Behind-the-Scenes in the Archives

Did you know that Hennepin History Museum is home to vast archives holding materials relating to the history of Hennepin County? We’ll be highlighting materials from the archives on this blog, but these materials are also available for use by the public; while our collection database isn’t (yet) online, we have a physical card catalog available in our reading room, and if you email our archivist, Susan Larson-Fleming, in advance with details about your research project she’ll pull out materials for you in advance (You can reach Susan at

What sorts of things do we hold? A little bit of everything, and a lot of some things. We have tens of thousands of historic photographs of people, places, and events from across the county. Our collection of historic house photographs from Minneapolis gets a lot of use. We have diaries, postcards, menus, yearbooks, cookbooks, calendars, catalogs, scrapbooks, meeting minutes, advertising ephemera, even old train tickets and schedules.

Maintaining archival materials is a little different than what you might do at home. Because our goal is preserve this materials for many generations into the future, we house all materials in acid-free materials (regular cardboard or paper can, over time, can damage archival materials); the boxes you see in this photo are all specially made for archival use. We also catalog each item so that staff and researchers know what is in the collection and where to find it.

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