programs, happy hours, dog walks, exhibit opening, and Fourth of July fireworks — with a screening of two documentaries at St. Olaf College on June 3.

We’re pretty sure we’ve got something for everyone.

History Month Events:

YtterboeYtterboe the Dog and Across the Cannon Documentary Showings
June 3, 10:30 a.m., St. Olaf College, Buntrock Commons, Viking Theater
Watch two documentaries shown in conjunction with the college’s reunion weekend — one about the famous Ytterboe campus mascot and the other about the friendly rivalry between Carleton and St. Olaf.

The Ghosts of St. Olaf
June 7, Froggy Bottoms River Pub (happy hour at 6 p.m., bus leaves at 7 p.m.)
Greg Kneser, St. Olaf College Vice President for Student Life

Greg Kneser is the keeper of the unofficial “St. Olaf Ghost File” that he began compiling when he used to field students’ complaints about their rooms. Greg at Cem StoriesHeaters clanked, roommates snored … and sometimes things happened that weren’t so easy to explain.

If you believe in ghosts, these are ghost stories. If you don’t believe, they are simply stories that make you scratch your head. If you are somewhere in between … then you can decide for yourself.

The Ghost Tour will introduce you to a little girl who plays the piano in a residence hall, to a librarian who simply likes a well-ordered library, and to the spot where a boy in a red cap likes to chill.

Ghosts … or just stories? You decide.

Get your tickets here!
Eventbrite - The Ghosts of St. Olaf



Anna Dickie Olesen

The Sensational and Strange Story of Anna Dickie Olesen
June 9, 6:00 p.m., Northfield Historical Society
Susan Hvistendahl, Entertainment Guide Columnist

In 1922, just two years after women won the right to vote, Anna Dickie Olesen became the first woman ever endorsed by a major party for the U.S. Senate. Throughout Minnesota she gave fiery speeches about representing the common people. In 1929 she was considered a possible vice presidential candidate. She also had a strange second marriage to a Georgia man featured on the Investigation Discovery channel’s Crimes to Remember series. Hvistendahl will add intriguing details about this chapter of Olesen’s life.

Hvistendahl’s Historic Happenings books will be available for purchase.

History Happy Hour: “Minnesota’s Notorious Gangsters”
June 14, Loon Liquors (social at 5:30 p.m., program at 6 p.m.)
Sara Hanson, Executive Director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society

Join us at Northfield’s Loon Liquors and learn about Minnesota’s connection to some of the nation’s most notorious gangsters. Sarah Hanson will discuss Al Capone, John Dillinger, Bugs Moran, “Ma” Barker and her boys, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, “Baby Face” Nelson, “Machine Gun” Kelly, and “Pretty Boy” Floyd.

Malt-O-Meal Originals: An Exhibition of Firsts
June 23, 6:30 p.m., Northfield Historical Society
Nearly 100 years ago John S. Campbell formed the Campbell Cereal Company with one goal in mind: to create a delicious and easy-to-prepare hot wheat breakfast cereal. He called his cereal Malt-O-Meal, and it is still manufactured in Northfield’s historic Ames Mill. This exhibition will showcase the company’s historical achievements and industry firsts.

The generosity of Campbell’s descendants has ensured that the Northfield Historical Society will preserve and tell the Malt-O-Meal story for generations to come.

History Trivia Night
June 24, 7–9 p.m., Rueb N Stein
Join us for a great night of history and current event trivia that will feature teams of four competing for a variety of prizes. Questions will center on Northfield and general history questions, plus current events. Teams can register for $100 per team by June 20. Come to play or to watch.

Get your tickets here!
Eventbrite - History Trivia at the Rueb

History Hound

History Hound Walk

History Hound Walk
June 25, 8:30 a.m., Central Park
$20 per personThis combination animal walk and historic walking tour of 11 east side residences is a joint fundraiser for the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society and the Northfield Historical Society. Dogs not required.

Get your Tickets Here!

Eventbrite - History Hound Walk

Books and Stars: Teddy Roosevelt Live (10 a.m.–4 p.m. camp, 7 p.m. program)
June 29, Central Park
In this election year what could be more appropriate than a visit from Theodore Roosevelt himself? We see Roosevelt’s legacy each day — from the labels on the food we eat to the National Parks we


Teddy Roosevelt Live!

visit on summer vacation. You’ll hear from three-time national champion living history performer and Roosevelt look-alike Adam Lindquist as he brings this American icon to life.

“Teddy’s” life was one of reinvention, with each adventure greater than the last. Meet Teddy at his day-long camp where he’ll answer your questions and then attend his evening program where you will learn all about his life.

