Portal:Minnesota/Selected biography

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Wilder circa 1885

Laura Ingalls Wilder (/ˈɪŋɡəlz/; February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) was an American writer known for the Little House on the Prairie series of children's books released from 1932 to 1943 which were based on her childhood in a settler and pioneer family. On the Banks of Plum Creek shows the family moving from Kansas to an area near Walnut Grove, Minnesota and settling in a dugout "on the banks of Plum Creek". They really lived there beginning in 1874, when Wilder was about seven years old. That year the family again moved, this time to Lake City, Minnesota, and then on to a preemption claim in Walnut Grove, where they lived for a time with relatives near South Troy, Minnesota. (Full article)


Selected biographies[edit]

Terry Gilliam in 2006

Terrence Vance Gilliam (born November 22, 1940) is an American-born British filmmaker, animator, and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. He has the distinction of being the only American-born Python, as the rest of the group are all native Britons. In 1968, Gilliam obtained British citizenship and held a dual American and British citizenship for 38 years. In January 2006, he renounced his American citizenship in protest at George W. Bush. He is now allowed to spend only 30 days per year in the United States, less than ordinary British citizens. Gilliam also maintains a residence in Italy near the Umbria-Tuscany border. He has been instrumental in establishing the annual Umbria Film Festival, held in the nearby hill town of Montone.

Gilliam started his career as an animator and strip cartoonist; one of his early photographic strips for Help! featured future Python cast-member John Cleese. Moving to England, he animated features for Do Not Adjust Your Set, which also featured future Pythons Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Gilliam's surreal animations for Monty Python have a distinctive style. He mixed his own art, characterized by soft gradients and odd, bulbous shapes, with backgrounds and moving cutouts from antique photographs, mostly from the Victorian era. (Full article)


Heidemarie Martha Stefanyshyn-Piper (born February 7, 1963 in St. Paul, Minnesota) is an American Naval officer and a NASA astronaut.

Of Ukrainian-American extraction, Stefanyshyn-Piper graduated in 1980 from what was then the all-girls Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and holds Bachelor of Science (1984) and Master's (1985) degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT. She is a licensed Amateur radio operator (ham) with Technician License KD5TVR.

Stefanyshyn-Piper is a Captain in the United States Navy.

Stefanyshyn-Piper flew her first mission on STS-115 (launched on September 9, 2006, returned September 21, 2006), as a Mission Specialist and became only the 8th woman to perform a spacewalk (out of 156 total spacewalkers). Stefanyshyn-Piper's two EVAs for a total of 12 hours, 8 minutes made her the second most experienced female spacewalker. She also became the first Minnesotan woman to go into space. (Full article)


Leonid "Leo" Hurwicz (born August 21, 1917) is an American economist and mathematician who is known to fifty years of students as a professor and to his peers as the researcher who originated incentive compatibility and mechanism design, which are used in economics, social science and political science to achieve desired outcomes. Interactions of individuals and institutions, markets and trade are analyzed and understood today using the models Hurwicz developed. A man of commanding intellect, Hurwicz is described as calm and humble. He loves to teach and to connect with people and is admired for thinking of others as equals. Hurwicz is Regents’ Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Minnesota. He is among the first economists to recognize the value of game theory and is a pioneer in its application. Hurwicz shared the 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Eric Maskin and Roger Myerson for their work on mechanism design. Hurwicz's interests include mathematical economics and modeling and the theory of the firm. His published works in these fields date back to 1944. He is internationally renowned for his pioneering research on economic theory, particularly in the areas of mechanism and institutional design and mathematical economics. (Full article)
Robert Bly (born December 23, 1926) is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement in the United States. Bly was born in Madison, Minnesota to parents of Norwegian stock. Following graduation from Madison High School in 1944, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving two years. After one year at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, he transferred to Harvard University, joining the later famous group of writers who were undergraduates at that time, including Donald Hall, Adrienne Rich, Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Harold Brodkey, George Plimpton, and John Hawkes. He graduated in 1950 and spent the next few years in New York. In 1966, Bly co-founded American Writers Against the Vietnam War, and went on to lead much of the opposition to that war among writers. When he won the National Book Award for The Light Around the Body, he contributed the prize money to the Resistance. Among his most famous works is Iron John: A Book About Men, an international bestseller which has been translated into many languages. In February, 2008, Bly was named Minnesota's first poet laureate. (Full article)

Bob Dylan tour in 2008

Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author, musician, poet, and, of late, disc jockey who has been a major figure in popular music for five decades. Much of Dylan's most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when he became an informal chronicler and a reluctant figurehead of American unrest. A number of his songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'", became anthems of the anti-war and civil rights movements. His most recent studio album, Modern Times, released on August 29, 2006, entered the U.S. album charts at #1, making him, at age 65, the oldest living person to top those charts. It was later named Album of the Year by Rolling Stone magazine.

Dylan's early lyrics incorporated politics, social commentary, philosophy and literary influences, defying existing pop music conventions and appealing widely to the counterculture of the time. While expanding and personalizing musical styles, he has shown steadfast devotion to many traditions of American song, from folk and country/blues to gospel, rock and roll and rockabilly, to English, Scottish and Irish folk music, even jazz and swing. Dylan performs with the guitar, keyboard and harmonica. Backed by a changing lineup of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s on what has been dubbed the "Never Ending Tour". Although his accomplishments as performer and recording artist have been central to his career, his songwriting is generally regarded as his greatest contribution. (Full article)


Franklin Steele (1813 – September 9, 1880) was an early and significant settler of Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States. With encouragement from his future brother-in-law Henry Hastings Sibley, Steele saw opportunities in the western frontier and traveled to Fort Snelling via the steamboat Burlington. At that time, the land on both sides of the Mississippi River at St. Anthony Falls was controlled by the U.S. Government as part of the Fort Snelling Reservation. However by 1837 over 150 squatters had staked unofficial claims on fort property. In 1838, the fort commander, Joseph Plympton convinced the government to release the east bank of the river for settlement, hoping to stake a personal claim on the valuable land closest to the Falls. But Steele surreptitiously staked the first claim on the choicest land before sunrise on the first day of legal settlement. He claimed a half-mile of east-bank riverfront, controlling half of the water power of St. Anthony Falls. For many years river crossing between Minneapolis and St. Anthony was via a rope-drawn ferry, by foot when the river surface was frozen, or on floating log booms that often filled the channel. Although he ran one such ferry, as early as 1852, Steele anticipated a need for a permanent bridge to span the river near present-day Hennepin Avenue. He formed the Mississippi Bridge Company to build a 620-foot (189 m)-long, 17-foot (5 m) wide suspension bridge, linking Minneapolis to Nicollet Island and hired Thomas Griffith to design it. (Full article)

Diablo Cody in 2008

Brook Busey (born June 14, 1978), better known by the pen name Diablo Cody, is an American Academy Award-winning screenwriter, writer and blogger. First known for her candid chronicling of her year as a stripper in her Pussy Ranch blog and 2006 memoir, Candy Girl: A Year in The Life of an Unlikely Stripper, Cody won wider fame as the writer of the 2007 film Juno, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. A sitcom written by Cody, called The United States of Tara, based on an idea by Steven Spielberg, is currently in pilot stage at Showtime. She has several other scripts in the development stage at various studios.

