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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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French Aeronautical Map in Holder - May 26, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 26, 2017

Clinton Backus Jr. of St. Paul served in the French Air Corps during the First World War, much like his younger brother, David Backus. When he returned from his service, he brought his aeronautical map and holder home as a souvenir. This artifact, which shows a section of a French military map, would have been bolted into the cockpit of Backus’s airplane. The holder is made of aluminum and features two rollers that allow the user to select different sections of the map for display. The outside of the display holder is stamped with numerous identifiers, which read “M.G. / Bte SGDG,” “AERONAUTIQUE MILITAIRE,” “SFA / II,” and “19328.” The map itself is blue ink printed on white paper, and its legend is in English.

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collection. PUID 66.4

Chopping Wood

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 26, 2017

A photograph of a lumberjack chopping a log during a festival in 1938.

This image forms part of our Minneapolis and St. Paul Newspaper Negative collection. Additional photographs in this series may be available in the library, please view the finding aid.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

"First American Fighting Unit on War Front" and "Submarien Menace is Greatly Checked with American Aid" - The Duluth Herald, May 25, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 25, 2017

Mail Box Bank

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 25, 2017

This bank in the shape of a mailbox has coin slots for both packages (above) and letters (below). A key inside the bank can be used to open a door in its front. Circa 1960.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this bank in our collections database.

"Jail Awaits Man who is Delinquent Registration Day; Age Rule is Specific" and "Russ Armies to be Reconstructed" - The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, May 24, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 24, 2017

Tennis Racket

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 24, 2017

This wooden tennis racket and frame was used by John McHie, Jr. of Minnesota, circa 1950. John was married to Beneta Edwards McHie, a member of a prominent African-American family who was heavily involved in the education of women and minorities, as well as a number of other social justice issues.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this racket in our collections database.


American Red Cross Morale Poster - May 23, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 23, 2017

Today’s artifact, a motivational poster produced by the American Red Cross, speaks to the expectation of patriotism on the American home front. Originally intended for use in workrooms abroad, this particular motivational poster was displayed in an unspecified location in Minneapolis, Minnesota, around 1917. The poster reads, “The following notice is displayed in all French and American Workrooms in Paris, and is equally appropriate here: It is expressly forbidden in the room to speak any word of discouragement, of weariness, of criticism, or to tolerate suggestions of a nature to weaken the patriotic energy and absolute confidence in our Leaders and in our ALLIES.” As the American Red Cross saw it, maintaining high morale was essential to achieving victory abroad, and any expression of doubt, no matter how slight, would damage the prospect of victory.

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collection. PUID

FBI Patch

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 23, 2017

This patch is embroidered with the seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Academy, featuring an eagle with an olive branch and arrows in its talons over a red, white, and blue shield.  

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this patch in our collections database.

Tension about the Selective Service Act - May 22, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 22, 2017

As the Selective Service Act went into effect on May 18, 1917, U.S. government officials began to worry about the possibility of widespread resistance to the draft. Minneapolis attorney John McGee was especially concerned about the city of Duluth and its surrounding areas. McGee sent Senator Knute Nelson a copy of a letter he wrote to House Representative C. B. Miller, dated 22 May 1917, describing troubling reports that German and Industrial Workers groups from the city plan to evade the draft, destroy bridges along ore roads, and sabotage ports. In McGill’s view, the United States could benefit from expanding the Home Guard, an armed group of former servicemen, to enforce the draft and discourage rebellion. However, the Senate’s proposal to supply the Home Guard with weapons had stalled in a House Committee, and McGill was upset by this development. He urges Representative Miller, (as well as Senator Nelson) to bypass Congress’s normal procedures of debates and subcommittees, and to pass the Home Guard bill by any means. As McGill puts it, “No one but a traitor would raise any objection to that course.”


[...] May 22, 1917.
Hon. C.B. Miller,
Duluth, Minn.
My dear Mr. Miller:-
I received your telegram, saying that the agreement, made when I was in Washington recently, with Congressman Kahn and Dent and Senator Chamberlain, was not carried out and that the Senate File 995 was not tacked on the army bill in conference. The situation is far from satisfactory in different parts of the state, and from your county we get reports very disquieting, from secret service men, acting independently of and unknown to each other. These reports agree that the discussions in the I.W.W. ranks deal with the matter of destroying bridges on the ore roads and docks at lake reports. [...] It would seem, if there was any patriotism in the House, (and its bickerings would lead one on the outside to doubt whether there is any) that Senate File 995, now in the hands of the military committee of the House and in its hands for a month past, ought to be reported out of the committee and passed under suspension of the rules. No one but an out and out traitor would raise any objection to that course, in my opinion. I want to impress upon your mind as strongly as I can the gravity of the situation here, and I want to add that the responsibility for any disaster that may occur here, due to a want of military equipment, will not rest upon any person here, but upon those who refused to furnish us rifles or automatic shotguns.[...] Can you not fix up some combination that will result in the passage at once of Senate File 995, and please wire me the moment it is passed. [...]
Very truly,

Zero Morning

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 22, 2017

An oil on canvas painting titled "Zero Morning" made by Minnesota artist Henry Holmstrom in 1940.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this painting in our collections database.