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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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"Troopship Sunk by Submarine" and "First American Casualty List" - The Daily People's Press. October 21, 1917

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

Seasick Soldiers on the Atlantic

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 20, 2017

On the Regiment's first full day at sea enroute to France, George Leach describes a rough scene in his diary. Many of the men on the ship, the S. S. Transport President Lincoln, are suffering from seasickness, which impedes operations and military preparations. The men would not reach their destination until the end of the month.


Saturday, October 20th
Four hundred miles east of Hatteras at sunrise. Sea is rough and most of the men sick. Whole day spent in drill and inspection below decks. Two men lost over-board last night. So many of the officers are sick that it makes a tough day for the others. The hold and decks at times look simply hopeless, and all you can do is to keep at it. Details for work get sick before they report, and it is a constant fight to get things done. Tonight the sea is not running so high.

Citatoin: George Leach Diary. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. D570.32 151st .L3 1963

Commemoration ribbon for Minnesota Historical Society Hall, 1856

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 20, 2017
MNHS Ribbon

The Minnesota Historical Society was incorporated by an act of the territorial legislature on this date in 1849. This ribbon is from later to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone for the Minnesota Historical Society Hall in 1856.

Liberty Loans in St. Paul

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 19, 2017

Mary T. Hill wrote in her diary about the success of the 2nd Liberty Loan campaign, which sold government war bonds in the Twin Cities. Apparently a newspaper report proclaimed that $17 million in Liberty Loans were purchased in St. Paul. These bonds were heavily advertised and and marketed as a way for common people to show their support, as they were used by the government to fund the war.


Mary Hill diary

October 19, Friday; North Oaks.
Yesterdays paper reported 17 million subscribe to 2nd Liberty Loan in St. Paul. This is another dark morning - flurries of snow down to 28 last night at 930. In the afternoon I went over to Rachels to see the children found them in the Barn seeing the calves. Helen Bunn and Annita [sic] Furness came out for the night.

Citation: 1915-1920. Mary T. Hill Papers. 64. C.5.6 Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 64.C.5.6

Minneapolis Skyline Mural

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 19, 2017
Skyline of Minneapolis

This mural is made of two Plexiglas panels decorated to resemble the Minneapolis city skyline. It was used in the First Avenue Main Room in Minneapolis, Minnesota until July, 2000.

Be sure to check out the new book out tomorrow on the history of First Avenue from the MNHS Press!

"U.S. Coasts Are To Be War Zones" and "Sentences Pickets: Judge Gives Four Suffragists Six Months in Jail." - The Daily People's Press. October 18, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 18, 2017

Anit-rape button

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 18, 2017
anti-rape button

While this button was manufactured in New Jersey, it was used and worn here throughout the 1980s. Its message is obviously still timely today.

Gold Star Roll: Floyd Gramps

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 17, 2017

Bugler Floyd Gramps was a member of the Signal Service of Company F. 18th Engineers Ry. He died when he was struck by a train while on guard duty alone near the train tracks. Information surrounding his death is murky at best, but this could just as easily have been declared a suicide as an accidental death. Gramps' Gold Star Roll includes a photo, copy of a letter from his Commanding Officer, and typed excerpts from his diary. One entry from Sept 1, 1918 tells of the French people and the soldier's preference for the French people over the English people they encountered when they first reached Europe.


Goldstar Roll

Tues. Aug. 28 - Got up five o'clock in the morning and packed all articles ready to leave about 9:45 for South Fampton Harbor. We are not at the harbor waiting till 5:00 oclock to sail across the english Channel. We will be to France soon. In the harnor [sic] is the largest ship afloat,- Aquitania, speed 30 some knots - it is used as a hospital ship. Another ship called _____ and there are several men painting the ship to rather resemble a monoplane or to make it appear smaller so that it would be hart do submerge. Very strange that we did not take the boat to France Yesterday. We boys can't understand their reasons but anyway we went out to the rest camp of South Hampton at 5:00. Aug. 28 A.M. The people were very curious as we marched out to Camp Rest. Stayed over night at Camp Rest.

Citation: "Gramps, Floyd M." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.3B

Phyllis Wheatley House

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 17, 2017
Photo of children at Wheatley House, 1924

This photo is of Gertrude Brown playing with children at Phyllis Wheatley House in 1924. The Phyllis Wheatley Settlement House (now the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center), opened in north Minneapolis on this date in 1924. The oldest African American agency in the Twin Cities, the center first served as a place where young African Americans meet for recreation and skill development; today the center calls itself "the cornerstone of the community" and offers integrated programs to address the needs of local families.

University of Minnesota service medal

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 16, 2017

In 1917, the University of Minnesota awarded Dr. R. E. Morris of St. Paul a medal for his service in the First World War. The circular, gold-colored medal, which is pictured below, features an image of a woman holding a torch. Along the border, it reads, “FOR / DEMOCRACY / TO / MAKE / THE / WORLD / SAFE”. Inscribed in the center is, “AWARDED TO / R.E. MORRIS / IN RECOGNITION OF / HIS PATRIOTIC / SERVICE.” The back side of the medal features a date as well as the name of the awarding organization: “THE / UNIVERSITY / OF / MINNESOTA / 1917.”




Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collections. 6591