Juno was runner-up for the Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award, won second prize at the Rome Film Festival, and earned four Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. Cody herself won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for her debut script, which also picked up a Golden Globe nomination and a Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. She also won screenplay honors from BAFTA, the Writers Guild of America, Broadcast Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, the Florida Film Critics Circle, the Southeastern Film Critics Association, and the Satellite Awards. (Full article)


Bradley Joseph (born 1965, Willmar, Minnesota) is an American composer, arranger, and producer of contemporary instrumental music. His compositions include works for orchestra, quartet, and solo piano, with his musical style ranging from "quietly pensive mood music to a rich orchestration of classical depth and breadth". Active since 1983, he played various instruments in rock bands throughout the Midwest until 1989 when Greek composer Yanni hired him for his next tour, sight unseen, based on a tape of his own compositions. He was a featured concert keyboardist with Yanni through six major tours and appeared in the 1994 multi-platinum album and video, Yanni Live at the Acropolis. He also spent four years as musical director and lead keyboardist for Sheena Easton, including a 1995 performance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Joseph joined with Yanni in 2003 for the 60-city Ethnicity tour.

In 1994, Joseph's solo career began when he independently released Hear the Masses, featuring many of his Yanni bandmates. This debut release was followed by Rapture, an instrumental album recorded with a 50-piece orchestra, in which Joseph wrote and conducted all of the scores. It was released on the Narada label and reached NAV's "Airwaves Top 30". He produced his next eight albums and two piano books under his own record label, Robbins Island Music. Two of these albums, Christmas Around the World and One Deep Breath, also held positions on NAV’s Top 100 radio chart. (Full article)


Mary GrandPré (born 1954 in South Dakota) is an American illustrator, best known for illustrating all of the American editions of the Harry Potter books. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal and the film Antz. GrandPré spent most of her life in Minnesota and now resides in Sarasota, Florida with her family where she has donated work to Habitat for Humanity and a wellness community. Other books she illustrated include Pockets, Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat, Vegetables Go to Bed, The Thread of Life, Swing Around the Sun, The Sea Chest, Sweep Dreams, Plum, and Henry and Pawl and the Round Yellow Ball. She began drawing when she was five years old, beginning with a reproduction of Mickey Mouse. By age ten, she was imitating Salvador Dalí, experimenting with stretched objects painted with oils, before graduating to copying black and white photos from the encyclopedia. GrandPré holds degrees from Pomona College and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. (Full article)


Norman Ernest Borlaug (born March 25, 1914) is an American agronomist, humanitarian, Nobel laureate, and has been called the father of the Green Revolution. Borlaug was one of five people in history to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He is also an awardee of the Padma Vibhushan, India's highest civilian honour to non-citizens of exemplary accomplishment. Borlaug received his Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1942. Increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people from starvation. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply. More recently, he has helped apply these methods of increasing food production to Asia and Africa. Borlaug has continually advocated the use of his methods and biotechnology to decrease world famine. His work has faced environmental and socioeconomic criticisms. (Full article)

11. W. Harry Davis, Sr. (April 12, 1923 – August 11, 2006) was an American civil rights activist, amateur boxing coach, civic leader and businessman in Minneapolis. He overcame poverty, childhood polio, and racial prejudice to become a humanitarian. Davis is remembered for his warm and positive personality, for coaching Golden Gloves champions in the upper Midwest, and for managing the Olympics boxing team that won nine gold medals. His contributions to public education in his community are enduring. A leader in desegregation during the civil rights movement, Davis helped Americans find a way forward to racial equality. (Full article)

Al Franken in 2008

Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born May 21, 1951) is an Emmy Award–winning American comedian, actor, author, screenwriter, political commentator, radio host and, recently, politician. He is noted for his work on Saturday Night Live and his liberal political views. On February 14, 2007, Franken entered the race for the United States Senate seat from Minnesota currently held by the Republican Norm Coleman, and formerly held by Franken's friend Paul Wellstone.

Franken was born in New York City to Phoebe G. (Kunst), a homemaker and real estate agent, and Joseph P. Franken, a printing salesman. Franken had a Jewish upbringing and grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a suburb near Minneapolis. Franken is a distant cousin of CNN's Bob Franken. His older brother, Owen Franken, is a photojournalist. Franken attended Saint Louis Park High School until the tenth grade. He graduated in 1969 from The Blake School, where he was on the wrestling team. He attended Harvard University and graduated cum laude in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in general studies. (Full article)

Hubert Humphrey c. 1960s

Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr. (May 27, 1911 – January 13, 1978) was the 38th Vice President of the United States, serving under President Lyndon Johnson. Humphrey twice served as a United States Senator from Minnesota, and served as Democratic Majority Whip. He was a founder of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party and Americans for Democratic Action. He also served as mayor of Minneapolis from 1945–1949. In 1968, Humphrey was the nominee of the Democratic Party in the United States presidential election but narrowly lost to the Republican nominee, Richard Nixon.

In a renowned speech, Humphrey told the 1948 Democratic National Convention, "The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadows of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights," winning support for a pro-civil-rights plank in the Party's platform. (Full article)

Amy Klobuchar in 2007

Amy Jean Klobuchar (born May 25, 1960 in Plymouth, Minnesota) is the county attorney of Hennepin County, Minnesota and the senator-elect in Minnesota (see 2006 Minnesota United States Senate election).

Klobuchar was first elected to county attorney in 1998 and re-elected in 2002 with no opposition. In 2001 she was selected "Attorney of the Year" by Minnesota Lawyer. Klobuchar was president of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association from November 2002 to November 2003. Besides working as a prosecutor, Klobuchar was a partner at one of Minnesota's top law firms, Dorsey & Whitney, where former Vice President Walter Mondale also works. In addition, Klobuchar was a partner at another top Minnesota law firm Gray Plant and Mooty before seeking public office. (Full article)


Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress and singer. Through a career that spanned 45 of her 47 years, Garland attained international stardom as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage. Born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Garland was the youngest child of former vaudevillians and was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. There she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney, and the film with which she would be most identified, The Wizard of Oz (1939). Respected for her versatility, she received a Juvenile Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her work in films, as well as Grammy Awards and a Tony Award. (Full article)

Vachon in 1942

John F. Vachon (19 May 1914–20 April 1975) was an American photographer. He worked as a filing clerk for the Farm Security Administration before Roy Stryker recruited him to join a small group of photographers, including Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Mary Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks, Charlotte Brooks, Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange and Ben Shahn, were employed to publicize the conditions of the rural poor in America. Vachon was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He graduated from Cretin High School (now Cretin-Derham Hall High School). He received a bachelors degree in 1934 from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, then named St. Thomas College. Vachon's daughter, Christine Vachon, is a noted independent film producer. (Full article)


Catharine Alice MacKinnon is an American feminist, scholar, lawyer, teacher and activist. MacKinnon was born into an upper-middle class family in Minnesota. Her mother is Elizabeth Valentine Davis; her father, George E. MacKinnon was a lawyer, congressman (1946 to 1949), and judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (1969 to 1995). She also has two younger brothers. MacKinnon was the valedictorian of her high school and thereafter became the third generation of her family to attend her mother's alma mater, Smith College. She graduated at the top 2% of her class at Smith and moved on to receive her J.D. and Ph.D. from Yale University. She was the recipient of a National Science Foundation fellowship while at Yale Law School. MacKinnon is the Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. In 2007, she served as the Roscoe Pound Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. (Full article)

McNutt in 2007

Marcia Kemper McNutt (born 1952) is an American geophysicist. She is the director of the United States Geological Survey and science adviser to the United States Secretary of the Interior. She was president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, an oceanographic research center in the United States, professor of marine geophysics at the Stanford University School of Earth Sciences and professor of marine geophysics at University of California, Santa Cruz. (Full article)

