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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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WW1 Daybook

"Mothers" for the Soldiers - April 28, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 28, 2017


In this letter, Mrs. Charles Jerome offers Mrs. Lowry of the Minneapolis Branch of the American Red Cross the suggestion of vetting applications from women who would want to serve the soldiers by writing letters to them. Specifically Mrs. Jerome suggests that these “true women” serve as “mothers” for the soldiers abroad who do not have their own wives or mothers. The purpose of the letters would be to give “cheer and moral uplift to one who would otherwise be without this sympathy.” Attached to the letter, Mrs. Jerome included a draft of the application the women could fill out, including name, age, religious preference, language, and a pledge to write at least once a week to their soldier.

 


April 28, 1917
Mrs. Horace Lowry,
Red Cross Society,
Minneapolis.

My dear Mrs. Lowry:
We are all asking what we can do to help in this crisis. There is a service that many women could render at this time, - a service of no mean importance, as any one acquainted with the social needs of youth will recognize. It is to take, in a certain sense, the place of mothers towards boys who have enlisted and who have neither wives nor mother to write to them while they are in the field or on the sea. [...] The woman would assume the kindly duty of writing frequently to her soldier or sailor boy, of sending him newspapers and shoe strings and the like, - of giving cheer and moral uplift to one who would otherwise be without this sympathy except as it came from his comrades in camp, [...]
Very truly yours,
Mrs. Charles Jerome.

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

St. Paul Chain Letter Supports Universal Military Training - April 27, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 27, 2017


This chain letter was sent to Kenneth Gray Brill, an attorney in Saint Paul, encouraging him to write to his congressman about the necessity of universal military and naval training, offering suggested wording for letters. It then directs him to send the letter, "to four of your friends who are interested in universal training, marking letters with next higher number than at the head of this one." The letter was sent to Brill by fellow attorney, Dillon O'Brien.

 


April 27th, 1917.
Letter No. 22.
Mr. Kenneth G. Brill,
[...]
Dear Sir:--
You are interested in universal training of American Manhood for the protection of our country and for its value as a builder of character.
If you really believe in and want universal training, please write the following to your Congressman at Washington:
"I will support you in any action you take for the immediate adoption of universal military and naval training by our government. I believe such training to be a valuable necessity - valuable because of the personal benefits accruing to American manhood - necessary because of our country's need of protection."
After you have sent this or a similar note to your Congressman, send this entire letter to four of your friends who are interested in universal training, marking letters with the next higher number than at the head of this one.
This series of letters will end with number 50. It is important that none of the links are broken, so please do your share.
Very truly yours,
Dillon J. O'Brien

Citation: Brill, Hascal Russell and Family. Corresp. & Misc. Papers; 1908 - Feb. 1919 Papers. P813 Box 8

St. Paul Chapter of Red Cross Plans Membership Drive

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 26, 2017


With war preparations underway, the St. Paul chapter of the Red Cross planned a membership drive to begin on the first of May. By April 26, 1917, the Red Cross had already obtained the cooperation of St. Paul telephone companies and movie theaters (known as "moving picture houses" in early Twentieth Century America). The telephone companies had agreed to include Red Cross membership applications in every bill sent on May 1st, and local movie theaters had agreed to screen an advertisement for the membership campaign. Neither of these contributors charged a fee. Citing the example of local telephone companies and movie theaters, the St. Paul chapter of the Red Cross wrote to Max Hermann, the Director-Chairman of the St. Paul Retail Sub-division. In a letter dated April 26, 1917, the Red Cross asked Mr. Hermann to consider displaying an advertisement for their membership drive, which would read as follows:

"Every man, woman and child in Saint Paul should join the Red Cross. Application blanks for membership go to every telephone subscriber with May Statements. If you are not a telephone subscriber, apply for membership at Red Cross headquarters, (Fourth and Minnesota streets). Annual dues One dollar."

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

Senator Knute Nelson Encourages Immigrant Communities to Volunteer for Duty

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 25, 2017


After the declaration of war on April 6, 1917, U.S. government officials began working to pass a wartime draft known as the Selective Service Act of 1917. During this time, Minnesota Senator (and former governor) Knute Nelson responded to a letter he had received from a Scandinavian immigrant community concerning the draft. In that letter, dated 24 April 1917, Nelson encourages individuals in that community to volunteer for duty before the draft is instituted. Since drafts were conducted by precinct, certain precincts could avoid the draft if a sufficient number of their men volunteered. Additionally, Senator Nelson, himself a Norwegian immigrant, makes a special plea for immigrant communities to join the war effort. He notes that “this country received us with open arms” and that immigrants thus “owe a debt of gratitude to America for the blessings that have been conferred upon [them].” By the time Nelson’s letter was sent, there was precious little time to volunteer for combat. Congress approved the wartime draft four days later, and it went into effect in mid-May.

 


April 24, 1917.
Mrs. L.R. Hoegle,
St. Paul, Minnesota.
Madam;
Your letter of the 19th is at hand. In reply to the same, I beg leave to state that, as you know, we are at war with Germany. In order to do our share and help to bring it to a speedy close, it is necessary for us to raise a large army. If we can do this through volunteers, well and good. If not, we will have to resort to a selective draft. If those you speak for and represent will volunteer they will escape the draft, and if the draft is resorted to, those who volunteer prior to that time will be credited to the ward or precinct from which they come, so that/if enough men volunteer from any ward or precinct, the draft will not need to be applied there. We Scandinavians, who came to America, most of us poor, like I was, to better our condition, owe a great debt of gratitude to America. This country received us with open arms and gave us all the privileges of native Americans, and in consequence we owe a debt of loyalty and gratitude to America for the blessings that have been conferred upon us. I trust you will find it in your heart to be as loyal and patriotic to America as though you and all your fiends and relatives were native born citizens. I enclose you a copy of the selective draft bill and the last message of the President.
Yours truly,
[Knute Nelson]
 

