The Magic of the Stereoscope

We recently had a stereoscope and a few slides donated to our education programs. If you are unfamiliar with stereoscopes, they look like an old fashioned viewfinder, with a handle on the bottom and a stick coming out of the front. Slide a card into the slot, adjust the distance, and presto: you are treated to a 3D scene of a fairy tale or far away land.

Children love stereoscopes. They have the allure of seeming old and valuable, combined with the modern magic of 3D technology. In essence, stereoscopes were the virtual reality headsets of the Victorian age and they have maintained the ability to captivate audiences of today. Bring a stereoscope into a room full of first graders and they will eagerly gather around. The lucky student who gets the device will methodically look at slide after slide, accidentally smacking their neighbors with the handle as they remain lost in the world of yesteryear. This will continue until the pleas of their classmates to take a turn win out, and the stereoscope is transferred into another set of hands. Even safely in my thirties, I couldn’t resist looking at every slide that accompanied the stereoscope that was brought in last week.


For all of their glamour, stereoscopes are fairly simple. We humans have two eyes, each in a slightly different place. Each eye takes in our world at a different angle, and our agile brains combine those views into one sensible image. In other words, we always have stereoscopic vision. It gives us our ability to perceive the world in three dimensions. Without this knack, it would be very challenging to drive, catch a softball, or even thread a needle.

When you look through a Victorian stereoscope, you are viewing a card called a stereograph on which two slightly different photographs of the same scene are printed. The stereoscope forces each eye to take the pictures in through a seperate glass lens. These lens are focused inward, forcing your eyes to combine the images at a single point. Add in our brain’s natural 3D powers, and voila: you see an illusion of depth.

Stereoscopes were one of the great fads of the past. The ability to create a stereoscopic illusion was first documented in 1838 by the British scientist Charles Wheatstone. His writings on the ocular trick were interesting, but not much was done with them for another decade. Then, scientist David Brewster refined the design, crafting a hand-held device you could raise to your eyes. This device, combined with the newfangled invention of photography, created a stereoscopic fad that swept the world. By 1856, the London Stereoscopic Company had a catalog of over 10,000 stereograph cards available for purchase. Six years later, their listings had grown to over a million.

Stereoscopes were marketed as a way to bring families together. Advertisements showed grandchildren and their elders smiling as they enjoyed their parlor stereoscopes. They were also billed as a way to view the mysteries and wonders of the world without leaving the comfort of your living room. In a time without the internet, televisions, and even widespread to access volumes of photography, the stereoscope must have truly seemed like a doorway to the globe.

These wonders did not stay in the home. By the late 1800s, stereoscopes were being aggressively marketed to schools. Like the educational technology and gaming companies of today, stereoscopes were pitched as a way to make the doldrums of learning adventurous and fun to pupils. It was said that by learning through a stereoscope, the chaotic or unfocused child would be shielded from the distractions of the classroom. The American stereoscope company Keystone developed a stereoscope based curriculum known as the Keystone system. Soon, the company claimed that every American city over 50,000 was using the Keystone system to teach pupils in their public schools.

As always, some spectators of the stereoscope fad were alarmed. They worried that the stereoscope would replace books, and students would come out of school only able to learn through a series of images rather than mastering the complex skills of reading and writing.

Eventually the fad waned. This was not due to the consternation of educational naysayers, but because it was replaced by a new parlor novelty: the radio.  In spite of this, the technology was not left behind in this craze of the past. Stereoscopic vision has periodically resurfaced in trends, from the red and blue 3D movie glasses of the 1950s, the headache-inducing magic eye books in the 1990s, and finally in the 3D video games of today. The magic of stereoscopic vision seems here to stay.

At the Scott County Historical Society our collections feature many stereographs, the dual image cards that make the magic of stereoscopes appear. Some were owned by county residents, transporting them to far away places. Others show scenes closer to home depicting neighbors or local buildings. Still others tell scandalous stories or humorous tales. If you are interested in trying a stereoscope for yourself, stop by and ask! We will pull it from it’s home in the education closet, and give you the chance to step into another world.