Major Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO

Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO (May 11, 1861September 1, 1947), was an American scout and world traveling adventurer best known for his service as Chief of Scouts to the British Army in Colonial Africa and for teaching woodcraft (i.e., scoutcraft) to Robert Baden-Powell, becoming one of the inspirations to the founding of the Scouting Movement. Burnham was born to a missionary family on an Indian Reservation in Tivoli, Minnesota (near Mankato). As a toddler, he witnessed the burning of New Ulm, Minnesota, by Taoyateduta (Little Crow) and his Sioux warriors in the Dakota War of 1862. During the uprising, his father, the Rev. Edwin Otway Burnham was in Mankato procuring lead and powder while his wife, Rebecca (Elizabeth) Russell Burnham, was left alone in the cabin with the baby Fred. While brushing her hair, she froze at the flashing glimpse of war paint and war bonnets moving through the forest. Gathering up her baby, she realized she could not escape while carrying him, so she hid her baby in a stack of green corn shocks, running fast and deceptively to evade the war party. She reached a friendly homestead six miles away in time to see the smoke of her cabin. Returning the next morning with armed neighbors, Rebecca saw her burned-down cabin and she found her baby Fred still in the corn husks and still alive. (Full article)


Seymour Cray was a U.S. electrical engineer and supercomputer architect who designed a series of computers that were the fastest in the world for decades, and founded the company Cray Research which would build many of these machines. Called "the father of supercomputing," Cray has been credited with creating the supercomputer industry. Joel Birnbaum, then CTO of HP, said of him: "It seems impossible to exaggerate the effect he had on the industry; many of the things that high performance computers now do routinely were at the farthest edge of credibility when Seymour envisioned them." (Full article)

Kate Millet in 1970

Kate Millett (born 1934 in St. Paul, Minnesota) is an American feminist writer and activist. She is best known for her 1970 book Sexual Politics. Kate Millett received her B.A. at the University of Minnesota in 1956, where she was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She later obtained a first-class degree, with honors, from St Hilda's College, Oxford in 1958. Sexual Politics originated as her Ph.D. dissertation, which was awarded by Columbia University in 1970. Here Millett offers a comprehensive critique of patriarchy in Western society and literature. In particular, Millett critiques the sexism and heterosexism of the modern novelists D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and Norman Mailer, contrasting their perspectives with the dissenting viewpoint of the homosexual author Jean Genet. (Full article)

Ann Bancroft in 2006

Ann Bancroft (born 1955 in Mendota Heights, Minnesota) is an American author, teacher, and adventurer. She was the first woman to successfully finish a number of arduous expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Bancroft grew up in rural Minnesota. She described her family as one of risk takers. She struggled with a learning disability, but nevertheless graduated from St. Paul Academy and Summit School. Bancroft was a camper and staff member at YMCA Camp Widjiwagan. Bancroft became a wilderness instructor and a gym teacher in Minneapolis (at Clara Barton Open School) and St. Paul. She gave up her teaching post in 1986 in order to participate with the "Will Steger International North Pole Expedition". She arrived at the North Pole together with five other team members after 56 days using dogsleds. This made Bancroft the first woman to reach the North Pole on foot and by sled. (Full article)

Keith Ellison in 2006

Keith Maurice Ellison (born August 4, 1963) is an American lawyer, politician, and a Democrat. He became the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress when he won the open seat for Minnesota's 5th congressional district, which centers on Minneapolis, in the House of Representatives in 2006. He is also the first African American elected to the House from Minnesota, currently serving in the 111th United States Congress. Ellison is also active on a national level in advocacy for Muslims in the United States. (Full article)


Karen LuJean Nyberg (born 7 October 1969) is an American mechanical engineer and NASA astronaut. Nyberg was the 50th woman in space. Born on October 7, 1969, Nyberg graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of North Dakota in 1994. She continued her collegiate studies at the University of Texas at Austin. There her graduate research was centered on human thermoregulation and experimental metabolic testing and control, focusing on the control of thermal neutrality in space suits. This work, performed at the Austin BioHeat Transfer Laboratory, led to her doctorate in 1998. (Full article)

PZ Myers in London

Paul Zachary "PZ" Myers is an American biology professor at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) and the author of the science blog Pharyngula. He is currently an associate professor of biology at UMM, works with zebrafish in the field of evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo), and also cultivates an interest in cephalopods. He is a public critic of intelligent design (ID) and of the creationist movement in general and is an activist in the American creation–evolution controversy. Myers was born March 9, 1957, the eldest of six children in Kent, Washington. He was named "Paul Zachary", after his grandfather, but preferred the initials PZ to being called "Little Paul." He claims to have been a "science geek" from an early age, gaining an interest in zoology and marine biology from studying the insides of fish while on fishing trips with his father. Myers was raised as a Lutheran. Prior to his confirmation, Myers became an atheist "I started thinking, you know, I don't believe a word of this." Now an atheist, Myers comments widely on his blog about science, education, atheism and religion. (Full article)

Carol Bartz in 2009

Carol Ann Bartz is the President and CEO of Yahoo!. It is the Internet services company which operates the third most visited website in the world. She was previously Chairman, President, and CEO at Autodesk, the world's largest producer of design software for use in architecture, engineering and building construction. Bartz was born in Winona, Minnesota. Her mother, Shirley Bartz, died when Carol was eight years old. A few years later, she and her younger brother Jim moved from Minnesota to the home of their grandmother, Alice Schwartz, on a dairy farm near Alma, Wisconsin. In high school, Bartz did well in mathematics, and was also homecoming queen. She began college at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, and subsequently transferred to the University of Wisconsin–Madison where she received a bachelor's degree in computer science in 1971. While in college, she supported herself as a cocktail waitress. In 1976, Bartz went to work at the manufacturing conglomerate 3M, but left after her request to transfer to the headquarters was denied; she was told that "women don't do these jobs". Bartz moved on to the computer industry, including jobs at Digital Equipment Corporation and Sun Microsystems. She became CEO of Autodesk in 1992. (Full article)

Portrait of Earl Bakken by Bobak Ha'Eri & Paul Schmokel

Earl E. Bakken is an American engineer, businessman and philanthropist of Dutch and Norwegian American ancestry. He founded Medtronic, where he developed the first battery-operated, transistorized, wearable artificial pacemaker in 1957. Born in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, Bakken had a long-held fascination with electricity and electronics. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1948, he studied electrical engineering with a minor in mathematics at the University of Minnesota Graduate School. Post-World War II hospitals were just starting to employ electronic equipment, but did not have staff to maintain and repair them. Sensing an opportunity, Bakken and his brother-in-law, Palmer Hermundslie, formed Medtronic (the combination of "medical" and "electronic") in a small garage, primarily working with the University of Minnesota hospital. (Full article)

T. B. Walker in 1888

Thomas Barlow Walker was a highly successful American businessperson who acquired timber in Minnesota and California and became an art collector. Walker founded the Minneapolis Public Library. He was among the 10 wealthiest men in the world in 1923. He built two company towns, one of which his son sold to become part of what is today known as Sunkist. He is the founder and namesake of the Walker Art Center. (Full article)


Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor is an American author, storyteller, humorist, and radio personality. He is known as host of the Minnesota Public Radio show A Prairie Home Companion (also known as Garrison Keillor's Radio Show on United Kingdom's BBC Radio 4 Extra, as well as on RTE in Ireland, Australia's ABC, and Radio New Zealand National in New Zealand). Keillor was born in Anoka, Minnesota, the son of Grace Ruth (née Denham) and John Philip Keillor, who was a carpenter and postal worker. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in English in 1966. While there, he began his broadcasting career on the student-operated radio station known today as Radio K. (Full article)


Denis R. McDonough (born 1969) is a foreign policy advisor in the Obama Administration. He currently serves as Deputy National Security Advisor. McDonough was born on December 2, 1969, in Stillwater, Minnesota. He attended Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. McDonough graduated summa cum laude with a history degree in 1992. From 1996 to 1999, McDonough worked as an aide to the House International Relations Committee, where he focused on Latin America. McDonough then served as a senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Tom Daschle. After Daschle's re-election defeat in 2004, McDonough became legislative director for newly elected Senator Ken Salazar. McDonough later served as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. In 2007, Senator Barack Obama's chief foreign policy advisor, Navy reservist Mark Lippert, was called into active duty and recruited McDonough to serve as his replacement during Lippert's deployment to Iraq. (Full article)

Bachmann in 2011

Michele Marie Bachmann (née Amble; born 1956) is a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Minnesota's 6th congressional district, a post she has held since 2007. The district includes several of the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, such as Woodbury, and Blaine as well as Stillwater and St. Cloud. She is currently a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. She previously served in the Minnesota State Senate and is the first Republican woman to represent the state in Congress. Bachmann is a supporter of the Tea Party movement and a founder of the House Tea Party Caucus. (Full article)

Pirsig in 2005

Robert Maynard Pirsig (born 1928) is an American writer and philosopher, and author of the philosophical novels Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (1974) and Lila: An Inquiry into Morals (1991).

