Ramsey County Historical Society

Ramsey County Historical Society will offer a new slate of presentations and talks by some of the community’s local history authors, researchers and archaeologists, called “History Revealed,” for 2018. Audiences of all ages will get a glimpse into the lives and hidden history of some of the people and places that forged our community in a series of free presentations and book talks. The series will feature a wide range of topics drawn from the heritage and traditions of Ramsey County. Here are a few of the upcoming events: 

• On Feb. 15 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. author Steve Werle will have a presentation called “The Political Rise, Demise and Redemption of Harold E. Stassen (1907-2001)” at Ramsey County Roseville Library, 2173 Hamline Ave. N. In ten unsuccessful runs at the U.S. Presidency, Harold Stassen became infamous as a perennial candidate. But his lifetime of achievements, as Minnesota’s “boy governor,” as a war hero, as a founder of the United Nations, as a nationally prominent Republican are now mostly forgotten.

During a lifetime devoted to public service, Governor Harold Stassen left an indelible mark upon American politics. He first gained national prominence in the 1930s by revitalizing Minnesota’s Republican Party and establishing a progressive, cooperative approach to state government. Although his numerous achievements are often obscured by his seemingly relentless quest to become president, Stassen contributed greatly to the cause of international peace following World War II. 

Werle will re-introduce Harold Stassen, his life, and his legacy in this presentation, and will lead participants in an engaging and entertaining walk down memory lane as he explores Stassen’s political journey with candid, comic, and original insights. Copies of Steve’s book on Harold Stassen, “Stassen Again” will be available for purchase and for signing.

Werle was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota and teaches Advanced Placement United States History in the Twin Cities.  He graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1994 with a B.A.A. in Teaching Secondary Social Studies and earned a master’s degree from the same institution in 1999.  He has taught a variety of high school history courses for over twenty years and also serves as a varsity tennis coach.  Each summer Werle bakes thousands of Sweet Martha’s Cookies at the Minnesota State Fair. Werle is the author of “An American Gothic: The Life & Times & Legacy of William Gates LeDuc.” His most recent book, “Stassen Again,” was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2015 and is available wherever books are sold. Werle lives in Minneapolis with his wife Colleen and their three sons.

• On Thursday, March 22, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Dr. Kim Heikkila will present “To Bear the Mark: Unwed Motherhood at the Salvation Army’s Booth Memorial Hospital, 1913-1973.” This lecture will take place at Ramsey County Roseville Library, 2173 Hamline Ave. N.

For 75 years, the Salvation Army in St. Paul operated a maternity home and hospital for unwed mothers. Booth Memorial Hospital housed thousands of young women who sought refuge — sometimes willingly, sometimes not — from the public censure that their status usually elicited. In the early twentieth century, mothers were encouraged to keep and raise their babies, but after World War II, public and expert opinion suggested that surrendering these “illegitimate” babies for adoption was the best solution — for mother, baby and a deserving couple facing infertility. By the 1960s, at the peak of the maternity home movement, approximately 70 percent of single mothers at Booth relinquished their children for adoption.

Heikkila’s mother was one of these women; she delivered her first daughter, Dr. Heikkila’s half-sister, at Booth in 1961, surrendered her for adoption, and kept the whole experience a secret for 33 years, until that daughter found her long-lost birth mother.

In this talk, Heikkila will explore the intersection of her mother’s story with the history of Booth Memorial Hospital and the experiences of seven former “Booth girls” with whom she conducted oral history interviews.

Heikkila has a doctorate in American studies, with a minor in feminist studies, from the University of Minnesota. She has written about Booth Memorial Hospital for Ramsey County History and Minnesota History, and has published several personal essays about her mother’s experiences as a birth mother and her own as an adoptive mother. She recently completed an oral history project with former Booth residents, staff, and related personnel, which was sponsored by the Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum with funding from a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant. Her first book, “Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam,” was a finalist for a 2012 Minnesota Book Award. She taught U.S. and women’s history at local colleges and universities for more than 10 years before leaving academia to open her own oral history consulting business, Spotlight Oral History.


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