This handkerchief, now in the collection of Hennepin History Museum, is one of many commemorative items made to celebrate the centennial of Minnesota’s statehood in 1958. It bears the Minnesota Centennial logo, with one face looking toward the past and one looking toward the future, while hands below the faces hold icons of buildings and landscapes, intended to show change in the state over the century. Pictures on the right side of the handkerchief spotlight Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, flour milling center, scenic state parks, forestry products, and largest iron mines. 

Events to celebrate the state’s centennial were planned throughout the year. One of the most successful was the Centennial Train, which between April and September of 1958 made stops in 86 of Minnesota’s 87 counties, omitting only Cook County, which had no railroad tracks at the time. The train pulled six cars full of exhibits about the state. 

One part of the celebration that took place in Hennepin County came on May 11, 1958, which Minnesota-born star Judy Garland performed in a concert at Memorial Stadium. The audience of 20,000 for this concert included Princess Astrid of Norway, Prince Bertil of Sweden, and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, among other dignitaries. Garland’s backing band for the occasion was made up of 32 “hand-picked” members of the Minnesota Symphony. Tickets for this gala event were available free with a self-addressed stamped envelope sent to the Centennial Commission. 

Other centennial celebrations included special events at the Minnesota State Fair, Minneapolis Aquatennial, and St. Paul Winter Carnival. That year’s Miss Minnesota, Dianne Albers of Northfield, was given the special designation Miss Centennial Minnesota. A commemorative postage stamp was issued. The centennial celebrations of 1958 offered many opportunities for Minnesotans to display their pride in their state; one wonders what the celebrations of the state’s bicentennial in 2058 will look like.  

Written by Jason Burnett, Collections Intern at Hennepin History Museum. Jason has a BA and MA in History from the University of New Orleans. He is currently working towards an MA in Art History and a Certificate in Museum Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. His focus is on 19th and 20th century art and museum issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

 Sources:

“Collections: Statehood Centennial Commission Records.” https://www.mnhs.org/collections/upclose/centennial.php (accessed November 9, 2020).    

Flanagan, Barbara. “A Gallant Dulles, A Jittery Judy Spark Our Centennial.” Minneapolis Morning Tribune, May 12, 1958. Accessed November 9, 2020. https://startribune.newspapers.com/image/183465206/. 

—. “Northfield Brunette Is Miss Centennial.” Minneapolis Morning Tribune, February 3, 1958. Accessed November 9, 2020. https://startribune.newspapers.com/image/202729502/. 

McDonald, John C. “Centennial to Bring State’s Past to Life.” Minneapolis Morning Tribune, January 2, 1958. Accessed November 9, 2020. https://startribune.newspapers.com/image/202715838/. 

Rubright, Robert. “Getting That Old Feeling – It Could Be the Centennial.” Minneapolis Star, May 2, 1958. Accessed November 9, 2020. https://startribune.newspapers.com/image/187665338/. 

 

Written by Jason Burnett, Collections Intern at Hennepin History Museum. Jason has a BA and MA in History from the University of New Orleans. He is currently working towards an MA in Art History and a Certificate in Museum Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. His focus is on 19th and 20th century art and museum issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.