Pirsig was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Maynard Pirsig and Harriet Marie Sjobeck, and is of German and Swedish descent. His father was a University of Minnesota Law School (UMLS) graduate, and started teaching at the school in 1934. The elder Pirsig served as the law school dean from 1948 to 1955, and retired from teaching at UMLS in 1970. He resumed his career as a professor at the William Mitchell College of Law, where he remained until his final retirement in 1993.

Because he was a precocious child, with an I.Q. of 170 at age 9, Robert Pirsig skipped several grades and was enrolled at the Blake School in Minneapolis. Pirsig was granted a high school diploma in May 1943, and entered the University of Minnesota to study biochemistry that autumn. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, he described the central character, thought to represent himself, as being far from a typical student; he was interested in science as a goal in itself, rather than as a way to establish a career. (Full article)

Official photo of Tim Pawlenty

Timothy James "Tim" Pawlenty (born November 27, 1960), also known affectionately among supporters as T-Paw, is an American politician who served as the 39th Governor of Minnesota (2003–2011). He was a Republican candidate for President of the United States in the 2012 election from May to August 2011. He previously served in the Minnesota House of Representatives (1993–2003) where he served two terms as majority leader. Pawlenty was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the son of Virginia Frances (née Oldenburg) and Eugene Joseph Pawlenty, who drove a milk truck. Pawlenty's father was Polish American and his mother was German American. His mother died of cancer when he was 16. Pawlenty grew up in nearby South St. Paul, where he played ice hockey on his high school's junior varsity squad, the South Saint Paul Packers. (Full article)

Marjory Stoneman Douglas between 1988 and 1998

Marjory Stoneman Douglas (April 7, 1890 – May 14, 1998) was an American journalist, writer, feminist, and environmentalist known for her staunch defense of the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development. She was born in Minneapolis. Moving to Miami as a young woman to work for The Miami Herald, Douglas became a freelance writer, producing over a hundred short stories that were published in popular magazines. Her most influential work was the book The Everglades: River of Grass (1947), which redefined the popular conception of the Everglades as a treasured river instead of a worthless swamp. Even as a young woman Douglas was outspoken and politically conscious of many issues that included women's suffrage and civil rights. She was called upon to take a central role in the protection of the Everglades when she was 79 years old. For the remaining 29 years of her life she was "a relentless reporter and fearless crusader" for the natural preservation and restoration of the nature of South Florida. Her tireless efforts earned her several variations of the nickname "Grande Dame of the Everglades" as well as the hostility of agricultural and business interests looking to benefit from land development in Florida. Numerous awards were given to her, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was inducted into several halls of fame. (Full article)

Prince at Coachella in 2008

Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson; June 7, 1958) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Prince has produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. Prince founded his own recording studio and label; writing, self-producing and playing most, or all, of the instruments on his recordings. In addition, Prince has been a "talent promoter" for the careers of Sheila E., Carmen Electra, The Time and Vanity 6.

Prince also has several hundred unreleased songs in his "vault". He has won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year he was eligible. Rolling Stone has ranked Prince No.27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to John L. Nelson and Mattie Shaw. Prince's father was a pianist and songwriter and his mother was a jazz singer. Prince was named after his father, whose stage name was Prince Rogers, and who performed with a jazz group called the Prince Rogers Trio. (Full article)

Anderson in 1992

Loni Kaye Anderson (born 1945) is an American actress who played the role of Jennifer Marlowe on the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati and for playing Jayne Mansfield and Thelma Todd in television movies.

Anderson was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, August 5, 1945, the daughter of Maxine Hazel (née Kallin), a model, and Klaydon Carl "Andy" Anderson, an environmental chemist and grew up in suburban Roseville. As a senior at Alexander Ramsey Senior High School in Roseville in 1963, she was voted Valentine Queen of Valentine's Day Winter Formal. She attended the University of Minnesota. As she says in her autobiography, My Life in High Heels, her father was originally going to name her "Leiloni," but then realized to his horror that when she got to her teen years it was liable to be twisted into "Lay Loni." So it was changed to just plain "Loni."

Anderson's most famous acting role came as receptionist Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–1982). She was offered the role when producers saw the poster of her in a red bikini; a pose similar to Farrah Fawcett's. She remained on WRKP until its end in 1982, after four seasons. (Full article)

Pete Docter in 2009

Peter Hans "Pete" Docter (born 1968) is an American film director, animator, screenwriter, producer and voice actor from Bloomington, Minnesota. He is best known for directing the films Monsters, Inc. and Up, and as a key figure and collaborator in Pixar Animation Studios. The A. V. Club has called him "almost universally successful". He has been nominated for six Oscars (one win thus far for Up -- Best Animated Feature), three Annie Awards (winning two), a BAFTA Children's Film Award (which he won), and a Hochi Film Award (which he won). He has described himself as a "geeky kid from Minnesota who likes to draw cartoons." Docter was born in Bloomington, Minnesota... (Full article)


Madeleine Mary Zeien Bordallo (born 1933) is the Delegate from the United States territory of Guam to the United States House of Representatives. She was the first woman ever to serve as Guam's Delegate, Guam's first female Lieutenant Governor (from 1995 to 2003), Guam's first female candidate for Governor (in 1990), and the first female Democrat elected to the Legislature of Guam. Her 1990 campaign also made her the first non-Chamorro gubernatorial candidate in Guam. As the wife of Ricky Bordallo, she was also the First Lady of Guam from 1975 to 1978 and 1983 to 1986. Madeleine Mary Zeien was born in Graceville, Minnesota to a military family and grew up on Guam after her father was stationed there. She attended St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana and the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. Bordallo was a television host and presenter for KUAM-TV on the island of Guam during the 1950s and 1960s. (Full article)

Dan Buettner in 2010

Dan Buettner (born 1960 in St. Paul, Minnesota) is an American explorer, educator, author, public speaker and co-producer of an Emmy Award-winning documentary who also holds three world records for endurance bicycling. He is the founder of the online Quest Network, Inc., which provides opportunities for students to interactively engage with explorers on expedition. In February 2007, an expedition led by Buettner to Nicoya, Costa Rica uncovered the longest-lived people known in the Western Hemisphere. Raised by an adventurous father, Buettner's appreciation of travel was encouraged by a series of international trips he won as a teenager selling newspapers. His brothers Steve and Nick also followed in their father's footsteps. Buettner graduated from the College of St. Thomas in 1984... (Full article)

Jessica Biel in 2007

Jessica Claire Biel (born 1982) is an American actress, model, and singer. Biel is known for her television role as Mary Camden in the long-running family-drama series 7th Heaven. She has since starred in many films including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Blade: Trinity (2004), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), The A-Team (2010), New Year's Eve (2011). Biel was born in Ely, Minnesota. Her mother, Kimberly (née Conroe), is a homemaker and spiritual healer. Her father, Jonathan Biel, worked for GE and was also an entrepreneur and business consultant. She is of German, French, English, and Choctaw ancestry and has a younger brother, Justin, born in 1985. Biel's family moved frequently during her childhood, living in Texas, Connecticut, and Woodstock, Illinois, before finally settling in Boulder, Colorado. While growing up, Biel played soccer and also trained as a gymnast. From 2000 to 2002, she attended Tufts University.... (Full article)

Billy Graham in 1966

William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr. (born November 7, 1918) is an American Christian evangelist, ordained as a Southern Baptist minister, who rose to celebrity status in 1949 with the national media backing of William Randolph Hearst and Henry Luce. His sermons were broadcast on radio and television, some still being re-broadcast today.

