WW1 Daybook

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Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


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

War Increased Prevalence of Spinal Meningitis

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

In this entry from January 15, William Fraser mentions that someone died of Spinal Meningitis. This disease was common among soldier during WWI as there was no adequate way to treat it or to prevent it from spreading. Close quarters and temperature created a perfect environment for the disease to spread. There were several outbreaks across Europe during the war, increasing demand for an antiserum.


Backus diary page
Backus diary page

January 15, 18 General Pershing in camp. Walked in mud like snow in Minnesota in winter time. Rained all day. Had sort of crouch on day just like at the trenches. Had a fellow die of spinlmenjitus [sic]. Went to hospital yesterday. Gave him two pils [sic] and markcluty [sic]. Today went over, took him in at 2 P.M. fell sick took him over to post. He died a little after some medi. Cost goverment [sic] 2 million 4 hundred thousand dollars for our two battalion to fire shells. fired little over 14,000 shells. Got over 13,000 more to fire. Bed 9.30 P.M.

Citation: William K. Fraser Diary, 1917-1919, 1944. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul Minnesota. P1943

"Bar German From Schools" and "Most Important News of World" - The Daily People's Press. January 13, 1918

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

"Woman Suffrage Wins in the House" and "Foe Spy Plot Broken Up" - The Twin City Star. January 12, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 12, 2018

"Women and War Work" Publication Announcement

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 11, 2018

This pamphlet was used to announce the publishing of Helen Fraser's book "Women and War Work." It encourages women to buy the book, featuring an order form on the back so that individuals may order the book immediately. The inside of the pamphlet includes a statement from H. N. MacCracken, the President of Vassar College, who states his full support and excitement for the book, saying that he believes it could change the lives of women and history. MacCraken also adds that he believes that men and women should be working side by side in all jobs and that this book is a step in making that dream a reality. The fact that the male president of a college was so adamantly supporting this book demonstrates the profound impact the war had on the idea of women in the workplace.


pamphlet cover

Citation: Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association Records, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P1518

Grant Young Gold Star Roll

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 10, 2018

Gold Star Roll file of Private Grant Young of Baldwin, Minnesota. An aviator for the United States Army, Young was honorably discharged prior to America's entry to the war, so he reenlisted in order to serve during World War I. His discharge paper features a stamp of reenlistement at the bottom left hand corner dated January 10th 1918. Young died from pneumonia on October 10th, 1918, exactly nine months after he reenlisted.


Citation: "Young, Grant" Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.7.1B

"French Troops Make Sudden Attack on German Lines" and "Hospital Ship is Torpedoed" - The Duluth Herald. January 9, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 9, 2018

"War Aims are Stated by Wilson to Solons" and "Peace Negotiations Again Resumed" - Bemidji Daily Pioneer. January 8, 1918.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 8, 2018

"German-American Loyalty" and "Draft Held Constitutional by U.S. Supreme Court" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. January 7, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 7, 2018

"Some Site"

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 6, 2018

William K. Fraser was a soldier in the 151st Field Artillery Regiment. In this entry he describes his visit to a vacant town that had been fired on by trench mortars, which were large caliber weapons similar to cannons that left destruction similar to an aerial attack. He describes the shells and shrapnel found at the site and how he took some of the it home with him. Shrapnel was a common souvenir brought back by soldiers.


January 6, '18
Up at 6am. Stayed in camp in morning after dinner went out on gun park. Saw a town vacant, that a trench mortar had fired on, Some site. Trench mortar shells like a aviation bomb. Has wings on. About 8in. shell. After viewing town went on range picked up some shrapnel and pieces of high explosives. Weather rather cool. Walked back at good speed, had fine apetite [sic] for supper. bed 7.30 was raining.

Citation: William K. Fraser Papers, 1917-1919, 1944. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul Minnesota. P1943

"What to Eat and How to Cook It"

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 5, 2018

This poster was produced to promote the Patriotic Food Show, put on by the State Council of Defense. The poster boasts the slogan "What to Eat and How to Cook It." Propaganda like this was very common and it was deemed patriotic to change ones diet in order to support the war effort. Individuals and families were advised to eat less meat and use less sugar so that more food could be sent to soldiers overseas. Because of the more limited diet, new foods and recipies were developed to keep meals from becoming boring. Eating 'patriotically' was seen as one of the best ways to support the war on the homefront.



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