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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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"First 6,000 Will Include First Army" and "First Quota will be Drafted from First 3,000 Numbers Drawn; Completed List of Beltrami Co.'s First Draft" - The Bemidji Daily Pioneer. July 21, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | July 21, 2017

That isn't a dump truck!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 21, 2017
Lumber truck overloaded

This is a photograph of an overloaded lumber truck on an icy December 1941 day.

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.

"These girls could do this" - July 20, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | July 20, 2017

In her letter to Mrs. Lowry of the Minneapolis Chapter of the American Red Cross, Mrs. Corell of the Women's Club inquires if a group of Camp Fire Girls could hem towels as she "wants them to work at something." Mrs. Corell would also like to get a group of women to make sheets and pillowcases. She requests information about fabric and prices so that she can get her groups started.
Mrs. Lowry responds that she thinks it would be fine to have the girls hem towels and the women make pillowcases and sheets and includes the prices for the material and recommendations for where to look for the material. She also encourages the idea of the children who may not be able to help with the towels paint pictures for the soldiers in the hospitals.


Front of letter
Back of letter

Dear Mrs. Lowry-
I wish to get a small club of Camp Fire Girls at work for Red Cross. I was wondering if they could not hem towels. I want them to work at something they can do & have it accepted. Will you please tell me what the material costs per doz. towels & where it can be gotten. Some where I heard, maybe in your lecture in St. Paul, before Public Safety Com that funny sayings & pictures pasted on paper and sent in to hospitals for soldiers was requested. if this is true, will you tell me the size of sheets required for pasting the scraps on. These girls could do this, they are too young to attempt much. [...] A club of women here want to get at some of the work at once. What do you say to them beginning with sheets & pillow slips? [...]
Mrs. F.C. Corell
Big Falls

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

Hardware Store Set

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 20, 2017
Hardware store toy set

This is a “My Merry Hardware Store” toy set, made by the Merry Manufacturing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1959.

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

"Germans Expect Peace Before U.S. can Strike Hard" and "British in Russia Assist Slavs in New Offensive" - The Daily People's Press. July 19, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | July 19, 2017

Ford Plant Lamp

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 19, 2017
Lamp from Saint Paul Ford Plant

This ceiling lamp is from the showroom of the Saint Paul Ford Plant that includes the lamp's metal base, with light bulb and wiring, and white glass globe. Circa 1920.

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

Nellie Stone Johnson’s sewing machine

By: Lori Williamson | Collections Up Close | July 18, 2017


“I’m not going to quit.  There is too much to do.  People need jobs, equality, education...Can’t stop now.”

--Nellie Stone Johnson, 1995

Nellie Stone Johnson (1905-2002) was one of Minnesota’s greatest champions for civil rights and economic opportunity.  For more than half a century the Lakeville, Minnesota native fought for justice and equality as a statewide labor union leader and organizer, a founding member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, and an advisor to Hubert Humphrey.  A longtime employee of the hotel industry, Johnson’s determined organizing efforts helped to eradicate racial and gender pay inequities and segregated work facilities in the Twin Cities.   Johnson retired from the hotel industry in 1963 and started a tailoring business in Minneapolis, where she used this sewing machine for over 30 years.  

Johnson continued to support labor and political causes and in 1989 the W. Harry Davis Foundation honored her service with the “Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship”, which awards financial assistance to racial minorities and union members seeking an education at Minnesota’s state colleges and universities.       

Adam Scher, senior curator   

Nellie Stone Johnson's shop

"German Reinforcements Halt Russ; French Gain at Verdun" and "Members of I.W.W. Freed" - The Duluth Herald. July 18, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | July 18, 2017

Jesse Ventura Action Figure

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 18, 2017
Jesse Ventura action figure

This action figure doll with original box commemorates Jesse Ventura, who was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1998. This version of the figure is wearing a blue sweatshirt with Champlin Park High School (where Ventura had served as a volunteer conditioning coach) and Zubaz logos, as well as white, blue, and grey Zubaz-style athletic pants, and white high-top sneakers.

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

An Urgent Plea

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | July 17, 2017

This letter by Kate Lowry of the Hospital Supplies Committee of the Minneapolis Chapter of the American Red Cross lists supplies, mostly clothing, that were needed by the Alllies. Lowry also records the articles that were shipped in June from the Minneapolis Chapter, as well as the donations of supplies given to the Base Hospital by various organizations including the Woman's Club, the Anti-Suffrage Association, the D.A.R, and East Side Station.