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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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Inventory and Financial Statement for University of Minnesota Base Hospital no. 26

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 7, 2017

During World War I, the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic were responsible for the operation of Red Cross Base Hospital No. 26. Though the hospital was technically inaugurated in mid-December of 1917, its officials worked to document detailed inventories and financial statements well into September. On the sixth of that month, the hospital’s Purchasing Officer sent a financial statement and a lengthy inventory to a Mr. E. C. Gale at the Security Building of St. Paul, Minnesota. The enclosed inventory was forty-six pages long, and it included laboratory and kitchen equipment, office supplies, and hospital furniture. Also included was a lengthy list of medicine and antiseptics, which lists 60 tubes of cocaine and 3 bottles of heroine. Including donations, the value of all equipment and supplies was calculated to be $49,473.57. Of that sum, $32,345.59 was spent by the Purchasing Officer of the University of Minnesota, while the Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Rochester branches of the American Red Cross contributed an additional $9,000.
[Background information on the hospital, such as its inauguration date, may be found here and in the accompanying document.


UMN Hospital
UMN Hospital
UMN Hospital
UMN Hospital

September 6, 1917
Mr. E.C. Gale
800 Security Building,
My dear Mr. Gale:--
I enclose herewith a copy of my report, as purchasing officer of U. of M. Base Hospital #26, to the American National Red Cross dated September 1st, consisting of financial statement and valued inventory of equipment purchased by me and equipment and supplies donated. [...] I shall be glad to give you any further information you may desire upon request. So far as the purchasing and assembling of th equipment is concerned the Unit was ready for service July 15th last. [...]

Citation: University of Minnesota Base Hospital Committee records, 1917-1918. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. [P2173]

Near Mendota

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 7, 2017

This drypoint print on paper is titled “Near Mendota”; it was made by Minnesota artist Lowell Bobleter in 1937.

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

"Federal Agents cover Nation in Big I.W.W. Raid" and "Cadorna's Troops Gain as Germans Plan to Retreat" - Freeborn County Standard. September 6, 1917

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

Grain Belt Matchbooks

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 6, 2017
Box of matchbooks

This box of Grain Belt Beer promotional paper matchbooks was produced in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the 1970s.

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

Ojibwe Napkin Rings

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 5, 2017
1940s beaded napkin holders

This pair of Ojibwe beadwork napkin rings was likely made in the 1940s.

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

"Allied and Enemy Navy Yards are Raided by Airmen" and "President Sends Message to New National Army" - The Daily People's Press. September 5, 1917

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

George Leach Marches Out to War from Fort Snelling

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 4, 2017

George E. Leach was a Colonel of the 151st Field Artillery, the Minnesota unit of the Rainbow Division. The Rainbow Division was composed of National Guard units from across the country. Leach kept a diary while in the service because he was aware that his father, Captain William B. Leach, regretted not keeping an account of his own service in the Civil War. In his first diary entry, George Leach has his father's service at the forefront of his mind as his Regiment begins its journey overseas.


Tuesday, September 4th, 1917
Broke camp at Fort Snelling at two P.M. and marched down the same road with the Regiment that my father marched down with his to the Civil War and at six-thirty entrained on our first leg of the journey to France. The regiment was carried in two sections.

Citation: George Leach, War Diary, Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul, Minnesota. D570.32 151st .L3 1962

Paul Molitor Bobblehead

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 4, 2017
Molitor bobblehead

This is a Paul Molitor bobblehead doll with commemorative card and cardboard box. The set was distributed at Minnesota Twins game against the Cleveland Indians, 2004.

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

Soixante Trois, published in France by St. Paul Red Cross volunteer

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

In the sixth issue of Soixante Trois, published in France by St. Paul Red Cross volunteer ambulance driver Ezra Curry, the main topic is the militarization of the volunteer motor ambulance sections in France. Curry was a member of the 63rd Section of the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Service until it was taken over and militarized by the United States Army. Most issues of the newspaper feature news from the front, personality profiles, poetry, cartoons, and even advertisements. Curry is specifically mentioned in a poem "Here's a Little Story" on page 7.


