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.
This is the Gold Star Roll file of Private Kingo Hvolboll, a Danish immigrant to Minnesota who composed and sold music. On this date, Hvolboll wrote a letter to his brother in Winnipeg after he had been drafted. Hvolboll tells his brother that he never really imagined that he would actually have to go to war and states that he ignored the fact that he could be called. But, Hvolboll seems determined to make the best of it, as wallowing would only make things harder. Included at the top of the letter is a few bars of music Hvolboll had composed. Hvolboll died if influenza at Camp Dodge on October 12, 1918.
Winnipeg, Man. Apr 3 - 1918.
First I design to thank you for your letter and Book of Army regulations which you sent me some time ago. In regard to the latter, I wish to express my sincere appreciation for your prudent advise [sic]; and discreet idea of exercizing [sic] the same, it does me a lot of good. I really never did think serioudly of the fact that I might be called, in fact, I ignored the idea entirely. Now I must admit that I really halfway believe that I am going, and if so, - I'm going into it for all there is in it, and try to make the best out of it. To show repugnance will only make things harder. [...] I certainly would rejoice if providence would act in obedience of my desire and thus lead me down to your Company. Say, wouldn't we have a great time though? __ Say Len, there is one of the rules that I should like to alter a little, it's about this here going to roll-in at 10 P.M. I don't believe it can be done. I must have a pass 7 times a week. [...]
Venlig Hilsen fra
Citation: "Hvolboll, Marinus K." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.4F
This small booklet, titled "Instructions and Information for Red Cross Workers in France", describes the various information and expectations for a Red Cross worker while stationed in France. Procedures are included for registration, travel, vacation time, requests to enter a war zone, personal expenditures and more. The booklet also discusses the uniform for both men and women. Men were allowed much more freedom in their dress and had the opportunity to earn and wear insignias and awards on their uniform. Womens uniforms varied based on their job and they were not allowed to earn or wear any insignia on their uniforms. The section titled "Don't Talk too Much" is particularly interesting as it advises Red Cross workers to not share war secrets with strangers.
[...]This booklet contains general information of assistance to Workers, including a digest of the orders and instructions which have been issued up to date. [...] Always remember we are a country at war, -- a country which is concentrated upon but one idea--TO WIN THE WAR. If perhaps some regulations seem cumbersome or complicated, remember that Military necessity has caused their adoption, and follow them scrupulously and cheerfully. We are Representatives of the United States of America. We must be thoughtfully careful that nothing we say or do, even inadvertently, shall reflect unfavorably upon our country or upon our Red Cross. [...] "Don't Talk too Much: Never forget that we are at war and that the enemy is always listening. Always look with suspicion on strangers, and never tell anything of a confidential nature to a woman, as women are the most successful of enemy spies. Be suspicious of anyone who asks questions of a military nature, who appears unduly interested in Military information, even though he may be or may appear an American officer. [...] Do not express your opinion on military matters nor on the general situation. Be loyal to your Government and to your superiors. Trust them to conduct the war while you attend to your own particular part of it. [...]
Citation: Helen Scriver papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P362
This is a very interesting letter form a concerned citizen in Chicago, (who wished to remain anonymous) urging Minnesota Senator Knute Nelson to vote against womens sufferage because of a conspiracy in the Catholic Church. The author states that the Catholic Church has long been conspiring to take over all public offices at the city, state, and federal level, and they plan to do this by giving women the right to vote. But they are hiding this desire because they do not want their plans revealed. He says that after the bill is passed the church will collect the spoils for themselves and get female members of the Catholic Church to get out and vote in droves. He states that only Catholic women will go out and vote because the church will be urging them to, while other women do not have an organization behind them telling them to do so. Once women have the right to vote, they will vote in Catholic individuals to all offices, and the US will never be able to take the government back from Catholic hands. The author urges Senator Nelson to look into this with other non-Catholic senators and to vote against womens sufferage.
Chicago Mar. 28th 1918
Through this letter I appeal to you to vote against Womems Equal Sufferage, when the bill comes up for final action in the Senate.
My reasons for so asking are as follows.
