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FC Historical Society hires new executive director

By Staff | Jul 28, 2019

The Faribault County Historical Society’s new executive director, Randall Anderson, is shown inside the Woodlands School building at History Lane at the fairgrounds.

There is a new executive director of the Faribault County Historical Society (FCHS).

In fact, Randall Anderson is the very first-ever executive director of society. He began his duties in the newly created position on July 1.

“It just has gotten very difficult to find enough volunteers to do all the things we need to do,” FCHS president Bill Paul said. “The board decided we needed to have an executive director to take charge of, and be responsible for, everything the society needs to get done.”

Anderson says he is excited to help the society in any way that he can. And, he says he has many ideas of some new things that can be done.

One of those is to increase opportunities for local residents to utilize and enjoy the substantial collections the FCHS has.

“I would like to expand the hours to make the museums more easily accessible to local residents,” Anderson says. “I loved visiting the Wakefield House when I was in school here but I hadn’t thoroughly explored the collections in many, many years.”

He adds that the volunteers have done a remarkable job of cataloging, organizing and displaying artifacts. Now they just need to be able to have more people come and enjoy them.

“We are also hoping to add new volunteers especially those folks who have particular interests or expertise in history, military history, mechanics and ag history, and even gardening, to help with maintenance of our 10 properties we have,” Anderson says. “Some of our volunteers have been helping out for 20 years or more, and they are aging out.”

He also wants to help with genealogy research. He says there are file drawers full of old records, and he is going to work on putting a list of what is available on the society’s web site at fchistorical.org.

Collecting oral histories of older residents, and digitizing some of Paul Hedberg’s radio interviews of senior citizens in 1976 is also a goal for the new executive director.

Anderson is a Blue Earth native. He was born here in 1964 and his parents were Warren and Violet Anderson. His father and brothers, Kurt and Kenneth, owned and operated K and K Carpets in Blue Earth for many years.

Meanwhile, Anderson himself left Blue Earth for a while after graduation from Blue Earth-Frost High School in 1982.

He graduated from Carlton College in Northfield with degrees in English. He then received his masters degree in three areas of English study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

From there it was on to Yale University for his PhD and then to Oxford, England for a second PhD.

“I taught at a college in Wisconsin for a few years,” Anderson says. “But I moved to Minneapolis and worked and lived there for 12 years. In 2013 my mom fell and broke her foot and I moved back home to take care of her.”

Despite being gone for many years, Anderson says he never lost track of Blue Earth.

“I came home as much as I could, through college and living away. Maybe not so much for the years in England,” he says. “When I was living in Minneapolis I was home nearly every week to check on my mother. My father had passed away in 1991.”

He kept in touch with what was going on in Blue Earth as much as he could.

“I guess I have always had a strong connection to the history of Blue Earth and this area,” Anderson says. “That is why I knew I would like this job.”

Anderson says he is amazed at the mass of items the society has.

“There is an absolute trove of old genealogy records,” he says. “But, they are on 3×5 index cards. We need to make a list of the main family names, and even secondary names, and put it on our web page so people can see what we have.”

There is also a death index of at least 30,000 names of people who are buried in Faribault County.

“And I am amazed at the quantity and diversity of the artifacts the society has, both inside its many buildings and in storage,” he says. “There are many old military uniforms, for instance, and I would like to see us get more of them on display.”

That does not mean the society isn’t taking any more donations of items.

“Oh no, we are always looking for more objects,” Anderson says. “I hope people think of the historical society when they are cleaning out a home for any reason. Even things like old phone books or hand bills, things like that, not just larger objects.”

Anderson has another plea to make to the residents of Faribault County. Think about joining the historical society board.

“We have several board members who are going to retire from the board,” Anderson says. “So we are definitely looking for people who would be interested in serving.”