Collections Up Close

collections up close Blog

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.

See Collections Up Close Blog Archive

All MNHS Blogs

Subscribe by e-mail:

 Subscribe in a reader

St. Paul Chapter of Red Cross Plans Membership Drive

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

With war preparations underway, the St. Paul chapter of the Red Cross planned a membership drive to begin on the first of May. By April 26, 1917, the Red Cross had already obtained the cooperation of St. Paul telephone companies and movie theaters (known as "moving picture houses" in early Twentieth Century America). The telephone companies had agreed to include Red Cross membership applications in every bill sent on May 1st, and local movie theaters had agreed to screen an advertisement for the membership campaign. Neither of these contributors charged a fee. Citing the example of local telephone companies and movie theaters, the St. Paul chapter of the Red Cross wrote to Max Hermann, the Director-Chairman of the St. Paul Retail Sub-division. In a letter dated April 26, 1917, the Red Cross asked Mr. Hermann to consider displaying an advertisement for their membership drive, which would read as follows:

"Every man, woman and child in Saint Paul should join the Red Cross. Application blanks for membership go to every telephone subscriber with May Statements. If you are not a telephone subscriber, apply for membership at Red Cross headquarters, (Fourth and Minnesota streets). Annual dues One dollar."

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

Twins Cup

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

A waxed paper concession cup used to serve beverages at the Minnesota Twins' home games at the Metropolitan Stadium in the 1960's.

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

Senator Knute Nelson Encourages Immigrant Communities to Volunteer for Duty

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

After the declaration of war on April 6, 1917, U.S. government officials began working to pass a wartime draft known as the Selective Service Act of 1917. During this time, Minnesota Senator (and former governor) Knute Nelson responded to a letter he had received from a Scandinavian immigrant community concerning the draft. In that letter, dated 24 April 1917, Nelson encourages individuals in that community to volunteer for duty before the draft is instituted. Since drafts were conducted by precinct, certain precincts could avoid the draft if a sufficient number of their men volunteered. Additionally, Senator Nelson, himself a Norwegian immigrant, makes a special plea for immigrant communities to join the war effort. He notes that “this country received us with open arms” and that immigrants thus “owe a debt of gratitude to America for the blessings that have been conferred upon [them].” By the time Nelson’s letter was sent, there was precious little time to volunteer for combat. Congress approved the wartime draft four days later, and it went into effect in mid-May.


April 24, 1917.
Mrs. L.R. Hoegle,
St. Paul, Minnesota.
Your letter of the 19th is at hand. In reply to the same, I beg leave to state that, as you know, we are at war with Germany. In order to do our share and help to bring it to a speedy close, it is necessary for us to raise a large army. If we can do this through volunteers, well and good. If not, we will have to resort to a selective draft. If those you speak for and represent will volunteer they will escape the draft, and if the draft is resorted to, those who volunteer prior to that time will be credited to the ward or precinct from which they come, so that/if enough men volunteer from any ward or precinct, the draft will not need to be applied there. We Scandinavians, who came to America, most of us poor, like I was, to better our condition, owe a great debt of gratitude to America. This country received us with open arms and gave us all the privileges of native Americans, and in consequence we owe a debt of loyalty and gratitude to America for the blessings that have been conferred upon us. I trust you will find it in your heart to be as loyal and patriotic to America as though you and all your fiends and relatives were native born citizens. I enclose you a copy of the selective draft bill and the last message of the President.
Yours truly,
[Knute Nelson]

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924


ss shortcut Ctrl+slash.


Civil War Chest

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

A wooden campaign chest used by Commissary Sergeant Thomas P. Wilson while he served with the 4th Minnesota Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. "Capt. T.P. Wilson" and "A.Q.M" are painted on the front. Wilson was breveted major at the end of the war and began serving as quartermaster general of Minnesota on November 10, 1871.

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

The American Red Cross Writes to the National League of Woman's Service

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

In order to coordinate action on the home front, Chairman of the American Red Cross Eliot Wadsworth sent a letter to Maude Wetmore, Chairwoman of the National League for Woman’s Service, in which he outlined the various duties of their respective organizations. His letter was reprinted and sent to all Red Cross chapters on April 24, 1917. For the most part, his letter divides the activities of the American Red Cross and the National League for Woman’s Service into separate categories. The American Red Cross is responsible for providing supplies, transit, and medical care to troops in the field, and for organizing fundraising efforts, producing medical supplies, and providing home nursing to troops that have returned home. The National League of Woman’s Service, on the other hand, is responsible for a wide variety of essential and less essential services, including providing entertainment and housing for industrial workers and military camps, delivering important communication via automobile, and working office jobs as file clerks or telephone operators. However, the two organizations do collaborate in taking care of the families of soldiers and sailors. Since there is remarkably little overlap in the activities of the organizations, Chairman Wadsworth recommends that women of the National League join the Red Cross if they wish to provide medical care or contribute to fundraising efforts.


