As my grandmother used to say “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” She also said: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” and “That’s a horse of a different color.” (She loved horses and had ridden in Texas as young woman.) And if she encountered a precocious child or a pompous PhD, she said: “O I am Sir Oracle and when I ope my lips let no dog bark.” I’ve often thought of my grandmother over the last few years. She lived to 103, a bright, well-read, good humored woman who understood about vanity, pretension, the occasional failure of good intentions, and the difficulty of achieving everything you wanted to do with the available means. (She was also a great cook.)
The last time I wrote anything on this site was more than two years ago. Since then I’ve had lots of good intentions but life has intervened more than once. In 2004 I started this website as a way of discussing some burning issues of the time in which Minnesota’s history played an important role. Over the next few years the site focused on documenting the the destruction of Dakota burial sites and the preservation of Bdote or Mdote, the area around the mouth of the Minnesota River, a sacred place for Dakota people. Several friends helped me with the website, writing articles and editing what appeared here. My role in all this was to do research and write about the topics that came up. You can still see what I and others wrote about these issues on the About page.
What I want to do now is make MinnesotaHistory.net into a WordPress blog, where issues in which history really does matter to people today can be discussed in the kind of detail often missing from newspaper articles and other media. I’m really sorry I missed out on the rich issues of Minnesota’s 150th anniversary. Now I hope to make up for lost time. But my purpose is not to listen to the sound of my own voice. After all, what would my grandmother have to say about that? I want to continue to provide an opportunity for people who have opinions about Minnesota’s history not only to comment on what I write, by registering and commenting, but also to write their own stories about historical topics. If you have an idea for an online article or have written one, write to me at [email protected].
Finally, for those of you who don’t know much about me, I am a historian and anthropologist. I live in St. Paul. I make my living doing free-lance history and historical ethnography. Over the years I’ve labored in the vineyards of history, from my start as a page in the Minnesota Historical Society reading room getting boxes of manuscripts for researchers, to writing all kinds of historical work: scholarly and popular articles and books, historical reports for lawsuits, online web articles, and even historical publications for children. In my life I have had a lot of interests besides history including: photography, postcards, cooking, house renovation, gardening, fishing, baseball, French novels, and fountain pens. My philosophy of life is that there is too much to do but not enough time. And to paraphrase my grandfather, Edward McCann, “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing over and over until you get it right,” which is an important thing to remember when trying to manage a website.