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Friday, January 28, 2011

It’s Always The Economy

I was recently reminded back in 1992, when Bill Clinton was first running for the Presidency; the news reported a large sign in his campaign offices read: “It’s The Economy.”  Now, nearly twenty years later, the economy is still a big issue.  And, after reading 1936 copies of the Elk River Star News it becomes apparent that the economy is always in the news and always an important issue to consider in our local history.

Back in January of 1936, a major headline in the newspaper reported that the federal government was preparing to pay World War I veterans a bonus for their service.  It was estimated in the paper, although probably too high, that some 300 veterans in Sherburne County would receive $180,000, about $600 each. 

All of this came available as a result of the World War Adjustment Compensation Act of 1924.  Under that legislation, the federal government issued bonds to veterans that could be redeemed in 1945.  With the crisis of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt passed legislation to redeem the certificates 9 years early.  The Elk River newspaper predicted a boom in the local economy as business would undoubtedly benefit from this new influx of money.

In spite of the promise of more money in the local economy, many people still held a sense of desperation.  A number of unique organizations developed plans to better help the unemployed.  In Big Lake the unemployed organized as an association.  Each member pledged to be prepared to work when a job came available.  Charles R. Beach and P. G. Kilmartin were elected officers of the new association.  The association developed to urge local employers to find work for members of the group.  This was yet another way to try to alleviate unemployment.

The efforts to lower unemployment did not solve every issue.  The front page of the Star News also reported a break in at the creamery of Twin Cities Milk Producers Association.  Someone had broken into the warehouse and stolen 600 pounds of butter.  Desperation seemed to be everywhere.

Whether it is today, twenty years ago, or seventy five year ago, I suppose the economy is always an important issue and an important consideration.  Exploring the economic history of the county may be yet another way to understand the character and history of Sherburne County.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Programs Are The Name Of The Game

Programs are, as many people realize, important to the operations of museums and historical societies.  With the coming New Year, here at the Sherburne History Center, we have rededicated ourselves to creating new programs and providing more opportunities for the sharing of information about the county and the local history.

In other words: program presentation is the name of the game for the coming year.

And, we have started off pretty well.  In January, two programs of importance are the book signing of They Called Her Maria, described as a “wonderful example of life in the 1870s on the Minnesota frontier.”  Editors Herb and Corinne Murphy have spent the past two years transcribing and editing the diaries and letters of Hannah Maria Nutting Benham Knapp.  We are happy to present the published work here at the Sherburne History Center.  The book signing is scheduled for 12 January between 11 am and 1 pm.

Later in the month, an introductory course on genealogy and family history will be presented.  The goal with this program is to create a jumping off point for future genealogy and family history programs.  We will be emphasizing Sherburne County and Minnesota resources, but expanding outward to discuss other areas for research is always a possibility.  This program is scheduled from 10:30 am  to 12:30 on Saturday, 22 January at the Sherburne History Center. 

In February we have a poetry reading by Ken and Janet Panger.  And later in the month a program on collecting oral histories and using them in family history will be presented.

In addition, in 2011 programs such as the “Vintage Base Ball Game,” “autumn Lights,” “Polinator Week,” “The Tribute to Agriculture,” and the “Annual Christmas Tree Festival,” are all part of the schedule. 

Keep your eye out for more details.  And, I hope to see you all at some of the programs and other events we have planned this year.

And, as always, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas please let me know.  I can be reached at: 763.261.4433 or at mbrubaker@sherburnehistorycenter.org