Graham is notable for having been a spiritual adviser to several United States Presidents; he was particularly close to Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. During the civil rights movement, he began to support integrated seating for his revivals and crusades; in 1957 he invited Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to preach jointly at a huge revival in New York City, where they appeared together at Madison Square Garden, and bailed the minister out of jail in the 1960s when he was arrested in demonstrations.

Graham operates a variety of media and publishing outlets. According to his staff, more than 3.2 million people have responded to the invitation at Billy Graham Crusades to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. As of 2008, Graham's estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion.

In 1947, at age 30, he was hired as president of Northwestern Bible College in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1950, Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association with its headquarters in Minneapolis. (Full article)


Michele L. Norris (born 1961) is an American radio journalist and current host of the National Public Radio (NPR) evening news program All Things Considered since December 9, 2002. She is the first African-American female host for NPR.

Norris was born in Minnesota to Betty and Belvin Norris Jr. She attended Washburn High School in Minneapolis, and went on to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she studied electrical engineering, and later the University of Minnesota, where she received an honorary degree in journalism in 2005.

Norris was a correspondent for ABC News from 1993 to 2002. She wrote for The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. In 1990, while at The Washington Post, Norris received the Livingston Award for articles she wrote about the life of a six-year-old boy who lived with a crack-addicted mother in a crack house. In 2002, Norris won an Emmy Award. In 2009 the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) awarded Norris its Journalist of the Year award.

She is also the author of The Grace of Silence, a book that started as an extension of an NPR series about race relations in the United States, but in the end became mostly autobiographical. (Full article)

Getty in 1944

Jean Paul Getty (December 15, 1892 – June 6, 1976) was an Anglo-American industrialist. He founded the Getty Oil Company, and in 1957 Fortune magazine named him the richest living American, whilst the 1966 Guinness Book of Records named him as the world's richest private citizen, worth an estimated $1.2 billion. At his death, he was worth more than $2 billion. A book published in 1996 ranked him as the 67th richest American who ever lived, based on his wealth as a percentage of the gross national product. Despite his wealth, Getty was known for being a miser.

Born into George Getty's family in the petroleum business in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he was one of the first people in the world with a fortune estimated at over one billion U.S. dollars. He enrolled at the University of Southern California, then at University of California, Berkeley before graduating in 1914 from Magdalen College, Oxford, with degrees in economics and political science. He spent his summers between studies working on his father's oil fields in Oklahoma. Running his own oil company in Tulsa, he made his first million by June 1916. (Full article)

Le Sueur (middle) with writers Audre Lorde (left) and Adrienne Rich (right) in 1980

Meridel Le Sueur (1900 – 1996) was an American writer associated with the proletarian movement of the 1930s and 1940s. Le Sueur was born into a family of social and political activists. Like other writers of the period such as John Steinbeck, Nelson Algren and Jack Conroy, Le Sueur wrote about the struggles of the working class during the Great Depression. Her best known books are North Star Country (1945), a people’s history of Minnesota, and the novel The Girl, which was written in the 1930s but not published until 1978. In the 1950s, Le Sueur was blacklisted as a communist, but her reputation was revived in the 1970s, when she was hailed as a proto-feminist for her writings in support of women’s rights. She also wrote on Goddess spirituality in a poetry volume titled Rites of Ancient Ripening, which was illustrated by her daughter. In her later years, Le Sueur lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, and wrote popular children’s biographies, most notably Nancy Hanks of Wilderness Road. (Full article)

George Dayton in his office portrait

George Draper Dayton (March 6, 1857 – February 18, 1938) was an American businessman and philanthropist. Dayton came to the U.S. state of Minnesota from New York in 1883. His family was one of average means, and he had hoped to become a minister, but was lured by the urge to be in the business world. He married Emma Chadwick in 1878 and began buying farm mortgages in southwest Minnesota. In 1902 he purchased land on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis and founded Dayton's Dry Goods store, later to become Dayton's department store. In 1956, the Daytons built Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota. In 1962 Dayton's began the Target discount store chain. Dayton was great, great-grandfather to Mark Dayton, former U.S. Senator and current Governor of Minnesota. (Full article)

Sarah Susanka in 2010

Sarah Susanka, FAIA (born 1957) is an English-born American-based architect, an author of nine best-selling books, and a public speaker. Susanka is the originator of the "Not So Big" philosophy of residential architecture, which aims to "build better, not bigger." Susanka has been credited to have initiated the small house movement.

Susanka was born in 1957, in Knockholt, Kent, England, and moved to the USA in 1971. After graduating from the University of Oregon, she settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She pursued a masters degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota while working for several architecture firms. Her thesis was the basis of her "Not So Big" books. She was a founding partner, along with her thesis advisor, of the Minneapolis-based residential architecture firm, Mulfinger, Susanka, Mahady & Partners (now known as SALA Architects) before leaving to pursue her writing and speaking career full-time. Her company is Susanka Studios. (Full article)

Brother Ali performing in 2011

Ali Newman (born Jason Newman, 1977), better known by his stage name Brother Ali, is an American hip hop artist signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment.

Brother Ali was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and spent his early childhood moving from city to city in the Midwest (mostly in Michigan). Ali's family settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1992. He attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, Minnesota. He converted to Islam at age 15 and followed Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. During this time, Ali was selected to join a group of students who went to visit Malaysia to study the way that a more liberal Islamic society could have this peaceful coexistence between different religions.

Ali was born with the rare genetic condition of albinism, a disorder characterized by a lack of pigment in skin, eyes, and hair. Brother Ali often makes fun of the media's constant urge to mention his condition in the first lines of their reviews or newspaper articles. He is also legally blind which is caused by his albinism. While Brother Ali's family is white, he has often described a childhood marked by cruelty and exclusion by his white classmates as a result of his physical abnormality. He has often explained that, from an early age, he felt "most at home amongst African Americans." (Full article)

The Andrews Sisters, from top: LaVerne, Patty, and Maxene

The Andrews Sisters were an American close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras. The group consisted of three sisters: contralto LaVerne Sophia (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), soprano Maxine Angelyn "Maxene" (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995), and mezzo-soprano Patricia Marie "Patty" (February 16, 1918 – January 30, 2013). Throughout their long career, the sisters sold well over 75 million records (the last official count released by MCA Records in the mid-1970s). Their 1941 hit "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" can be considered an early example of rhythm and blues or jump blues. The Andrews Sisters' harmonies and songs are still influential today, and have been covered by entertainers such as Bette Midler, The Puppini Sisters, Christina Aguilera, and others. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. Writing for Bloomberg, Mark Schoifet said the sisters became the most popular female vocal group of the first half of the 20th century. They are still acclaimed widely today for their famous close harmonies. (Full article)


Albert Alonzo "Doc" Ames (January 18, 1842 – November 16, 1911) held four non-consecutive terms as mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Ames was known for his service to his country and assistance of the poor, sometimes giving medical treatment to those who could not afford it. However, he became exceedingly more famous by creating the most corrupt government in the city's history. The story became known across the United States when muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens wrote an article in 1903 about the corruption and the efforts of a local grand jury to stop it. The article, The Shame of Minneapolis, was later included in a collection of similar exposes in the book The Shame of the Cities, published in 1906. (Full article)