Below are a few of the stereographs that have a home in the SCHS Collections.



Black and white albumen stereograph showing the interior of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Shakopee.  Handwritten on the backside of the image is “Episcopal Church/St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Shakopee.” 1893


Black and white stereograph of a portion of the Grand Canyon at Yellowstone National Park.  The stereograph is titled “A More Enchanting Wonder Nature Never Knew – Grand Canyon of the Yellostone National Park, Wyo., U. S. A.”  Printed on the backside of the image is a description of the Grand Canyon. Appx. 1900


Black and white stereograph of a man and a woman in an office. The woman is sitting at a desk, the man is sitting at a roll-top desk next to the woman. The man has one arm around the woman’s shoulders and both are looking up in surprise. A third woman, presumably the man’s wife, is standing at the door. She is angry at having caught the couple together and is preparing to throw her hand fan at them.The scene is staged and is one is a series of slightly salacious stereographs. The piece is titled “The Unexpected Always Happens.” Appx 1900


Colorized stereograph showing the Horikiri Iris Garden in Japan.  Seen in the image are two women enjoying the flowers in the garden.  An enclosure with paper lanterns is seen in the background. The stereograph is titled “Horikiri, Iris Garden, Japan.” Appx 1900


  Colorized stereograph showing the Red Room in the White House.  The Red Room is one of three state parlors on the building’s first floor.  The stereograph is titled “The Red Room in White House, Washington, D. C.” Appx 1900


Black and white albumen stereograph of Henrietta Deutsch and Julius Coller, II, residents of Scott County. Seen are Coller and Deutsch sitting in a parked car next to a house. Coller is in the driver’s seat and Deutsch is in the passenger seat next to him. They are dressed in winter clothing. Handwritten in pencil on the backside of the image is “Dec 10 – 1913/Henrietta Deutsch/Jac Coller”


 Black and white stereograph showing a comical scene of a woman preparing to shave a man’s face.  The scene is staged. The piece is titled “The “New Woman” Barber.” Appx 1900

Written by Rose James, SCHS Program Manager


Beating the Summer Heat

Seems like we went directly from winter into summer – skipping spring altogether this year.  For many of us – turning on the A/C cuts the the high temperatures and humidity, but what did people do in the early 1900s to escape the heat?

Go Boating!


Grab some friends and go on a hayride!

Try your luck fishing.

Head to the lake or pool!


Hang out by yourself or with family, friends, coworkers …


Just try to keep cool!

Metal elec fan c1970

Send us your photos of keeping cool this summer!

All photos are from the SCHS collection – check us out online at


Reflecting on my semester internship

Hi, my name’s Kaleb, and I’m a Shakopee CAPS digital design student who interned here at Scott County History for my final semester in High School.

Starting my final semester of high school was intimidating. On top of that, starting my first ever graphic design internship piled it high. Scott County History was my first choice out of the three internships I interviewed for, and I’m so glad that I was chosen to learn and grow as a designer and a professional here. I’ve been able to work on projects that I love like logo design; I’ve also learned to enjoy the simplicity of other projects like social media ad templates, and I’m extremely grateful for it. I’m grateful to Kathy for choosing me to work on the projects she’s given me, and the opportunity to experience the responsibilities of a professional working in the graphic design field.

To get side tracked, I’d like to list three things that I’ve found out through this internship:

  1. Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra is a great song to get me in a good mood to work hard
  2. It’s inspiring and heartwarming to know that there are people in the community who come in and work or volunteer to preserve our history and show it to others
  3. Knowing that you’re doing something to help others is rewarding and I think everyone should do it.

Everyone at the Historical Society are nothing but nice, will always greet you with a friendly attitude, and made the environment delightful. I’d like to thank everyone that I’ve met here for being kind and making my day start off with a smile. I’d also like to thank Shakopee CAPS and Kathy, once again, for giving this opportunity that I will take with me next year to college, and to my future career.

This fall, I’m going to be attending the Minneapolis College of Art and Design for animation, which isn’t marketing or graphic design, but doesn’t mean that this internship didn’t help me make this choice. It has changed how I view my future, in a good way, and was definitely a stepping stone in the right direction.

