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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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Red Cross Course Work Pamphlet - June 4, 1917

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

This eight page University of Minnesota course book describes the short courses that were available by request of the American Red Cross. The courses offered, with descriptions in the pamphlet, include First Aid, Elementary Hygiene and Home Care of the Sick, and Home Dietetics. All three courses were available to women, but First Aid was offered to both men and women. The classes were taught at the University of Minnesota from June 4th to June 20th, and each course cost between $3 and $4.50.


"Draft Opponents are Few in Number Officials Assert" and "Five Guard Divisions to go to France Soon" - The Daily People's Press. June 3, 1917.

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

Shoes Worn by St. Paul Ambulance Driver

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

On June 2, 1917, Ezra Benham Curry of St. Paul boarded a ship destined for Europe. Once there, he would volunteer with the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps in France, much like David Backus, another St. Paul native this blog has been following. While abroad he purches these shoes, constructed of tan-colored “rough-out” leather, which has the rougher side facing outwards and the softer side facing inwards. The area from the toes to the instep is reinforced with a steel shell, and the heel features a leather reinforcement. The leather soles are studded with iron nails to help with traction in the battlefield.


High Bar

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 2, 2017

This photograph is of a Winona High School student clearing the pole vault during a May 4, 1952 track meet.

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.

Women's War Relief Work

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

During May and June 1917, the women of Hamline University and the surrounding community staged their first major financial drive for the Red Cross. Working for the Women’s Division of the Council of National Defense, these women raised $1801.89, despite their initial difficulties with organization. Subsequent campaigns were significantly more successful; their second, conducted in September 1917, netted $22,400, and donations only increased from there. In addition to their Liberty Loan and Red Cross Campaigns, the Women’s Division at Hamline planted war gardens when commodity prices rose in spring of 1918, taught children how to can homegrown vegetables for storage, and staged conservation drives. During these drives, women would encourage other women to reduce their household’s consumption of sugar, meat, wheat, and flour, and to substitute them with less valuable grains such as corn, rye, and barley. For the most part, these drives were successful, but they did encounter occasional resistance. The text describes one woman who “was willing to fight and die for the old United States if need be, but…would not eat corn-meal for the best Government on earth.”


Hamline in the Great War
The Work of the Women's Division of the Council of National Defense
[...] In the year 1917 however imperfectly organized attempts had been made by the women of St. Paul to assist in War Relief Work. The first Red Cross financial drive was carried to a partially successful conclusion in June 1917, but the campaign was imperfectly organized and in Hamline only a portion of the territory was covered, and many people were unsolicited who would gladly have contributed to the fund. As it was, the Hamline women on this occasion obtained eighteen hundred and one dollars and eighty-nine cents[...] Another attempt of the Hamline women in 1917 was a house to house distribution of conservation recipes and Hoover pledges. This was an innovation in Hamline, as well as in other parts of the country, for the people had never been told before what they ought to eat and drink and many of the housekeepers resented this sudden intrusion into their private affairs. One woman in particular asserted that she was willing to fight and die for the old United States if need be, but that she would not eat corn-meal for the best Government on earth.

Citation: 1917-1921, Hamline in the Great War: articles and extracts. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. [P1560]

Hermann’s Beer Can

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 1, 2017

This can is of Hermann's Monument Beer. The beer was brewed and canned by August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota in the 1980s.

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

"Go to Hell and Take Wilson, is Minister Reply to Liberty Loan" and "Military Officers Visit Bemidji to Look Over Sites for Big Training Camp" - The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, May 31, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 31, 2017

Minnesota Postcard

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 31, 2017

A postcard from 1985 showing the “Minnesota State Bird," The Mosquito!

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

Underage L.C. Jones seeks do his "bit" - May 30, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 30, 2017

This letter from May 28, 1917, was sent from yet another young person expressing their desire to support the war effort. L. C. Jones of Wishek, North Dakota, wrote to the American Red Cross explaing that he was exempt from the draft, being under eighteen years of age. Nevertheless, he felt compelled to serve abroad as an ambulance driver. Despite his mother’s objections to his military service as well as his own aversion to blood, Jones believed he has the necessary automobile experience to be an effective member of the Red Cross Ambulance Corps. The following day the Red Cross sent a reply informing him that they had no immediate need for ambulance drivers, but Jones might do well to contact William Hereford of New York City about serving in another ambulance division. The author of the letter ignores Jones’ admission of queasiness and simply states that he “might be especially fitted for this work if as you say you have had some experience with automobiles.”


Wishek, N.Dak., May 28th 1917.
Red Cross Headquarters
Minneapolis, Minn
Dear Sirs:-
[...] I would greatly appreciate any information in regard to the requirements and needs for enlistment in Red Cross service during the present war, at home and abroad. Not having attained my majority I am not subjected to the coming registration but I feel that if my services are needed I cannot conscientiously with hold it. Heretofore my mother has objected to my joining the military departments but there should be nothing against my doing my ‘bit’ in this service. Personally I am averse to bloodshed but I want to help alleviate the present suffering of those who are called to endure. [...] If possible, I should prefer information regarding the driving of motor ambulances as I have some experience with automobiles. [...]
Awaiting your earliest reply I am
Yours for service,
L.C. Jones

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

First Minnesota Volunteers Pin

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 30, 2017

This Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac shamrock or trefoil-shaped corps badge is made of stamped brass. The badge was worn during the Civil War by Captain Mahlon Black of the 2nd Company of Minnesota Sharpshooters. Black's unit, after serving in the Army of the Potomac, was assigned to duty with the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment on the first day of the battle of Fair Oaks. In 1865, after being formally mustered out, Black re-enlisted and was transferred to the 1st Minnesota Battalion.

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