At first glance, your friend’s scribbled high school poetry might not seem worth saving. But when that friend was Robert Zimmerman—now known as iconic musician and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Bob Dylan—those pages take on a whole new meaning.
The Minnesota Historical Society recently acquired two handwritten pages of Dylan’s poetry, dating to about 1956, at auction. Saved by his Hibbing High School friend Dale Boutang, this artifact is Dylan’s earliest-known writing. The acquisition also includes an original photograph of Boutang and Dylan on a motorcycle from their high school days.
“The writing in these pages is fairly immature, but you can already see his ballad style that will develop later,” says Acquisitions Librarian Patrick Coleman, who acquired the work. “It portends his future as a Nobel laureate.”
These new Dylan artifacts join other MNHS collections items related to the musician’s life, including a 1960 recording of Dylan playing in Minneapolis and handwritten lyrics to the song “Temporary Like Achilles,” featured on his 1966 double album, Blonde on Blonde.
Minnesotans may already be familiar with these artifacts; they were part of the Museum of Pop Culture's traveling exhibit “Bob Dylan’s American Journey, 1956-1966,” which visited the Weisman Art Museum in 2007.
Media can contact PR Specialist Lauren Peck to request access to view items in person. These new acquisitions will be available for researchers to view in the Gale Family Library, and collections staff are in discussions about a future display.
The artifacts will also be digitized and made available to view on MNHS’ website. 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.
About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.
The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.