MN book chronicles the cultural and political history of a savvy, philanthropic family

Each day leading up to the April 14 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2012 Minnesota Finalist:

The Pillsburys of Minnesota
Lori Sturdevant, with George S. Pillsbury

Nodin Press

Category Sponsor: Xcel Energy


“Pillsbury” is a well-known brand in many parts of the world, but the word carries deeper connotations in Minnesota. In The Pillsburys of Minnesota, Lori Sturdevant, with George S. Pillsbury, documents the pioneering family’s central role in making Minneapolis the milling capitol of the world.

An excerpt from The Pillsburys of Minnesota:

The Falls Beckon

Saint Anthony Falls, wide and wild, the only waterfall on the mighty Mississippi, beckoned to young men of pluck and ambition in the middle of the nineteenth century. Its siren song was especially compelling to boys of New England. Those who came of age near the mills of New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont knew that the power of rushing water could be connected into fortunes…

John Sargent Pillsbury, a bright and curious son of Sutton, was twenty-six years old in 1853, and restless…


Lori Sturdevant is an editorial writer and columnist for the Star Tribune.


“The book is a worthy contribution to the state, explaining how the individuals in the Pillsbury family were grounded, raised and called to leadership in diverse and impactful ways. More interesting than a history textbook, it shares in one place the story of a family that has for generations made a difference in our state and nation.”
– MinnPost

“You can’t thoroughly study any sector of state history – economic, cultural, political – without bumping into a visionary Pillsbury. Clearly, a book dedicated to the family was long overdue, and Sturdevant delivered. Her treatment was just as thorough as I’d hoped it would be.”
– Minnesota Book Awards judge


Lori Sturdevant sat down with Minnesota Public Radio last fall to talk about this work, her newest book project.


“In 1855 a Yankee merchant toured the western frontier and chose St. Anthony (now part of Minneapolis) as his home. The decision was fortunate, both for John Pillsbury and for the state to which he brought a combination of business and political savvy and benevolent concern for others…” Read more about Gov. John S. Pillsbury on the Minnesota Historical Society website

Pillsbury A Mill, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The limestone Pillsbury A Mill was completed in 1881 and was the largest and most advanced flour mill in the world. The “A” indicates that the mill was the primary mill among Pillsbury’s mills in Minneapolis. The mill could produce over 5,000 barrels of flour a day. The structure is a National Historic Landmark, as well as a National Engineering Landmark. The mill ceased operation in 2003.

Pillsbury Hall at the University of Minnesota.
Built in 1887, Pillsbury Hall is the second oldest building on the Twin Cities Campus of the University of Minnesota. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings as part of the “old campus district”. The building was the gift of John S. Pillsbury in the amount of $131,000 for the erection of a Science Hall when state appropriations were insufficient. The building was named in Pillsbury’s honor.


Award winners will be announced at the 24th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – Saint Paul Riverfront. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. New this year: a post-awards “Epilogue Celebration.” Tickets are available online or by calling 651-222-3242. Click here for more information.

Have you read The Pillsburys of Minnesota? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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