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Minnesota Historical Society Press


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Minnesota Historical Society Press

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Land Of The Burnt Thigh Cover

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Land Of The Burnt Thigh

A Lively Story of Women Homesteaders On The South Dakota Frontier

Edith Eudora Kohl

Among the hordes of homesteaders who settled the American West were thousands of single women who hoped to gain for themselves a piece of land and the money and satisfaction that came along with it. The memoirs of many of these self-described “girl homesteaders,” long ignored by historians, show the significant impact these women had on their communities. Land of the Burnt Thigh, first published in 1938, is one of the best of these accounts. Edith Eudora Ammons and her sister Ida Mary moved to central South Dakota in 1907 to try homesteading near the “Land of the Burnt Thigh”—the Lower Brule Indian Reservation. These two young women, both in their twenties and “timid as mice,” found a community of homesteaders (including several other single women) who were eager to help them succeed at what looked to be impossible: living in a tiny tarpaper shack on 160 waterless, sunbaked, and snowblasted acres for eight months until they could “prove up” the claim. Within as few weeks Edith was running a newspaper, Ida Mary was teaching school, and the two were helping others who had come to settle. In the months to come, they battled prairie fires, rattlesnakes, and a blizzard; they observed two great land rushes; they stakes a new claim, founded their own newspaper, opened a post office and a general store, and overcame their fear of the Indians who came to trade with them. In her introduction, historian Glenda Riley discusses the Ammons sisters’ adventures and those of many other women homesteaders. Praise for Land of the Burnt Thigh “Their story is genuinely stirring in its events, as it is interesting in its spirit and atmosphere, and it is told simply and well…This is an unusual record, well worth reading.”—New York Times “Mrs. Kohl has told this story of South Dakota with a simplicity, a directness, and an understanding of its quietly heroic element which make her book an appealing as well as a significant contribution to the latter-day history of the pioneers.”—Saturday Review

Last Full Measure Cover

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Last Full Measure

The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers

Richard Moe

Since its publication, Richard Moe's The Last Full Measure has garnered a reputation as the definitive history of the First Minnesota Regiment and one of a handful of classic regimental histories of the Civil War. The First Minnesota Volunteers, the first regiment offered to President Lincoln after the fall of Fort Sumter, served in virtually every major battle fought in the eastern theater during the first three years of the Civil War. This is the story of the Army of the Potomac during that period: the initial enthusiasm dashed by sudden defeat at Bull Run; the pride at being shaped into an army by George McClellan and the frustration with his--and his successors'--inability to defeat Robert E. Lee; and, finally, the costly battle of Gettysburg, the decisive battle in which the First Minnesota played a crucial, and tragic, role. Drawing on a wide array of letters, diaries, and personal reminiscences, Moe tells the story anew through the experiences of the men who lived it. As James MacGregor Burns notes in his foreword, "Like Tolstoy's War and Peace, this work sticks close to the men in battle, and hence, like Tolstoy, the author keeps close to the human size of war."

Last Hunter Cover

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Last Hunter

An American Family Album

Will Weaver

Minnesota’s Will Weaver has been a hunter since he was a young boy, following in the footsteps of his father, a dedicated and seasoned outdoorsman. As he writes, “in the fall, when Canada geese came through and when partridge season opened, [we] heard the far-off thudding report of shotguns—and in November the heavier poom-poom! of deer rifles.” Hunting frames Weaver’s childhood memories, his relationship with his father, and his own definition of self. And although one side of his family lineage includes men who would not hunt, or go to war, or carry a rifle, Weaver is caught off guard when his son and daughter show no interest in upholding the tradition of the hunt. The Last Hunter is a twenty-first-century collection of deeply personal tales—a truly American story. Weaver’s heartfelt rendering sweeps us along on a family journey from an isolated North Dakota farm “built around a fork and shovel” to postmodern America. Grounded in telling and luminous detail, The Last Hunter is an examination of family, life on the land, and those things we hold dear enough to want to carry along, one generation to another. Praise for Will Weaver: “. . . his stories view America’s heartland with a candid but charitable eye.” —New York Times on A Gravestone Made of Wheat “. . . pitch perfect. Superb.” —Kirkus Reviews on Full Service “ Weaver . . . is a writer of uncommon natural talent. He’s that rare Real Thing, a writer writing eloquently, often between the lines but always with an undertow of passion about what he knows, where he lives, what he’s been through.” —Los Angeles Times

