Tag Archives: 1920s

Mu-So Choral Club

The Mu-So Choral Club, a Minneapolis-based choir of approximately 40 African American singers, depending on the year, was formed in 1917 and remained active through the 1920s. Members were drawn primarily from local church choirs, and the group was often considered to feature some of “best of the best” of local African American vocal talent.

The group performed at churches, benefits, and at public venues such as Minneapolis City Hall. In April 1923, the Mu-So Choral Club was the featured music of that week’s WLAG’s “Listenin’ in Radio News-Program.” The photo featured here, as well as the images below, come from our extensive historic radio, film, and theater program collection.

Never heard of radio station WLAG, “the call of the North”? WLAG, based out of the Oak Grove Hotel in Loring Park, Minneapolis, was only on the air from 1922 to 1924; soon afterwards, the Washburn Crosby Company took it over, renamed it WCCO, and the rest is, as they say, history.

WLAG cover photo

Mu-so choral club WLAG flyer 1923


Object of the Week: Zuhrah Temple Fez

This fez belonged to Henry Sparby, who was a member of the Zuhrah Temple and the Minnesota Consistory No. 2 as early as 1920. The model for Mr. Sparby’s fez is our own George H. Christian—first owner and overseer of construction of the Christian mansion where Hennepin History Museum is now located.

The Zuhrah Temple is the local chapter of the fraternal system known as Shriners International. With over 2,000 members, the Zuhrah Temple is the largest shrine in the Midwest region.

Today, the order is based in Minnetonka, but it has a long history. It was one of the first centers in the Midwest, obtaining a charter in 1886 along with St. Paul, Chicago, St. Louis, Cedar Rapids, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids.

The Zuhrah Temple is proud that the first uniformed marching unit was the Zuhrah Patrol, meaning the long tradition of Shriners marching in parades began here in Hennepin County. There have also been three leaders (“Potentates”) in Zuhrah history to become national leaders (“Imperial Potentates”).

Shriner fraternities, like the Zuhrah Temple, are dedicated to fellowship and philanthropy. They work to improve their communities by giving back through service and financial support. Across the country, Shriners are particularly known for establishing hospitals in their communities. The Zuhrah Temple completed the Twin Cities Shrine Hospital in 1923.

The fez was donated by the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center.

Collection Item of the Week: Perm Machine

Permanent Wave Machine 

By HHM collections manager Heather Hoagland

Despite appearances, this is not some kind of torture device—although may have caused women to suffer for fashion. This is a permanent wave machine. With the combination of a reagent on the hair and the addition of heat through the top of the device (known as the “chandelier”), this machine would create a stylish wave.


Image: Wiki Commons

First, a proprietary alkaline reagent would be applied to the hair. Each beautician would create their own special blend, determined by their own experience, as well as the type of hair and style desired. Although I couldn’t confirm this myself, curator Jack Kabrud claims this reagent could include cow urine!

Sections of hair would then be wrapped around one of the metal coils and clamped into place and the electric machine would add heat to the hair, setting the wave in place.

This particular machine was produced by E. Frederics, Inc. of New York, circa 1928. The image below shows representatives of the company giving a demonstration in New York in 1928.

Embed from Getty Images

Buzza April Showers

From The Art of Entertaining by Jean Waldon, published by the Buzza Company of Minneapolis in 1924:

An “April Shower” for a Bride-t0-Be

Springtime is a glorious time in which to entertain for a Bride-t0-be, and April is noted for its “showers.” Therefore, let us combine a luncheon, a few tulips, a bit o’Bridge, twelve girl friends of the bride, and a parasol all in one, and call it a real shower!

If the Hostess asked ten girls to share the expense with her, they might easily “chip in” and buy a really beautifully monogrammed parasol for the guest of honor, without any one person spending too much  money. Delegate to one girl the task of obtaining a sample of the bride’s traveling suit, and match as nearly as possible in a silk parasol.

The Hostess may arrange her luncheon table in the following manner. A centerpiece of dainty pink tulips placed in a glass basket, the handle of which is tied a crisp tulle bow of robin’s-egg blue, is unusual and decorative.

Place-cards are tiny parasols, containing a rhyming couplet underneath the fold, with a different message for each of the twelve girls present.

After the luncheon (which should be very simple), the guests are asked to find their Bridge tallies by searching the ouse.

Finally, someone discovers them, all hanging in groups of two, to the spokes of the open gift parasol. Each guest is then asked to detach the colorful little tally bearing her name and the two girls finding their tallies together from the same “spoke” are partners.

The tally belonging to the Hostess hangs alone, and that belongs to the honor guest is not to be found! Instead it is attached to the handle of the parasol, and the hostess then graciously presents the gift to its rightful owner on behalf of her friends. Upon the back of the tally belonging to the Bride-to-be, may be written the following verse, to which are signed all the names of the girls present:

After every little April shower

The skies are a brighter blue,

So may a shower of Happiness

Come every hour – to YOU!


Want to learn more about the Buzza Company and its work? Greetings, an exhibition chronicling the company’s history and its work, is showing at Hennepin History Museum through July 3, 2016.


Photo of the Week: Street Scene, c. 1925

This street scene, photographed circa 1925, was taken on 6th Street looking towards Nicollet Avenue (now Nicollet Mall) in downtown Minneapolis. Visible at the intersection is the corner of the Donaldson’s Department Store’s famous Glass Block building.

One of the things that struck our eye are the modes of transportation visible in this photograph. We have a new exhibition opening at Hennepin History Museum this week: the Cycling Museum of Minnesota has curated the ever-fascinating High Wheels! exhibition looking at biking in 19th century Minneapolis. This photograph post-dates the high wheels, but if you look closely you’ll see there’s foot, car, streetcar, and yes, bicycle traffic.