Thursday, February 27, 2020

You never know what you might find...

Kaylee and Daniel's Corner

John F. Kennedy letter to Gaarenstroom

Interesting find in the University Archives at Minnesota State University, Mankato! Today, we were completing a rehousing project with some of our older collections, replacing some of our acidic folders and boxes, ensuring our records stay ship-shape. While combing through a collection of papers from Mr. C. F. Gaarenstroom (an attorney in the early 1960’s from Fairmont, MN), we discovered something cool in a folder labeled ‘miscellaneous papers’: A letter to Mr. Gaarenstroom from then-President Elect John F. Kennedy! The letter was dated January 11, 1961, just days before Mr. Kennedy took office. Kennedy wrote to thank Mr. Gaarenstroom for his support during the Presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of Citizens for Kennedy and Johnson. Nice! Who knows what other pieces of history we might find in our repository! See the attached digital copy for a closer look at the letter.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Collection Guide Scanning and ArchivesSpace Data Entry

Guest Post by Archives Student Worker Cortney 

As a student worker in the Minnesota State University, Mankato Archives there have been many projects and tasks we have done. One of the recent projects that was one of my personal favorites was the Collection Guide scanning and ArchivesSpace data entry.

The collection guide scanning process is the first step. We were each given certain collection guides from both the Minnesota State Archives and the Southern Minnesota Historical Center. The process begins with adding footers on the documents which state the current date and the page numbers. Once you have inserted those footers, you print off the documents (we chose to print more than one collection guide so we could do more at a time). After printing off the guides on the second floor, the next step was to scan which takes place on the third floor. The scanner we use are single sheet scanners, where we place the papers face down and upside down, so they scan right side up. When scanning we complete the batch and give it the proper title (the title of the collection guide). Once the files are created, we ingest the files into ARCH which is where all the digital collections for MSU and the Southern Minnesota Historical Center are located. While ingesting you are creating a page in ARCH which gives the title of the collection, date of creation and date ingested, and finding aids. Once ingested and stapled, we take the papers downstairs to where the hard copies are and replace the old hard copies.

After the collection guide scanning process is complete, we can start the second process which is the ArchivesSpace data entry. With the files ingested and the hard copies replaced we can update the ArchivesSpace data. This process takes a little longer then the scanning and does a more in-depth examination of the collection guides. We start off by opening the resource record type. This is where all the data is going to be uploaded. We oversee updating the basic information, dates, finding aid information, revision statements, notes, and external documents. The basic information is just the title, identifier (MSU collection/SMHC Manuscript collection), level of description (collection), resource type (papers, collection, records, publications), language, and if there are any restrictions. The dates cover the label (creation/publication), expression, and types (inclusive/single). Finding aid information talks about what the identifier is again, the title of the document, the date it was processed, who processed it, the description rule (describing archives: a content standard), language, and the status of the finding aid. Revision statements are if there were any additions to the collection or finding aid. Notes are the bulk of the collection which includes the abstract, biographical/historical notes, scope and contents, and the preferred citation. External documents include the two places you can find the information which is to the page on ARCH and the link to the page on the MSU website. After inserting the information, we save the resource and double check on the public interface of Archives Space that all the information is there and in the right places. This process uses a lot of copying and pasting from on document to the resource.

I enjoyed doing this project because it let me be in both archives' spaces in the library. It also let me get out of the chair for the little while when walking up or down the stairs.  I also got to know more about the websites that I can find information on and helped me understand how to navigate the Archives sites a little better. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Obituary Index

Guest Post by Student Worker Noah Kroells

While here at the archives, one of the plethora of tasks that I’ve been given is working on what is known as the Obituary Index. This index is an extensive list of every obituary that’s been printed in the Mankato Free Press. My fellow student workers and I’s role in this process is going through and checking the entries to ensure accuracy.

Throughout this process I’ve found numerous interesting people, such as once I found the founder of Mankato. Parsons King Johnson, He founded the city in 1853 and was in actuality the first settler. He served as the county’s first Register of Deeds and the first Postmaster in Mankato. He even represented the county in the state legislature from 1856-57. He also held the title of justice of the peace for a period of fourteen years.