Last Letter Home Cover

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Last Letter Home

Vilhelm Moberg

Considered one of Sweden's greatest 20th-century writers, Vilhelm Moberg created Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson to portray the joys and tragedies of daily life for early Swedish pioneers in America. His consistently faithful depiction of these humble people's lives is a major strength of the Emigrant Novels. Moberg's extensive research in the papers of Swedish emigrants in archival collections, including the Minnesota Historical Society, enabled him to incorporate many details of pioneer life. First published between 1949 and 1959 in Swedish, these four books were considered a single work by Moberg, who intended that they be read as documentary novels. These new editions contain introductions written by Roger McKnight, Gustavus Adolphus College, and restore Moberg's bibliography not included in earlier English editions. Book 4 portrays the Nilsson family during the turmoil of living through the era of the Civil War and Dakota Conflict and their prospering in the midst of Minnesota's growing Swedish community of the 1860s-90s. "It's important to have Moberg's Emigrant Novels available for another generation of readers.”—Bruce Karstadt, American Swedish Institute

Lincoln and the Indians Cover

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Lincoln and the Indians

Civil War Policy and Politics

by David A. Nichols

“Lincoln and the Indians has stood the test of time and offers this generation of readers a valuable interpretation of the U.S. government’s Indian policies—and sometimes the lack thereof—during the Civil War era. Providing a critical perspective on Lincoln’s role, Nichols sets forth an especially incisive analysis of the trial of participants in the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota and Lincoln’s role in sparing the lives of most of those who were convicted.” — James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom “For the Dakota people, the Indian System started with the doctrine of discovery and continued through Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and beyond. The United States was bound to protect the rights of Indian parties. But in the end, the guilty were glorified and the laws for humanity disgraced. This book tells that story, and it should be required reading at all educational institutions.” —Sheldon Wolfchild, independent filmmaker, artist, and actor “Undoubtedly the best book published on Indian affairs in the years of Lincoln’s presidency.” —American Historical Review

Little Crow Cover

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Little Crow

Spokesman for the Sioux

Gary Clayton Anderson

With this statement, “I, Ta-o-ya-te-du-ta, am not a coward. I will die with you,” Little Crow reluctantly put himself at the head of the Indian forces and plunged his nation into war against the United States. At a time when the Union and Confederate armies marched against each other in the South and East, the Minnesota home front erupted into its own desperate warfare. With their way of life endangered, the Dakota (or Sioux) turned to Little Crow to lead them in a battle or self-preservation, a war that Little Crow had tried to avoid. Within a year, the Dakota had been chased from Minnesota, Little Crow was dead, and a way of life had vanished. Through his life, we see the complex interrelationship of Indians and whites, the horrors of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, and the events that forever changed the history of the West.

Living Our Language Cover

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Living Our Language

Ojibwe Tales and Oral Histories

Anton Treuer

A language carries a people's memories, whether they are recounted as individual reminiscences, as communal history, or as humorous tales. This collection of stories from Anishinaabe elders offers a history of a people at the same time that it seeks to preserve the language of that people. As fluent speakers of Ojibwe grow older, the community questions whether younger speakers know the language well enough to pass it on to the next generation. Young and old alike are making widespread efforts to preserve the Ojibwe language, and, as part of this campaign, Anton Treuer has collected stories from Anishinaabe elders living at Leech Lake, White Earth, Mille Lacs, Red Lake, and St. Croix reservations. Based on interviews Treuer conducted with ten elders--Archie Mosay, Jim Clark, Melvin Eagle, Joe Auginaush, Collins Oakgrove, Emma Fisher, Scott Headbird, Susan Jackson, Hartley White, and Porky White--this anthology presents the elders' stories transcribed in Ojibwe with English translation on facing pages. These stories contain a wealth of information, including oral histories of the Anishinaabe people and personal reminiscences, educational tales, and humorous anecdotes. Treuer's translations of these stories preserve the speakers' personalities, allowing their voices to emerge from the page. Treuer introduces each speaker, offering a brief biography and noting important details concerning dialect or themes; he then allows the stories to speak for themselves. This dual-language text will prove instructive for those interested in Ojibwe language and culture, while the stories themselves offer the gift of a living language and the history of a people.

