Honoring a Family's Legacy
Alfred Pillsbury Gale was a descendant of two of Minnesota's pioneering families who arrived in Minnesota before statehood and played leading roles in shaping the state's development. Al and his wife Leona joined the Society in 1984 after moving to Minnesota following a successful career in farming in North Dakota. Al's love of history came from his grandfather, Edward C. Gale, and his father, Richard P. Gale - who together served 22 years on the Society's Executive Council. His grandfather served as president of the Society from 1936 to 1939, owned one of the State's finest libraries on early Minnesota history, and was widely recognized as an expert on Father Louis Hennepin and his early exploration of Minnesota. In 1952 he was recognized as one of twenty "Builders of the Society" for his "vision, devotion, and voluntary work" in developing the Society during its first century. The Society is proud to be the repository for a large collection of journals, photographs, and correspondence documenting five generations of the family.
In 2010, Al made plans for a future gift from his estate to create the Alfred P. and Leona Gale Fund at the Society. In creating this special legacy fund, Al wanted to honor the Gale family for its role in building our State and the Society. The Gale Fund will support two activities - the Gale Scholars Program and the acquisition and care of rare historical collections.
The Gale Scholars Program will provide for the naming of a Gale Scholar every year through a competitive process among recent graduates with a Master's or Doctoral degree interested in pursuing a career in public history. The recipient will be awarded a two-year professional position at the Society.
Pat Gaarder, the Society's deputy director for programs, notes that the Gale Scholars Program "will enable the Society to hire some of the brightest talent coming out of academia. Gale Scholars will participate in the development and implementation of programs that bring Minnesota's history to life for students and people of all ages. We are very excited about this special opportunity, which will also have a significant impact on the cause of public history throughout the United States."
Leona passed away in 2008, and Al passed away on July 2, 2012 at the age of 85. We are deeply grateful for his long-time interest in the Society, his commitment to helping young people pursue a career in public history, and his desire to create a lasting legacy honoring the Gale family.