Preserving history through oral histories | Morrison County File

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As a young man working at Munsingwear in Little Falls, Robert “Jim” Warzecha’s job was to oil the sewing machines. Industrial floors were full of women sewing underwear.

One of the stories Jim shared with his wife, Camille Warzecha, about his work at Munsingwear was another colleague, Jake Adams, who really impressed him.

“He fixed all the machines. He also invented different pieces of machines which were attached to the machines which made some of the sewing easier. It was a very creative inventory, ”said Camilla.

Another observation Jim shared with Camille that had impressed him a lot was a woman’s sewing skills.

“She was like a hummingbird. She was working so fast you couldn’t even see her hands, ”Camille said.

Currently, the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) is looking for oral testimony from those who worked in industries established in Little Falls between 1937 and 1970. Some examples of industries include Munsingwear, Hennepin Paper, Larson Boats, Granite Works, Little Chip Machine and more.

Camille said the oral history collection project was made possible by a grant from the local government certified by the study of the historic site, Phoebe Ward wrote with the HPC. An architectural study will also be carried out by Groupe 106 with which HPC has partnered.

Preserving history through oral histories

The Hennepin Paper Mill in Little Falls closed in 1998 after more than 100 years of operation. The Heritage Preservation Commission is looking for …

Those wishing to be interviewed about their work experience are asked to leave their contact details with Little Falls Clerk, Wendy Zylka, at (320) 639-2553 or by emailing Ward at pward @ cityofli ttle falls.com .

During the interview with one of the CHP members, the person will be asked a variety of questions, such as when and where they were born, how they got involved in the industry they worked in, her position, the duties she had, what the culture job was like and what their own experience was.

The interview will also be recorded. Finally, oral histories will be made public.

HPC recognizes that sometimes the experiences of people working in different locations are not always positive. As the CHP seeks to preserve history, the organization welcomes everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly. After all, this is all history.

“The story is about recording the truth as faithfully as possible and that includes the bad parts. No one has a perfect, rosy experience, even with the all-time favorite job, ”said Camille.

By interviewing different people who have worked in different industries, CHP members also discovered how industries were perceived by some or by the community in general. For example, some Little Falls businesses looked down upon Munsingwear for the simple fact that he was unionized. Many of the women who worked there also earned more money than other companies paid the men.

“They didn’t like competition,” says Camille.

Some women even traveled from Motley to work at Munsingwear. For many families, the extra income saved their farms, she said.

While the Hennepin Paper Mill was demolished, the building in which Munsingwear opened its mill during World War II in Little Falls remains standing. The yellow brick building is located across from the Little Falls Post Office.

The story is fascinating, says Camille. Especially when it’s local.


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