Hedren in Marnie' (1964)

Nathalie Kay "Tippi" Hedren (born January 19, 1930) is an American actress, former fashion model and an animal rights activist. She is known for her roles in the Alfred Hitchcock films The Birds and Marnie (in which she played the title role). She has been involved with animal rescue at Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre (320,000 m2) wildlife habitat which she founded in 1983. Hedren played a role in the development of Vietnamese-American nail salons in the United States. Hedren was born in New Ulm, Minnesota. Her father ran a small general store in the small town of Lafayette, Minnesota, and gave her the nickname "Tippi". When she was four, she moved with her parents to Minneapolis. As a teenager, Hedren took part in department store fashion shows. Her parents relocated to California while she was a high school student. (Full article)

Wilkins in 1968

Roy Wilkins (August 30, 1901 – September 8, 1981) was a prominent civil rights activist in the United States from the 1930s to the 1970s. Wilkins' most notable role was in his leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Wilkins was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1901. His mother died when he was four years old, after which Wilkins and his siblings were raised by an aunt and uncle in St. Paul, Minnesota. Wilkins graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in sociology in 1923. (Full article)

Adams in 2012

Amy Lou Adams (born 1974) is an American actress and singer. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the 2005 independent film Junebug. Adams subsequently received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance in Disney's 2007 film Enchanted. She received her second Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations the following year for Doubt. Adams starred in Sunshine Cleaning and the following year appeared in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. She appeared in Julie & Julia followed by Leap Year in 2010. Adams earned her third Academy Award nomination, her third Golden Globe Award, second BAFTA Award, and fifth Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for The Fighter. In 2011, Adams appeared in The Muppets. In 2012, Adams appeared in Trouble with the Curve and The Master. For The Master, Adams was nominated for her fourth Academy Award, her fourth Golden Globe Award, and her third BAFTA Award. She played Lois Lane in the 2013 Superman movie Man of Steel.

Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto Region, Italy, the fourth of seven children of American parents Richard Kent and Kathryn (née Hicken) Adams. She has four brothers and two sisters. Her father was a U.S. serviceman. Thereafter, her father sang professionally in restaurants and her mother was a semi-professional bodybuilder. Adams had ambitions of becoming a ballerina and later began working professionally as a dancer at a Boulder, Colorado dinner theatre. There, she was spotted by a Minneapolis dinner theater director in 1995. Adams relocated to Chanhassen, Minnesota, and worked at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres for the next three years. (Full article)

Kofi Annan in 2003

Kofi Atta Annan (born 1938) is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006. Annan and the United Nations were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world". In 2012, Annan was the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, to help find a resolution to ongoing conflict there. Annan quit after becoming frustrated with the UN's lack of progress with regard to conflict resolution, stating that "when the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council".

Annan received a Ford Foundation grant, enabling him to complete his undergraduate studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States, in 1961. (Full article)


Martha George Ripley (November 30, 1843–1912) of Lowell, Vermont was an American physician and founder of the Maternity Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ripley was nominated director of public schools but not elected because she was female. She served six years as president of the Minnesota Suffrage Association. Maternity Hospital, later renamed Ripley Memorial Hospital, remained in operation until 1957, when it was closed due to low occupancy and funding problems. The hospital structure was sold, and the proceeds were used to create the Ripley Memorial Foundation. Since 1993, the foundation has focused on supporting programs that prevent teenage pregnancies. In 2007, the historic Dr. Martha Ripley Maternity Hospital was re-developed into affordable apartment homes. The site was renamed Ripley Gardens in honor of Dr. Martha Ripley. (Full article)

Named for Keys, individual daily combat food rations introduced by the United States Army during World War II were known as K-rations.

Ancel Benjamin Keys (January 26, 1904 – November 20, 2004) was an American scientist who studied the influence of diet on health. In particular, he hypothesized that different kinds of dietary fat had different effects on health. He examined the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and was responsible for two famous diets: K-rations formulated as balanced meals for combat soldiers in World War II and the Mediterranean diet, which, with his wife Margaret, he popularized. Science, diet, and health were central themes in his professional and private lives. (Full article)

Eugenie Anderson interview in 1951

Eugenie Anderson (May 26, 1909 – March 31, 1997), also known as Helen Eugenie Moore Anderson, was an American diplomat who was Ambassador of the United States to Denmark and later to Bulgaria. She is best known as the first woman appointed chief of mission at the ambassador level in US history. Helen Eugenie Moore was born in Adair, Iowa, one of five children of Rev. Ezekial A. Moore, a Methodist minister, and his wife, FloraBelle. She concentrated in music as a student, and attended the Juilliard School in New York; her original hope was to become a concert pianist. Anderson's interest in international affairs had been stirred by a trip to Europe in 1937, where in Germany she first saw a totalitarian state in action, as she recalled. On her return she spoke frequently for the League of Women Voters, fighting the strong isolationist policies of the time. Anderson helped to create the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party in 1944. (Full article)

Ethan Coen (left) and Joel Coen (right) at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival

Joel David Coen (born November 29, 1954) and Ethan Jesse Coen (born September 21, 1957) known informally as the Coen brothers, are Academy Award winning American film directors, screenwriters, producers, and editors. Their films include Blood Simple, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, True Grit, and Inside Llewyn Davis. The brothers write, direct and produce their films jointly, although until The Ladykillers Joel received sole credit for directing and Ethan for producing. They often alternate top billing for their screenplays while sharing film credits for editor under the alias Roderick Jaynes. (Full article)


Tracy Anne Stockwell, OAM, (born January 11, 1963), née Tracy Anne Caulkins, is an American former competition swimmer, three-time Olympic gold medalist, and former world record-holder. Caulkins was noted for her versatility and ability in all four major competitive swimming strokes: the butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle. Caulkins won forty-eight national championships and set American records in all four strokes over a range of distances as well as in the individual medley (IM) events, which combine all four strokes over the course of a single race. Her versatility brought Caulkins many titles and awards, and as a result she is considered one of the greatest swimmers of all time. By the time she retired from competitive swimming in 1984, Caulkins had set five world records and sixty-three American records (more than any other American swimmer, male or female). (Full article)

Means in 1987

Russell Charles Means (November 10, 1939 – October 22, 2012) was an American Oglala Lakota activist for the rights of Native American people and libertarian political activist. He became a prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) after joining the organization in 1968, and helped organize notable events that attracted national and international media coverage. Means was active in international issues of indigenous peoples, including working with groups in Central and South America, and with the United Nations for recognition of their rights. He was active in politics at his native Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and at the state and national level. Beginning an acting career in 1992, he appeared in numerous films, including The Last of the Mohicans and released his own music CD. He published his autobiography Where White Men Fear to Tread in 1995. Means died in 2012, less than a month before his 73rd birthday. (Full article)

Carlson interview on Fox & Friends in 2006

Gretchen Elizabeth Carlson (born 1966) is an American television journalist who hosts the Fox News daytime show The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson weekdays. Previously Carlson was the co-host of the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends along with Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. An accomplished violinist and winner of the 1989 Miss America Pageant while representing her native Minnesota, Carlson graduated from Stanford University before embarking on a career as a television commentator. Gaining experience as anchor and reporter for several local network affiliates before joining CBS News as correspondent in 2000, she later became co-host of the Saturday Early Show. In 2005 Carlson moved to Fox News and became the regular co-host of Fox & Friends a year later. Carlson continues to work with the Miss America pageant and serves as a national celebrity spokesman for March of Dimes. (Full article)

Moore in 2009

Maya April Moore (born 1989) is an American professional basketball player for the Minnesota Lynx of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the Shanxi Flame of the Chinese league. Moore played forward for the UConn women's basketball team, and won back to back undefeated national championships in 2009 and 2010. In the 2010–11 season, she led the Huskies in extending that streak to an NCAA both-gender record (all divisions) of 90. In 2011, Moore became the first female basketball player to sign with the Jordan Brand. Moore was the first overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft, and joined a Minnesota Lynx team that already featured all-star caliber players in Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen. Moore earned Rookie of the Year honors and then helped lead her team to its first WNBA championship. Moore also won a gold medal with the U.S. women's basketball team in the 2012 London Olympics. She won her second WNBA championship in 2013, in a series where she was named MVP. In 2014, Moore was chosen the WNBA's Most Valuable Player. (Full article)


David Lance "Dave" Arneson (October 1, 1947 – April 7, 2009) was an American game designer best known for co-developing the first published role-playing game (RPG), Dungeons & Dragons, with Gary Gygax, in the early 1970s. Arneson's early work was fundamental to the development of the genre, developing the concept of the RPG using devices now considered to be archetypical, such as adventuring in "dungeons", using a neutral judge, and having conversations with imaginary characters to develop the storyline.

