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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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"German Editor Arrested" and "Ostend is Bombarded" - The Daily People's Press. January 22, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 21, 2018

"Pyromaniac Set Fire To Big U.S. Storehouse; Agents of Germany Trying To Stop Ship Sailings" and "Attitude of Expectancy" - The Duluth Herald. January 21, 1918.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 21, 2018

David Backus Flying High

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 20, 2018

In this entry, Backus describs a day of exploring and flying. He states that he found ruins of a Roman forum while going for a walk. He also discusses giving a General a ride back to camp in his plane. He is proud of himself because he did not have any mishaps while flying with the General. The photo included depicts Backus standing in front of the plane he flew during this period. The photo is dated January 20th, 1918.


Sunday Jan. 20, 18.
Out at ten, glourious day. [...] we went for a walk, most quaint old town. Afterwards I strolled up hill near Fort- found near the church Ruins of old Roman Forum 1337- then after walls the ruins of an old Monastic School 1636- [...] We all had dinner at hostel Meet Captain Bloch - head of Eadill- as he had been away on a mission. I drive Capt Bloch - queen - younger Super - home - 1 hr. to camp - never shifted once- back in 45 min. Met gang at tea rooms- went to dinner with Brenner at his house- has three beautiful children- his wife is French- [...] Then left 8: for Opera [...]


"Air Feats of Lafayette Men" and "Italy is Making Slackers Fight" - The Appeal. January 19, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 19, 2018


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 19, 2018

Two images of fireplaces, created in 1930 and 1935 respectively, are by artist sisters Wanda and Flavia Gag. Wanda's (above) is a lithograph, while Flavia's (below) is a woodcut.

See both in Collections Online.


American Red Cross Nurse's uniform

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 18, 2018

This American Red Cross nurse's uniform was used by Elizabeth Hensel of Saint Paul. It consists of a heavily starched white cotton wrap dress with blue collar, a red cross sewn at right collar, three red stripes on the left forearm (indicating length of service), a pair of dark blue cotton cuffs, a white lawn "Priscilla" cap, an organdy headband with a red cross at front, and a navy blue lawn headpiece with white organdy front piece featuring a red cross and blue stripe.


Nurse's uniform

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collections. 9657.16.A-E

Vikings Button, 1974

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 18, 2018

This button is from 1974, when fans were encouraged to "Think Super Bowl." And they did, in fact, make it that year!

See more Vikings-related collections.

"Ruin in Wake of Hun in France" and "Ambulance Men Have a Little Concert" - Bemidji Daily Pioneer. January 17, 1918.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 17, 2018

Get to know the neighborhood!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 17, 2018

This amazing book is full of trivia about Saint Paul and answers many questions about specific place names in our fair capital.

Written by Donald Empson and published by the University of Minnesota Press, it was updated most recently in 2006.

This is one of the many ready reference books available for perusal in our Reading Room!

An "Immoral" Woman Seeks Aid

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 16, 2018

A woman who was separated from her husband and two children has been seeking out aid from the Red Cross as she was unable to support herself. Her husband was drafted into the war and pays for care for their two sons. She is suspected to be leading an immoral life in addition to being separated from her husband, and as such the question of whether or not she is eligible for aid was asked. The conclusion was that she is eligible for aid as there is no official statement of separation. The Division Director stated that she should continue to receive aid until an official statement of separation is received by the Bureau of War Risk Insurance,


January 16, 1918
1. Aqquesition [sic] has been submitted to a Division director, as follows:
"We would like information with regard to a woman who has for some time been separated from her husband. The man was drafted into federal service and when the time came for making allotment and asking for the federal allowance, he made it only for his two little boys, who since the separation of their parents have been at the Home for Dependent Children where he had been paying for their care. At the time when the boys were placed at the home, the wife signed a paper releasing her husband from all responsibility to her if he would care for the little boys. The woman for a time maintailed herself, but broke down in health and received aid from the authorities for many months before her husband was drafted. She is suspected very strongly of leading an immoral life at the present time, but of this fact we have not absolute proof. [...] the relief agencies of the city which had been interested has strongly criticised out office for this stand and for this reason we should like your decision."
2. The Division Director has replied as follows:
"In regard to the separated couple mentioned in your letter of the 10th. The whole family group, including the wife, is a Red Cross case. [...]"

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