Ignatius Donnelly: Ultimate Independent Scholar

Patrick Coleman
Saturday, March 23, 2019 - 10:00am to 11:30am
Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419

Ignatius Donnelly; poet, promoter, politician, orator, and author; was arguably the most interesting figure in Minnesota history. Although today he is largely dismissed as a crank, Donnelly was an indefatigable champion of the nineteenth century's underdogs. His writings were both a reflection of the times and of his moods. His 1890 Caesar's Column was the first great dystopian novel and a best seller in spite of its populist pessimism. Donnelly's non-fiction ceded no field to the experts. His Atlantis: The Antediluvian World led to scientific speculation and many fantasy novels. Despite his numerous defeats, many of his ideas eventually came to fruition, creating an impressive legacy.
Patrick Coleman has been the Acquisition Librarian at the Minnesota Historical Society for the last three decades. In that curatorial position he has been responsible for adding approximately 100,000 volumes to the library, making it the premier place for scholarship on all Minnesota topics. He is especially proud of the MHS library’s growth in the previously neglected areas of Minnesota fiction, poetry, fine press, and artist’s books. Coleman writes and lectures on topics related to Minnesota’s culture and history. He served as the President of the Library of Congress’s Minnesota Center for the Book, presided over the Minnesota Book Awards, is on the boards of Coffee House Press and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and received the Kay Sexton Award in 2009 for his contributions to Minnesota’s community of the book. Currently, he serves as an Executive Leadership Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrative Leadership. His avocational interest include Irish literature (collecting one of few complete sets of the Cuala Press, run by the sisters of W. B. Yeats,) wilderness canoeing, cross-country skiing, and backpacking.