Arneson discovered wargaming as a teenager in the 1960s, and began combining these games with the concept of role-playing. He was a University of Minnesota student when he met Gygax at the Gen Con gaming convention in the late 1960s. In 1970 Arneson created the game and fictional world that became Blackmoor, writing his own rules and basing the setting on medieval fantasy elements. Arneson showed the game to Gygax the following year, and the pair co-developed a set of rules that became Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). Gygax subsequently founded TSR, Inc. to publish the game in 1974. Arneson worked briefly for the company.

Arneson left TSR in 1976, and filed suit in 1979 to retain credits and royalties on the game. He continued to work as an independent game designer, briefly worked for TSR again in the 1980s, and continued to play games for his entire life. Arneson also did some work in computer programming, and taught computer game design and game rules design at Full Sail University from the 1990s until shortly before his death in 2009. (Full article)


Lindsay Marie Whalen (born 1982) is an American professional basketball player for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA, and for Dynamo Moscow of Eurobasket. She began her pro career as a point guard for the Connecticut Sun. Whalen has won World and Olympic titles with the United States women's national basketball team, as well as two WNBA titles with the Lynx. At Hutchinson High School in Hutchinson, Minnesota, Whalen was a four-time All-Missota Conference pick, and led her team to three consecutive conference basketball championships. The University of Minnesota women's basketball program rose to national prominence during Whalen's college career. Whalen holds Minnesota career records in points, scoring average, games in double figures, free throws made and free throw percentage. Whalen's jersey number 13 was retired by the University of Minnesota during a ceremony in January 2005 at Williams Arena. (Full article)
Frederick McKinley Jones (May 17, 1893 – February 21, 1961) was an American inventor, entrepreneur, winner of the National Medal of Technology, and inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. His innovations in refrigeration brought great improvement to the long-haul transportation of perishable goods. He cofounded Thermo King. During his life, Jones was awarded 61 patents. (Full article)


Seimone Delicia Augustus (born 1984) is an American professional basketball player in the WNBA, currently playing for the Minnesota Lynx, Dynamo Kursk and the US national team. A five-time all-star, Augustus has become one of the most recognizable faces in the WNBA, earning MVP honors while leading the Lynx to the 2011 WNBA championship, the first of two that she has won with the team. Augustus was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before her freshman year in high school, Augustus was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for Women, with a headline that asked, "Is She the Next Michael Jordan?" Augustus was drafted No. 1 overall in 2006 WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx. (Full article)

Anderson in 2004

Richard Dean Anderson (born 1950) is an American television and film actor, television producer and composer. He began his television career in 1976 as Dr. Jeff Webber in the American soap opera series General Hospital, then rose to prominence as the lead actor in the television series MacGyver (1985–1992). Anderson later appeared in films, including Through the Eyes of a Killer (1992), Pandora's Clock (1996) and Firehouse (1997). In 1997, Anderson returned to television as the lead actor of the series Stargate SG-1, a spin-off of the 1994 film Stargate. He played the lead from 1997–2005 and had a recurring role from 2005–07. Since 1997, the only film Anderson has starred in is Stargate: Continuum released in 2008 as a spin-off film after Stargate SG-1 Series finale in 2007. He appears in the follow-up Stargate series Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate: Universe (as Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill). (Full article)

Reeve in 2013

Cheryl Reeve is an American basketball head coach, currently coaching the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA. Reeve is currently the winningest coach in franchise history, both in terms of victories and winning percentage, and by percentage the winningest coach in WNBA history.

Reeve served as head coach at Indiana State in Terre Haute, Indiana from 1995-1999. Reeve also spent five seasons as an assistant coach at George Washington. Reeve got her start in the WNBA with the Charlotte Sting in 2001. Following the 2002 campaign, Reeve was hired away by the Cleveland Rockers. When they ceased operation of the team making Reeve a coaching free agent, she rejoined the Sting staff for the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Reeve then spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Detroit Shock, also serving as the team's last general manager.

Reeve was named the head coach of the Minnesota Lynx in December 2009. The Lynx improved dramatically in 2011. With Wiggins and Augustus back healthy, and with the addition of rookie Maya Moore, the team got off to a quick start and did not falter throughout the regular season, finishing with a league-best 27-7 record. The dramatic turnaround earned Reeve the WNBA Coach of the Year Award in just her second year as a head coach at the professional level. The Lynx finished what they started, losing only one game in the playoffs en route to their first WNBA championship. Reeve took her team back to the playoffs in her third year. The Lynx went on to lose to the Indiana Fever in the WNBA Finals. In 2013, Reeve and her staff coached the WNBA Western Conference All-Star Team, as the Lynx had won the conference championship the previous year. Reeve's squad included four Lynx players -- Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, and Lindsay Whalen. Reeve's team ended up winning the game, 102-98. Reeve's team then swept through the playoffs, going 7-0 en route to their second championship under her leadership. (Full article)
Frank Bencriscutto (September 21, 1928 – August 28, 1997), nicknamed "Dr. Ben," was an American conductor and composer of concert band music. Bencriscutto was Director of Bands and Professor of Music at the University of Minnesota for thirty-two years.

He was born to Italian immigrant parents in Racine, Wisconsin. Bencriscutto earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. At Eastman, he studied composition with Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers and played principal alto saxophone in the Eastman Wind Ensemble under Frederick Fennell.

As director of the University of Minnesota Marching Band, Bencriscutto instituted the Indoor Marching Band Concert at Northrop Auditorium, an annual tradition that has since been copied by university marching bands nationwide. Many marching band traditions instituted by Bencriscutto continue to this day, including the band's football pre-game "swinging gates" formation performed during Dr. Ben's arrangement of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." In 1969, the conductor led the University of Minnesota Wind Orchestra on a landmark 7-week, 10-city, 27-concert cultural exchange tour in the Soviet Union while Bolshoi Ballet toured the United States. The tour culminated with a presidential command performance in the Rose Garden of the White House. Benscriscutto and The University of Minnesota Concert Band made a tour of mainland China in 1980 as the first American band to perform in the People's Republic of China. After retiring from the University of Minnesota in 1993, Bencriscutto joined the faculty at the Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo, Japan as a visiting professor and conductor of the Wind Ensemble.