Another interesting person that I’ve found was Joseph Godfrey, he was an African-American that fought alongside the Dakota in the U.S-Dakota War. Born into slavery he and his mother were sold to Alexis Bailly and he spent most of his childhood in the Bailly household. Once he grew older, he was hired out to Henry H. Sibley, the future first Governor of Minnesota, as an aide. However, he ran away due to bad treatment and joined the Dakota. He would later move with them to the Lower Sioux Agency and even marry a Dakota woman. In August of 1862 he would join the war, though his role and how much he participated is disputed by conflicting accounts. He surrendered with a group of a thousand Dakota and was the first tried by the military commission. He would testify against 11 of the Dakota that were later hung and was able to escape execution. He was then sent to Camp McClellan in Davenport, Iowa where he served three years of a prison sentence before being pardoned. He left and settled on the Santee Reservation in Nebraska where he lived out the rest of his days. (Francois, Sherick. "Godfrey, Joseph (ca. 1830-1909)." MNopeida, Minnesota Historical Society. (accessed April 26, 2019).)

Check out the obituary index for your research needs. 

This is just a small sample of the intriguing people that I’ve come across during my searches. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, for any of these people could be described as interesting for whatever reason. For as Ernest Hemingway once said, “Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another”.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Making Commercials in the Archives?

Making Commercials in the Archives?

A guest post by Archives Student Worker, Ben

           A few weeks ago, my fellow student workers and I were given the task to put together a commercial for an upcoming conference my supervisors are presenting at.  The commercial was supposed to explain and show off the plethora of existing digital storage options. I was excited because I love any excuse in the Archives to be creative. I kind of took the reigns as writer and director for our little skit. Mainly because my fellow student workers were working on their own film careers and needed to get into their characters so they couldn’t be bothered to take other work and respectfully declined the roles. Shania kindly volunteered to be our videographer. It seems like it was time to put my acting chops to work and star in our 1-man skit.
            I think putting together the main prop for the video, the digital storage trench coat, was the most fun part of the whole production. With the help of Anne Stenzel and Adam Smith, we compiled a myriad of digital storage options including, CDs, flash drives, floppy disks, and cassettes. We attached these onto the coast with binder clips, so we didn’t ruin the beautiful khaki trench coat that Anne Stenzel so graciously donated to the cause. However, I’m sure we will see Anne rocking that same trench coat this coming spring, so have no fear, no trench coats were harmed in the making of this commercial.
            Overall the prompt, script, and filming were all very simple. So, I decided to spice up the video with some fun editing, sound effects, music … etc. This was a very fun day in the Archives and I’m thankful I get to work in a place where I get to express myself creatively, learn about interesting artifacts and history, and work with kind people.
           Check out my commercial

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Records Management at Minnesota State University, Mankato: University Records Center Destruction

This is the third and final installment of a three part series about Records Management at Minnesota State University, Mankato.  Read more about transfers and retrievals in previous installments.

Once a year, the University Archives organizes the destruction of 200 to 400 boxes of campus materials stored temporarily in the University Records Center.  How do we know which boxes to destroy?  Well the date of destruction is determined by the transferring department at the time of transfer according to the campus Records Retention Schedules.

Hold up?!  Are you saying that the University Archives just destroys my materials at some point in time without my knowledge?  No, no, no.  Never fear, we're a little more methodical than that.  Each November, the University Archives generates University Records Center Certificates of Destruction for each department that owns materials slated for destruction that year.  We will not destroy any records without a signed University Records Center Certificate of Destruction returned to our office.

And we're flexible too.  If a department determines that some or all of the boxes slated for destruction need to be stored longer, we can do that too.  All the department needs to do is make those changes to the University Records Center Certificate of Destruction and return it to our office and we'll make the necessary changes.  Easy peasy!

When the University Archives receives all of the completed Certificates of Destruction, the Archives staff spring into action preparing for our big shredding day that usually occurs in early January (Brr!).  What do we do to prepare you ask?

