Kim Heikkila’s mother delivered her first daughter at the Salvation Army Booth Memorial Hospital in St. Paul in 1961. An unmarried college student whose boyfriend had abandoned her, she surrendered her baby for adoption and kept the whole experience a secret until 1994, when Heikkila’s sister found her birth family. After her mother died in 2009, Heikkila embarked on a quest to learn more about her mother’s experiences as Booth girl in hopes of understanding her own as an adoptive mother. Based on oral history interviews, archival research, family history, and memoir, Booth Girls is a story about mothering through the losses and gains of adoption.

Booth Girls will be published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in March 2021. It can be pre-ordered from the MNHS Press or from Amazon.





More than 250,000 women served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.  Approximately 7500 of them went to Vietnam, 6000 of them as nurses.  Sisterhood of War tells the story of fifteen nurses from Minnesota who spent a year caring for the casualties of war, came home to a divided country, and descended into a silent struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  In order to heal themselves, they bonded together as sister veterans, sharing their stories with each other in a PTSD support group and with the nation in the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.

Sisterhood of War was a finalist for a 2012 Minnesota Book Award and nominee for the Hognander Minnesota History Award. Order the book from MNHS Press or from Amazon.




Select Articles

“‘Everybody thinks it’s right to give the child away’: Unwed Mothers at Booth Memorial Hospital, 1961-1963,” Minnesota History (Summer 2017)

Winner of the Solon J. Buck Award for best article of the year in Minnesota History





“‘Brighter and Better for Every Person’: Building the New Salvation Army Rescue Home of St. Paul, 1913,” Ramsey County History (Spring 2016)





“The Gold Necklace: Oral History on Eat Street,” Hennepin History Magazine (Fall/Winter 2018)

“Oral History and the Power of Listening,” Minnesota Humanities Center Blog, September 2016