Cornerstone Exercise

Exercise: Cornerstone Ceremony and Box Contents
The cornerstone of the Minnesota State Capitol building was laid in 1898 by former Governor Alexander Ramsey.  A copper box within the stone contains a Bible, a number of photographs of Minnesota, the last issued newspapers from Minneapolis and Saint Paul, printed histories of Minnesota, and two copper plates, one featuring memorable events in the history of Minnesota, the other listing the names of the Capitol Commission members and the architect, Cass Gibert, along with his assistants.


On the reverse side of this page (or below online), you will find an excerpt from a newspaper article listing the entire contents of the cornerstone placed at the Minnesota State Capitol on July 27, 1898.

Imagine you are part of the planning committee for a new state capitol. What would you put in the cornerstone of this cherished building for future Minnesotans to see?

Why would you choose these items?

What is their importance to our state?

How is your list similar and/or different from the 1898 collection of items?

Student materials

PDF icon cornerstone_excercise.pdf48.38 KB


  1. 1.  Choose objects that express what is important to students and their communities

    2. Compare values of various students and classroom in several Minnesota schools.

    3. Compare choices and values of today with those of Minnesota in 1898 when the original box was put in the cornerstone.

Alexander Ramsey, Governor of the State of Minnesota
Minnesota State Capitol, Stone Cutters creating the Cornerstone, 1897
Laying the Cornerstone
Minnesota State Capitol, Cornerstone Ceremony
Minnesota State Capitol, Cornerstone Ceremony, 1898
Minnesota State Capitol, Cornerstone Ceremony on Capitol Grounds, 1897