Vintage Baseball Game: Northfield Silver Stars vs. St. Croix Base Ball Club
July 4, 1 p.m., St. Olaf College (below Old Main Hill)
See baseball the way it was meant to be played when the Northfield Silver Stars take on the St. Croix Base Ball Club. The rules of 1860 were different from today’s game, including: no gloves allowed, the batter is out if the ball is caught on the first bounce, no balls or strikes are called by an umpire (although a batter can still strike out if he swings and misses three times), foul balls are not considered strikes, and base runners can be tagged out if they overrun first base.
Downtown Fire works Locally Grown

July 4, approximately 9:45 p.m.
This year’s Fourth of July display will be launched from Sechler Park (behind the Post cereal plant). Spectators are welcome to view the display from the comfort of their own blankets and lawn chairs on the green spaces of Babcock or Riverside Parks, or wherever you can catch a good view.


SCOPE Program to present on immigration to Northfield

2016 SCOPE Students

2016 SCOPE Students

The Northfield Historical Society will celebrate the end of the school year with Student Community Outreach Program Experience (SCOPE) students May 17 at 6 p.m. as the eighth-grade group presents its final project about immigration in Northfield, Cultural Shift: Vietnamese and Mexican Immigration in Northfield. The event, at the NHS in downtown Northfield, is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served.

The poster session/presentation will feature the students discussing how they conducted oral histories and what they learned during the year-long project.

The SCOPE program is partnership between NHS and the Northfield School District. It was started in 1992 for gifted, talented, and highly motivated eighth graders. Previous SCOPE projects have included the writing of a third-grade textbook titled Our Story; the creation of a Museum of Northfield Education currently housed at Northfield Middle School; and a James-Younger Gang history and field guide titled Caught in the Storm.

Last chance to take a selfie!

20160511_084845It’s your last chance to visit the Northfield Historical Society’s photography studio annex, a special part of the exhibition Through the Camera Lens: Early Northfield Photography. The annex will be closing next Tuesday, May 17, to make room for a new exhibition, Malt-O-Meal Originals: An Exhibition of Firsts.

Highlights in this gallery include a slideshow of historic photographs that did not make it into the exhibition, an antique studio camera from the 1920s, late 19th-century clothing artifacts, and our reproduction hand-painted photography studio backdrop. If you have ever wished to take a 19th-century selfie holding a prop parasol or wearing a moustache, now is your chance. Plus, you can share your photo with us using the hashtag #northfieldphotos.

And don’t worry if you can’t make it to the museum by Tuesday. The main photography exhibition will still be on

view through September.


Closing Early on May 5th

closedforremodelingThe Northfield Historical Society will close at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday May 5th. During the closure we will be undergoing some minor store renovations.

We will open back up on Friday May 6th at 10:00 a.m.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but we appreciate your patience.


Volunteers: The Unsung heroes at the Northfield Historical Society

Unsung heroes is a term that comes to mind during tours of the Northfield Historical Society (NHS). Visitors seeking to learn more about the James-Younger Gang’s attempted robbery of the First National Bank in 1876 leave the museum with information about the true heroes, the citizens who defended the town against the gang.

But long-dead citizens are not the only unsung heroes at the museum. Three Northfield residents who contributed their time and talents to the historical society last year recently received recognition for their efforts. Lisa Peterson, Randy Knox and Jackson Hillmann were honored as the 2015 volunteers of the year at the NHS annual meeting on March 19 at the Grand Event Center.

LisaLisa Peterson
When longtime museum store manager and volunteer coordinator Gloria Powell retired, NHS Executive Director Hayes Scriven asked Lisa Peterson if she would be willing to help manage the store.

Peterson was working as a freelance graphic designer at the time, and she had served on the NHS board of directors from 2011-2014. She agreed to work 20 hours a week in the store, and she discovered that she greatly enjoyed it.

“Volunteers sometimes overlook the store — they want to be on the posse — but working in the store is fun. You get to talk to people from all over the country and all over the world,” she said. “Also, there’s a lot more to the museum than the James-Younger story. Once you get involved, you get a glimpse of Northfield you haven’t known about before.”

In August, Peterson was hired as the director of tourism at the Northfield Conventions and Visitors Bureau. She said her knowledge of the historical society comes in handy in her new job because the museum is Northfield’s biggest visitor attraction. She has continued to volunteer on the museum store committee, and in March she rejoined the NHS board of directors.

“I just can’t leave it alone,” she joked.

Randy KnoxRandy
When it appeared that the museum and store hours would have to be reduced last year due to a lack of volunteers, Randy Knox answered the call for help.