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924

 

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The American Red Cross Writes to the National League of Woman's Service

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 24, 2017


In order to coordinate action on the home front, Chairman of the American Red Cross Eliot Wadsworth sent a letter to Maude Wetmore, Chairwoman of the National League for Woman’s Service, in which he outlined the various duties of their respective organizations. His letter was reprinted and sent to all Red Cross chapters on April 24, 1917. For the most part, his letter divides the activities of the American Red Cross and the National League for Woman’s Service into separate categories. The American Red Cross is responsible for providing supplies, transit, and medical care to troops in the field, and for organizing fundraising efforts, producing medical supplies, and providing home nursing to troops that have returned home. The National League of Woman’s Service, on the other hand, is responsible for a wide variety of essential and less essential services, including providing entertainment and housing for industrial workers and military camps, delivering important communication via automobile, and working office jobs as file clerks or telephone operators. However, the two organizations do collaborate in taking care of the families of soldiers and sailors. Since there is remarkably little overlap in the activities of the organizations, Chairman Wadsworth recommends that women of the National League join the Red Cross if they wish to provide medical care or contribute to fundraising efforts.

 


April 24, 1917.
INFORMATION FOR CHAPTERS:
The following letter of Mr. Wadsworth's to Miss Wetmore will be of interest to all chapters. This letter has Miss Wetmore's entire approval.
April 16, 1917.
Miss Maude Wetmore,
[...]
Dear Miss Wetmore:
Following our several conferences, you asked for a definition of the cooperation between the American Red Cross and the National League for Woman's Service.
The American Red Cross is charged with the duty of helping to provide the troops with comforts and necessities when in the field; helping them in transit, and assisting the Army Medical Corps in taking care of the sick and wounded. The Red Cross will also expect its Chapters to raise funds and carry on relief work for the families of soldiers and sailors who may be left in need by mobilization of troops. [...] As to the work of the National League for Woman's Service, I understand it covers a different field of activities for women alone. [...] I understand that where the National League for Woman's Service enrolls women or detachments who are fitted for and willing to do Red Cross work, (home nursing, first aid, hospital supplies and dietetics), they must take their courses of instruction and also act under the Red Cross. If this states the case correctly, it would seem that the two organizations did not overlap in their activities and could cooperate successfully.
Sincerely yours,
(Signed) Eliot Wadsworth
Acting Chairman.

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

"British Hit German Lines Staggering Blow", and "U.S. Aviator is Missing", The Duluth Herald - April 23, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 23, 2017

Gold Star Roll: Charles Beaupre

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 22, 2017


The Gold Star Roll is among the more somber elements of the Minnesota Historical Society’s WWI Collections, as it contains hundreds of folders with biographical and service information for those Minnesotan servicemen that lost their lives during the war. One of those servicemen, Charles Beaupre of White Earth, enlisted one hundred years ago today. Beaupre was born on November 17, 1888, and like many other American Indian children at the time, he attended boarding school in Pipestone, Minnesota. When the U.S. entered World War I, he enlisted as a Private in the Artillery section of the American Tank Corps, and he ultimately served in their 301st division. Beaupre was killed in action on October 8, 1918 in St. Quentin, France, a city that saw particularly violent combat due to its location on the Hindenburg Line. Beaupre was survived by both of his parents, his wife, and his three children.

Citation: "Beaupre, Charles." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. [114.D.4.2F]

Where's Charles?

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 21, 2017


Charles H. Budd, President of Montevideo State Bank, contacted Senator Knute Nelson as a concerned parent. Apparently Budd’s son, Charles Jr., had gone to the recruiting station on April 9th, was examined and brought to Minneapolis later that same day, all without his parent's knowledge. Confused and worried, Budd explains that this behavior is not normal for Charles and he hadn't ever considered joining the Army until recruiting officers talked to him. In the end, Budd requests to have his son sent back home as he “should be in school and develop what capacity he possesses… How shall we proceed to obtain his discharge?”

 


4/21/1917
[...]
My Dear Mr. Nelson:
On April 9th my son, Charles H. Budd Jr., went to the temporary recruiting station here, was examined by one McClafferty, a little after 5 o'clock P.M., then he was taken to a hotel in the same block as our banking office, given his supper and a little after 6 o'clock hurried away to Minneapolis, one Morkowski accompanying him.
This was done without our knowledge or consent, although we live but a few rods [sic] from this hotel. The night passed without our knowledge of the affair, we waiting in suspense, wondering why our always dutiful son did not come home. [...] This is not at all in accordance with our wishes. The boy should be in school and develop what capacity he possesses. We believe the lad should be released and returned. How shall we proceed to obtain his discharge?
Very truly yours,
Charles Budd

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924

"Determined Fight on Drafted Army Certain in House" and "Great Offensive Brings New Gains to Allied Troops", The Daily People's Press - April 20, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 20, 2017

Edward Stensrud enlists as Navy Seaman

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 19, 2017


For soldiers serving in the U.S. Navy, personal space was an extremely scarce resource, and personal storage even more so. Soldiers often kept what few personal items they owned in small wooden chests called ditty boxes. The ditty box pictured below once belonged to U.S. Navy seaman Edward Stensrud, who may have served during all or part of the United States’ involvement in World War I (1917-1918). Stensrud put a great deal of effort into personalizing his ditty box. In addition to decorating its lid with a large, meticulous carving of his name, Stensrud attached a dog tag to the outside of the box. The tag contains his name, birthdate, enlistment date, and most impressively, a cast of his thumbprint.

 

Citation: 976.28.A US Navy seaman's trinket box; Minnesota Historical Society.

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