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Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Project: Interview with Arch Grahn
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Arch Grahn was born in 1903 on a farm between Stanton and Red Oak, Iowa, and lived in Galesburg, Illinois, until 1910, when his parents decided to move to Minnesota. Starting at age twelve, he worked as a lamplighter in the Midway district of St. Paul, and during his teenage years he also worked at a lumberyard. At nineteen he got a job at the Schubert Theater (later the Fitzgerald Theater) in downtown St. Paul and spent five years there, working up to the position of manager. After that he sold insurance, worked as an enumerator and salesman for R.L. Polk Directory Publishers, and became a photographer. During World War II Grahn worked at the Dupont Corporation's Rosemount Powder Works, where he met Richard Sackett, who was also working there during a leave of absence as field director at the Minnesota Historical Society. After the war ended, Grahn returned to commercial photography until 1948, when Sackett, who was on a leave of absence as MHS field director in order to work as assistant director of the 1949 Minnesota Territorial Centennial, offered Grahn the open job of MHS field director. Grahn accepted the temporary offer but ended up working in that job until he left the Society in 1973. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Grahn discusses various jobs he held prior to joining the MHS staff; the circumstances of his becoming field director in 1948; staff relationships with then-director Harold Dean Cater; and the arrival of Russell Fridley as assistant director and then director. Grahn also describes his wide-ranging job duties as field director at that time, including encouraging the development of county historical societies, advising them on what to collect, and planning and laying out county historical museums; visiting and advising at archaeological sites; organizing annual institutes for staff of county historical societies to attend; organizing history-oriented trips for public groups; and acquiring and developing historic sites, particularly the Kelly Farm and the Mille Lacs Indian Museum. He also talks about the hiring of Bob Wheeler and describes other staff members including Donn Coddington, Alan Woolworth, Sandy Cutler, Russell Fridley, and Grace Lee Nute. Grahn also describes acquiring furnishings for the Lindbergh house near Little Falls, Minnesota, and provides several anecdotes about discussions with Charles A. Lindbergh.
1.5 hours sound cassette
36 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
01:30:10 running time
Interviewee: Grahn, Arch
Interviewer: Gilman, Rhoda R.
Made in: Roseville, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 82.7 (Library Call Number)
AV1990.100 (Accession Number)
MHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Project'