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.
This gouache on paper painting titled “West Seventh Street, St. Paul” was made by Minnesota artist Cameron Booth in 1935.
For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this painting in our collections database.
“Mr. Brown has told us that you are very anxious to do active nursing service,” the Red Cross says to Miss Stella Miller. At this time of Miss Stella Miller’s inquiry, there were not many opportunities for women who were not trained nurses to work in the field. Women could serve in the position of nurses’ aids if they meet specific requirements, such as being between the ages of 25-40 and obtaining a certificate proving they completed a two year course. However, many base hospitals were not bringing in nurses’ aids at the moment. Even when someone like Miss Stella Miller has a desire to serve, the opportunity does not always present itself.
Miss Stella Miller,
Buffalo, North Dakota.
My dear Miss Miller:-
Mr. Brown has told us that you are very anxious to do active nursing service under the Red Cross. There is not a great deal of opportunity for women other than trained nurses to get active work in the field at present. The Base Hospital Units have the privilage of taking with them a limited number of Nurses' Aids if they wish. These Nurses' Aids are chosen from women between the ages of 25 and 40 who hold certificates showing that they have completed courses described in the enclosed circular. None of the Hospital Units that have been sent abroad so far have taken Nurses' Aids however, and we could no guarantee that you would have a chance to go even if you took all of these courses.
If you care to spend two years in a nurses' training school you could be reasonably sure of being accepted by the Red Cross Nursing Service.
Very truly yours,
Secretary of Instruction.
Citation: American Red Cross, Northern Division, records, 1915-1921. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. [P781]
This rectangular orange paper bumper printed "Save the B.W.C.A." (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) was issued by Rudy Perpich, 1980.
For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this sticker in our collections database.
Despite grassroots campaigns to contribute to the war effort, support for the war was not universal, and even those who otherwise supported the war voiced their opposition to the draft. John Hetland of Ada, Minnesota, was one of them. On June 5, 1917, he wrote a letter to Senator Knute Nelson discussing his and his community’s position on the draft. Hetland notes that he has four boys between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, and he would be proud to see them fight for their country. Still, he worries that U.S. soldiers are being deployed not to fight for their own nation but rather to advance the interests of European monarchies such as France and Britain – a much less noble cause. Moreover, Hetland’s career in politics and public service has taught him that much of his community feels the same way. In light of this, Mr. Hetland asks Senator Nelson to eliminate the draft and restrict military service to volunteers.
Look for Nelson's response on June 9!
Hon. Knute Nelson.
Would it not be possible to have a resolution passed by congress that only volunteers should be sent to Europe for the war? I have four boys from sixteen to twenty five years of age. I am willing that they all go to defend this country and the home and would like to go myself. But they will never be sent across the Atlantic to fight for the crowned heads of Europe with my consent. I find that most of our people feel as I do. [...] If it was for service in this country, the goverment could have more men than it could use. Sending our boys across the water without their consent is different. Whey should England hold three million soildiers [sic] at home when their fleet protects them and we send a few thousand soildiers to fight their battles. I believe that congress should take action on it.
John M. Hetland
Citation: Knute Nelson Papers
This is a Dakota beaded rawhide tobacco pouch, circa 1900. The primary beadwork panel displays a geometric pattern of green, red, blue and yellow on a white bead ground. Rawhide strips sewn to the bottom of the pouch are wrapped with red, white and yellow porcupine quills in a pyramid pattern. Rawhide fringe dangles below. Quill-wrapped rawhide thongs attached to the top of the pouch terminate in metal jingle cones sprouting dyed-red horsehair bundle.
For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this bag in our collections database.
This eight page University of Minnesota course book describes the short courses that were available by request of the American Red Cross. The courses offered, with descriptions in the pamphlet, include First Aid, Elementary Hygiene and Home Care of the Sick, and Home Dietetics. All three courses were available to women, but First Aid was offered to both men and women. The classes were taught at the University of Minnesota from June 4th to June 20th, and each course cost between $3 and $4.50.
"Draft Opponents are Few in Number Officials Assert" and "Five Guard Divisions to go to France Soon" - The Daily People's Press. June 3, 1917.
On June 2, 1917, Ezra Benham Curry of St. Paul boarded a ship destined for Europe. Once there, he would volunteer with the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps in France, much like David Backus, another St. Paul native this blog has been following. While abroad he purches these shoes, constructed of tan-colored “rough-out” leather, which has the rougher side facing outwards and the softer side facing inwards. The area from the toes to the instep is reinforced with a steel shell, and the heel features a leather reinforcement. The leather soles are studded with iron nails to help with traction in the battlefield.
This photograph is of a Winona High School student clearing the pole vault during a May 4, 1952 track meet.
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.
During May and June 1917, the women of Hamline University and the surrounding community staged their first major financial drive for the Red Cross. Working for the Women’s Division of the Council of National Defense, these women raised $1801.89, despite their initial difficulties with organization. Subsequent campaigns were significantly more successful; their second, conducted in September 1917, netted $22,400, and donations only increased from there. In addition to their Liberty Loan and Red Cross Campaigns, the Women’s Division at Hamline planted war gardens when commodity prices rose in spring of 1918, taught children how to can homegrown vegetables for storage, and staged conservation drives. During these drives, women would encourage other women to reduce their household’s consumption of sugar, meat, wheat, and flour, and to substitute them with less valuable grains such as corn, rye, and barley. For the most part, these drives were successful, but they did encounter occasional resistance. The text describes one woman who “was willing to fight and die for the old United States if need be, but…would not eat corn-meal for the best Government on earth.”
Hamline in the Great War
The Work of the Women's Division of the Council of National Defense
[...] In the year 1917 however imperfectly organized attempts had been made by the women of St. Paul to assist in War Relief Work. The first Red Cross financial drive was carried to a partially successful conclusion in June 1917, but the campaign was imperfectly organized and in Hamline only a portion of the territory was covered, and many people were unsolicited who would gladly have contributed to the fund. As it was, the Hamline women on this occasion obtained eighteen hundred and one dollars and eighty-nine cents[...] Another attempt of the Hamline women in 1917 was a house to house distribution of conservation recipes and Hoover pledges. This was an innovation in Hamline, as well as in other parts of the country, for the people had never been told before what they ought to eat and drink and many of the housekeepers resented this sudden intrusion into their private affairs. One woman in particular asserted that she was willing to fight and die for the old United States if need be, but that she would not eat corn-meal for the best Government on earth.
Citation: 1917-1921, Hamline in the Great War: articles and extracts. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. [P1560]