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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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"To Commandeer American Craft" and "Germans are Hard Pressed by Allies" - The Twin City Star. September 29, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 29, 2017

Bird's Eye View of St. Peter 1870

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 29, 2017
St. Peter Bird's Eye

Bird's eye view of the city of Saint Peter, Nicollet County, Minnesota, 1870.

Bird’s eyes were created as a point of town pride in this era, as well as being a promotional piece to attract more businesses. They are useful for town research in addition to being beautiful works of art.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this bird's eye in our collections database.


The Danger Zone!: William W. Dean Crosses the Atlantic

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

As the RMS Carmania reached the most dangerous part of its journey across the Atlantic, delivering American soldiers to the front lines, William W. Dean described the atmosphere on the ship in his diary. Cautionary measures reached their height in anticipation of potential torpedo attacks, and strict rules were enforced to keep panic from igniting in the soldiers quarters. Dean also reflected on the false sense of security that having a gun gave him.


Dean letter

Friday, September 28th:
"We have reached the danger zone! Life belts are to be worn all the time and used as a pillow at night. We are to sleep in our clothes, extra guards have been placed both above and below decks to prevent the slightest violation of any orders and to prevent and quell any panic starters. Any man who violates a regulation or any sentry who permits the slightest violation of any order will probably be punished by death. The officers carry loaded sidearms and in case the whistle blows five times he is not to hesitate to use his pistol on any panic starter. So spoke the commanding officers, Colonel Hunt...It is strange what confidence a loaded pistol gives a man. In an emergency I think I would rather lose my life belt than my pistol...This sure is a nice little pleasure trip."

Citation: William Blake Dean and Family. Papers. P1444 Box 3

Cat Trophy

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 28, 2017
Cat trophy

But what is the internet without cats?

"Hall of Fame Inductee" trophy from the 2013 Walker Art Center Internet Cat Video Festival held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It consists of a silver colored wood cat on a black pedestal base.

This item is on display currently in the Recent Acquisitions show in the Library Lobby through November 11, 2017.


Senator LaFollette: Free Speech During Wartime Controversy

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

This report, sent to Senator Frank B. Kellogg by the Minnesota Commission for public safety, discusses whether the Governor of Minnesota can remove elected officials from office for "seditious utterances" against the war, in reference to Civil War records. The Commission also included a Secret Service report from a citizen who witnessed "Germans" from a rural community near Pipestone, Minnesota discussing their disapproval for the war after hearing a speech given in St. Paul by Senator LaFollette of Wisconsin, the elected official under consideration. The witness reports, "they lauded LaFollette to the skies, and with him knocked the President, Congress, the Government, our part in the War, in fact, everything but the Germans." Senator LaFollette was a vocal opponent of the war, and advocate for free speech during wartime. The Commission petitioned the Senate to expel LaFollette for his inflammatory speech, but press reports indicating that he had "justified the sinking of the Lusitania," as discussed by the group observed by the witness, turned out to be false. The letter from the commission expresses concerns about the effects of LaFollette's (purported) speech "on the Pro-German mind." This report and the ensuing controversy in the Senate are prime examples of the censorship that certain government agencies advocated for during the war. (source:


Nelson report
Nelson report
Nelson report

Sept. 28 1917.
Hon. F.B. Kellogg,
United States Senate,
Washington, D.C.
My dear Senator:-
You have doubtless received by this time official copies of the Commission's resolution regarding Senator LaFollette. I enclose herewith for your information a Secret Service report which shows very plainly the affect of LaFollette's speech on the pro-German mind. This report from a little country community near Pipestone is just a squall that shows the way in which that wind blows. [...]

With sincere regard,
Yours truly,
[C.W. Ames]

"An observer writes from the Southwestern part of the State, September 23:
"I stayed to see if the Germans were going to have a meeting last night out at their country hall, found out that they were and attended it. The young people had a dance from eight to ten-thirty, to hide the real nature of the gathering. After this the old fellows, about thirty in number, decided that the coast was clear, so they got together and began to talk:
"Now that Lafollette had justified the sinking of the Lusitania, they might as well say that it was right in public. They knew now that moneyed men and that Englishman Wilson caused the War, and they must get together to stop it. That they would wait now for further action until Townley came to speak. He would speak at Slayton the 12th and at Marshall the 13th of October. They lauded LaFollette to the skies, and with him knocked the President, Congress, the Government, our part in the War, in fact, everything but the Germans."

The question for determination in the present case is whether or not the Governor of Minnesota, on the advice of the Commission of Public Safety, has power to remove from office any officer other than the so-called "constitutional officers" of the State, where they in public addresses and also in private conversation make statements denouncing the War in which the Government of the United States is now engaged as unjust and countenancing and in fact encouraging resistance to the draft act by picturing the men who are drafted as martyrs engaged in an unholy cause. The particular officials whose removal is now under consideration are the Mayor and City Attorney of New Ulm and the County Auditor of Brown County. The City Attorney, in a prepared speech, used language of extreme violence. It appears that a copy of this speech is in the hands of the Commission, and according to the Commission's report to the Governor, he, among other things, inquired of his audience to know why our young men should be sent abroad to fight against the German army "as murderers engaged to murder". He suggested to them that before such foreign service was required some way could be found to avoid it.

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.I.13.2F Box 26

"Food for Freedom"

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 27, 2017

"Food for Freedom" was a slogan used during World War II; this patch was owned by Howard Andrus, a Minneapolis food inspector for the Federal Department of Agriculture, circa 1940s.

"French Repel Enemy Assault" and "Soldiers Will Be Escorted To The Train" - The Daily People's Press. September 26, 1917

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

Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 26, 2017
MN Vietnam Veterans Memorial program

Twenty-five years ago today the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol; this is the program from that event.

This program is available in the MNHS Gale Family Library

"Double Air Raid Made Over England by Zeppelins and Airplanes; Fifteen Killed" and "American Soldiers in France Want Tobacco Like They Had at Home" - The Duluth Herald. September 25, 1917

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

Dorm Room 1898

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 25, 2017
Carleton dorm room photo

On this date in 1867, Horace Goodhue, Jr., opens a prep school in Northfield with twenty-three students attending. The institution is first known as Northfield College, but a generous donation from William Carleton of Charlestown, Massachusetts, would inspire its current name, Carleton College.

This image of a Carleton dorm room is from 1898. 

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photo in our collections database.