We get a lot of questions here at the Historical Society and they’re not all related to Morrison County history, believe it or not. We pride ourselves on being able to find answers to whatever question is thrown our way. If we can’t answer a question using the resources on-site, we attempt to find someone who can, whether at a neighboring organization, or at the state or national level. We hate sending people away empty-handed.
Once, we were asked to help identify an artifact from California. It was a large stone figure that appeared to have a native origin. Not knowing anything about the native tribes in California, we found the contact information for the California State Historical Society and passed it along to the researchers. We also provided information to the Minnesota State Archaeologist, who would certainly have broader connections to other archaeologists.
One of our researchers pointed out our penchant for answering questions no matter the relation to county history when he called and asked if we knew whether children were charged a fee to travel on immigration ships coming from Europe to America. He had tried finding the answer to this elsewhere, but had been unsuccessful. We pulled our copy of Do People Grow on Family Trees?* off the shelf and flipped to the section discussing immigration. We read a passage over the phone that, while not a direct answer, seemed to indicate that ship’s passage had to be paid for children, as well as for adults.
Within the past week, we’ve received questions on Polish paper cutting, fluoridation articles in the St. Cloud Times, and a request for doll restoration. The challenge is not only in finding possible sources for researchers, but in choosing the appropriate ones. This takes some experience and calls upon all of our museum and non-museum related knowledge sets. The internet has also been a boon to our question-answering ability.
While our specialty is and will remain Morrison County history, if you have a sticky question, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll try to find an answer.
By Mary Warner
Copyright 2007, Morrison County Historical Society
*Do People Grow on Family Trees? Genealogy for Kids & Other Beginners – The Offical Ellis Island Handbook, by Ira Wolfman, Workman Publishing Company, Inc., New York, 1991.