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Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future

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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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Help Can Come from All Ages - April 30, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 30, 2017


"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.

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

"Selective Draft Bill Passed by Congress" and "Nation's Life is in Peril" The Daily People's Press - April 29, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 29, 2017

"Mothers" for the Soldiers - April 28, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 28, 2017


In this letter, Mrs. Charles Jerome offers Mrs. Lowry of the Minneapolis Branch of the American Red Cross the suggestion of vetting applications from women who would want to serve the soldiers by writing letters to them. Specifically Mrs. Jerome suggests that these “true women” serve as “mothers” for the soldiers abroad who do not have their own wives or mothers. The purpose of the letters would be to give “cheer and moral uplift to one who would otherwise be without this sympathy.” Attached to the letter, Mrs. Jerome included a draft of the application the women could fill out, including name, age, religious preference, language, and a pledge to write at least once a week to their soldier.

 


April 28, 1917
Mrs. Horace Lowry,
Red Cross Society,
Minneapolis.

My dear Mrs. Lowry:
We are all asking what we can do to help in this crisis. There is a service that many women could render at this time, - a service of no mean importance, as any one acquainted with the social needs of youth will recognize. It is to take, in a certain sense, the place of mothers towards boys who have enlisted and who have neither wives nor mother to write to them while they are in the field or on the sea. [...] The woman would assume the kindly duty of writing frequently to her soldier or sailor boy, of sending him newspapers and shoe strings and the like, - of giving cheer and moral uplift to one who would otherwise be without this sympathy except as it came from his comrades in camp, [...]
Very truly yours,
Mrs. Charles Jerome.

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

Streetcar to the Ordnance Plant

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 28, 2017

This is a photograph of four men getting on a streetcar bound for the Northern Ordnance plant, October 18, 1943.

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.

St. Paul Chain Letter Supports Universal Military Training - April 27, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 27, 2017


This chain letter was sent to Kenneth Gray Brill, an attorney in Saint Paul, encouraging him to write to his congressman about the necessity of universal military and naval training, offering suggested wording for letters. It then directs him to send the letter, "to four of your friends who are interested in universal training, marking letters with next higher number than at the head of this one." The letter was sent to Brill by fellow attorney, Dillon O'Brien.

 


April 27th, 1917.
Letter No. 22.
Mr. Kenneth G. Brill,
[...]
Dear Sir:--
You are interested in universal training of American Manhood for the protection of our country and for its value as a builder of character.
If you really believe in and want universal training, please write the following to your Congressman at Washington:
"I will support you in any action you take for the immediate adoption of universal military and naval training by our government. I believe such training to be a valuable necessity - valuable because of the personal benefits accruing to American manhood - necessary because of our country's need of protection."
After you have sent this or a similar note to your Congressman, send this entire letter to four of your friends who are interested in universal training, marking letters with the next higher number than at the head of this one.
This series of letters will end with number 50. It is important that none of the links are broken, so please do your share.
Very truly yours,
Dillon J. O'Brien

Citation: Brill, Hascal Russell and Family. Corresp. & Misc. Papers; 1908 - Feb. 1919 Papers. P813 Box 8

Railroad Cup and Saucer

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 27, 2017

A Great Northern Railway cup and saucer in the "Mountains and Flowers" pattern. Used in the late 1950s and into the 1960s.

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

St. Paul Chapter of Red Cross Plans Membership Drive

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


With war preparations underway, the St. Paul chapter of the Red Cross planned a membership drive to begin on the first of May. By April 26, 1917, the Red Cross had already obtained the cooperation of St. Paul telephone companies and movie theaters (known as "moving picture houses" in early Twentieth Century America). The telephone companies had agreed to include Red Cross membership applications in every bill sent on May 1st, and local movie theaters had agreed to screen an advertisement for the membership campaign. Neither of these contributors charged a fee. Citing the example of local telephone companies and movie theaters, the St. Paul chapter of the Red Cross wrote to Max Hermann, the Director-Chairman of the St. Paul Retail Sub-division. In a letter dated April 26, 1917, the Red Cross asked Mr. Hermann to consider displaying an advertisement for their membership drive, which would read as follows:

"Every man, woman and child in Saint Paul should join the Red Cross. Application blanks for membership go to every telephone subscriber with May Statements. If you are not a telephone subscriber, apply for membership at Red Cross headquarters, (Fourth and Minnesota streets). Annual dues One dollar."

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

Twins Cup

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

A waxed paper concession cup used to serve beverages at the Minnesota Twins' home games at the Metropolitan Stadium in the 1960's.

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

Senator Knute Nelson Encourages Immigrant Communities to Volunteer for Duty

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


After the declaration of war on April 6, 1917, U.S. government officials began working to pass a wartime draft known as the Selective Service Act of 1917. During this time, Minnesota Senator (and former governor) Knute Nelson responded to a letter he had received from a Scandinavian immigrant community concerning the draft. In that letter, dated 24 April 1917, Nelson encourages individuals in that community to volunteer for duty before the draft is instituted. Since drafts were conducted by precinct, certain precincts could avoid the draft if a sufficient number of their men volunteered. Additionally, Senator Nelson, himself a Norwegian immigrant, makes a special plea for immigrant communities to join the war effort. He notes that “this country received us with open arms” and that immigrants thus “owe a debt of gratitude to America for the blessings that have been conferred upon [them].” By the time Nelson’s letter was sent, there was precious little time to volunteer for combat. Congress approved the wartime draft four days later, and it went into effect in mid-May.

 


April 24, 1917.
Mrs. L.R. Hoegle,
St. Paul, Minnesota.
Madam;
Your letter of the 19th is at hand. In reply to the same, I beg leave to state that, as you know, we are at war with Germany. In order to do our share and help to bring it to a speedy close, it is necessary for us to raise a large army. If we can do this through volunteers, well and good. If not, we will have to resort to a selective draft. If those you speak for and represent will volunteer they will escape the draft, and if the draft is resorted to, those who volunteer prior to that time will be credited to the ward or precinct from which they come, so that/if enough men volunteer from any ward or precinct, the draft will not need to be applied there. We Scandinavians, who came to America, most of us poor, like I was, to better our condition, owe a great debt of gratitude to America. This country received us with open arms and gave us all the privileges of native Americans, and in consequence we owe a debt of loyalty and gratitude to America for the blessings that have been conferred upon us. I trust you will find it in your heart to be as loyal and patriotic to America as though you and all your fiends and relatives were native born citizens. I enclose you a copy of the selective draft bill and the last message of the President.
Yours truly,
[Knute Nelson]
 

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924

 

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Civil War Chest

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

A wooden campaign chest used by Commissary Sergeant Thomas P. Wilson while he served with the 4th Minnesota Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. "Capt. T.P. Wilson" and "A.Q.M" are painted on the front. Wilson was breveted major at the end of the war and began serving as quartermaster general of Minnesota on November 10, 1871.

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

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