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Bring an Historian to you business association, community group, or other organization!  
The illustrated talks are based on articles featured in our award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History and books published by Ramsey County Historical Society. The fee is dependant on the topic and author. If you would like more information about hosting an Ramsey County Historical Society author or historian, please call  651-222-0701 or email membership@rchs.com to explore the possibilities. 

New Featured Talks

The Industrial Muscle of the City - St. Paul's Eastside
Explore St. Paul's Eastside and its legacy as the industrial muscle of the city – especially in the 1940s and 1950s. Historian Steve Trimble will take a look at the working class neighborhoods and the large companies including 3M, Hamm Brewery, and Seeger/Whirlpool that made the Eastside their home. The talk is based on the article featured in the award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.

The Dutiful Son: Louis W. Hill: Life in the Shadow of the Empire Builder, James J. Hill.
Local author Biloine (Billie) W. Young and researcher Eileen McCormack bring to light the extraordinary life and contributions of Louis W. Hill Sr., the second son of James J. Hill.  Following the death of his father, Louis took on the management of the Great Northern Railway and banking empire , became the major force behind the establishment and development of Glacier National Park, restored the St. Paul Winter Carnival as a city-wide celebration and equitably settled his parents’ vast estate despite , at times,  bitter opposition from members of his family.


Rocky Roots: Geology and Stone Construction in Downtown St. Paul
Hear about the use of ornamental stone in downtown St. Paul’s architecture.  Historian Paul D. Nelson will help you see the city with new eyes and new appreciation.
This talk is based on the book Rocky Roots: Geology and Stone Construction in Downtown St.Paul which uses text, photos, and maps as a guide to the use stone, particularly stone quarried in Minnesota, in the built environment.

 Courthouse Sculptor: Lee Lawrie
Be one of the few people who know about famous sculptor, Lee Lawrie, whose sculptures grace the St. Paul Courthouse and the opening credits for a popular TV series 30 Rock.  Historian Paul D. Nelson will examine the courthouse relief sculptures as well as Lawrie’s career and creations elsewhere, including Rockefeller Center.

 'The Greatest Single Industry?' Crex: Created Out of Nothing 
Learn the details of the rise and fall of the once flourishing St. Paul industry that manufactured twine, furniture, and carpet from a forgotten resource: wire grass. The illustrated talk explains how workers harvested the wire grass which was twisted and bent into wicker furniture and carpets that once graced the porches of St. Paul neighborhoods. Historian, Paul D. Nelson’s weaves an intriguing story of the long forgotten company and its workers.

 Another Lost Neighborhood: The Life and Death of Central Park- A Small Part of the Past Illuminated
Born in the 1880s and died in the 1970s, Central Park near the state Capitol has today passed into urban legend. Paul D. Nelson will share his carefully researched history of the park in this illustrated talk. In 1884 four wealthy and powerful St. Paul families donated the land that became Central Park to act as a buffer between their homes and the already encroaching urban sprawl. Today all that remains of Central Park is a plaque in a parking ramp.

 'A Shady Pair' and an 'Attempt on His Life'-Sitting Bull and His 1884 visit to St. Paul
What did Sitting Bull think of St Paul? In 1884 Lakota Indian leader Sitting Bull visited St. Paul twice. Paul Nelson focuses on the circumstances of his two brief stays and whether there was an attempt on his life.

Fear a Powerful Motivator: A Harvest of Victims: the Twin Cities and St. Paul's Traumatic Small Pox Epidemc in 1924

'Hang Him! That's The Best Way' A Lynching In St. Paul? Almost, In 1895, An Era Of 'Vigilante Justice' In The Nation
Twenty-five years before the infamous Duluth lynchings, itinerant African-American Houston Osborne narrowly escaped lynching in St.Paul. This talk describes the near-lynching, the events leading to it, the press coverage, African-American community reaction, what became of Osborne, and where this event fits in the national lynching phenomenon.