Thanks for these five months, they’ve been a great learning experience for me.



Kaleb Cardona

p.s. by Kathy:  The logo at the top of the Blog was one of the great designs Kaleb created for our newest exhibit, opening September 2018.  It was such a pleasure to work with Kaleb – he left his mark not only with templates and design, but by his great attitude and work ethic.  We’ll miss you!

To Honor Mom

Mother’s Day can be filled with flowers, candy, presents, hugs, sticky kisses, longing, and sadness.  Setting aside a special day to celebrate mothers has a long and somewhat painful history.  Ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals to honor the mother goddess, and early Christians celebrated a festival known as “Mothering Sunday”, however, it was death, poverty, and war that brought Mother’s Day to a national holiday.

Modern Mother’s Day began as a political and social peace movement.  In 1868 a “Mothers Friendship Day” was organized by Ann Jarvis* for mothers to gather with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. She stated the purpose of the day was to:

To revive the dormant filial love and gratitude we owe to those who gave us birth. To be a home tie for the absent. To obliterate family estrangement. To create a bond of brotherhood through the wearing of a floral badge. To make us better children by getting us closer to the hearts of our good mothers. To brighten the lives of good mothers. To have them know we appreciate them, though we do not show it as often as we ought… Mothers Day is to remind us of our duty before it is too late. This day is intended that we may make new resolutions for a more active thought to our dear mothers. By words, gifts, acts of affection, and in every way possible, give her pleasure, and make her heart glad every day, and constantly keep in memory Mothers Day.

Abolitionist, pacifist, author, and suffragette Julia Ward Howe wrote a Mothers’ Day Proclamation in 1870, calling mothers to unite in promoting world peace.  In fact, she and other antiwar activists called for a Mother’s Peace Day to promote unity after war.  She believed women bore the loss of human life more harshly than anyone else.

Founder of Mother's Day Anna M. JarvisThe official observance of Mother’s Day is due to Anna Jarvis (Ann R. Jarvis’s daughter).  Anna pushed the efforts for an official Mothers’ Day after the death of her Mom, to honor her mother and the sacrifices mothers made for their children.  Her idea was to set aside a day for children to celebrate their Moms, and remember the work of peacemaking, reconciliation, and social action against poverty.**

She also argued that most national holidays were biased toward men’s achievements, so she started a letter writing campaign.  By 1912 many towns and states adopted Mothers’ Day as an annual holiday and by 1914 President Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mothers’ Day.

Side note: originally the holiday was intended as a day to recognize women’s activism – the organized social and political action by all mothers. The apostrophe was moved so the original intent of Mothers’ Day, became Mother’s Day to emphasize women’s role in the home and family; a day to celebrate the service of your own mother.

Although she never married or had children, Anna Jarvis envisioning people wearing a carnation (colored if your mom was living, white if she was not***), as a badge and attend church services.  However, once it became a national holiday – it became heavily commercialized.  Anna spoke out against people buying items; she wanted to protect the day and filed lawsuits against groups that used the “Mother’s Day” as a slogan for sales.  “To have Mothers’ Day the burdensome, wasteful, expensive gift day that Christmas and other special days have become, is not our pleasure,” she wrote.  “If the American People are not willing to protect Mothers’ Day from the hordes of money schemers that would overwhelm it with their schemes, then we shall cease having a Mothers’ Day …” Eventually, she went broke using her money to battle the holiday’s commercialism. By her death in 1948, Anna – the Mom of Mothers’ Day – had completely divorced herself from the holiday and lobbied to have it removed from the calendar!

However you celebrate Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day – we wish all moms peace and happiness, and thank you for your sacrifices.

Here are a few Scott County Moms.

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*Ann Jarvis helped start Mother’s Day Work Clubs to teach women how to properly care for their children.  Ann had lost eight of her own children under the age of seven and wanted to combat the poor health and sanitation conditions that contributed to a high child mortality rate.

** This was the Progressive Era.  Women started using their roles as mother, wife, and homemaker to make changes in the public arena.  Many women saw motherhood as a moral responsibility to become activists.

