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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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E. J. Blintiff Writes to Senator Nelson on the Availability of Firearms - May 29, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 29, 2017

In a letter dated May 29, 1917, E. J. Blintiff of Minneapolis, Minnesota, writes to Senator Knute Nelson expressing his concerns about the availability of firearms in the United States. Mr. Blintiff runs his own manufacturing company, and he knows firsthand that many such companies keep firearms of all kinds. Blintiff then reveals his anti-German, anti-Socialist sentiments, suggesting that these groups might arm themselves with weapons from manufacturing plants and attack U.S. citizens. In order to avoid this course of events, Blintiff suggests conducting an immediate inventory of all firearms in the nation, requiring State Department permission for gun purchases, and registering all new gun owners with information on their name, age, address, and ethnicity. He believes these actions will “save the Government a lot of trouble in the future.”


May 29, 1917.
Honorable Knute Nelson,
Washington, D.C.
Dear Sir;
Calling your attention to the fact that there are many fire arms, all kinds and descriptions, handled by large jobbing houses and retailers, through out the United States. It appears to us that there should be an inventory made at once of all fire arms and amunition. Have this matter either handled by the Government or by the States. You know there are many radical Germans and Socialists all over the United States. It would be an easy matter for them to equip quite an army, from the different retail or jobbing houses in the country. Don't you think that some law should be passed at this time, calling for a complete inventory of firearms and amunition. Also that all sales should be reported to the Governor or some Committee appointed by him. That no sales should be allowed without permit from the State Department. Further, the purchaser should be compelled to give his name, address, age and nationality. A law of this kind might save the Government a lot of trouble in the future. This is only a suggestion on our part but we think that it is worth investigating.
Yours very truly,
Bintilff Mnfg. Company
C.J. Bintliff

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924, Minnesota Historical Society. 144.I.13.2F Box 25, May 28-31

Twins Ticket

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 29, 2017

An admission ticket to game 7 of the World Series at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome with the Minnesota Twins versus the Atlanta Braves, 1991. Yes, we won.

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

Seventeen-Year-Old Edna Robertson of Lyle, MN, Wishes to Become a Red Cross Nurse - May 28, 1917

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

On May 28, 1917, seventeen-year-old Edna Robertson from Lyle, Minnesota, wrote to the St. Paul Chapter of the American Red Cross expressing her strong desire to become a Red Cross Nurse. Citing her patriotism and her natural ability to care for the sick, Robertson notes that she “loves the dear old Flag and our dear Brothers who are wishing to give their lives for this country,” and she is “never more content” than when she takes care of the sick and dying. As a bonus, she never takes sick days herself. Robertson instructs the Red Cross to let her know as soon as possible whether she might become a nurse. A few days later, the Red Cross wrote back to inform her that nurses must be at least twenty-five years of age, and Edna Robertson could not serve despite her enthusiasm.

Lyle, Minn.
May 28, 17
Red Cross Nurse Department
Dear Friends,
Wishing to join the Red Cross Nurse league and become of service to our dear and glorious country. I am writing to you asking if you think I could join. I love the dear old Flag and our dear Brothers who are wishing to give their lives for this country. I am eighteen years of age in June. I have taken care of the sick and dead and I love the work. I am not nervous around them. There is a comfort that speaks to me. Never am I more content when I can give comfort to all who are in pain and suffering. I know I would enjoy going. How long does it take to train for your service? My work during my life was to become a nurse. But on account of illness at home and friends I have been delayed.
If you think it possible for me to join and become a Nurse for the War. Please let me know without delay. I am well and strong. Never knowing what a sick day means. My home is on a farm.
Thanking you very much and hoping to hear from you soon.
Sincerely your friend,
Edna Robertson, Lyle, Minn

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

"US Destroyers Escape Traps of German U-Boats" and "Steady Progress Made by Italians Moving on Trieste" - The Daily People's Press, May 27, 1917.

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

French Aeronautical Map in Holder - May 26, 1917

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

Clinton Backus Jr. of St. Paul served in the French Air Corps during the First World War, much like his younger brother, David Backus. When he returned from his service, he brought his aeronautical map and holder home as a souvenir. This artifact, which shows a section of a French military map, would have been bolted into the cockpit of Backus’s airplane. The holder is made of aluminum and features two rollers that allow the user to select different sections of the map for display. The outside of the display holder is stamped with numerous identifiers, which read “M.G. / Bte SGDG,” “AERONAUTIQUE MILITAIRE,” “SFA / II,” and “19328.” The map itself is blue ink printed on white paper, and its legend is in English.

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collection. PUID 66.4

Chopping Wood

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 26, 2017

A photograph of a lumberjack chopping a log during a festival in 1938.

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.

"First American Fighting Unit on War Front" and "Submarien Menace is Greatly Checked with American Aid" - The Duluth Herald, May 25, 1917.

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

Mail Box Bank

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 25, 2017

This bank in the shape of a mailbox has coin slots for both packages (above) and letters (below). A key inside the bank can be used to open a door in its front. Circa 1960.

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

"Jail Awaits Man who is Delinquent Registration Day; Age Rule is Specific" and "Russ Armies to be Reconstructed" - The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, May 24, 1917

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

Tennis Racket

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 24, 2017

This wooden tennis racket and frame was used by John McHie, Jr. of Minnesota, circa 1950. John was married to Beneta Edwards McHie, a member of a prominent African-American family who was heavily involved in the education of women and minorities, as well as a number of other social justice issues.

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