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collections up close Blog

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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"German Losses are Fifty Thousand in Flanders Report from July First" and "Do Your Bit; Give the Drafted Men a Rousing Sendoff When They Leave" - The Bemidji Daily Pioneer. August 28, 1917

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

Bancroft Sleeping Pad

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 28, 2017
Sleeping pad

This rolled sleeping pad was made by Mountain Hardwear and used by Ann Bancroft of Minnesota during the 2000-2001 Bancroft-Arnesen Expedition to Antarctica.

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

First Stop: Camp Cody

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

On 27 August, 1917, Gold Star sergeant Clyde Fouts arrived at New Mexico’s Camp Cody to begin his military training. The nineteen-year-old was originally from Greenwood, Wisconsin, but he had lived for many years in Red Wing, Minnesota. Though he was not required to register for the draft, Fouts nonetheless volunteered for military service and began preparing to serve as a sergeant in the 125th Machine Gun Battalion of the American Expeditionary Forces. In a letter to his mother, Fouts explained that military service would allow him to support himself financially, and by extension, to be a “useful,” “good,” and “honest” man. Unfortunately, Fouts became one of the United States’ many victims of influenza-related pneumonia. He died at Camp Cody on 11 April 1918, before he could serve abroad. Fouts (left) is pictured below with one of his fellow recruits at Camp Cody.


Fouts Gold Star Roll
Fouts Gold Star Roll
Fouts Gold Star Roll
Fouts Gold Star Roll
Fouts Photo

 Citation: "Fouts, Clyde E." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.3B

Uncle Sam Army Recruitment Poster

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

While the Home Front of the First World War featured a great many posters for motivation and recruitment, perhaps none is so famous as the following. This poster features Uncle Sam, an older, bearded white man made to represent the United States, who is shown wearing a star-studded top hat and pointing his index finger toward the viewer. The lower part of the poster reads, “I WANT YOU FOR U.S. ARMY,” in capital letters with the word “YOU” emphasized with a larger and brighter red typeface. In smaller print at the very bottom of the poster, it reads, “NEAREST RECRUITING STATION,” and space is left to write the address of a local U.S. Army Office. This poster was published by the Leslie-Judge Company in 1917, and it was used for Army recruitment all over the United States.


Uncle Sam poster

Recent Acquisitions Library Lobby Exhibit

By: Lori Williamson | August 25, 2017
Pronto pup photo

Come see the exhibit of engaging, surprising acquisitions to the collection we have made over the last year!

We are always excited about new acquisitions because they are top of mind. But we want to share these with you for three reasons:

  • Show what we collect and why
  • Demonstrate how history is being made every day and how we are trying to document both the past and present
  • Because these items are so cool!

Some of the items here are old but new to our collection; others are just a few months old.

Visit the exhibit during Library hours until the end of November.

"Single Men for the Army Recommended by President Wilson for First Draft" and "French Round Out New Lines" - The Duluth Herald. August 25, 1917

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

Trash Talk

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 25, 2017
Wrestling match photo

This photograph is of a referee getting trash thrown at him by fans during a 1949 wrestling match.

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.

David Backus Runs Errands in Paris

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

Back in Paris after the most recent French offensive, David Backus took advantage of the opportunity to run a few errands. In addition to visiting a bank and a fine clothes shop, Backus bid farewell to the distinguished 25-year-old captain of the 51st Highlanders, who would travel to “the big show” at Ypres. What Backus called the “big show” was in fact the Third Battle of Ypres, or the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the deadliest military engagements of the First World War. Additionally, David Backus’s August 24th diary entry lends the impression that his days as an ambulance driver were numbered. He reported travelling to the U.S. Aviation Headquarters, where he qualified for the U.S. Army’s physical exam and filled out an application to become a pilot. And when he visited the American Red Cross Headquarters at Place de la Concorde, Backus received a letter of recommendation from Mr. Harjes, which would, ideally, secure him a place as a pilot in the First World War.


Backus diary page
Backus diary page

Saturday, Aug. 25, 17
[...] Went to U.S. Aviation Headquarters. Qualified for physical exam put in my application. Meet Mark & Stan Metcalfe, we went to the tipperary for lunch thence to Cafe. [...] Saw Mr. Harjes, nothing as yet so got a letter of recomdation [sic] from him for Aviatation [sic]. [...] Took Capt. Steward to Continental, got his hat from Brad. Went down to Gau du Nord & saw him off for Ypres for the big show. He is the senior officer in his battalion & only 25 years old [...] He is captain of 51st Highlanders, the chaps that took Vimy Ridge. [...]

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

Surgical Clamp

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 24, 2017
Surgical clamp

This surgical clamp was used for resection of the intestine, designed by Doctor Owen Wangensteen, Chief of Surgery at the University of Minnesota. Used by Doctor Palmer Peterson in his Minneapolis medical practice from 1952-1998.

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

"New Offensive is Begun Near Ypres by British Forces" and "Next Army Draft Date Tentatively Set For New Year" - The Daily People's Press. August 23, 1917

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