  • Contact campus Facilities Services to schedule the campus contracted shredding services.  Yes, the shredding truck comes to us!
  • Organize staffing for the staging and shredding days.  Yep, they happen on different days.  It's too easy to make a mistake in the whirlwind of shredding day.
  • Stage all boxes slated for destruction.  This usually occurs the week after fall semester and may take a day or two to complete depending on the number of boxes.
Boxes staged for destruction, December 2018.
On the big day, the team assembles in the University Records Center.  We dump the materials into large wheeled recycle bins and roll them up to the Taylor Center loading dock.  Whew--heavy I know!  Usually within a couple of hours, the shredding is complete...for another year.
University Archives Technician Adam Smith

Feel free to contact us at or 507-389-1964 for all of your Records Management questions.

Anne Stenzel is an Archives Technician specializing in digitization at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She looks forward to your Records Management questions and comments below!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What’s to Love About February?

A guest post by Archives Student Worker, Shania

Display area in the Marilyn J. Lass Center for Minnesota Studies in the Memorial Library

February is a significant month to remember. People tend to overlook it as just being one of the shortest months of the year. However, the shortest month holds so much history and love. February is the month in which African-Americans especially, take the time to reflect, acknowledge, and pay homage to the past and present African-American ancestors who’ve contributed to the beauty and intelligence of the world today. On these twenty-eight days, people around the world take the time to read, research, and spread information about known, and unknown, African-American persons for their influence and inventions that make life manageable for present and future generations. I’m talking about the Dr.Kings and Rosa Parks, the activists of the Civil Rights Movement, to the Dr. Shirley Jacksons and Lewis Latimers, developers of the telephone and light bulb. However, the celebration doesn’t stop at past generations, we look at all generations in which have contributed to the evolution of musical artistry, sports, art, fashion, education and other genres that African-Americans have been successful in. This is the month of African-American pride, and boastfulness. Twenty-eight days of learning, as well as teaching others about the uniqueness of the African-American people and the African-American culture.

February isn’t only about the African-American people and their accomplishments, but also the month to express love for one another. Love between young and old, big and small, brother and sister, husband and wife, or simply friend to friend. This is the month that our days are filled with the finest of chocolates, the sweetest of strawberries, the whitest of snow flakes, the coldest of weather, and most importantly with the individuals we love the most. The extreme weather experienced around this time keeps everyone indoors with family and friends, enjoying games, movies, and the warmth of one another. This is the month of “I Like You” “I Love You” and “I Do”. Everyone dressed head to toe in shades of pink and red, chanting “Will You Be My Valentine”. February is the month of love, laughter, and being with your loved ones.

Taking all of this information in, anyone can see that February is my favorite month and I wanted to do something that showed my appreciation for it. The bulletin board located to the right of Archives Office entrance inside the Lass Center on the second floor of the Memorial Library, hangs against the wall with vibrant shades of black, pink, red, and green that stand out on a white background. The black wording is to symbolize the African-American people, while the different sizes and colors of hearts symbolize the love. I’m referring to love as we would on Valentine’s Day as well as the love for the African-American people for their contributions. The books surrounding the bulletin and near the entrance of the Lass Center include the history of African-Americans and their roles in Minnesota. In that collection we have African-Americans as activist, sports players, political figures, and their journey to settling in Minnesota. All of which are great books I’d like you to explore with me today.

Some more books on display inside of the Lass Center

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Hall of Champions: Fall 2018 Sesquicentennial Profiles

Minnesota State Mankato is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Starting in 2017 the 18-month Sesquicentennial celebration will culminate on Oct. 7, 2018—a date that marks the 150-year anniversary of the day that the first actual classes were held.  This is the third and final post in a series of three posts about the Brock Otto Hall of Champions Sesquicentennial Profiles.  Previous installments are Fall 2017 Sesquicentennial Profiles and the Spring 2018 Sesquicentennial Profiles.

During the Sesquicentennial the Brock Otto Hall of Champions exhibit located in the Taylor Center will have a series of rotating posters profiling notable Minnesota State University, Mankato individuals.  Profiles currently on display include James Nickerson, Gilbert Trafton, Mary Willerscheidt, Don Brose and Maurice Nelson.

Mankato State College President
James F. Nickerson at his desk.
James F. Nickerson served as President of the Mankato State College from 1966-1973. 

