100+ Newly Digitized Photo Albums Preserve Family Memories Throughout Minnesota History
As Minnesotans gather together to celebrate the holidays, it’s a time of reminiscing and remembering our shared memories. For the last few months, several Minnesota Historical Society staffers have focused on digitizing MNHS's collection of photo albums, including a significant number featuring families and friends across various eras.
Now 111 photo albums are available to explore on the MNHS website. Previously, these artifacts could only be viewed in person at the Gale Family Library in St. Paul.
Highlights of the collection include:
- Willard Nelson Handsaker’s “Hanksaker Annuals,” annual photo albums the St. Paul resident created for nearly 50 years documenting his family, friends and events from the 1930s-1981
- Images by Minneapolis photographer Monroe P. Killy of his friends and family from 1929-1937, including scenes around Minneapolis and family vacations
- An 1860s-1870s album of portraits of the family of Asa B. Hutchinson, a member of the famous Hutchinson Family Singers and a founder of Hutchinson, MN
- Roberta Borrill’s album documenting campus life at the State Normal College in St. Cloud (now St. Cloud University) as she trained to become a teacher from 1912-1915
With 100+ albums digitized, about one-third of the MNHS photo album collection is now available online. Staff is still working to digitize the rest of the collection, which totals about 350 albums.
Digitizing these artifacts helps MNHS preserve them for the future. Now that high-resolution digital copies exist, albums can be put in low-humidity cold storage, which helps stabilize plastics and dyes found in photographs and decrease deterioration. While the physical albums will still be accessible to researchers with a curator’s permission, decreased handling will also help prevent damage over time.
Digitization of collections items for online access is made possible by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.