Long Hard Road Cover

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Long Hard Road

American POWs During World War II

Thomas Saylor

Between 1941 and 1945 more than 110,000 American marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors were taken prisoner by German, Italian, and Japanese forces. Most who fought overseas during World War II weren’t prepared for capture, or for the life-altering experiences of incarceration, torture, and camaraderie bred of hardship that followed. Their harrowing story—often overlooked in Greatest Generation narratives—is told here by the POWs themselves. Long hours of inactivity followed by moments of sheer terror. Slave labor, death marches, the infamous hell ships. Historian Thomas Saylor pieces together the stories of nearly one hundred World War II POWs to explore what it was like to be the “guest” of the Axis Powers and to reveal how these men managed to survive. Gunner Bob Michelsen bailed out of his wounded B-29 near Tokyo, only to endure days of interrogation and beatings and months as a “special prisoner” in a tiny cell home to seventeen other Americans. Medic Richard Ritchie spent long moments of terror locked with dozens of others in an unmarked boxcar that was repeatedly strafed by Allied forces. In the closing chapter to this moving narrative, the men speak of their difficult transition to life back home, where many sought—not always successfully—to put their experience behind them.

Lyncher In Me Cover

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Lyncher In Me

A Search for Redemption in the Face of History

Warren Read

In June 1920, in Duluth, Minnesota, a mob of over 10,000 convened upon the police station, inflamed by the rumor that black circus workers had raped a white teenage girl—charges that would later be proven false. Three men were dragged from their cells and lynched in front of the cheering crowd. More than eighty years later, Warren Read—a fourth-grade teacher, devoted partner, and father to three boys—plugged his mother’s maiden name into a computer search engine, then clicked on a link to a newspaper article that would forever alter his understanding of himself. Louis Dondino, his beloved great-grandfather, had incited the deadly riot on that dark summer night decades before. In his poignant memoir, Read explores the perspectives of both the victims and the perpetrators of this heinous crime. He investigates the impact—the denial and anger—that the long-held secrets had on his family. Through this examination of the generations affected by one horrific night, he discovers we must each take responsibility for “our deep-seated fears that lead us to emotional, social, or physical violence.”

Lynchings In Duluth Cover

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Lynchings In Duluth

Michael Fedo

On the evening of June 15, 1920, in Duluth, Minnesota, three young black men, accused of the rape of a white woman, were pulled from their jail cells and lynched by a mob numbering in the thousands. Up to a tenth of the city's residents clogged the street in front of the police station to witness the hanging. Reporters from the two major newspapers of Minneapolis and St. Paul shocked their readers with lurid accounts of the event. Leading newspapers throughout the North vilified Duluthians for having stained their city's good name and castigated them for being no better than southern racists. The governor of Minnesota, J. A. A. Burnquist, then president of the St. Paul chapter of the NAACP, commissioned his adjutant general to launch a formal investigation. Three dozen men were indicted for taking part in the mob action. And one year later, in reaction to the event, the state legislature enacted an anti-lynching law. Yet, today, the incident is nearly forgotten. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the lynching of blacks was typically a rural, southern phenomenon. This account of the lynchings that took place in Duluth shows that the mentality necessary for such events was not particular to any region. Praise for The Lynchings in Duluth: "A chilling reconstruction of a 1920 racial tragedy. . . . Combining hour-by-hour, day-by-day narrative with expert scholarship based on interviews, suppressed documents and news reports, Fedo skillfully portrays Northern prejudice and violence. Without preaching or condemning, he makes readers firsthand witnesses to fear and injustice.”—Los Angeles Times "This tense book punches out a story of devastating fury. . . . Fedo has put his sharpest reportorial skills to work in resurrecting a little known racial atrocity. . . . As pointed as a Klansman's cap, this book conveys the horror of mob action--and the disturbing truth that it knows no region.”—Milwaukee Journal "The story of the events leading up to the lynching and the various stages in the action of the mob are vividly related in this superb work. Fedo presents in masterful prose--based on excellent research--a difinitive account of the Duluth lynchings. His graphic description of the mob and the context in which it operated provides evidence of the manner in which given the proper set of circumstances mass violence can occur anywhere and anytime.”—The Ann Arbor News

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