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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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"U.S. Soldiers Sail for Home" and "181 Killed in Action" - The Daily People's Press. November 24, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 24, 2018

Artificial Limbs for Soldiers

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 23, 2018

This letter sent from the National American Red Cross to its Division Directors of Civilian Relief on November 22nd address care of disabled soldiers. It describes the process that these soldiers should be instructed to go through in receiving artificial limbs. The military hospital that the soldiers are at should give out temporary limbs that they could take home with them but they should consult free orthopedic surgeons once they had been discharged. The government would pay for their artificial limbs that the orthopedic surgeons would create for them. There seems to have been some issues with Home Services Sections attempting to distribute artificial limbs, which the Red Cross finds, "annoying".


November 22, 1918.
[...] 1. The War Risk Insurance Law authorizes the Bureau of War Risk Insurance to provide artificial limbs. The Government pays the original cost and presumably will keep such appliances in repair.
2. Men who have lost legs or arms are fitted with temporary artificial limbs in the Army hospital. They are permitted to wear them home when discharged.
3. On his discharge from the service, the man in filing his application for compensation, comes under the guidance of the Medical Section of the War Risk Insurance Bureau, and is referred to the nearest U.S. Marine Hospital, where he recieves the free advice of a consulting orthopedic surgeon.
[...] 5. Instances have been reported where Home Services Sections have undertaken to procure artificial limbs for disabled soldiers. [...] the expenditure of Home Service funds for this purpose is wholly unjustified as well as confusing and annoying to the official agencies. [...]

American Red Cross, Northern Division, records, 1915-1921. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P781


Dayton's Shopping Bag

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 23, 2018

This bag is from 2006, the year that Dayton's was sold to Macy's.

"Surrender of Fleet was Dramatic According to Reports at Hand" and "German Troops are Stampeding" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. November 22, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 22, 2018

Turkey Races

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 22, 2018

On Thanksgiving Day in 1955, turkey races were held. These photos are from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune.

"Soldiers in Camps to be Mustered Out" and "Dry Leaders Will Contest Election" - International Falls Press. November 21, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 21, 2018

Preparing Thanksgiving food baskets for the needy, 1954

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 21, 2018

This photo shows people getting baskets of food ready for people in need before Thanksgiving in 1954.

Early Evening

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 20, 2018

Many of our drives this week for Thanksgiving might look something like this. It is a woodcut print made by Charles Beck; we don't have an exact date but know it was before 1989. Be sure to see the Charles Beck show currently at the James J. Hill House Gallery!

WPA Carved Turkey Bookends

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 19, 2018

As preparation for the upcoming holiday, we present this pair of carved turkey bookends made by an anonymous WPA (Works Progress Administration) artist, circa 1935-43. Gobble!

"It's Just Grief and Woe Here All the Time for Someone"

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 19, 2018

Dee Smith was an office worker from Minneapolis for the Red Cross stationed at their Bureau of Personnel in Paris. In this letter home she writes about her time in Paris, including the lack of heat and the joy about the Armistice. When writing about the various people she has met, Smith tells a story of kind soldier she became acquainted with and had showed her around Paris. She says that he has since died, and even though she only knew him a short time, she is filled with grief. Despite the recent peace, Smith and the other Red Cross personnel are working as hard as ever, but are doing so with different intentions. Even though the fighting was over, there was still work to be done by so many who were still abroad.


[…] The only thing is the cold we have little or no heat though we pay a Franc a day more since the first of November, but the French charge Americans all they can + give as little as possible in return. They think we are all rich. […] It’s darn cold getting up in the morning + I haven’t reached the place where I can close my window at night, […] I suppose you have celebrated the signing of the Armistice, + are settling down again as we are here. […] Our boys are all happy that peace has come, but how they wanted to go thru to Berlin. We are working hard as ever but with a different intention. I am so glad I came- I certainly made it just in time, didn’t I?- I don’t know whether Red Cross personnel is still leaving America or not- We are certainly popular everywhere. The men have nothing but the highest praise for the A.R.C. I am so proud to be connected with them. […] I met some dandy people. One such a nice young Lieut, who showed me around, + put me on the train for home, and has since died. Its just grief + woe here all the time for someone. His mother was dead. I didn’t know him half an hour until he told me that. He was just a dear. I feel so badly- you get so well acquainted here so quickly that I feel I’d known him a long time. […]