Active as a composer and arranger, Bencriscutto wrote the majority of his original works for concert bands. Several of his compositions have become standards in the repertoire, including Let the Light Shine, Latina, Serenade for Solo Alto Saxophone and Band, Granite Rock, and Summer in Central Park. (Full article)
Anne Tyler (born 1941) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and literary critic. She has published 20 novels, the best known of which are Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1983), The Accidental Tourist (1985), and Breathing Lessons (1988). All three were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with Breathing Lessons winning the prize for 1989. She has also won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, the Ambassador Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2012 she was awarded The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence. She is recognized for her fully developed characters, her “brilliantly imagined and absolutely accurate detail,” and her “rigorous and artful style” and “astute and open language.” While many of her characters have been described as quirky or eccentric, she has managed to make them seem real through skillfully fleshing out their inner lives in great depth. Her subject in all her novels has been the American family and marriage: the boredom and exasperating irritants endured by partners, children, siblings, parents; the desire for freedom pulling against the tethers of attachments and conflicted love; the evolution over time of familial love and sense of duty. Tyler celebrates unremarkable Americans and the ordinary details of their everyday lives. Because of her style and subject matter, she has been compared to John Updike, to Jane Austen, and to Eudora Welty, among others. (Full article)

Portrait of William Hood Dunwoody by Julian Russell Story (1911)

William Hood Dunwoody (March 14, 1841 – February 8, 1914) was an American banker, miller, art patron and philanthropist. He was a partner in what is today General Mills and for thirty years a leader of Northwestern National Bank, today's Wells Fargo. Dunwoody sold American flour to British bakers, creating an export market and environment in which Minneapolis, Minnesota, became for a time the world's center of flour milling. By 1901, he was one of sixteen millionaires in Minneapolis. He is remembered today for his bequests that created the Dunwoody Institute (now the Dunwoody College of Technology) and The William Hood Dunwoody Fund of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. (Full article)


Rebekkah Brunson (born 1981) is an American basketball player playing forward for the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. Brunson played for the Georgetown University women's basketball team in college. Brunson was born in Washington, D.C. and attended Oxon Hill High School in Maryland. Brunson graduated from Georgetown in 2004 as its women's basketball program's all-time leading rebounder. Brunson played on the U.S. team in the 2003 Pan American Games. (Full article)

Berry in 2008

William Thomas "Bill" Berry (born July 31, 1958) is a retired American musician and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the drummer for the alternative rock band R.E.M. In addition to his drumming duties, Berry played many other instruments including guitar, bass guitar, and piano, both for songwriting and on R.E.M. records. After 17 years with the band, Berry left the music industry to become a farmer, and has since maintained a low profile, making sporadic reunions with R.E.M. and appearing on other artists' records. (Full article)

Fowles in 2011

Sylvia Shaqueria Fowles (born October 6, 1985) is an American professional basketball player for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA. She was born in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida, the daughter of Arrittio Fowles. She has three brothers, Walter, Jeremy, Morris, and one sister, Dorothy. She was selected by the Chicago Sky in the 2008 WNBA Draft but turned down a contract offer with the Sky in September 2014. She sat out the first half of the 2015 WNBA season until she was traded to the Minnesota Lynx in July 2015, where she was MVP of the 2015 WNBA Finals. Fowles played for Spartak Moscow in Russia during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 WNBA off-seasons, and played for Galatasaray Medical Park of Turkey between the 2010-12 seasons. Fowles is a member of the United States women's national basketball team and she earned a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Fowles is the sixth woman to dunk in an American college game, and the third WNBA player to dunk in an all star game. (Full article)

Fitzgerald in 1921

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American novelist and short story writer, whose works are the paradigmatic writings of the Jazz Age. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby (his best known), and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also wrote numerous short stories, many of which treat themes of youth and promise, and age and despair. (Full article)


Jessica Phyllis Lange (/læŋ/; born April 20, 1949) is an American actress who has worked in film, theater and television. The recipient of several awards, including two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, one Screen Actors Guild Award and three Dorian Awards; in 1998, Entertainment Weekly listed Lange among The 25 Greatest Actresses of the '90s. In 1982, she became the first performer in forty years to receive two Oscar nominations within the same year; she won her second Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a soap opera star in Tootsie and was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the troubled actress Frances Farmer, in Frances. Lange was born in Cloquet, Minnesota. In addition to acting, Lange is a photographer with two published works. She has also been a foster parent and currently holds a Goodwill Ambassador position for UNICEF, specializing in HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Russia. In 2014, Marc Jacobs chose her to be the premiere model of his new high-end beauty line, Marc Jacobs Beauty. (Full article)

Lewis in 1930

Harry Sinclair Lewis (/ˈlɪs/; February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters." His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. H. L. Mencken wrote of him, "[If] there was ever a novelist among us with an authentic call to the trade ... it is this red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds." (Full article)
Patricia Jane Berg (February 13, 1918 – September 10, 2006) was an American professional golfer and a founding member and then leading player on the LPGA Tour during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Her 15 major title wins remains the all-time record for most major wins by a female golfer. She is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. (Full article)

Warren e burger photo.jpeg

Warren Earl Burger (September 17, 1907 – June 25, 1995) was the 15th Chief Justice of the United States from 1969 to 1986. Although Burger was a conservative, and the U.S. Supreme Court delivered numerous conservative decisions under him, it also delivered some liberal decisions on abortion, capital punishment, religious establishment, and school desegregation during his tenure. Burger was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1907, and one of seven children. (Full article)
Carol Bly (April 16, 1930 – December 21, 2007) was a teacher and an award-winning American author of short stories, essays, and nonfiction works on writing. Her work often featured Minnesota women who must identify the moral crisis that is facing their community or themselves and enact change through empathy, or opening one's eyes to the realities of the situation.

Carolyn McLean Bly was the youngest child and only daughter of Charles Russell and Mildred Washburn McLean of Duluth, Minnesota. She was raised in Duluth and Tryon, North Carolina, where she was sent to live with one of her father's sisters because her mother suffered from tuberculosis and was often away from the family being treated in sanitariums.

Bly's mother died in 1942, at a time when two of her older brothers were fighting in World War II. As a young teen, Bly worried for the safety of her family and often had nightmares about the Gestapo. Bly never lost her preoccupation with the damage that evil people could do.

After graduating from the Abbot Academy boarding school Bly received her B.A. in English and history from Wellesley College in 1951 and spent several years working in New York and Boston before undertaking graduate-level work at the University of Minnesota in 1954 and 1955. (Full article)
James Orsen "Jim" Bakker (pronounced "Baker"; born January 2, 1940) is an American televangelist, a former Assemblies of God minister and a former host (with his then-wife Tammy Faye Bakker) of The PTL Club, an evangelical Christian television program.

A sex scandal led to his resignation from the ministry. Subsequent revelations of accounting fraud brought about his imprisonment and divorce. He later remarried and returned to televangelism. (Full article)

Messner in 2004

Tamara Faye LaValley Bakker Messner (March 7, 1942 – July 20, 2007) was an American Christian singer, evangelist, entrepreneur, author, talk show host, and television personality. She was married from 1961 to 1992 to televangelist, and later convicted felon, Jim Bakker. She co-hosted with him on The PTL Club (1976–1987). She was a participant in the 2004 season of the reality show The Surreal Life. The eldest of eight children, Tammy Faye was born Tamara Faye LaValley in International Falls, Minnesota, to Pentecostal preachers Rachel Minnie (née Fairchild) and Carl Oliver LaValley. (Full article) 82.
August Wilson (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005) was an American playwright whose work included a series of ten plays, The Pittsburgh Cycle, for which he received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. Each work in the series is set in a different decade, and depicts comic and tragic aspects of the African-American experience in the 20th century. (Full article)

Wilder circa 1885

Laura Ingalls Wilder (/ˈɪŋɡəlz/; February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) was an American writer known for the Little House on the Prairie series of children's books released from 1932 to 1943 which were based on her childhood in a settler and pioneer family. On the Banks of Plum Creek shows the family moving from Kansas to an area near Walnut Grove, Minnesota and settling in a dugout "on the banks of Plum Creek". They really lived there beginning in 1874, when Wilder was about seven years old. That year the family again moved, this time to Lake City, Minnesota, and then on to a preemption claim in Walnut Grove, where they lived for a time with relatives near South Troy, Minnesota. (Full article)