 About the Historian: Paul D. Nelson is a graduate of Macalester College and the University of Minnesota Law School. He is the author of Fredrick L. McGhee: A Life on the Color Line, 1861–1912 (Minnesota Historical Society Press: 2002) and numerous articles on St. Paul history. Mr. Nelson is a member of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s Editorial Board and a frequent contributor to the award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.

TALKS BY HISTORIAN STEVEN C. TRIMBLE                                

Tommy Milton "St. Paul's Speed King"
Hear the story of Tommy Milton, Saint Paul’s own speed king. Milton first wowed crowds driving his Duesenberg at the Twin Cities Speedway and won the Indianapolis 500 in 1921 and 1923. He is considered to be the premier race car driver of the 1920’s. 
Steve Trimble’s illustrated talk includes never before seen photographs of Milton.

 Historic Photos Of St. Paul: The History of St. Paul Told Through Historic Photographs.
Based on the book of the same titled this illustrated talk rediscovers the city’s fascinating past through rare photographs from the Ramsey County Historical Society. Steve C. Trimble shares antidotes and entertaining stories about these rarely scene photos ranging from Summit Avenue to the invention of “kittenball”

"If It Can Be Manufactured From Wood, We Can Make It" A History of the Villaume Family and the Company They Built
How can a business remain viable for over 125 years? Steve Trimble will discuss the history of Villaume Industries, including Villaume’s World War II work, and highlight notable jobs such as the rare woods used in the glorious interior of the Ramsey County Courthouse.

 Lots of St. Paul: A Photo Essay on Downtown Parking and What Urban History Can Tell Us About a City
Learn how something as ordinary as a parking garage shaped the urban landscape of St. Paul. 

About the Historian: Steven C. Trimble is a longtime educator, researcher and writer of local history. He is a member of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s Editorial Board and serves on the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission. Mr. Trimble is a frequent contributor to the award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.



History on Ice: Winter Carnival Ice Palaces
Discover the magic of Saint Paul's legendary Ice Palaces!  Starting in 1886, Saint Paul has been the home of some of the planet's greatest ice architecture, including the largest and tallest constructions ever made from Minnesota's most liquid asset.  Bob Olsen, the Winter Carnival's unofficial ice palace historian, will present a fast paced, fun filled lecture filled with photographs, entertaining stories, and more information than you'd ever want to know.  Cool! 

 About the Historian: Bob Olsen serves as Executive Director of the arts organization, COMPAS.  He is an active volunteer for numerous community organizations and a contributor to the award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.



"A Great Experience" Villaume Builds Gliders in World War II

About the Historian:
John M. Lindley is the editor of the award winning quarterly magazine Ramsey County History.



 Gibbs Museum Heritage Orchard and the Comeback of the Ancient Apple
Local master orchardist and gardener, Ralph Thrane shares the story of the recreation of   the period orchard at the Gibbs Museum. Like many pioneers, the Gibbs family planted and maintained an orchard on their farm.  Unfortunately, the original Gibbs orchard no longer existed when the Ramsey County Historical Society acquired the farm in 1949.  Ralph Thrane will explain the rigorous selection process among thousands of varieties, he used cold weather hardiness and the age of the variety (at least 50 years old) as the standards for including a variety in the heritage orchard.   The result is a representative heritage orchard of varieties that pioneers in the region might have grown.  With varieties dating back to Jefferson, Washington, and  Benjamin Franklin, there is no other orchard in the entire upper Midwest region that offers such an array of heritage apples.  Many of these varieties are the ancestors of varieties later created by the University of Minnesota.

 About the Historian: Ralph Thrane is a member of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s Board of Directors.



Minneapolis and St. Paul Stumble- Henry Ford Wins the Struggle for the High Dam
Hear the illuminating story of Henry Ford’s commitment to hydroelectric power at the Ford plant and his role in the licensing of the power at the Ford Dam. See rare photos of the construction of the dam and interior views in this illustrated talk.