***Today, the white carnation is the most popular flower choice and was Annas original flower for Mother’s Day. She chose the flower because “The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, as so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying.”

The Sound of History: Music and Society in Scott County

When it comes to history, it is easy to see how people’s clothing has changed, how houses look different, or even how social customs evolve.  We often take it for granted that life sounds much different than it did 100 years ago.  I remember watching an old episode of The Twilight Zone in which a scientist experimenting with time travel in 1961 brings a violent cowboy from the 1880s into his present.  The cowboy, a master of his environment in the 19th century, is nearly driven mad when he walks out onto the New York street and hears cars honking their horns, jukeboxes blaring from diners, sirens whizzing by, and the dull roar of the city crowds.  The difference in sound between his world and the modern world was overwhelming.  Today, we can walk into virtually any business and hear music piped throughout the store or restaurant.  Our cars are equipped with radios, tape decks, CD players, or even DVD players, turning them into portable sound machines.  And our homes have just as many, if not more devices that emit constant streams of sound, television being chief among these.  In the pioneer days of Minnesota history, long before these technological and cultural innovations enveloped our everyday worlds in sound, music was a much more powerful social force.

Social connectedness was one of the underlying purposes of music for a long time, and still is among those who go to concerts, play in bands, or sing in choirs.  Just as music was an important part of individual expression and entertainment, live musical performance was an important social activity that brought individuals together and connected them to their communities.  Here at the Scott County Historical Society, we have a number of items that illustrate this important musical legacy throughout the county.

The earliest pioneers to the county brought their musical instruments, skills, and traditions with them from the eastern U.S., Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Bohemia and other countries.  In those heady days of land-grabbing and town-founding, dances and parades were some of the few occasions when settlers could enjoy themselves and interact with one another.  Maine native Daniel Storer kept an extensive journal of his migration to Scott County in the early 1850s and his new life in Shakopee.  Like many pioneers, Storer was multi-skilled and held numerous positions in the new town: carpenter, justice of the peace, town clerk, as well as fiddler and singer.  His journal, published by the Shakopee Heritage Society, gives a glimpse of Storer’s success as a fiddler.  It also hints at the social interactions of others during such festive occasions:

December 14, 1854: Went to a party in the hall in the eve.  Gates and I played for them.  A good many got drunk.  I took Dr. Ripley’s lady home, and he was so mad that he set out to shoot me.  He was so drunk himself that she would not go with him.

December 19, 1855: Went to Mrs. Holmes’ birthday party the night of the 19th.  There was a large crowd of people there.  Douglas and I played for them.  John McCormick, whom I used to know in Stillwater, was after me to go to Eden Prairie the same night and play for a dance there.

Storer’s talents were much in demand, and the playing provided him with a little extra income.  More importantly, he and other pioneer musicians brought townspeople together.  Young men and women could court at such functions and strengthen their relationships with dance and conversation.  Business might be conducted, or neighborly disputes settled (or commenced, in Dr. Ripley’s case).  For many, town hall dances and concerts would simply be a much-needed reprieve from their daily toil.

Storer also witnessed several dances and songs performed by the Mdewakanton Dakota (Sioux) of Chief Sakpe’s village.  Like Samuel Pond in his recollections of the Dakota in 1834, Storer was entranced by Dakota music, yet failed to understand it as a vital part of Dakota culture.  Dakota traditions emphasized connectedness and kinship, and dances and singing were a way of reinforcing stories and memories from their history.

Browsing through our photograph catalogue, a researcher might find any number of images of marching bands parading through the streets of downtown Shakopee, Main Street in Belle Plaine, or Water Street in Jordan.  Many of the occasions for which bands played in small towns and cities were tied to community or national celebrations, such as Independence Day, or Armistice Day.  One photo from 1925 shows band leader extraordinaire Hubert Stans with his Shakopee band during the annual picnic of the American Range Corporation.


