What/where is Britt? Find that and more Sunday

I never signed up to be a historian (an historian? See, I don’t even know) but write a book that tangentially involves history and BAM you be one. The bar is low, but I aim high. That’s why I’ll be the keynote speaker at the Britt Community Historical Society Annual Dinner on Sunday, July 11 at the Sandy Town Hall in the general vicinity of Britt. Social hour starts at 4 and after some drinks, finger foods and a lot of smiling I ought to be jacked up for the main event.

General vicinity? Is that more of your high talkin’ blog snark, young man? No it is not. Britt has a post office and that’s why it’s called Britt but there is no such place as Britt. Britt exists under that name because all the people who live in this very rural collection of Iron Range-area townships and locations north of Buhl, Kinney and Virgina choose to call it Britt, and have even gone so far as to form an historical society to document its past. Having grown up in Zim, another Iron Range place that technically does not exist, I am all over this. And bonus points for Britt being named for boxer-turned-vaudeville star Jimmy Britt. According to legend, or at least the guy I heard talking about this, an early postmaster was a big Britt fan and named the place for him. Britt, a San Franciscan, died in 1940 probably never knowing there was a random place in northern Minnesota that carried his name. Seventy years later, I will speak there, having lived my 30 years regretting that I wasn’t born into vaudeville times. Spooky.

Again, the Britt Historical Society gathers at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 11. You can RSVP for the dinner, which has a ticket cost, by contacting Jessica at 218-290-9725 or e-mailing jpanula(at)dsgw.com. My presentation will last about half an hour or less and feature my usual blend of humor, history and current events commentary.

I’ll be selling and signing copies of my book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range,” winner of a somewhat recent Northeastern Minnesota Book Award.


  1. Steve Harsin says

    an historian is the proper form.

  2. Oh, I know. It’s just one of those pretentious “H as a vowel” situations that I like to make fun of.

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