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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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Sergeant William Peck: One of Pershing's Hundred Heroes

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 1, 2018

This is the Gold Star Roll of Sergeant William R. Peck of Zumbrota, Minnesota, who died on this date in Raymondville, France. When the enemy opened fire on his platoon, Peck pushed his commanding officer out of the line of fire, saving the man's life by sacrificing his own. Because of his actions, he was listed as one of General Pershing's Hundred Heroes, and his picture and story were published in the August 1919 issue of the Ladies Home Journal, along with all the other men who were cited on the Hundred Heroes list.


354th Infantry: Minneapolis, Minnesota
The many occasions on which our officers disregarded their own safety in the effort to spare their men were balanced by equally heroic sacrifice on the part of private soldiers and noncommissioned officers. Sergeant Peck’s company was advancing across open ground near Remonville on November 1 when enemy guns opened fire on them from two sides at the same time. The platoon commander’s attention was centered upon the gun which was directly in front of him when Sergeant Peck saw the other enemy weapon on the right was directed against the officer. Seeing the predicament of his commander Sergeant Peck threw himself against the officer, shoving him into a shell hole. In this way he saved the officer’s life, but in doing so exposed himself to the enemy’s double fire and was instantly killed.

"Peck, William R." Minnesota public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.5B


Dia De Los Muertos Poster, 2011

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 1, 2018

This poster is part of the Dia De Los Muertos poster collection created by Centro in Minneapolis. 

Halloween Stunt, 1923

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 31, 2018

This photo was in the newspaper in 1923 documenting a Halloween stunt; all of the lawn furniture and other items were put on the house roof. Maybe they gave out bad candy?

The Hallowe’en Handbook, 1937

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 30, 2018

The subtitle of this book gives one pause: "The Minneapolis Plan for fun night without rowdyism and destruction." The leap from costumes and candy to rowdyism and destruction seems pretty steep!

Halloween Preparations, 1948

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 29, 2018

This photo is of Jack and Joan Benedix making jack o' lanterns for Halloween in St. Paul, 1948. The look of determination on his face says it all.

Eber Berquist Misses the Music

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 26, 2018

This letter from Eber Berquist to his family, written on October 25th, 1918, talks about how he hopes to play music again soon at home with his family. Berquist was a saxophone player in the Army band. He also mentions how things are so much more expensive where he is in France compared to back in the United States.


“Somewhere in France”
Fri, Oct. 25, 1918.
Dear Folks at Home:-
[…] Our band has not been playing now for some time. We have been doing other duties But am in hopes we'll soon get to playing again. It's a long time since I've seen a piano. They are not as plentious [sic] here as they are in America. Yesterday was pay day for the company. That's quite an eventful day over here. However, I haven't suffered any financial difficulties as yet. However, as I've mentioned before, everything is expensive. I bought a writing tablet a few days ago which would have cost a nickel in the states and paid three francs (60¢) for it over here. We are sure having plenty of rain here recently. Hardly ever see the sun. However this is the rainy season of the year. I suppose it’s been fairly cold over there by now. […] Was just wondering in what shape the piano was. [...]

Citation: Eber Berquist Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P2786

Tamboracca, 1992

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 26, 2018

And to finish our week of Minnesota inventors, Prince. He was such a detail-oriented musician that if the instrument to create the sound he wanted didn't exist, he would have it made. This is his tamboracca percussion instrument, which is a combination of a tambourine and maraca. It was developed by Prince and Kenneth D. Yould of Saint Paul in 1992.

More Heroics for David Backus

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 25, 2018

While flying with the 49th Aero Squadron in the U.S. Air Force, St. Paul native David Backus completed two military actions for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest honor bestowed upon a member of the Army or the Air Force. The first action occurred on September 26, 1918, when Backus risked his life to save his fellow pilot from nine attacking enemy planes. The second action occurred on October 23, 1918 when this diary entry was written. While flying near Landreville in north-central France, Backus and others were attacked by three enemy planes, two Fokkers and one biplane. He successfully maneuvered his plane above the attack and gave chase to the enemy, eventually shooting down all three planes. Since Backus had already shown exceptional bravery and flying expertise on the 26th of September, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with a bronze oak leaf, which represents a double award.


Wednesday Oct- 23- 18
Out at 4 a.m. up to field had coffee in Aperatiar Tent - aweful fog. we were supposed to bomb and machine gun some Hun machine gun nests in the wood a mile north + alone [sic] Grandpre. But not clear up until ten. […] We were at 4700 metres - Seador proved his wings we dove on 14- Huns- 5 of us saw a bi plane make off- attacked it. Report here got three of them. Landed at Souily motor trouble. […] We got beautifully bombed this evening by the Huns. [.]

Citation: David Backus Collection. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 123.D.10.6F

3M Post-it Notes, 1987

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 25, 2018

Another great Minnesota invention is clearly Post-It Notes. What would an office be without them? This package contains 100 green adhesive sheets wrapped in original cellophane packaging. It was manufactured by the 3M Commercial Office Supply Division, St. Paul, about 1987.

POW Photograph

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 24, 2018

Bernard Gallagher was born in Wilton, Minnesota and attended the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he graduated in 1916. During the war, Gallagher served at a doctor, treating wounded soldiers. In March of 1918, his battalion was forced to abandon their position, but Gallagher had not received word that his battalion was leaving so he stayed in his position with the wounded soldiers he was tending to. As a result, he was taken prisoner by the Germans. These photos are images that he brought back from his time at Camp Villingen in Badeau, Germany, which was located very close to Germany’s border with Switzerland. The first two are group photos of all the prisoners in the camp. Gallagher wrote the name of everyone in the photos on the back of the photograph. A large number of men posing in this photograph are smiling, and they all appear to be in good health and are wearing their own uniforms. The third photo is of guards from the prison camp, who are sitting casually in a wagon and don't seem to be carrying weapons. The last photo is of 4 men, posing for the camera, and Gallagher notes on the back that two of the men escaped from the camp. Look for Gallagher's post in December, in which he describes life in the camp.


Citation: Bernard Gallagher Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P487