Bands were an effective way to create fanfare to advertise business or products.  Two photos from Belle Plaine in the early 1900s bear this out.  “Plano Day” on June 19, 1901, took place along Main Street.  The marchers advertised machinery made by the Plano Company and sold in town.  American flags waive and signs read “Plano Plano” and “Plano Leads the World.”  The band in the middle of the photograph is the Valley Coronet Band of Belle Plaine led by Matt Hally and Barney Kirchoff.  The band is headed straight for a muddy patch at the intersection of Main and Meridian (or else a large pile of horse manure).

In a second photograph, this one from 1904/5, we are back on the same corner in Belle Plaine with the same Valley Coronet Band, but a different product and different advertising scheme.  Rather than a march, we have a stunt, with six men on a makeshift stage pulling on a pair of overalls to demonstrate their durability.  At such parades one might hear rousing songs with names like, “Robinson’s Grand Entrée,” “The Explorer March,” or “March Independentia.”


The coronet was a smaller version of the trumpet, and coronet bands were popular throughout the county.  Hubert Stans was an accomplished coronet player in his Shakopee band and Chaska Sodality Band.

Polaroid Exif JPEG

In Jordan, the Germania Band, the Jordan Coronet Band, and the Jordan Imperial Band, all made use of this light and loud instrument.  Most cities proudly built bandstands in public parks and other gathering places to accommodate the growing number of musical groups.  The resorts around Prior Lake and Spring Lake always promoted their band pavilions and Saturday night dances to vacationers as their main social events.

While bands played at civic occasions and for advertising purposes, other people voiced their opinions about important political and social issues through song.  The anonymous writer of a temperance song from 1880 probably intended his song to be circulated among others who supported the prohibition of alcohol.  The lyrics come from an older temperance song that may have been written by New England poet and abolitionist John Pierpont.  The song is scribbled on a scrap of lined paper, and the author must have had some formal training in music to be able to put notes to the lyrics.  One verse captures the crusading spirit of their movement: “No alcohol we’ll buy of sell/ Away, away the bowl./ The tippler’s offer we repel,/ Away, away the bowl./ United in a temperance band,/ We’re joined in hearts,/ We’re joined in hand./  Goodbye to rum and all its harms,/ Farewell the winecup’s boasted charms,/ Away, away the bowl,/ Away, away the bowl.”

Throughout the history of the county, communities have produced musicians and forms of music that helped strengthen social ties.  Music and performance had a way of bonding people together and bridging the gaps between communities.  It is a rich area of historical research that can lend perspective to the way that we experience musical performances today.  How is music a part of our lives in a way that connects us to one another?  Do we recognize and respect local musicians or musical traditions with the same pride that communities did in the past?  How has technology changed public and ceremonial forms of music?  Whether music brings us together for a local festival, a family celebration, or a social cause, it is a significant historic source of heritage, entertainment, and social well-being.


If you would like to know more about this topic, visit the Scott County Historical Society on the web and search our catalogue at, or email us at

By: Patrick Rodgers, past SCHS Curator

The New Guy

IMG_0858As the new Curator of Collections for the Scott County Historical Society, I wanted my first blog to be something of an introduction. I was going to tell you a story of who I am and about my background in history. However, I was given the idea to instead talk about what it is like to be the new guy. What is it like to start at a new place, with new people, and new ways of doing things? How do you start? What do you do? How do you feel? I thought about this and realized that this is a good opportunity to tell you about myself in a different way. On that note, I would start by saying that my first few days could be summed up in two words, “I’m lost!”

It has been my experience that starting a new position can be one of the most exciting and confusing times in someone’s career. I’m still not entirely sure how I got here, I remember asking for a job and suddenly having one. Since I started with SCHS I have had to learn whole new ways of doing things, while at the same time knowing exactly what I am doing. The history field is strange in that way, everyone does things differently but we all end at the same thing. You save the same types of history and information no matter where you go. I only wish best practices told me how to manage my office.

As you can see, my office is full of all kinds of things, each one with a story, and each one a total mystery to me. For example, I found a box on a shelf full of pictures. I looked and looked and couldn’t find a thing on them. A box of 300 some pictures and I had no clue what to do with them or even what they were. Here begins the lesson of a new job, ask questions, every question. After some digging, and reaching out to me predecessors, we found out that all of those photos are copies. Here at SCHS we don’t accept copies of things into our collection, we want the genuine article. Still, the photos have a ton of history locked up in them. Those photos have been meaning to go in our library for years, I just happen to be the one doing it.

