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Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future

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The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

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The Spirit Through the American Army

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 18, 2018


This is the record of Anne Williams, who served with the American Red Cross directing surgical dressings, doing canteen and officers' club work and emergency nursing. After the war, she described one of her most memorable experience that occurred in June, 1918. She was kneeling on the floor trying to help a wounded soldier who had been operated on the night before. He lay on a blanket with his head on a pack, and asked for a pillow. He then said Williams should put the pillow under her knees, as she'd been kneeling next to him for so long. Williams was touched that despite the man's pain, he was most concerned with her comfort. "That was the spirit all the way through of the entire American Army."

 


[...] There were too many interesting experiences to really choose one. This slight incident that shows the spirit of the American Soldier, with his unselfishness and courage, happened not far from Meaux, during the first Chateau Thierry encounter in June 1918. One, of some one hundred and fifty wounded, who were lying on a hard cement floor of a railroad station, waiting for a hospital train, had an operation the night before. changing of dressing had been impossible, and he was in great pain. He had lain there for some eight hours, on a blanket with his head on his pack. I had spent some time trying to make him comfortable, and there were other things to be done. He asked for a pillow, and when it was brought, said to the orderly: - "Put it under her knees. I should think she'd be tired working over me so long." He never complained- said he had only done his bit.
That was the spirit all the way through of the entire American Army.

Citation: American Red Cross, Northern Division, records, 1915-1921. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P781

Map of Rocky Mountain Locust Eggs

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 18, 2018

Continuing on the topic of locust from last week, this is a map of Minnesota showing where eggs were deposited by the Rocky Mountain locust in 1873, 1874, 1875, and 1876. It was published for the State Geological & Natural History Survey in 1876.

See it in Collections Online.

Happy Father's Day!

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 17, 2018


This small lapel pin features a shield over a brass cross, with a screw fastener on the back. Inside the shield it reads, "AMERICAN / WAR / DADS" on red, white and blue enamel.

 

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collections. 70.12.19

"My Dear Son, Please Come Home"

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 16, 2018


This is a sign asking for information on David Cochran, a 16 year old who left home on this day. A picture and physical description of him are given, as well as a public letter from his father to him, begging him to come home. It is unknown why the young man ran away, as he was too young to be drafted, though he may have been attempting to enlist.

 


the whereabouts of
DAVID COCHRAN
Whose photograph is here shown
[...] MY DEAR SON:
If you should happen to come in contact with this advertisement, please read the following very carefully:
We want you to come home, where no one else can ever take your place. Hold your head up like a man, as there is nothing whatever against you, only that you left your dear father and mother, sisters, brothers and hosts of relatives and friends to mourn because they do not know where you are or what may befall you. Everything that belonged to you is still yours, and even more. It would make you rejoice to know what we have at home for you, so son come on home. If you have no money with which to come home on, write or wire your father at once and he will send it. [...]

Citation: American Red Cross, Northern Division, records, 1915-1921. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P781

Beginning of the Battle of the Piave River

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 15, 2018


Willard W. Bixby was stationed in Italy as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross. In letters to his family (written June 16 and July 21, 1918), Bixby describes a major battle: the Battle of the Piave River, which lasted from June 15 to June 23, and his work driving an ambulance during the battle. In his letter from June 16, written during the fighting, Bixby states that "I have been on the go every minute and have had about 6 hrs. sleep in the last 48." In the letter written July 21, Bixby goes into more detail about the experience and mentions that he was "wending my way warily and scarrily [sic] thru pitch dark roads accompanied by the thot that when I got back to the sucistamento or dressing station, I might be pleasantly surprised by a welcome from our friends the Austrians." Bixby also mentions that he doesn't think they'll ever see a battle like that again, as many of the ambulance drivers who had been in Italy for a year had never had an experience like that one.
 


Somewhere on
the Piave
Dearest Mother,
The anticipated attack started yesterday morning about 1 A.M. I have been on the go every minute and have had about 6 hrs. sleep in the last 48. I am well and safe but have certainly seen the thick of it. I have just a few minutes to write so I will cut this short. I have a machine now as we all have to be on duty as it is a night and day affair. The things I have seen and the things I have thot [sic] I will not describe now. I have been assigned to section five and will be in Milano in a couple of weeks I expect, if this thing lets up before then. I will cable from there So that after you get this letter the cable will be more appreciable. I can see shrapnel bursting from my window and believe me it is not the most pleasant of sounds. Must be off will write more extensive letter.
Load of Love
Willard


Sunday, July 21, 1918.
Dearest Dad and Mother,
[...] Your last letter was of June 13th and of course the attack started two days latter. Little did you reck when you thot [sic] of me speeding thru France in my classy little motor ambulance that I was more likely wending my way warily and scarrilt [sic] thru pitch dark roads accompanied by the thot [sic] that when I got back to the sucistamento [sic] or dressing station, I might be pleasantly surprised by a welcome from our friends the Austrians. But that is over now and I doubt if we will ever see anything like it again. Many of the boys that have been over here a year in France and Italy, never had an experience like those 8 days. We all feel more that fortunate that we were able to get in on it but I haven't heard anyone say they were very anxious to go thru it again. [...]
With love,
Willard.

Citation: Willard W. Bixby and Family Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. A/.B624

Happy Pride!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 15, 2018

Happy Pride month! The MNHS button collection holds over 60 buttons from different Pride celebrations all over the state. This one is from Twin Cities Pride, 1998.

See more in Collections Online.

"President Goes on Record" and "Food Situation is Growing Serious" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. June 14, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 14, 2018

First issue of The Nonpartisan Leader, 1915

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 14, 2018

The Nonpartisan League was an agrarian movement begun in 1915 in North Dakota that soon spread to Minnesota. League members protested the poor market conditions of farmers. The League rejected a third party approach, choosing instead to endorse whichever candidate pledged to support their program.

Learn more in our Library.

"French Make New Gains in Center, but Retire East of Oise" and "150,000 Czechs to Quit Russia and Join Allies" - The Minneapolis Morning Tribune. June 13, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 13, 2018

Logjam, 1886

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 13, 2018

On this day in 1886, a four-mile logjam closed the St. Croix River at Taylors Falls. The jam was so spectacular that excursion trains travel from Duluth to see it.

See more logjam photos in Collections Online.

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