April 24, 1917.
The following letter of Mr. Wadsworth's to Miss Wetmore will be of interest to all chapters. This letter has Miss Wetmore's entire approval.
April 16, 1917.
Miss Maude Wetmore,
Dear Miss Wetmore:
Following our several conferences, you asked for a definition of the cooperation between the American Red Cross and the National League for Woman's Service.
The American Red Cross is charged with the duty of helping to provide the troops with comforts and necessities when in the field; helping them in transit, and assisting the Army Medical Corps in taking care of the sick and wounded. The Red Cross will also expect its Chapters to raise funds and carry on relief work for the families of soldiers and sailors who may be left in need by mobilization of troops. [...] As to the work of the National League for Woman's Service, I understand it covers a different field of activities for women alone. [...] I understand that where the National League for Woman's Service enrolls women or detachments who are fitted for and willing to do Red Cross work, (home nursing, first aid, hospital supplies and dietetics), they must take their courses of instruction and also act under the Red Cross. If this states the case correctly, it would seem that the two organizations did not overlap in their activities and could cooperate successfully.
Sincerely yours,
(Signed) Eliot Wadsworth
Acting Chairman.

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

Audubon Print

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

A hand-colored lithograph of the Canada Lynx from John James Audubon's Imperial Folio Edition of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1843-1848), Folio 4, Plate XVI. The illustrations for this series were made by J.J. Audubon and his son John Woodhouse Audubon. Most of the backgrounds were done by another of J.J. Audubon's sons, Victor Gifford Audubon. The printing and hand-coloring was done by J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia.

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

"British Hit German Lines Staggering Blow", and "U.S. Aviator is Missing", The Duluth Herald - April 23, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 23, 2017

Gold Star Roll: Charles Beaupre

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 22, 2017

The Gold Star Roll is among the more somber elements of the Minnesota Historical Society’s WWI Collections, as it contains hundreds of folders with biographical and service information for those Minnesotan servicemen that lost their lives during the war. One of those servicemen, Charles Beaupre of White Earth, enlisted one hundred years ago today. Beaupre was born on November 17, 1888, and like many other American Indian children at the time, he attended boarding school in Pipestone, Minnesota. When the U.S. entered World War I, he enlisted as a Private in the Artillery section of the American Tank Corps, and he ultimately served in their 301st division. Beaupre was killed in action on October 8, 1918 in St. Quentin, France, a city that saw particularly violent combat due to its location on the Hindenburg Line. Beaupre was survived by both of his parents, his wife, and his three children.

Citation: "Beaupre, Charles." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. [114.D.4.2F]

Where's Charles?

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

Charles H. Budd, President of Montevideo State Bank, contacted Senator Knute Nelson as a concerned parent. Apparently Budd’s son, Charles Jr., had gone to the recruiting station on April 9th, was examined and brought to Minneapolis later that same day, all without his parent's knowledge. Confused and worried, Budd explains that this behavior is not normal for Charles and he hadn't ever considered joining the Army until recruiting officers talked to him. In the end, Budd requests to have his son sent back home as he “should be in school and develop what capacity he possesses… How shall we proceed to obtain his discharge?”


My Dear Mr. Nelson:
On April 9th my son, Charles H. Budd Jr., went to the temporary recruiting station here, was examined by one McClafferty, a little after 5 o'clock P.M., then he was taken to a hotel in the same block as our banking office, given his supper and a little after 6 o'clock hurried away to Minneapolis, one Morkowski accompanying him.
This was done without our knowledge or consent, although we live but a few rods [sic] from this hotel. The night passed without our knowledge of the affair, we waiting in suspense, wondering why our always dutiful son did not come home. [...] This is not at all in accordance with our wishes. The boy should be in school and develop what capacity he possesses. We believe the lad should be released and returned. How shall we proceed to obtain his discharge?
Very truly yours,
Charles Budd

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924

Bullet Hole

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 21, 2017

A photograph of a man with a head injury pointing out a bullet hole in the front window of Jordan's Café in May, 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.