How Religion Has Shaped the State

Tradition, Schism, and Continuity in Minnesota’s Communities of Faith

Expert Essay: Doug Rossinow, Professor of History at Metropolitan State University, discusses the faith-based traditions, leaders, and organizations that have shaped the history of religion in Minnesota.

Traveling Libraries

Before 1899, few Minnesotans had access to free public libraries. But in that year, the state legislature began funding a system of traveling libraries that were sent to underserved communities in all parts of the state for only the cost of shipping.

Treaty of Mendota

The Treaty of Mendota was signed between the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute bands of the Dakota and the United States Government in 1851. By signing this treaty and the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux the same year, the Dakota transferred ownership of their lands to the United States. The Treaties of 1851 opened millions of acres to white settlement. For the Dakota, the treaties represented a step towards the loss of their homeland, and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

Treaty of Traverse des Sioux

The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux of 1851 is an agreement between the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota and the U.S. government. It transferred ownership of much of southern and western Minnesota from the Dakota to the United States. The treaty is significant in Minnesota's history because, along with similar treaties signed that same year, it opened twenty-four million acres of land to immigration. For the Dakota, these treaties marked another step in the process that saw them increasingly marginalized in and dismissed from land that was their home.

United States of America v. Reserve Mining Company

After the discovery of taconite in the late nineteenth century, scientists struggled to find ways to extract iron ore from this sedimentary rock, which contains 25 to 30 percent iron. The process that was eventually developed involves crushing the hard rock into a powder-like consistency. The iron ore is then removed with magnets and turned into pellets.

Universal Laboratories, Dassel

The Universal Laboratories building played a key role during World War II by ensuring that the United States had an adequate domestic supply of the essential crude drug ergot. As war threatened to cut off imported supplies of crude ergot, Universal Laboratories developed an effective collecting and processing operation in Dassel.

University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is the state's largest, most diverse and complete horticultural site. The grounds have more than five thousand types of plants, including fruits, vegetables, bushes and flowers. Located about twenty miles west of the Twin Cities, it is a significant horticultural resource.

Vachon, John (1914–1975)

John Vachon traveled the world as a professional photographer, but the St. Paul native's work was always shaped by his Midwestern upbringing. He is most remembered for his photographs for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and Look magazine.

Valesh, Eva McDonald (1866–1956)

In 1888, a St. Paul Globe exposé of women's working conditions penned by "Eva Gay" launched the career of Eva McDonald Valesh, a young writer. During the time that she lived in the state, Valesh left a big impression on Minnesota journalism, politics, and labor organizing.

Van Cleve, Charlotte Ouisconsin Clark (1819–1907)

Charlotte Ouisconsin Clark Van Cleve was the child of a military family and a crusader for the rights of disadvantaged people in Minnesota and beyond. Born during her parents' journey to help build the future Fort Snelling, she lived to see a fledgling community grow into an urban center.

Von Rovigno, Count William Rudolph Martinovich (1882–1971)

Count William Rudolph Martinovich von Rovigno was born a European nobleman but became a big-game hunter, worldwide traveler, bronco-buster, wilderness guide, and friend of "Buffalo Bill" Cody. After falling in love with Minnesota's north woods, he settled and worked in the state as a game warden, forest guard, and wilderness advocate.

Wacouta I (Shooter), (c. 1800–1858)

In spring 1829, Wacouta (Shooter) faced two challenges upon becoming leader of the Red Wing band of Mdewakanton Dakota. He needed to fend off challenges from rivals within his village and also find success in dealings with United States government officials.

Wahl, Rosalie (1924–2013)

Rosalie Wahl was a pioneering figure in Minnesota law during the second half of the twentieth century. She became the state's first female Supreme Court justice at a time when there were no women on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Walker, Thomas Barlow (T.B.), (1840–1928)

Thomas Barlow (T.B.) Walker worked his way through school and into Minnesota's lumber industry, where he became unusually successful. He later helped found two of Minneapolis's significant cultural organizations, the Public Library System and the Walker Art Center.

Wealthy Apple

The Wealthy apple was the earliest apple to thrive in the Minnesota climate. Horticulturalist Peter Gideon grew it first in 1868, after years of trial and error with various apple varieties.

How Women Have Shaped the State

Weaving the Web of Minnesota Society

Expert Essay: Rhoda R. Gilman, a founding member of Women Historians of the Midwest and a former candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, considers the influence of women in Minnesota: the Willmar 8, the Schubert Club, the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, and much more.

West Hotel, Minneapolis

In 1884, the young city of Minneapolis got its first world-class hotel, the West Hotel. It was a match for the growing aspirations of the city, which until then had been served primarily by the Nicollet House, founded in 1857, before Minnesota was a state.

Western Appeal

The Western Appeal was one of the most successful African American newspapers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At the height of its popularity, it was published in six separate editions in cities across the United States, including St. Paul.

Wildwood Amusement Park

On the shores of White Bear Lake, Wildwood Amusement Park offered a dance pavilion, swimming, fishing, boating, picnic areas, amusement park rides, and carnival games. For only the cost of the streetcar fare, Twin Cities' residents could spend summer days at this park owned and operated by the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Corporation.

Wilkin, Alexander (1819–1864)

Alexander Wilkin was a St. Paul lawyer and businessman who served as secretary of Minnesota Territory. He was the highest ranking officer from Minnesota killed during the Civil War.

Wilkins, Roy (1901–1981)

Roy Wilkins, who spent his formative years in the Twin Cities, led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1949 to 1977. During those years, the NAACP helped achieve the greatest civil rights advancements in U.S. history. Wilkins favored new laws and legal challenges as the best ways for blacks to gain civil rights.

Wonderland Amusement Park

Only open for seven seasons, Wonderland Amusement Park brought thrills and sights from Coney Island to Minneapolis. With a roller coaster, fun house, shoot-the-chutes, miniature railroads for kids, a 120-foot lighted tower, and a display of premature babies in incubators, Wonderland drew crowds from all over Minnesota.

WPA Federal Writers' Project in Minnesota, 1935–1943

During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration created the Federal Writers' Project to employ writers who could not find work. These writers created guidebooks and ethnic history resources that are still used today.

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