I admit I was lost when I started here, I didn’t know where to start or what to do. I look at that mess of an office and froze. It didn’t take long though for me to prioritize and begin tackling all of the projects and loose ends that needed tying up. I hope this quick blog gives you a sense of who I am, and if not feel free to stop in and meet me. I am always happy to talk with people and get to better know my community.

 “O, gone now are the good old days of hot cakes, thickly spread”

Spring is beginning to peek in from between the piles of snow, and Minnesotans from around the state are turning their attention towards their lawns and gardens.

A hundred years ago, that attention was cast as patriotic as well as recreational. As the United States entered World War I, food production was in the forefront of war preparation efforts.

Between the Civil war and World War I, cooking and kitchens were transformed in America. Iceboxes were being slowly replaced by refrigerators, invented in 1913. Farming changed too as gas powered tractors were becoming a commonplace sight in Minnesota’s fields. Crop, husbandry and soil research from large land-grant universities was making a difference in the daily lives of farmers. As A. D. Wilson, the director of the University of Minnesota said at the time “The changed conditions are placing more and more bright progressive men and women on our farms who are not ashamed to study their profession and put their best efforts into it. As a consequence, we are developing a true science of agriculture. We no longer depend on ‘chance’ or ‘good luck’ for results in farming but know the conditions necessary for good luck”. Scott County got into the game too. Entire pages of the Scott County Argus were devoted to the latest Agricultural research, with rousing headlines such as “Sugar Beets and Mangels Tend to Increase Milk When Fed to Dairy Cows but Corn Silage is Far More Economical” and “Prevention of Corn Smut Through Formaldehyde Use”, both appearing on March 16, 1917.

Less than two weeks after war was declared, President Hoover issued the proclamation “We must supply abundant food for ourselves and our armies… and for a large part the nations with whom we have now made common cause… without abundant food the great enterprise which we have embarked upon will break down and fail”.  In 1917, approximately half of Minnesotans lived on farms, and many of them began to view their efforts as essential to US victory.

An editorial published in the March 9th 1917 issue of the Scott County Argus declared:

“With conditions like these everyone who has a piece of ground should plant some food products. Most all of the large cities in the country are entering the worldwide movement of greater food production. If Shakopee does not do her part in this great movement it will not be the fault of her public school teachers, for all boys and girls are being encouraged to take up some form of the work and more encouragement from the homes of our young people is needed…Education should help us live better NOW as well as later in life, and NOW is the time for the young folks to get into the game.”

A much shorter letter to the Argus published on May 18th 1917 advocated “Minnesota can aid materially in averting a food shortage during the war and save millions of dollars annually on food in times of peace if we will take steps to utilize the millions of fish that inhabit the lakes”

During the war, meat and sugar were deemed important for the creation of foods which could provide compact calories for shipment abroad to feed soldiers and allied nations that were directly impacted by the fighting. Americans were also encouraged to conserve wheat so that bread could be distributed to hungry troops. In exchange, Americans were asked to use more milk, fish, and grains such as oats and corn

Throughout these efforts a lot of emphasis was put on the role of women. While most men and women still operated in distinct spheres during this time, the war provided the need and opportunity for female leadership, particularly in the role of food conservation.

