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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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"Germans are Unable to Shake Allies from Hold in Flanders" and "Revised Plan to Raise $2,006,970,000 by War Taxes" - The Duluth Herald. August 6, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | August 6, 2017

United States Navy Recruitment Poster

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | August 5, 2017

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collection. E435.21 b28

Trading With the Enemy - August 4, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | August 4, 2017
Letter regarding trade
Letter regarding trade

August 4th, 1917.
Midland Linseed Products Company,
Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In reply to your letter of the first I beg leave to say that we are now engaged in a war against Germany and her allies with our allies, England, France, Italy, and Russia, and our aim is to win. As a part of the war program it is deemed essential to deprive Germany of all kinds of feed and food supplies. During the last two or three years much food and feed supplies shipped to neutral countries have iinured [sic] to the special benefit of Germany. The question as to the shipment of your products abroad is not now, under war conditions, a question of what you would like, but what guaranty the foreign governments, or foreign consignees, can give this country that such shipments will not inure to the benefit of Germany. Such being the case, you can readily see that I am not in a position, as a loyal American citizen, who has the interest of the country at heart and wants to see it succeed in this war, to urge the Government to permit your products to be shipped abroad just because you would like a large profit. The door is open to you to ship your products without limit to our allies in Europe, and I have no doubt they would be glad to secure the same at a reasonable price. I trust your zeal to make big profits will not overcome your spirit of patriotism. No provision has been made by the Government to pay compensation for such speculative or other profits as you have in view and, in my judgment, no provision will ever be made for the payments of such speculative profit. If the Government, upon investigation, finds that the shipment of your products would inure to the benefit of the enemy, it would be equivalent to trading with the enemy, and because you can not have this privilege of indirectly trading with the enemy under the embargo act, there can be no ground, legal or moral, to ask for compensation. Your products are not the only ones that come within the embargo. A large number of other products, too numerous to mention in this letter, are also under the embargo. My advice to you is to ship your goods to the countries of the Allies. In doing so you will get a fair price for the same and in that way you will aid our country in carrying on the war.
Yours truly,

Knute Nelson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.I.13.2F Box 25

Oh Deer!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 4, 2017
Deer escaping

This photograph is of a white tail deer escaping from an exhibit during a Sports and Outdoor show in March, 1940.

This image forms part of our Minneapolis and St. Paul Newspaper Negative collection. Additional photographs in this series may be available in the library, please view the finding aid.

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

"Lundeen to Fight for Draft Repeal He Announces in German Paper" and "Victory in the Air" - The Bemidji Daily Pioneer. August 3, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | August 3, 2017

Ballroom Trombone

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 3, 2017

This trombone, case, and accessories used by Willard D. Stephenson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, from 1964-1997, while playing with the Jules Herman Orchestra and the Minnesota Vikings band at the Prom Ballroom. It was purchased in Marshall, Minnesota, in 1964.

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

Backus Prepares for the Next French Attack - August 2, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | August 2, 2017

Though the past few days had been quiet in terms of military action, David Backus and his ambulance unit had also been busy preparing for the next French attack. In his diary entry from 3 August 1917, Backus proudly recounted that the newspapers in Paris had published many articles on his division’s earlier attack near Vailly. Still, their effort was far from decisive, and the French Army’s next attack was planned for the 7th of August, a mere four days from Backus’s diary entry. In order to prepare for rapid evacuation of injured soldiers, Backus and his division’s Medical Chief traveled to a new position in Vailly and conducted a visual examination of the area. From his elevated post, Backus could see past the German trenches “way into Bochland,” which was his term for German territory. He also witnessed German planes drop signal rockets over the two French battalions stationed on the plateau, not even 500 feet away.


Backus diary page
Backus diary page
Backus diary page

Friday August, 3 - 1917
At post in Vailly. it is now 1 P.M. am second out. Rolled out 9 nine - still raining - shaved, bed roll, etc. gasoline. Breakfast. Left 10:30 for Vailly. [...] car has been fixed. Quit raing [sic] at 12:50. Very quiet. the last 24 hours. our Division is going to attack again in a couple of days. Big account in Paris papers of our last attack. [...] Got a call at 3 took medican [...] Cheif up a new road, full of shell holes to look at a new port, to be used night of 7th when attack comes off in case Boche shell - arzy [?] too badly & cut us off there. [...] From hill I waited at end of trees as Boche could see me if I had driven out on plateau and it is only 6 thousand feet from Boche trenches & [plar...] visible. I climed a hill & could see way over into Bochland & flash of their [balt...] as it was hazy, other side of Chames des Dames. [...] We saw two Boche avions shooting [metrre...] at trenches and dropping signal rockets over the two batlions [sic] on the plateau. They were not 500 feet away. [...]

Citation: David Backus Collection. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 123.D.10.6F

"Allies Bringing up Big Guns to Renew Drive" and "Prominent I.W.W. Leader is Lynched" - The Duluth Herald. August 1, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | August 1, 2017

Railroad Lantern

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 1, 2017
Railroad lantern

This metal railroad switch stand lamp with four blue and red glass lenses was manufactured by Dressel in Arlington, New Jersey, circa 1940s.

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

Minneapolis Bars Then and Now

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 31, 2017
Nib's Bar

Gratuitously stealing the title from one of our favorite Minnesota history books, Twin Cities Then and Now by Larry Millet, Item of the Day presents an occasional series, Minneapolis Bars Then and (sometimes) Now.

This photograph shows Nib’s Bar at 3500 Cedar Ave in 1953. This location is still a bar, and a famous one at that … Matt’s Bar and Grill, home of the Jucy Lucy!

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