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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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Red Dog

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 5, 2018

In this entry, Davis Backus talks about playing a game called Red Dog, which is a variation of Poker. Backus comments that his fellow soldier, Jim Graham was pretty bad at the game, and that he had to help him out a bit. Backus also describes a dinner he had at a place called Valentine. The dinner seemed especially decadent for war time, and Backus savored every bite.

Sunday May 5, 18
Rolled out, played Red Dog, laundry. Played Red Dog all aft. quit at 5- Jack Seeley Joe and I went over to Valentine- had a corking [sic] dinner omlet- chops [sic] bread and butter- delicious salad. Back at nine- Played Red Dog for Jim Graham he was in pretty bad- won 3800 for him.

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

"Old Minn" on the Front

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 4, 2018

William McFarland wrote this letter to his pen-pal, Mrs. Wells, and expresses how happy he is to see Minnesota's participation in the war. He comments on the increased number of men on the front from Minnesota, their production of food and their willingness to buy liberty bonds. He also says he believes that Minnesota has the best Red Cross chapters. Later, he explains the new name of the training field, and the dangers they face there.


Barron Field
Everman Texas
May 4, 1918
Your most welcome letter at hand and was certainly glad to hear from you once more as news from Minnesota are always welcome. [...] And I am glad to see old Minn coming to the front in all ways with the men the food products and the money for Liberty Bonds. And I must say I think she leads in the Red Cross work. I tell you no one can imagine the good that the Red Cross and YMCO are doing all through our army. But we boys sure appreciate them and are always ready to take our hats off to any Red Cross lady. [...] My Pall is from Minneapolis his name is Frank Reynolds[.] he drives a Packard Motor Truck[.] he has your address and is I should happen to be unlucky will let you know[.] [...] We are having much nicer weather now than when I wrote before and you see the name of our field has been changed[.] it is now named after the first man that was killed here. Since this field was opened last September there has been Fifty two killed and I don't know how many severely injured here so you see our lives are in danger here as well as on the other side. You see the average life of us mechanics in France is two weeks so you won't be surprised at the amount of casualties[...]
I remain as ever one of Uncle Sam's boys.
77 Aero Squadron
Barron Field
Everman Texas

Citation: William McFarland Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P120

8-track player

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 4, 2018

This Panasonic 8-track cartridge player was called the "Dynamite 8"; it was made circa 1975. To see a video about this classic number and to enter a contest, please check the MNHS Facebook page! 

See it in Collections Online.

Conscientious Objectors

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 3, 2018

This memo was sent to headquarters from the Captain of the 350th Infantry Regiment concerning a recruited conscientious objector. The response from headquarters was to collect the names and statements of conscientious objectors and for the objectors to be sent to the Depot Brig. The memo references the Society of Friends, which at this time was equivalent to the Quakers.

Company "G" 350th Infantry
Camp Dodge, Iowa, May 3/18
Memo to Reg Hqs:--
Recruit Arleigh Willard Jones, 2857160, of this company is a "Conscientious Objector" to combatant service, being a member of the "Society of Friends.". [...]

Hq 350th Inf May 3/18.
To all Co Comdrs.
The names of all enlisted men in the respective Co who are "Conscientious Objectors", or who have conscientious scruples against service in the army, together with a brief statement in each case, will be submitted to this office tomorrow, the 3rd inst., with a view to their return to the Depot Brig under the provisions of P4 Bul 102 co.
By Order of Colonel Price

Citation: U.S. Army, 350th Infantry Regiment, Co. G, records 1917-1919. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. BG6/.U584/350th

Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 3, 2018
easy bake over photo

This 1969 Betty Crocker Easy-Bake oven came with its original box, three baking pans, cookie sheet, spatula, and knife. It was powered by two electric light bulbs enclosed in a blue plastic casing, resembling a range top and double oven. To see a video about this piece and to enter a contest, please check the MNHS Facebook page! 

See it in Collections Online.

Nonpartisan League Member Tarred and Feathered

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 2, 2018

The Nonpartisan League was founded in 1915 and advocated for government ownership of mills, grain elevators, and other farming related industries to reduce the power of corporate entities. The Nonpartisan League was a precursor to the socialist party, and as such they faced a great deal of opposition. Members were often attacked in brutal ways, such as Nels Hokstad of Pine County, who is pictured here with another member, after being tarred and feathered by anti-Nonpartisan Leaguers in Minnesota.


[...] The criminals who perpetrated these outrages against Democracy have never been prosecuted although they are well known to the state authorities. BURNQUIST IS GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA Nels Hokstad, a farmer; residence, Pine County, near Hinckley, Minn. Present address, Madison, Wis. Tarred and feathered by a mob May 2nd, 1918. At the time of the assault he was reading out of President Wilson's book, "The New Freedom." He had offended some village "paytriots" by discussing economic reform with farmers.

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collection. St. Paul, Minnesota. J1.4 p26

Control Data 140 computer

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 2, 2018

This "Airborne & Space Vehicle Digital Computer" was manufactured by Control Data Corporation of Minneapolis in 1962. To see a video about this piece from the early computing era and to enter a contest, please check the MNHS Facebook page! 

See it in Collections Online.

Stylish Television

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

This is the 'Predicta' model of a Philco television set, created ca. 1958. To see a video about why this piece is so special and to enter a contest, please check the MNHS Facebook page! 

See it in Collections Online.

Hair dryer from Minneapolis beauty shop, 1950s - 1991

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

This hair dryer was used by Pauline Young & son John E. Young at the African American-owned & operated Satin Doll Beauty Shop in Minneapolis between 1950s-1991.To see a video about this piece, please check the MNHS Facebook page!

See it in Collections Online.

Help Can Come from All Ages

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 30, 2018

"I am past 71 years of age, and not able to do much in any other way, but I do want to help in this time of need," says Mrs. Fenlason to Mrs. Lowry of the American Red Cross. In her letter, Mrs. Fenlason displays great desire to help in any way she can, so she asks the Red Cross if she can knit for them. She requests details about yarn and other particulars so she can offer her best service. The Red Cross responded a couple days later that they would greatly appreciate her knitting as contribution to help the war effort. They suggested that she could knit washcloths and sponges, and explain that the yarn is five cents a ball. Mrs. Fenlason serves to demonstrate that people of all ages offered to help in the war effort in any way they could.


April 30, 1917
Mrs Horace Lowry,
Dear Sister,
I am writing you a letter of inquiry concerning an article published in yesterday's Tribune, namely, "Knit for Jackies if you would serve the nation at war". I would be very glad to do so, as I am able to knit. I am past 71 years of age, and not able to do much in any other way, but I do want to help in this time of great need, as best I can. [...]
Awaiting your reply,
I am Truly Yours,
Mrs. W.P. Fenlason.