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Party like it's 1939

In April 1939, South St. Paul industrial arts teacher Fred Lawshe and a group of friends established the Dakota County Historical and Archaeological Society. Their mission was to preserve, interpret and promote the history of Dakota County.

“You could say that Fred Lawshe and his fellow historians, in 1939, were the original Facebookers. They loved their community and they worked hard to find the connections in people’s lives,” said Tom Achartz, DCHS president. “I believe we’ve just begun to tell today’s stories from the Native American to the new immigrants who have joined us. We have an obligation to honor and celebrate their history. We can only do that if the people of Dakota County take their support of history to the next level that matches the size, vibrancy, and growth of Minnesota’s third largest county.”

In 1949 the name of the organization was shortened to the Dakota County Historical Society and today the group continues to carry on the mission that Lawshe and his friends set out to accomplish 75 years ago. The DCHS has a collection of more than 35,000 artifacts and photos that reflect the county’s rich history including Native American and pioneer artifacts.

“Dakota County has a pretty dynamic history,” said Lynn Gruber,DCHS executive director.

To celebrate its Diamond Anniversary, DCHS will host a Gala 75th Anniversary Dance from 6:30 to 11 p.m. May 3 at the Rosemount Community Center.

The event’s theme, Great Movies of 1939 — The Biggest Year in Hollywood’s History, will take attendees back to when the society got started.

Gruber said 1939 was a big year for Hollywood.

Movies that were released that year include Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Wuthering Heights, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Guests are encouraged to attend the event dressed as their favorite characters from popular 1939 movies.

The evening will begin with swing dance lessons provided by the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance club from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Bend in the River Big Band will perform from 8 to 11 p.m. Food, beer, wine and cocktails will be available for purchase. There will also be a raffle.

Gruber said they chose to hold the event at the Rosemount Community Center because Rosemount is in the middle of the county and the ballroom has a wood floor, perfect for swing dancing.

The event is open to the public and Gruber said they would like to see as many faces as possible.

Tickets are $15 if purchase before April 26 and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased by calling 651-552-7548.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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