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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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Fort Snelling Map, 1835

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 11, 2018

Lawrence Taliaferro created this incredibly detailed manuscript map of the Fort Snelling area in 1835. He was the St. Peters Indian Agent between 1820 and 1839 at Fort Snelling; in this role he attempted to negotiate between Dakota, Ojibwe, fur traders, settlers, and the government. He also owned the largest number of enslaved people in the area. 

See it in Collections Up Close.

Learn more about Lawrence Taliaferro.

"American Artillery in Action Before Metz" and "The President's Terms of Peace" - Bemidji Daily Pioneer. October 10, 1918.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 10, 2018

Men's pocket watch, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 10, 2018

This pocket watch survived the fire that started one hundred years ago today on the railroad line between Duluth and Hibbing. The fire raged for the next three days, reaching Duluth on the thirteenth. Thirty-eight communities including the cities of Cloquet, Carlton, and Moose Lake burned and 435 people died. 

"Cambri Entered by British--More Gains" and "Woman Soldier Here Tonight" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. October 9, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 9, 2018

Minnehaha Lithograph, 1858

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 9, 2018

This hand-colored lithograph comes from Whitefield's Series of Minnesota Scenery, No. 3., done between 1856 - 1859. It shows an autumn landscape with a group of people in the foreground viewing Minnehaha Falls and a small homestead in the background.

See it in Collections Online.

Ernest Aselton: Killed During Volunteer Mission

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 8, 2018

Ernest Aselton of Wayzata , Minnesota, was killed in action on this date after volunteering to help repulse an enemy counter attack. He "volunteered and under extremely heavy shell and machine-gun fire, established liaison for his company, bringing reinforcements to the line at a critical time, and thereby assisting materially in repelling a hostile counter-attack. He was killed later during this attack". For his actions, Aselton was awarded the Navy Cross from the President of the United States and the Croix De Guerre by the French government, along with two other medals for bravery. This date also marks the day that the Allies advanced along a 20 mile front from St. Quentin to Cambrai and drove the Germans back 3 miles. This drive resulted in the capture of over 10,000 German soldiers.


Dear Mrs. Aselton:
We were all so grieved to hear of your great loss today; indeed we feel that it is our loss too, for Ernest was dear to us all. […] The flag at school has been at half mast all day, and I am sure that it would have been comforting to you could you have heard all the splendid things that people have said about Ernest. He certainly was a fine example of what a young man could be. […] I wish I could say something that would comfort you and Mr. Aselton, but I know that at such a time words are useless, […]
Your friend,
Amy L. Davis
Nov. 25.


Theodore Roosevelt and the Nonpartisan League

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 8, 2018

Today's post is from a reminiscence and account of Walter Quigley’s career as an organizer for the Nonpartisan League. Throughout the years 1917-1918, the League's activities slowed because of the loyalty issue during the First World War. Quigley describes a speech given by former President Theodore Roosevelt on this date to workers at the Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company.


On October 7 former President Theodore Roosevelt again was brought to Minnesota and made one of his most vigorous loyalty speeches against the Farmer-Labor candidates, saing in part: 'Loyal Americans should Stand behind Governor Burnquist, and they should especially stand behind him because of the opposition to him by the Nonpartisan League and I.W.W. Loyal Americans cannot afford to support or give aid and comfort, or to be politically associated with the Nonpartisan League or the I.W.W. while they are under their present leadership." [...]

Citation: Text : 1931-1932. Walter Eli Quigley Out where the west begins. P2302. Minnesota Historical Society.

"Tell the Men They are the Best Men I Ever Handled."

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 8, 2018

Lieutenant Marshall Peabody was in command of Company “D”, 306th Machine Gun Battalion attached to 308th Infantry of the 77th Division. He died on this date in the Argonne Forest of Charlevoix, France. On the second day of fighting Lieut. Peabody was wounded in the foot. He was quoted saying to Sgt. Hauck "I will never get out of here alive. If I do, I'll lose my leg and be sent back. Tell the men they are the best men I ever handled." The next morning he was killed instantly along with his runner and two other wounded men by a shell from a trench mortar.


Dearest Mother!
We're on the way out after 5 weeks in an active section during which time we advanced five miles. During this time my Co. was in the front lines about 3 weeks, and it seemed 3 years. The Captain & second in command are dead, two Lieutenants wounded. I have been in command for Two weeks during the most severe fighting. […] Ten days was a Terribly long time to be in this sort of a place and we were certainly glad to get the news that we were to be relieved. During the night There was an attack by the Germans and much excitement but they were held and at dawn we were able to get away and I took the Co. back to comparative safety. […]

"Peabody, Marshall G." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.5B


"All of us forgot our tiredness and with mouths and eyes open they took us right into the burning village ahead of us"

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 8, 2018

Alonzo Carlyle served in France as a YMCA secretary with the American Expeditionary Forces. In a letter to his family dated October 3, Carlyle describes a march he was on with his regiment into what was formerly German territory. He writes about the coldness of the march and the duties that he does for the soldiers. Carlyle also mentions that the Germans were burning villages as they were retreating and that his regiment "were the first soldiers to enter villages which the boche have held for over four years". Hundreds of German soldiers were captured and Carlyle mentions hearing German voices in the woods when his regiment was sleeping but was so exhausted he fell asleep without investigating.


Oct 3rd 1918
Dear Burt
[…] I always march along with the officers of a certain company carrying my blanket and haversack and generally a box of smokes or sweets. We waited there on the side hill until dark before we were ordered to march. We followed a very narrow path which ran along the side hill with a steep embankment on one side and a trench on the other. The night was so dark we had to hold onto the man in front of us to keep the path. It started to rain very hard. I did not have a rain coat as I lost mine on the drive so I soon felt the water next to my skin. We made a very steep descent finaly [sic] and came to a road which we followed for about two kilometers when we were ordered to halt and make our beds in the woods upon the side hill as Lieut. H and myself started to look around it was still raining hard and my blankets were wet for I had no corsing for them. We saw a good sized tree and made for it, but I thought perhaps I could find something better, so I said I will go up the hill and see what there is. I had not gone very far before I fell head long into a trench. I climbed out hurredly and started down towards the Lieut. When in again I went into another trench, this time I wrenched my knee, but did not say anything as it did not hurt a great deal. When I arrived back I was minus my reserve rations of two boxes of hard tack and a can of salmon and some chocolate which fell out of my haversack when I fell. The Lieut in the meantime had found the other officers who had scouted around and found a place to sleep in the basement of a house which had been shelled to ruins and the basement was the only thing left. Four wet officers and myself laid down on the floor with no corsing and would have no doubt gone to sleep but the hour was one A.M the time set when all the guns in France it seemed like barked out. It was the start of a nine hour barrage and the guns were large and very close to us. We did not sleep but laid there huddled close to keep warm with our fingers in our ears to keep out the noise. […]

Alonzo Carlyle Letters. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P127


The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 8, 2018

In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day we are highlighting the delicious and beautiful new book by Sean Sherman, "The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen." It's available in our Library, gift shop, and book stores near you!