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Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Project: Interview with Alan R. Woolworth

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Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Alan Woolworth was born in Clear Lake, South Dakota, in 1924, graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1942, entered military service in 1943, was decorated for his actions in the European theater in World War II, and received his discharge in 1945. Next he attended South Dakota State College at Brookings, received a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1950 with majors in history and anthropology, and received a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the staff of the Minnesota Historical Society in 1960, Woolworth worked at the Nebraska and North Dakota state historical societies and the Dearborn Historical Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. At MHS he worked in museum and historical sites administration from 1960 to 1968 and the trunk highway archaeology program from 1968 to 1979, and he headed the archaeology department until it was eliminated in 1980. He was also active in the Minnesota Archaeology Society and was editor of the Minnesota Archaeologist for six years. At the time of the interview Woolworth was an MHS Research Fellow with the publications division. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Woolworth discusses his childhood in rural South Dakota, experiences in World War II, his education, and choosing a career. He also describes museum conditions at the Minnesota Historical Society when he was hired in 1960, including a lack of security and facilities, MHS's collection records and storage, funding resources, his relationships with museum staff, growth of the museum staff, introduction of school tours, the Underwater Records Project that took place from 1961 to 1973, and growth of the historic sites program. He discusses the archaeology project at Grand Portage National Monument, providing details on the project’s funding, the excavation and restoration of the great hall and kitchen at that site, and the use of Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps personnel in early national park projects. He also talks about working with Robert Wheeler on the Quetico-Superior Underwater Project in 1973 and the Fur Trade Conference in 1963. Also discussed are the Minnesota Field Archaeology Act of 1962, the Historic Sites Act of 1965, and the 1981 Human Burial Act involving Indian burial sites. Woolworth provides anecdotes and reflects on relationships with Society staff members Russell Fridley, Robert Wheeler, Janis Obst, Lolita Lundquist, Chet Kozlak, Marge Towson, Grace Lee Nute, Lucile Kane, June Holmquist and others, as well as with local and national professional associates. He also details his "parallel career" working with the Indian Claims Commission, his research for Dakota, Sioux, Yankton and other Indian nations to support their claims at the U.S. Court of Claims, and his private consulting service, Woolworth Research Associates. Other subjects include the 1978 move of museum staff to Fort Snelling, the "mule barn" storage, the Historic Resources Survey, acquisition of the Gilbert and Frederick Wilson and Ayer collections, and a 1961 exhibit on newspapers and journalism.
Quantity 6 hours sound cassette
93 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 04:52:33 running time
Creation Narrator: Woolworth, Alan Roland
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: 11/21/1990
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
ID Number OH 82
Accession Number AV1993.134
More Info MHS Library Catalog
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