The Minnesota Commission on Public Safety was organized in the spring of 1917 and a women’s auxiliary was created simultaneously. The sentiment of this organization was summed up thus in the May 1917 issue of Farmers Wife Magazine: “With the farm women lies the sacred charge of serving this nation in its hour of peril… on farmers’ wives and daughters, in large measure, rests the fate of the war and the fate of the nations”. The April 20th 1917 issue of the Scott County Argus described the creation of a statewide committee on food preservation and conservation by the governor. The article lists as one of their primary duties “… to encourage home economics and the organization of groups of town women to assist farm women in harvest and other periods of labor stress”.

womans committeee

The Woman’s Committee booth at the 1917 Minnesota State Fair

The efforts were not without humor. A poem in the January 2018 issue Northfield Norwegian American described rationing with these words:

“Oh gone now are the good old days of hot cakes thickly spread

And meatless, wheatless, sweetless days are reigning in their stead

And gone are the days of fat rib roasts and two inch t-bone steaks

And doughnuts plump and golden brown, the kind that mother makes

And when it comes to pies and cake, just learn to cut it out”

Mr. Hoover’s goin’ to get you if you don’t watch out”

In terms of sheer volume, these efforts were largely successful.  In first year of war the US shipped 9 million more tons of food overseas than before the war, approximately a 250% increase. Listed below are a selection of recipes shared in Minnesota newspapers to help tTheGreatWar-202x300heir readers practice conservation of sugar, wheat and meat in the kitchen. For more recipes and local war stories, visit the “The Great War” exhibit currently on display at the Scott County Historical Society. Let us know your results if you try any of these recipes!





Written by Rose James, Program Manager


Hitchcock, N. (1918). The Mobilization of Women. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 73.

Eighmey, R. K. (2010). Food will win the war: Minnesota crops, cooks, and conservation during World War I. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press.



Easter Greetings

The celebration of the arrival of spring began in ancient times.  The pagan goddess Eostre was an Anglo-Saxon goddess of dawn and spring – bringing brighter and longer days.  She was also the goddess of fertility (eggs were a symbol of fertility and newborn chicks represent new growth).  Around the 2nd century AD, Christian missionaries ventured north and used existing pagan holidays as a way to convert people to Christianity.  They allowed people to continue their seasonal celebrations, but added Christian meanings to them, and gradually over time overtook the pagan meaning.  This is why the pagan goddess’s name Eoster – is now the name of the spring holiday Easter.  It is also why some of the symbols used to celebrate the pagan holiday are still seen today – brightly colored eggs, baby chicks, rabbits, and flowering plants.

Although eggs have always been a symbol of the season, the practice of delivering eggs was first introduced in German in the early 17th century and brought to the U.S. by Dutch settlers in the 1700s.  German children would make decorated nests for their eggs – which were filled with eggs and little gifts by the Easter bunny the night before (kinda like Santa).

We can really see the blend of seasonal and religious symbols in the holiday’s greeting cards.  Ancient Egyptians would exchange notes on papyrus – and this practice was also shared by Greek and Chinese cultures.  These would be much the same as handmade paper cards that were popular in the early 13th century.  But it wasn’t until postage stamps were introduced in the 1840s that greeting cards came into their own.

Cards became an extremely popular way to send personal messages – and with the availability commercial production – they were made on a mass scale.  Cards were made for all the holidays, but since Easter was mostly seen as a religious holiday, the use of greeting cards didn’t take off until the turn of the 19th century.  The Easter card was born in Europe when a stationer in Victorian England added a drawing of a rabbit to his greeting card.  Later cards included chickens, eggs, rabbits, the cross and more. Early Easter greetings were sent on postcards that featured Easter symbols or natural scenery.  Many were colorful and often embossed, or had gold cutouts.

According to American Greetings, Easter is the fourth most popular holiday for sending cards, just behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.  Here are a few from our collection…

And just for fun… here is a stereoscope card of a woman “Trying on the Easter Bonnet”.  Easter was also known as the holiday were it women would sport their new spring hat/bonnet.


Funny Photos From The Lebens’ Collection

As we finish inventorying our collection of LeRoy Lebens’ photographic work, a whopping 32,617 images, we thought it would be fun to share some of the most entertaining images that we’ve found through the past year. Having taken photos for most everything you could imagine: weddings, portraits, advertising, and nature, just to name a few, Lebens caught a lot of interesting and funny moments. These are only a small selection of what we have found. If you are interested in finding out more about the LeRoy Lebens collection, come by and give us a visit at the Scott County Historical Society.

