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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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Senator Nelson is Criticized for Supporting Wartime Restrictions on the Press - May 17, 1917

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

In May 1917, Senator Knute Nelson supported the wartime Johnson Resolution, which would have imposed certain restrictions on the press. He received numerous complaints from citizens and journalists alike, one of which was H. V. Jones of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Apparently affiliated with a Minnesotan newspaper, though he does not specify which one, Jones is gravely concerned that the new censorship would amount to an undemocratic “gag law” on the press. Senator Nelson disagrees. In a letter dated May 15, 1917, he responds to Jones’ concerns and argues that the censorship legislation is very reasonable, meant only to prevent the distribution of sensitive information such as the movement and number of troops at the Front. He also encloses a letter from Mr. Mitchell of the Duluth News Tribune, which expresses support for certain wartime restrictions on the press. Senator Nelson hopes other newspapers will follow the Duluth News Tribune’s example.


May 15, 1917.
Mr. H.V Jones,
Minneapolis, Minnesota.
My dear Mr. Jones;
I received a telegram from you yesterday, a copy of which I enclose. I am greatly surprised at the tone of it. No general censorship of the press was proposed, and there is no gag law about it. [...] The object of it is to prevent "information with respect to movement, numbers, description, and disposition of the armed forces of the United States" reaching the public and through them to the enemy. How any patriotic newspaper, having the welfare of our army and navy and our soldiers and sailors at heart, can object to such an amendment as to this, is beyond my understanding. I enclose you a copy of a letter I have received from Mr. Charles S. Mitchell, of the editorial force of the "News Tribune," of Duluth, [...]. Mr. Mitchell, in my opinion, takes a saner view of this proposed legislation than you do. [...] Yours truly,

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924, Minnesota Historical Society. 144.I.13.2F Box 25 May 11-16

F. Scott out for a walk

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 17, 2017

A cyanotype photograph of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his mother, Mary (McQuillan) Fitzgerald, in front of their apartment on Laurel Avenue in 1897.

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

Beer Labels!

By: Lori Williamson | May 16, 2017

Grain Belt Beer sign, as seen from West side of Hennepin Avenue bridge, Minneapolis (01278-5, HF1.1 p9)

One of Minneapolis’ most recognized landmarks is a huge sign next to the Hennepin Avenue bridge advertising Grain Belt Beer. The red diamond shape is taken from one of the original beer labels. The small “M” at the top is the logo for the original brewer: the Minneapolis Brewing Company, which was founded in 1890 and began brewing Grain Belt three years later. In an assortment of labels found uncataloged in the Minnesota Historical Society’s Collection, a timeline of Grain Belt beer and its competitors emerges.


1940s Grain Belt Beer bottle label (2017.37.3)


By the early 20th century Minneapolis Brewing Company was the second largest brewer in Minnesota, just behind Theodore Hamm Brewing in St. Paul. Another competitor, Cold Spring Brewery located near St. Cloud, brewed the Red Star Tonic, which was the oldest label found, dating to sometime between 1906 and the start of Prohibition in 1920.

Cold Spring’s Red Star Tonic label, c. 1910 (2017.37.8)


Cold Spring Brewery opened in 1874 and survived Prohibition by producing mineral waters, soft drinks, and “near” beers, but changed hands several times after the 1940s. The brewhouse was used to produce a variety of products (including beer after Prohibition ended) and eventually came under the ownership of Gluek Brewing until 2010. Today the brewery is the home of Third Street Brewing.


Trucks loaded with cases of beer waiting to leave Gluek's Brewery after prohibition repeal, Minneapolis (K4.2 p5, 15807)

Meanwhile, in 1967, Minneapolis Brewing Company purchased a brewery in Omaha, Nebraska known as Storz, and changed their own name to Grain Belt Breweries. The Storz family had been brewing since 1891. The Omaha brewery was closed by Grain Belt in 1972 and used for other business until it was bought back by a descendant of the Storz family and reopened in 2013.