Knox is a retired information technology project manager; he had no previous retail experience and had no idea he would enjoy working in the store as much as he does.

He typically works every Friday morning and every other Wednesday morning. He has also put in extra hours helping with the store’s conversion to a new point of sale system.

“What I enjoy most is meeting our visitors, conversing with them and sharing the story of Northfield,” he said. “Before I started working in the store, I had only a passing understanding of the James-Younger gang, the raid and the citizens’ response to it. The more I’ve learned, the more respect I have for the people who looked danger in the eye, took initiative and personal responsibility, and changed the course of history.”

Knox continues to volunteer in the store and plans to take docent training this spring.

Jackson HillmannJackson A junior at Northfield High School, Hillmann started his NHS volunteer experience as a seventh grader in the Junior Curator program. He continued in eighth grade as a member of the SCOPE program, and last summer, he mentored Junior Curators as one of the Summer Assistant Program supervisors.

He said one highlight of his volunteer experience occurred in August while researching information about Henry Wheeler, one of the townspeople who fought back against the James-Younger gang. He and another student found cryptic letters and numbers on the back of an article about Wheeler’s marriage, and the discovery led them to additional articles about Wheeler’s two later marriages.

“We felt like real historians — we inferred and found something out about the other marriages we hadn’t known about,” he said.

Computer science and math are Hillman’s favorite subjects, but he also enjoys history and highly recommends the museum’s youth programs to other students.

“It’s just a fun time — you feel like you’re doing something for your town, and contributing to a cool cause,” he said.

Volunteers Needed
The Northfield Historical Society welcomes volunteers interested in working in the store or serving in other positions. For more information, contact Hayes Scriven at 507-645-9268

Historical Society receives history awards

MOM beforeNorthfield Historical Society (NHS) is receiving two statewide history awards this spring in recognition of its work preserving and interpreting local history.

Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums is honoring NHS for its “behind-the-scenes” efforts to preserve the legacy of Malt-O-Meal and for its “40 for 40” exhibit in 2015 celebrating NHS’s 40th anniversary. The awards will be presented Friday, April 27, at the Alliance’s annual meeting in Willmar. Waseca County Historical Society is also being honored for its exhibit titled: “Where the Big Woods Meets the Prairie.”

Dustin Heckman, the Alliance’s History Awards coordinator, said each project symbolizes great work being done by local history organizations across the state.

“The communities that are served by these organizations should be proud of the work being accomplished at a local level to preserve history,” Heckman said.

Hayes Scriven, executive director for NHS, said these awards are especially meaningful because they come from people who understand the mission

NHS Staff

NHS Staff, Stephanie Hess, Hayes Scriven and Cathy Osterman in the new collection storage space.

of museums and the work that goes into acquiring and maintaining collections.

“These awards are voted on by our peers,” Scriven said. “It’s nice to be recognized for exceptional work.”

The award for acquiring the Malt-O-Meal collection recognized six-months of planning and negotiation for the transfer of the material and for arranging for an endowment to support it in the years to come. It required many conversations with the family of founder John Campbell, which involved both education and consensus-building. In the end, artifacts and memorabilia from an important chapter of Northfield history will reside just 300 steps from where the company first produced cereal in Northfield.

Cathy Osterman, NHS curator, said the collection definitely belongs in the community.

“If it were to go anywhere else, you would lose that sense of place,” she said. “Malt-O-Meal has had such a huge influence on Northfield. Here it will command center stage and enjoy the prominence it deserves.”

Plans call for three different Malt-O-Meal exhibits over the next three years in the newly-renovated exhibit space off the Ted Scott Room. In 2019 — Malt-O-Meal’s 100th anniversary — most of the museum’s exhibit space will be devoted to a year-long centennial exhibit.

A key component to NHS’s 40th anniversary celebration was the “40 for 40” exhibit. It was designed to showcase the range of artifacts currently in the003 local collection. There were three different exhibits during the year. The last was planned with the help of community input.

The artifacts were selected to represent various aspects of Northfield’s story. They included things such as a leather football helmet, a pre-historic mastodon tooth and a wood water pipe that tied in with the story of the development of city services back in 1895.

Osterman said the feedback on the exhibit was very positive. It underscored the need to do more object-based exhibits.

The “40 for 40” exhibit also reminded people that they play a role in building the NHS collection.

“It helps people realize that they are our agents in the field,” Scriven said. “Our collection is built by people remembering to share their artifacts with us.”

The Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums, organized in 1991, is a statewide organization that seeks to nurture and encourage an appreciation of Minnesota’s local history by providing a structure to foster professionalism and excellent work among local and specialized historical organizations in Minnesota.