Minnesota in the ‘70s

Dave Kenney and Thomas Saylor
Minnesota Historical Society
St. Paul, MN

Minnesota in the ’70s explores a pivotal decade in the state’s history. As the 1960s transitioned into the conservatism of the 1980s, this evolution put Minnesota on the map as American citizens came to view it as a state not just of brutal winters, but also of presidential candidates, grassroots activism, civic engagement, environmental awareness, and cultural relevance. Chapters devoted to each of these topics and more help to explain how the 1970s shaped the state’s identity as it stands today.

Through in-depth discussion of city planning, environmental concerns, business practices, and professional sports, this work demonstrates how thematic treatment of a particular period can illuminate a greater appreciation of the recent past. Even though the decade may seem like “just yesterday”, by placing the 1970s in the realm of history readers are reminded that our decisions and actions shape our future every day. Some of the featured places and people are not what first come to mind when one contemplates a broad history of the state, yet this varied focus emphasizes that history is being made everywhere, at the local and state level and beyond.

Photos, news footage, and oral history, are featured in the Minnesota in the 70s e-book version which offers additional avenues to experience the stories explored in the print edition. This topic and its importance to the region is apparent in the complementary documentary of the same name, presented in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television. Whether the audience finds its way to a greater understanding of Minnesota first through the book, the blog, the e-book, or the documentary, each venue brings its own strengths to the learning process.

Minnesota in the ’70s not only informs, but also serves as a model for lifting up a decade weighted down by stereotypes – in this case, big hair, mirror balls, and leisure suits. This cultural definition of the decade does a disservice to the grand efforts made in other areas. By seeking out both expected and unexpected stories from the era through first-person accounts where possible, the author preserves portions of the state’s history that might otherwise be overlooked or forgotten by time.