Storz beer label from 1960s (2017.37.7), and the Grain Belt Beer label from 1960s-70s (2017.37.11)

Grain Belt followed a similar path, being bought by G. Heileman Brewing Co. in 1975. Heileman also bought Gluek and Schmidt, among twelve other old name breweries between 1959 and 1980. Under this new ownership, Grain Belt was brewed at the Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul. Just fifteen years later the Schmidt brewery was purchased by the Minnesota Brewing Company, but the company lasted only ten years before failing financially. The Grain Belt brand was revived in 2001 when the August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm began brewing it, keeping this classic Minnesota tradition alive in its home state.

--Anne-Marie Card, Curatorial Assistant Intern



When It Comes to Teaching First Aid to Women - May 16, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 16, 2017

After Dr. Ralph T. Knight of Minneapolis consented to instruct some classes on their behalf, the American Red Cross reponded with this letter describing the intention and guidelines by which Dr. Knight is to instruct men and women in First Aid. They explain that there has been "considerable misunderstanding" among former students as to what they can do with first aid certification. The main point of the first aid classes for women is to teach first aid based on scenarios they may encounter in the home. If women want to prepare for war service, they are to be referred to the "Division of Instruction for Women," which offers more war-specialized instruction, even though the Red Cross is only to operate at the front in extreme emergencies. The Red Cross requests that Dr. Knight make this information clear in all of his classes.


May 16, 1917.
Dr. Ralph T. Knight,
Minneapolis, Minn.
My dear Doctor:
I have been informed by Miss Anna Jones, of your city, that you have kindly consented to instruct a class, or classes, in First Aid to the Injured for the American Red Cross. [...] There has been considerable misunderstanding among First Aid pupils as to what they are qualified to do after taking a course in First Aid. [...] As far as women are concerned a First Aid course is only intended to teach them what they can do when accidents and sudden illnesses occur within their own homes, or elsewhere, and is not, except that they have added to their general information, expected to, or accepted as, qualifying them for service with the Red Cross in time of war. Women who desire to prepare themselves for war service should be referred to the "Division of Instruction for Women" of the American Red Cross, Washington, D.C. [...]
Fraternally yours,
Major Medical Corps, U.S. Army,
In Charge, First Aid Division.

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

Mondale Sticker

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 16, 2017

A bumper sticker that reads "FIRST AMERICANS/ FOR/ MONDALE/ FERRARO". It is associated with 1984 Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates Walter F. Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro.  Circulated by Roger A. Jourdain.

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

"Determined Resistance Made by German Troops in Northern France Halts Allied Forces" and "Beware of Austrians" - The Duluth Herald, May 15, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 15, 2017

Plains Moccasins

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 15, 2017

A pair of leather moccasins decorated with geometric beadwork. Made by Northern Plains Indians and dated to the early 20th century.

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

"Heavy Losses for German Forces in Fruitless Attack" and "Pershing to Lead 10,000 Regulars to France Soon" - The Daily People's Press, May 13, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 13, 2017

Gold Star Roll: Oskar Youngdahl - May 12, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 12, 2017

Enlistment date of Captain Oskar Youngdahl. Originally from Red Wing, Minnesota, Youngdahl was highly decorated for his actions during the war. His file includes a number of newspaper articles, letters, a photo and a copy of the war department citation booklet. According to his Gold Star Roll, Youngdahl died "as a result of wounds received in action on October 6th 1918 at Mount Blanc [France]. A machine gun nest was bothering the flank of the company which Capt. Oscar Youngdahl was in charge. He went out alone, silencing the guns, killed some of the Germans in charge and captured the rest and brought the machine gun back to the line. While doing this he received a mortal wound through the nexk and died as a result of this wound on October 8th 1918 in a Field Hospital."


Citation: "Youngdahl, Oskar E." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. [114.D.7.1B]

Wiring a Bomber

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 12, 2017

This photograph shows a woman working on the wiring of a B-24 "Liberator" bomber in May, 1944.

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.