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Minneapolis Parks Foundation > Common Ground > Listicles > 5 Historical Archives that will Transport you into Parks of the Past

5 Historical Archives that will Transport you into Parks of the Past

#1. Minnesota Reflections
Minnesota Reflections is an online archive, holding a collection of old park photos, maps, and other documents that are all publicly accessible and downloadable at no cost. This record holds 54,570 items from 189 historical societies, libraries, archives, and cultural organizations across Minnesota, including all of the following locations in this list. You can browse these documents based on topic, contributor, or format, or for a more specific title, you can easily use their general search bar — just be sure you are using the correct citations. This is an amazing resource to dive into and will surely have you losing track of time. Check it out here:

Conroy, Nancy.”Bde Maka Ska Park Beach, Minneapolis, Minnesota.” Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, Accessed January 15, 2020.

#2. Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board Historical Archives
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board holds extensive historical documentation of their administration, publication, park properties, and recreational activities through the years, including historical maps, journals, and photographs. They recently hired Archivist and Records Specialist, Katelyn Morken, who I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down with soon after. She showed me pieces of their expansive collection of old park documents and explained each one’s significance and known background. It’s a nostalgic feeling to see these old photographs in person, transporting yourself into the time the story behind them.

Image 1.  Boys waiting for their turn on the gym horse during recreation at a Minneapolis Park in the early 1900s. Photo Courtesy of MPRB
Image 2. Group of boys on a toboggan at Powderhorn Park in the early 1900s. Photo Courtesy of MPRB

For more information, check out:
Or contact Katelyn Morken, Archivist and Records Specialist, at:

Bde Maka Ska Linking of the Lakes, on July 5, 1911
Image Courtesy of MPRB

#3. Hennepin County Library
Founded in 1885, the Hennepin County Library is a rich source of all things historical within Hennepin County. They oversee a collection of 41 libraries throughout Minneapolis. However, their digital collection online brings these old documents right into your own home. The Hennepin County Library holds the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board proceedings, reports and other historical documents from the early 1880s through the 1960s. They also have an extensive Minneapolis History Collection, which includes photographs, maps, postcards and thousands of files of newspaper clippings (among others) that includes highlights of the park system over time.

Ingersoll, Truman Ward. 1903. “Heard the Falls of Minnehaha calling to them from the distance, Minneapolis, Minnesota.” Hennepin County Library, James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library, Accessed January 15, 2020.

#4. Hennepin History Museum
The Hennepin History Museum also houses photographs and records on the park system. Though their online presence is not as robust, they do have some digitized items on Minnesota Reflections, as well as an archivist on site to answer any questions.

#5. Minnesota Historical Society
While highlighting historical records, we cannot overlook the Minnesota Historical Society. Take a stroll through history on one of their walking tours, events, or lectures. Visit their website here:

1913 Map of the Park System.
Photo Courtesy of MPRB

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