Northfield News microfilm collection use at NHS.

During the Northfield Public Library’s renovation, the Northfield News microfilm collection has been temporarily moved to the Northfield Historical Society (NHS). Northfield Public Library staff will be available to help with searching the Northfield News and other historical Northfield newspapers on microfilm at NHS Mondays from 2:00-5:00 PM. Service is on a first come first served basis.

Researchers should come to the NHS Museum Store to let staff know they are interested in using the microfilm during that time. They will then be brought down to the research area.

Use of the microfilm on other days is by appointment only. Call the Historical Society at 507-645-9268.

People who are unable to come to the Northfield Historical Society but still need information from the film should contact the Northfield Public Library at 507-645-6606 or the Northfield Historical Society at 507-645-9268.

Pre-order “I knew how to handle a rifle” by Derk Hansen today!

Derk shot from FacebookWe are now accepting pre-orders for the soon-to-be-released Henry Wheeler painting, “I knew how to handle a rifle.”

The painting is a collaborative project of the Northfield Historical Society, the Norman Oberto family, and artist Derk Hansen. The idea for the painting stems from events surrounding the Henry Wheeler collection being loaned to the Northfield Historical Society, which includes last year’s purchase by the Norman Oberto family of the Henry Wheeler collection and their subsequent loan of it to the society. The collection includes the .50 caliber Smith carbine that Wheeler used to wound Bob Younger and kill Clell Miller in the failed 1876 raid on the First National Bank by the James-Younger Gang.

“We were looking for a way to end this amazing year and Norman really enjoyed Derk’s early drawings of the raid,” explains Hayes Scriven, executive director of the society. “So we approached him to see if he was interested in a new project around the raid.”

Hansen — a western wildlife artist who identifies himself as a “cowboy” — has more than 150 limited edition lithographs and collector prints, plus several dozen limited edition collector plates to his credit. In 1983 Hansen, along with the Defeat of Jesse James Days Committee, created a set of seven pencil drawings depicting the historic raid. The last of those seven drawings was unveiled in 1990.

This new limited edition painting will celebrate the heroism of Wheeler, a medical student home on leave who witnessed the robbery unfolding in front of his father’s store. After alerting the other citizens by shouting “Robbery! Robbery!,” he grabbed a rifle, found a good vantage point, and played an important role in thwarting the outlaws.

In this painting Hansen captures the moment when Wheeler shoots Miller — a scene that flanks Wheeler’s portrait that was taken from an 1873 carte de visite.

The public will get the chance to bid on two artist proof prints of the painting at the Joseph Lee Heywood Distinguished Service dinner on September 9 at 5 p.m. at the Northfield Ballroom.

Orders can be placed at the Northfield Historical Society at 408 Division Street in downtown Northfield or at

Northfield Historical Society hires collection assistant


Stephanie Hess

The Northfield Historical Society is pleased to announce it has hired Stephanie Hess as museum collection assistant. The majority of her work will be to continue working with the NHS photograph collection and digitizing some of the files from the City of Northfield’s collection. Stephanie is filling the void left by Kristin Glomstad, who left her position with NHS to pursue her masters degree in museum studies.

Stephanie began her museum career by volunteering at NHS while she was a student at St. Olaf College. She graduated in 2006 with a double-major in history and ancient studies, and immediately sought further training in Washington, D.C. After earning her M.A. in museum studies from the George Washington University in 2008, she worked in the Exhibitions Department of the National Building Museum for five years. While there, she helped develop exhibitions on such varied topics as parking garages, world’s fairs, and toy building sets.

She returned to Minnesota two years ago, and is excited to once again explore Northfield’s history — especially through historic photographs.

A growing staff

Cathy Headshot

Cathy Osterman

Hiring Stephanie comes three years after NHS hired Cathy Osterman, the society’s curator. Cathy has been working in the museum field for almost 17 years. Before working with NHS she spent eight years working in museums in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Since joining NHS Cathy has spearheaded the collection shelving project, conducting an inventory of our archives, and rehousing the collection. Her current projects include revising the society’s disaster plan.

NHS Executive Director Hayes Scriven, who has been with NHS for 10 years, is excited for what the future holds for the organization. “The past year and a half has been non-stop motion,” he says. “We have expanded our collections, our digital efforts, and our programming” by adding events like the annual Northfield History Month in June.

“I am very happy with the direction NHS is taking,” Scriven adds. “When I began as director I was one-half of a staff of two plus a volunteer bookkeeper. It is great to be apart of an organization that is growing and changing. Our goal is to become the best local history organization in the state, and I believe we are on course to accomplish that.”

