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Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Project: Interview with Janis Obst
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Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Janis Obst began working at the Minnesota Historical Society in 1958 as an assistant to the head of the museum department. She became head of the historic houses department in 1969 and continued in that position until her retirement in 1980. In 1977 she was granted a year's sabbatical leave to research and work on her writings about the life and activities of Abigail Adams and the Adams children at Fort Snelling, and on "Minnesota interiors of the nineteenth century." Since retirement, Obst has done volunteer work at Murphy's Landing near Shakopee, Minnesota, and has been active in the American Association for State and Local History. She also has started a local chapter of the Victorian Society and done consulting for other historical societies and organizations. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Obst describes conditions at the Minnesota Historical Society in 1958, her duties as an assistant to the head of the museum department, storage problems, loan policies, and the relationship of the museum to other departments. She also discusses the growth of the Historic Sites program in the 1960s, reorganization of the archaeology department, her duties as head of historic houses, including restoring the Comstock, Ramsey and Griggs houses and opening them to the public, and her research on the furnishings of the commandant's house at Fort Snelling. Obst also talks about her work with county historical societies, her associations with MHS staff including Donn Coddington, Russell Fridley, June Holmquist, Alan Woolworth and others, discrimination against women as professionals, chauvinism, political patronage, and volunteerism.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
42 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:33:13 running time
Creation Narrator: Obst, Janis K.
Interviewer: Gilman, Rhoda R.
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 04/11/1990
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 82
Accession Number AV1990.139
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Project'

User Comments

  • Deborah Obst Malmo on April 11, 2015 08:12:55 PM

    Janis Obst was my mother, so I was delighted and grateful to discover this oral history. Her career with the Minnesota Historical Society was deeply fulfilling at a time when professional women were still a workplace novelty. My mother's colleagues at the MHS were exceptional individuals and scholars: creative, interesting, public-spirited and progressive. She would be so proud to see the evolution of MHS and the creation of the History Center. (I wonder if my hot-pink miniskirt--circa 1970--is still in the collection.)

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