The Catholic Church, throught their powerful organization has for years been trying to get control of public offices in this country. Their political organization, the Knights of Columbus, are working hard to grab all public offices, City, State or Federal. They are not making public their attempts to have Equal Sufferage bills passed, for fear it would expose their aims, and it would have a tendency to prevent the bills from being passed. They are for equal sufferage good and strong, but are keeping it secret and letting the other side fight the battle, and if the Bill is passed and made a law the Catholic Church will gather the spoils, and in 10 years or less from now this Country will be in control of the Catholic Church. Remember that their organization is one, and when their strength is massed, with the aid of the women votes, they will be able to elect to office, men or women who will make laws to suit their church. The Catholic women will all go to the polls and vote, and many of the women on the other side will not care to vote, the reason being, that they are not under control of any organization to lead them to do so. [...] If the Catholic Church once gets control, how are the American people going to get it back? This question should be studied by yourself and other Senators who are not Catholics. I am not a member of any secret society, to any church or political organization, But I am just a common true American citizen who is looking for the future wellfare of my country. Vote against Womens Equal Suffrage and save the U.S.A. [...]
Citation: Knute Nelson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 144.I.13.5 Box 28
A small pocket dictionary with red paper cover and black lettering that reads 'POCKET-DICTIONARY / ENGLISH-FRENCH / FRENCH-ENGLISH'. Published by G.G. Duvivier, Paris, Librarie Fishbacher, 33, Rue de Seine. It was used by Stanley J. Harper of Annandale, Minnesota, when he served in the 349th Infantry during World War I. Dictionaries like this were common among US soldiers serving in France, as one would need to know at least a little French while out and about in town or if he hoped to start up a conversation with any French ladies!
"French Suffer Setback by Foe" and "Allied Reserve to Strike Soon" - The Daily People's Press. March 29, 1918
"British are Holding Enemy in Check" and "Concert Given by American Soldier Boys in France" - Bemidji Daily Pioneer. March 28, 1918
"Huns Believed to Have Lost 400,000 Men" and "Big Guns Still Fire on Paris" - The Duluth Herald. March 27, 1919
This is the first entry in Ingvald Smith's diary. He writes it just a few days after he and a several other men volunteered to be sent overseas to fight. They had been training at Camp Cody In New Mexico since October of 1917 and had decided they were ready to go into war. They had to leave the company they were taining with, as not the entire company was being send to the front. Smith seems excited about the prospect of going to fight, and realistic about the horrors he will inevitably face. He is clearly proud to have the opportunity to serve his country during these trying times.
in the World War
A few days previous to this date four men in my company namely Harold Lee, Herbert Haltke, Robert Reisdorf, and myself volunteered for overseas service the request being granted by Major M.L. Higbee commander of our battalion. The organiation which we are about to leave is Co. B. 135th Inf. 34 Div. We departed from this place in route to France in the evening leaving behind Camp Cody N. Mexico at which place we had been in training since Oct. 15th 1917.
Citation: Ingvald Smith Diary. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P1754
This memorandum was directed toward the 88th Division, then stationed in Camp Dodge, Iowa. It warned of seditious material, mostly in the form of listed religious books and newspapers, that were being distributed to the men. It was likely feared that certain religious material would encourage conscientious objection among troops. The memorandum orders unit commanders to search for this material and, if found, send it and the names of the men who held it to the Division Intelligence Officer.
HEADQUARTERS, 88TH DIVISION
CAMP DODGE, IOWA
March 21, 1918.
To all Organization Commanders.
Considerable printed matter of seditous character is being received by enlisted men. Examples of the class of literature being received are: "The Finished Mystery", by Pastor Russell; "The Bible Students monthy", published in Brooklyn, New York; and "Statement of Special Conference of the Church of the Brethern to the Churches and the Drafted Brethern", and others.
Unit commanders will conduct a through inspection into all personal effects, bedding, ect., of men in their command as early Monday afternoon, March 25th, as practicable, take up all literature of this nature that is found and forward it to the Division Intelligence Officer, together with the names of the men from whom the matter is recovered.
Commanders will consult with the Intelligence Office, telephone 156, in case any doubt exist as to whether any particular publication should be confiscated.
By command of Brigadier General Getty;
Citation: U.S. Army, 350th Infantry Regiment, Co. G, records 1917-1919. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. BG6/.U584/350th