The Northfield Historical Society is a 501 c3 organization that is dedicated to serving as the primary stewards of Northfield-area history by fostering an awareness of its meaning and relevance through discovery, documentation, preservation, and interpretation. It is located at 408 Division Street in historic downtown Northfield and

Help us Curate our next Exhibit!

NHS Curator, Cathy Osterman installs a 1916 banner from the Rice County Fair when it was held in Northfield.

NHS Curator, Cathy Osterman installs a 1916 banner from the Rice County Fair when it was held in Northfield. Currently on display in the 40 for 40 Exhibit.

For the past seven months NHS staff have been developing the 40 for 40 exhibits. We have enlisted help of some of our NHS members, but now we are asking for some broader community input. We have narrowed down the final exhibit themes to ten possibilities. We only have room for five. Help us choose what goes into the exhibit.

2015 Outlaw Run

Riders leavingThe Northfield Historical Society invites you to explore Southern Minnesota like the notorious James-Younger Gang did, but this time, we will be riding steel horses on August 15 with the Outlaw Run.

On September 7, 1876, the Gang, led by Jesse and Frank James and the Younger brothers, attempted a bank raid on the First National Bank of Northfield. While the raid was in progress, the townspeople rounded up their firearms and fought back. When the smoke cleared, two Northfielders had been murdered, and two of the outlaws lay dead in the streets. The largest manhunt in U.S. History (at that point) ensued. The Younger brothers were captured in a slew outside of Madelia, MN, two weeks later, while the Jesse and Frank escaped to meet their fate at a later day.

“The Outlaw Run serves as a fundraiser for the NHS youth programs”, states Hayes Scriven, NHS Executive Director. When we started the run we had to give people another reason to ride with us. We knew the history would be a draw, but having the proceeds benefit the programs is the icing on the cake. NHS youth programs serve about 200 students every years from the school district, and help to publish books like Caught in the Storm and Our Story.

OutlawRunLogoSaturday, August 15, riders will saddle up their motorcycles and explore Southern Minnesota like the gang did before the attempted raid. Participants will start in historic downtown Northfield with registration from 8-10:00 a.m. We will then explore the town of Kenyon and Schweich’s Bar and Hotel, water our horses at the Mantorville Saloon in Mantoriville and case the town of Wanamingo at JB’s Tavern. We will travel back to Northfield and end our ride at the Reub N Stein for a post rally party with prizes. Everyone is welcome to come along. The cost is $25.00 per rider, and includes the notorious Outlaw Run t-shirt plus a chance at prizes in all drawing.


Eventbrite - Outlaw Run

NHS named one of the Top Ten Best Western Museum of 2015 by True West Magazine!

Top 10For a dozen years, True West magazine has recognized the best Western museums in America for their dedication to their mission of keeping the Old West alive in our communities and nation

True West magazine is proud to announce that one of the top ten True West Western Museum’s for 2015 is the Northfield Historical Society, in Northfield, Minnesota, in recognition of their superior exhibitions and ability to reach all generations through their creativity in interpreting the West while fulfilling their institution’s mission.

“Northfield Historical Society’s dedication to excellence, and their mission of preserving and interpreting our great Western history for all generations, is inspiring,” says True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. “They keep the Old West vibrant and relevant for 21st century audiences.”

Northfield Historical Society is honored for its extraordinary exhibitions and dedication to local and regional history.

Spur Award-winning writer Candy Moulton and the editors of True West picked the winners for this annual award based on the extraordinary efforts of the museums over the past year to create and host new temporary exhibits, as well as maintain dynamic permanent exhibitions.

Museums were also nominated through an application form on the magazine website.

The museum feature includes “Museums to Know,” “Museums to Watch,” “Natural History Museums,” “Ranch and Agriculture Museums,” “Best Historical Buildings,” “The Top Ten Western Museums and “Art Museums to Watch.”

True West magazine is in its 62nd year of leading the way in presenting the true stories of Old West adventure, history, culture and preservation. For subscriptions and more information, visit or call 888-687-1881.

Dan Jorgenson Book Signing!

NHS is pleased to welcome back to Northfield, Dan Jorgenson. Dan will do a presentation and book signing on his new book, a novel entitled “And DanThe Wind Whispered.”

The program will start at 6:30 and is free and open to the public.

You can read a great article about the program in the Northfield News here.