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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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A Suggestion for How to Deal to German-Americans

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

For many German-Americans, the declaration of war with Germany was devastating news. Their German sympathy made many other Americans skeptical of German-American allegiance to the United States. One such skeptical individual was E.J. Lynch of the Treasury Department. In his letter to Senator Knute Nelson, Lynch explains that there are disloyal German-born Minnesotans that pose a threat to national security and morale. His suggestion for protection of the government is the confiscation of German-American property. He says the confiscation of land would be much more effective to “keep them in line,” and explains, “a great many of them would not particularly mind a jail sentence, but the loss of a house or farm would be an entirely different matter.”

Hon. Knute Nelson,
c/o United States Senate,
Washington, D.C.

My dear Senator,-
In these trying times, when the country is upon the brink of war with Germany, it is only natural that our German-American citizens should be distressed and grieved because of the fact that the United States has declared war upon the Fatherland. As a matter of fact, in some cases which have been brought to my attention, our German fellow-citizens are more than distressed and grieved. They are ugly and apparently not at all loyal to the country of their adoption.
As Congress is at this time enacting laws to protect the government from treason and sedition, I would suggest that one of the penalties imposed be confiscation of property. You are somewhat of a physiologist yourself and recognize the fact that the great majority of the German-American citizens are very thrifty. There is nothing that would tend to keep them in line to a greater extent than fear of losing their property. A great many of them would not particularly mind a jail sentence, but the loss of a house or farm would be an entierly different matter. I put this matter up to you for your consideration.
With best personal wishes, I am,
Very truly yours,
E.J. Lynch


Citiation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924.

Forest (noun)

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 13, 2017

An oil painting on curved and embossed board made by St. Paul artist Dan Bruggeman in 2001.

For more information about this item, please view this painting in our collections database.

Dr. and Mrs. Robbins Offer What They Have

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

Dr. and Mrs. Robbins of Minneapolis contacted the Minneapolis Branch of the American Red Cross offering to donate a work room between the hours of 1 and 5pm with electric sewing machines, tables, chairs, and other necessary supplies. The Robbins had already offered clinical and x-ray services to the Navy and Minnesota Infantry, and make it clear that they would happily provide any service that is needed and is in their power. The Red Cross responded in gratitude and appreciation that they will keep the offer in mind.


April 11, 1917
The Minneapolis Branch
The American Red Cross Society
Eighth Stree and Marquette Avenue
The City

To whom it may concern.
If it will be of service to the Minneapolis Branch it is my wish that acceptance be made of a work room equipped with two electric driven sewing machines, which Mrs. Robbins and I shall be glad to furnish, any make of machine together with work table, chairs, scissors and such other mechanical things as may be needed. [...] This is offered without cost to the Red Cross Society, providing the work be done between one o'clock and five. [...]
Very respectfully,
Mrs. & Dr. D.F. Robbins
Twenty Two Hundred Six
Hennepin Avenue
April the eleventh


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

Exhibition Pennant

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 12, 2017
Exhibition Pennant

A felt pennant from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a world's fair held in San Francisco, California, 1915. While this event was held to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914, it also highlighted San Francisco's recovery from the devastating earthquake of 1906, when approximately 3,000 people died and nearly 80% of the city was destroyed.

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

Copy of a telegram from Edward C. Gale to raise money for a new Hospital - April 11, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 11, 2017

This is a copy of a telegram sent out by Edward Gale requesting money to be donated in the name of the University of Minnesota to the American Red Cross, who would then donate it to the United States War Department for a new Military Base Hospital. Among the donors were William and Charles Mayo, who donated $15,000 of the estimated total cost of $30,000 for the hospital, which was to have 500 beds. The rest of the money was to be donated by Minneapolis businesses.



April 11, 1917.
Mayos of Rochester offer government one half cost equipment military base hospital five hundred beds provided Minneapolis constitute other half namely Fifteen Thousand Dollars Doctor Law chief staff Gift designated University Minnesota Hospital Twelve Thousand already raised Contributions from fifty to five hundred dollars Shall we put you down?
Edward C. Gale


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

Minnesota Violin

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 11, 2017
Image of violin

A violin made by Charles E. Herbrig of Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1931. Consists of a standard wood violin, a wood and horsehair bow, and a leather case with velvet interior. Used by Arnold F. Bauer, a music teacher with Minneapolis Public Schools.

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

Minneapolis Bars Then and Now

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 10, 2017

Gratuitously stealing the title from one of our favorite Minnesota history books, Twin Cities Then and Now by Larry Millet, Item of the Day presents an occasional series, Minneapolis Bars Then and (sometimes) Now.

This photograph shows the Five O’ Clock Bar and Restaurant at 34 S. 5th St in 1959. This location is definitely not a bar anymore; the Nic apartment building now stands at the corner of Nicollet Mall and 5th St.

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

Letter from Mrs. Horace Lowry of the American Red Cross to Mrs. J.E. Reyerson - April 10, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 10, 2017



April 10, 1917.
Mrs. J. E. Reyerson,
Dawson, Minn.
Dear Mrs. Reyerson:
We appreciate very much your offer to help us and we feel that all Minnesota should have their share in supplying materials for our own Minnesota Base Hospital. What type of work would your ladies like best? Would they prefer sewing by machine, sewing by hand, or making bandages and surgical supplies? In the latter case it would be necessary either for several of your ladies to come to Minneapolis and take our course of lessons in making surgical supplies, or to have one of our instructors go to you and give class instruction in the same.
Thanking you for your offer of help,
Very truly yours,
(Mrs. Horace Lowry)
Chairman Supplies Committee.


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

Letter to Knute Nelson from A.H. Vernon - April 9, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 9, 2017

Just days after President Wilson asks Congress to declare war with Germany, Little Falls lawyer A.H. Vernon writes Senator Knute Nelson for a recommendation to be appointed as an officer in the army. Also referring Mark Buckman, Vernon describes that his qualifications as a political reporter for the Pioneer Press and a practicing lawyer. He describes Buckman as having more practical skills in mechanics and pharmacology. However, Vernon’s main reason for requesting a position in the army is for integrity’s sake. He explains that he feels he can be an example, “as [he] has done a good deal of patriotic talking, and [doesn’t] believe talk without action amounts to very much if a fellow is at an age where he can do some active work.”



Partial Transcription:

April 9, 1917

Hon. Knute Nelson,
U.S. Senate,
Washington, D.C.
My Dear Senator:-
Since writing you regarding the military training camps for civilians, I see by the papers that on account of the war they will be discontinued, and training camps for reserve officers held instead. I therefore thought I would make application for a comission as reserve officer, and would write to see what is the proper procedure. [...] I don't know what the situation is , and while it will be a great sacrifice for me to close up shop here, as I have just got my practice well established, I feel that I should do so, and that the example would be worth something, as I have done a good deal of patriotic talking, and don't believe talk without action amounts to very much if a fellow is at an age where he can do some active work. [...]
Yours sincerely,
A.H. Vernon


Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924

"Latin Americans Expected to Join this Nation in War" and "Measures Move Forward Rapidly with Preperation" - The Daily People's Press. Owatonna, Minnesota, April 8, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 8, 2017