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.
"Heavy Losses for German Forces in Fruitless Attack" and "Pershing to Lead 10,000 Regulars to France Soon" - The Daily People's Press, May 13, 1917
Enlistment date of Captain Oskar Youngdahl. Originally from Red Wing, Minnesota, Youngdahl was highly decorated for his actions during the war. His file includes a number of newspaper articles, letters, a photo and a copy of the war department citation booklet. According to his Gold Star Roll, Youngdahl died "as a result of wounds received in action on October 6th 1918 at Mount Blanc [France]. A machine gun nest was bothering the flank of the company which Capt. Oscar Youngdahl was in charge. He went out alone, silencing the guns, killed some of the Germans in charge and captured the rest and brought the machine gun back to the line. While doing this he received a mortal wound through the nexk and died as a result of this wound on October 8th 1918 in a Field Hospital."
Citation: "Youngdahl, Oskar E." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. [114.D.7.1B]
This photograph shows a woman working on the wiring of a B-24 "Liberator" bomber in May, 1944.
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.
Today marks the one-hundredth anniversary of Second Class Yeoman Leo Kolb’s enlistment in the United States Navy. Kolb was born in Melrose, Minnesota and spent many of his earlier years hunting, trapping, and beekeeping. When war broke out, he was employed as an accountant in Chokio, Minnesota, and he made the decision to enlist in the U.S. Navy in order to perform similar clerical duties. Though Kolb was stationed far from physical danger at the U.S. Navy’s Pay Office in Philadelphia, he fell victim to the Spanish influenza epidemic. Sources reported that despite Kolb's illness he remained at his work until he could "attend to his duties no longer" and had to be carried to the hospital. He died on September 21, 1918, at the age of twenty-one. Kolb was buried at St. Boniface Cemetery in Melrose, Minnesota, with the Home Guard and other military personnel in attendance. His Gold Star papers indicate that his funeral was the largest that his community had ever seen.
Citation: "Kolb, Leo A." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. [114.D.4.4F]
This is a toy tanker with bright yellow steel cab with 'Tonka' decal on doors and a silver-colored plastic tanker with 'SHELL' [Shell Oil Company] & Shell logo on sides, in original cardboard packaging labeled 'Tonka/TANKER/...' model number 2635 made by Tonka Toys, Mound, Minnesota, 1978.
For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this toy in our collections database.
In preparation for war, President Wilson announced on May 10, 1917 that he would create a Red Cross War Council, a group devoted to supervising activities of local branches and distributing available funds in a way most beneficial to the war effort. Later that day, the Minnesota chapter of the Red Cross received a telegram announcing the formation of the Council and outlining the next fundraising steps each chapter should take. As soon as possible, each chapter was to call a meeting of its Executive Council, expand its Finance Committee, and make long-ranging plans for fundraising efforts. Money was crucial to the Red Cross’s wartime operation “in both the field and in civilian relief,” and because of this, each chapter was to keep no more than 25% of the funds it raised. The majority would be sent immediately to the War Council, which would make final decisions on the allocation of those funds. Though raising sufficient money for wartime operations was a daunting task, the Red Cross had the help of President Wilson himself. In a brief address, he urged “all those who can contribute either great sums or small to the alleviation of suffering and distress which must inevitably arise out of this fight for humanity and democracy” to donate to the Red Cross at once.
Washington DC 8PM May 10 1917
C Palmer Jaffray
Secy Minn Red Cross Chapter 310 NY Life Bldg
[...] THE PRESIDENT TODAY ISSUED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT QUOTE 10 MAY 1917 I HAVE TODAY CREATED WITHIN THE REDCROSS A WAR COUNCIL TO WHICH WILL BE ENTRUSTED THE DUTY OF RESPONDING TO THE EXTRORDINARY DEMANDS WHICH THE PRESENT WAR WILL MAKE UPON THE SERVICES OF THE REDCROSS BOTH IN THE FIELD AND IN CIVILIAN RELIEF[.] THE BEST WAY IN WHICH TO IMPART THE GREATEST EFFICIENCY AND ENERGY TO THE RELIEF WORKK WHICH THIS WAR WILL ENTAIL WILL BE TO CONCENTRATE IT IN THE HANDS OF A SINGLE EXPERIENCED ORGANIZATION WHICH HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED BY LAW AND BY INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION AS THE PUBLIC INSTRUMENTALITY FOR SUCH PURPOSES[.]
[...] PLEASE AT ONCE CALL TOGETHER YOUR EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND TELEGRAPH ME ASSURANCES OF THEIR COOPERATION IN PRESIDENT WILSONS FARSIGHTED PLANS FOR OUR REDCROSS[.] GIVE THIS MESSAGE FULL PUBLICITY.
This segment of a railroad rail and an iron spike mounted to a wooden block is marked as being the first rail, St. Paul to Duluth, 1866-1942.
For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this rail and spike in our collections database.
"Fighting on the Eastern War Fronts Growing in Intensity" and "American People Face Most Extensive Line of Taxation Ever Known" - The Duluth Herald, May 9, 1917
A group of charred wheat grains collected after the explosion of the Washburn "A" Mill, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2, 1878.
For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this grain in our collections database.
While the U.S. Senate’s official declaration of war came on April 6, 1917, it was not until mid-1918 that the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) first joined their European allies overseas. Led by General John Pershing, their first military engagement coincided with the last major German offensive of the war. At the Battle of Chateau-Thierry on July 18, 1918, the AEF joined Ferdinand Foch’s French forces in mounting a successful counteroffensive against the German army. Today’s artifact comes from that military engagement. An unidentified American soldier brought back a French-issue military helmet from that battle. The steel helmet is painted gray, and it features a leather strap and liner. The front of the helmet bears an insignia of the French army, a stylized version of a flaming grenade with the initials “RF,” which signified the French Republic (République Française).
Citiation: Minnesota Historical Society Collection. PUID 64.71.1.J