Title Reviewed:
A History of Minnesota

Author Reviewed:
William Watts Folwell

Paul B. Parker


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 477-478

Article Type:
Book Review

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A History of Minnesota, By William Watts Folwell. In four volumes. Volume two. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1924, p. 477.

During February of the present year the Minnesota Historical Society published the second volume of a history of the state of Minnesota, to be completed in four volumes, by William Watts Folwell, president emeritus of the Universty of Mnnesota.

Mr. Folwell s a natve of New York state and a graduate of Hobart college. Soon after hs graduaton he taught mathe-matcs his Alma Mater, traveled ad studied in Europe and returned just in time to enlist and ser serve three years in the Union army. He came to Minnesota in 1869 as president of the State University which office he held for fifteen years. He served the University twenty-three years more as librarian and professor of political science; he retired from the University work in 1907. As a closing work of a very useful life Mr. Folwell has written this history of Minnesota.

After reading the second volume with considerable care one retains his high opinion of this scholarly piece of work. It follows in good order the first volume, givng a full account of the activities of the people of Minnesota during the days of early statehood, of the loyal support of the union during the Civil war, something of the troubles at home with the Indians during this formative period, and an interesting account of the first railroad of the state. Throughout the book the author keeps in close touch with the people and gives the reader vivid pictures of the struggles of the early pioneers of that state.

The volume has received some adverse criticism on the ground of perspective. Such criticism is not merited. A historian is bound by the facts of his investigation. The Indian wars monopolized the attention of Minnesota for three or four years and a history failing to leave this impression would be less than truthful. In my judgment there is nothing better in the two volumes than the author's account of these Indian troubles. The footnotes and bibliographical work maintains its former high level. It is to be hoped the author will preserve his critical attitude down through the period when he was an active participant.

Paul B. Parker.

Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.