0643 Joyce - Sames Wedding
Groom being pulled into the church by his fellow groomsmen (Joyce – Sames Wedding)
Groom being carried up the stairs at St Mary’s Church for his wedding (Schmitt – Rosckes Wedding, 1972)
Leroy Huth posing against a fence post (1966)
Valley Players (1966)
Just a posing clown (Circa-1965)
Clown (Circa-1980)
20130317848 (1)
Ad for the “Barron Book Rest” (1960) Probably not the safest idea…
Just a Jailbird (1965)


Probably my favorite picture of the collection, a turkey dressed up with a doll’s head, named “Roy Turkey” (1963)
Photo for a Friday the 13th calendar (1967)




Valentine’s Day 100 Years Ago And Beyond

Since this past Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, I wanted to take a look back through our newspapers and see if Valentine’s Day was celebrated one hundred years ago. Valentine’s Day landed on a Thursday, February 14, 1918. As most everyone knows, 1918 was a time of difficulty since the world was in the middle of World War I. World War I would not end until 11 November 1918, so in February, the war was still going strong.

I searched through five different newspapers, the Shakopee ArgusShakopee Tribune, Jordan Independent, New Prague Times, and the Belle Plaine Herald, to see if there would be any advertisements about the romantic day that is now so eagerly celebrated. Unsurprisingly, much of the newspapers were chalk full of information concerning the war at a local, state, and international level. The entire newspaper was not all doom and gloom, however. There were advertisements for local theatre shows and information on local individuals and their recent visitors. I had been expecting the heavy focus on the war in the newspapers, but was surprised to find that there wasn’t a single mention of Valentine’s Day in any of the newspapers published in February 1918.

In fact, I found mention of other days that were celebrated in February in 1918 that are not observed today, or if they are, only in certain states. The most mention was that of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12. In 1918, all four newspapers had advertisements for the celebration of his birthday, but no mention of Valentine’s Day. Today, only Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and New York celebrate February 12 as Lincoln’s Birthday. The advertisement below is from the 8 February 1918 edition of the Shakopee Tribune. Also mentioned in the 1918 newspapers was the celebration of George Washington’s birthday, February 22. In modern-day Minnesota, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays are celebrated as Presidents’ Day, which occurs on the third Monday in February.

Although Valentine’s Day is not an official holiday, I still found myself searching for that word ‘holiday’ when it came to that romantic day. An article in the Shakopee Tribune, published 8 February 1918, page 2, featured mention of holidays, as well as Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s holidays. Again, no mention of Valentine’s Day, although the day most certainly was observed by Minnesotans at this time.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a New Prague Times article that was published the previous year, in 1917, that I found any evidence of Valentine’s Day. Amidst the information concerning local matters on the home-front of the war, there was this lovely advertisement that popped out at me.00001


































To my delight, there was yet another advertisement in the 8 February 1917 newspaper a few pages over.


Buoyed by this discovery, I searched the Belle Plaine Herald in both February 1917 and 1918, and was pleased to find another, small, advertisement concerning Valentine’s Day in the 8 February 1917 newspaper, but again, no mention of Valentine’s Day in the 1918 newspaper. 


It is interesting to know that Valentine’s Day was a day worthy of printing advertisements for in Scott County in 1917, but not in 1918. Perhaps individuals in the county could feel the end of the war, and wanted to focus on what was occurring overseas in their newspapers? That is, of course, just speculation on my part. What I do know is that WWI ended in November of 1918, and Valentine’s Day was once again a day to show off in the newspapers.

I did not search Scott County newspapers in the period of World War II, but instead chose to see what we had for Valentine’s Day memorabilia in the collection. We have many Valentine’s Day cards in our collection, and I chose a few of the cutest, and loveliest, to show you. Valentine’s Day is often thought of a day simply for couples, but as many of these cards indicate, it can also be a day for loved ones, be they from a daughter to a father, or a grandchild to their grandparent. These cards below range from the 1950s to the 1990s, and all were written with love. I hope that you have had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether you celebrated it on Wednesday, or plan to do so over the weekend. Or any day you please. Enjoy these cards, and if you’re interested in learning more about Valentine’s Day in Scott County, feel free to stop by.

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