Publication of Red Cross Ambulance Driver
Publication of Red Cross Ambulance Driver
Publication of Red Cross Ambulance Driver
Publication of Red Cross Ambulance Driver
Publication of Red Cross Ambulance Driver

Soixante Trois
Vol. 1 No. 6 Aux Armees, France Sept 2, 1917. Prix 25C
A Volunteer's Point of View.
The importance to us of the step just taken by our government in militarizing car service cannot be exaggerated. This step has long been foreseen by us and we have awaited it with interest. It was a step that we welcomed. Now that it has come we are filled with dismay: we welcomed militarization but not this militarization. Frankly we are disappointed. We had hoped to preserve the advantages of the old system while receiving the benefits of the new. We had hoped that our own standing and the standing of our officers would be regularized; and yet we trusted to preserve the volunteer spirit and personal initiative that have made our work successful. We feel that the government is over-looking an important factor in suppressing the field service of the American Red Cross. In every country there is a large element fit for military service of a kind, who are not, however, up to the physical standard set by our army. Many of the most efficient men, past and present, in our sections, are ment that would be refused in any active service, some because of their age, others because of some physical defect. Now that our country is at war there will be thousands of such men who know themselves capable of work that the army regulations deny them, and who, whether from pride or conscience, will be eager to do their share. Our service, maintained as it was, but recognized officially by our government, woul dhave offered these men their opportunity. Enlistment might have been required for the duration of the war or confined to those rejected for military service and those not coming within the limits of conscription. We regret, too, that we have not been given the opportunity to finish our engagements and that we are required to enlist at once or to leave the service as soon as we can be spared. There are many of us not yet of age; for these it is hard to take such a step without the advice of their parents; for those of us who can decide for themselves and wish to enter another service, the necessity of waiting is a hardship: time is golden - at any rate it seems to to a man who wants to act and cannot. We wonder why each section could not have been continued on the former enlistment basis, at least so long as the engagements of a certain proportion, say four-fifths of its present personnel, remained in force. We have not hesitated to give our points of view frankly. But let nothing we have said be misinterpreted. Explain the action as you will, call it military necessity or anything else, the fact remains that it has been accomplished. Whether we intend to leave the service or not, we are needed here until we can be replaced; we are not serving individuals but our own country and France. This is our opportunity. -A Volunteer.

Citation: Ezra Curry Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P123

The Minneapolis Journal Reports on State Fair Red Cross Demonstrations

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

A September 2nd article in the Minneapolis Journal described Red Cross First Aid demonstrations, which would be held at the Minnesota State Fair that very week. Each day, at the Women’s Building from 9 am to 6 pm, members of the public could watch a variety of demonstrations, most of which were more relevant to daily accidents than wartime casualties. Topics included the treatment of dog and snake bites, resuscitation from drowning, application of bandages, treatment of burns, and improvisation of stretchers. Often, these demonstrations employed everyday objects such as newspapers, blankets, and even matchboxes, in order to mimic the resources available to ordinary citizens. Each demonstration featured two Red Cross nurses, which were recruited from six local Minneapolis hospitals, and a doctor’s assistant recruited from the Boy Scouts of America. The man in charge of these demonstrations was Mr. G. R. G. Fisher, a former member of the British Army Medical Corps who had served in their Egypt and Sudan campaigns. He viewed First Aid as a national necessity, even outside of wartime, and he brought this philosophy to the St. Paul area.


Minneapolis Journal report
Minneapolis Journal report

Minneapolis Journal, September 2nd, 1917
The Red Cross will give an instructive demonstration of 1st Aid to the injured in their booth in the Woman's Building during State Fair Week. Upon a raised platform in a setting which includes a soldier's shelter tent, stretcher, and hospital bed for final demonstration--there will be a doctor, his aid, and injured soldier (all in kahki) [sic] and 2 Red Cross nurses, who will show the public what to do in accidents--how to improvise a stretcher, apply bandages, check bleeding, dress wounds, treat burns, make emergency slings, improvise splints, use a common chair in carrying a person to a bed without injury and demonstrating changing the sheets with a patient in bed. [...]

Citation: American Red Cross, Northern Division, records, 1915-1921. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P781