Nickerson brought the themes of change and innovation to the college.  This included the abolition of the “F” grade for college students and the change of the Wilson Campus School (campus laboratory school) from a traditional K-12 school to non-traditional school focused on innovation and individualized learning.  Memorial Library, Earley Center for the Performing Arts, Centennial Student Union, Morris Hall, and Trafton Science Center were all completed during Nickerson’s presidency.

His administration also led the beautification of the campus with the development of the campus mall and fountain area.  Nickerson is best remembered for his leadership during the student anti-Vietnam war protests in 1970 and 1972.  The anti-war activities led to rallies, student takeovers of Old Main, and the shutting down of Hwy 169.  Throughout this time, President Nickerson worked to keep communication open with students and the community and continually worked toward peaceful resolutions.  This time is documented in the book, Out of Chaos. 

Gilbert H. Trafton, 1916 Mankato
State Normal School Annual
Gilbert H. Trafton joined the faculty of the Mankato State Normal School in 1911 after obtaining Masters Degrees from Wesleyan University and Columbia.  Charles Cooper hired Trafton to teach nature study (later Biology) with an emphasis on vocational agriculture stating that Trafton would be a “valuable acquisition to the practical scientific workers of Minnesota.” 

Trafton proved to be that and much more.  His unique teaching methods included coming to class in garden cultivator outfits and carrying bee-hives and bird houses as experiential learning tools.  He was also a prolific author writing 11 books and co-authoring 10 more with his content directed towards the general public and elementary students. 

Because of Trafton’s contribution to the college and scientific community, Mankato State College renamed the new science center built on the Highland Campus in his honor in October of 1973. The Trafton Science Center currently houses various science, engineering and technology departments, classrooms and laboratory spaces.

Mary Willerscheidt, Mankato
State University, 1980s
Mary Willerscheidt served as the first Maverick women’s basketball coach from 1966 to 1985.  In her 19 seasons, she accumulated a record of 246-158 and holds the record for all-time wins among Maverick women’s basketball coaches.  Willerscheidt led her teams to conference championship titles in 1972, 1973 and 1975, and her recruits include All-American basketball players Elsie Ohm and Lisa Walters. Willerscheidt also coached track, cross country, and volleyball, and served as an assistant professor of Physical Education.
A 1961 graduate of St. Catherine’s, Willerscheidt earned a Masters from Mankato State College in 1966.  She has served as president of the Minnesota Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (MAIAW) and chairperson for the Southwestern Board of Officials for the National Association of Girl’s and Women’s Sports.  

Don Brose, Mankato State College, 1965
Don Brose guided the Maverick men’s hockey program from its early beginnings in 1969 to 2000.  Over his 30-year career, Brose amassed a 536-335-79 record and led the program from its days as an independent program through NCAA Division III and NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I membership and affiliation with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.  In 1980, Brose led the Mavericks to a NCAA Division II Title when they knocked off Elmira College by a score of 5 to 2. 

Brose graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead in 1962 where he was a three-sport athlete,    earning 12 varsity letters in hockey, baseball and football.  He earned his Master’s degree in physical education from the University of Maryland in 1964.  Brose joined the coaching staff and the Men’s Physical Education Department in 1965.  With 536 wins, Brose ranks 14th all-time among all U.S. college hockey coaches.  

Maurice J. Nelson, or “Maurice J.”, as he was fondly called by Industrial Arts students, joined the faculty of Mankato State Normal School in 1918 and remained a faculty member for 41 years until his retirement in 1959.  While teaching, he continued to further his education, completing his Bachelor of Science degree in 1935 at the Stout Institute in Menomonie, Wisconsin, and his M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1937.

In 1925, recognizing the increasing number of male Mankato State Normal School students, then President Charles H. Cooper appointed Nelson to the newly created position of Dean of Men. Initially called the Industrial Arts Building, Mankato State College paid tribute to Nelson's dedication by renaming it Nelson Hall in his honor in 1968.

Nelson is credited with saving many Industrial Arts tools and equipment during the fire at Old Main on February 5, 1922 and chairing the first Homecoming Committee in 1928. Nelson died in April 1976.