About the Historian: Brian McMahon has written widely on the subject of urban history, including several articles for Ramsey County History. He is currently working on a history of the Ford Motor Company in Minnesota. He is a trained architect and Executive Director of University UNITED, a coalition of community organizations and business representatives working to promote development on University Avenue.



The 146-Year History of The Louis Hill House… New Settlers, A Booming Real Estate Market, And A Summit Avenue Site Acquired On Speculation
Explore the history of the house that stands at 260 Summit Avenue known to many residents as the Louis and Mary Hill house.

Mary Hill's Lowertown, 1867-1891

About the Historian:
Eileen McCormack worked as associate curator in the Manuscript area of the James J. Hill reference Library.  Ms. McCormack is a frequent contributor to the award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.



 Subterranean Twin Cities

About the Historian: Greg Brick was employed as a hydrogeologist at environmental consulting firms and has taught geology at local colleges. He has published many articles about caves, is the editor of an international cave journal, and was the recipient of the 2005 National Speleological Society Award in Cave History. His first book, Iowa Underground: A Guide to the State’s Subterranean Treasures, was published in 2004. His latest book, Subterranean Twin Cities, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2009, won the 2010 American Institute of Architects Award of Recognition. His work has been featured in National Geographic Adventure magazine as well as on the History Channel. Mr. Brick is a frequent contributor to the award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.



The Story of a Lost Estate and Oliver Crosby, the Inventive Genius Who Created It
Hear the fascinating account of one of St. Paul’s pioneering industrialist and inventors, Oliver Crosby, and Stonebridge, his lost estate that was located along the river in the Macalester Groveland neighborhood from 1916 to 1953.

 About the Historian: Jay Pfaender is a member of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s Board of Directors and the society’s Editorial Board and a contributor to the award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.



The Force That Shaped the Neighborhoods: 1890-1953: Sixty Years of Streetcars in St. Paul and Millions of Dollars in Investments
Transportation historian John W. Diers takes us through the complex history of the electric streetcar system in this illustrated talk. His account is based on wide research into the predecessor systems, the economic pluses and minuses of streetcars, the human side of streetcar employment, and the ever-present competition from automobiles after 1920. The article also covers the 1917 strike, which lead to riots in St. Paul.

 About the Historian: John Diers worked for the Metropolitan Transit Commission for more then 25 years, he is now an independent consultant on transit. He is the co-author of Twin Cities by Trolley: The Street Car Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul  (University of Minnesota Press: 2007). Mr. Diers is a member of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s Editorial Board and a contributor to the award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.



Bring Pioneer & Dakota life to your door.  Gibbs Museum offers a variety of demonstrations and talks using replica artifacts, storytelling and interactive activities to help participants delve into history. Please call 651-222-0701 for a full listing of demonstrations and talks from the Gibbs Museum.

About the Gibbs Museum: The Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life compares the lives of Minnesota Pioneers with those of the Dakota Indians who lived in the region. Costumed interpreters give tours of the site, which includes a 19th century farm house, a unique one-room school house, barns, farm animals, a replica sod house, Dakota tipi and artifacts, bark lodge, pioneer and Dakota gardens, and more.  The museum reflect both early farm life in Minnesota and pioneer Jane Gibbs’s friendship with the Dakota, who camped on the site as they headed north to gather wild rice.

Our Mission
"The Ramsey County Historical Society inspires current and future generations to learn from
and value their history by engaging in a diverse program of presenting, publishing and preserving." 

The place for St. Paul & Ramsey County, Minnesota history.
Ramsey County Historical Society programs include a research center, St. Paul & Ramsey County MN history magazine, 
historical exhibits, historic site attraction the Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life.

323 Landmark Center, 75 West Fifth Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102    
Phone: (651) 222-0701, Fax: (651) 223-8539

Copyright 2012

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