Collections Up Close

collections up close Blog

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.

See Collections Up Close Blog Archive

All MNHS Blogs

Subscribe by e-mail:

 Subscribe in a reader

"U.S. Transport May be Targets of Teuton U-Boats" and "German Women May Revolt" - The Daily People's Press. September 1, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | September 1, 2017

Midway Flood

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | September 1, 2017
Couple at flooded Fair.

This is a photograph of a couple walking through the flooded Midway at the 1949 Minnesota State Fair.

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.

"Submarine Action Against U.S. Belief" and "Another German Plot Against U.S. Made Public; Kaiser Would Seize Mexico" - The Bemidji Daily Pioneer. August 31, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | August 31, 2017

Tea Set

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 31, 2017
Tea set

A porcelain tea set including a creamer, covered sugar, cup and saucer, all hand-painted by Emily Jane Crane in the 1990s.

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

A. Fick of Gaylord, MN Opposes the War

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

Despite his well-established support of the war, Senator Knute Nelson received numerous letters from constituents urging him to change his position. In one of these letters, A. Fick of Gaylord, Minnesota included a variety of arguments against American participation in the First World War. He referenced the war’s lack of popularity, England’s breaches of the laws and customs of war, the innocence of most German soldiers, and the immorality of forcing a nation to adopt a democratic system. Yet Fick’s most developed argument concerned the war’s disproportionate benefit for wealthy Americans. He argued that the United States’ decision to enter the war had been motivated primarily by American millionaires’ financial losses due to German submarine warfare. According to Fick, the war represented a campaign for the rich to grow ever richer. In his letter, Fick expresses admiration for Robert La Follette, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, who had proposed an anti-war resolution earlier in August 1917. Fick encouraged Senator Nelson to support this resolution, as “everybody everywhere [was] clamoring for peace.”


Gaylord, Minn., August 30, 1917.
Mr. Knute Nelson,
U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
Dear sir;
I am taking the liberty to write you concerning the question nearest every American heart, the question of peace and war. In every hamlet, in every village, in every city, the people are overwhelmingly opposed to the war we are waging. They all agree that it is the most unjust of wars. They say we can not be fighting for our rights when we do no slso [sic] declare war on England who first violated our rights. England was the first who violated international law. She spread explosive mines all over the North Sea up to Iceland as early as November, 1914, and sand [sic] three American ships with loss of life, the Greenbriar, the Evylin, and the Carib. [...] And is it fighting for democracy when we by the point of the bayonet impose a government upon aforeign people they do not want. Let us look out for our own democracy first. President Wilson's statement that we are fighting the government and not the people is absurd. Who does our cannon fire rake down? The Kaiser or the people? Everybody knows and agrees that this war was caused by greed. The German submarines knocked the bottom out of the American millionaires' immoral profits. Now the country is torn assunder, now the people are at war so that the 2% who own 60% of our wealth may still further swell their pockets to bursting. [...] You as a Senator can do your utmost to bring abour [sic] Peace. Think of your responsibility not alone to your constituents, your country, but also to your God. [...] Accept La Follette's peace resolution. I am a civil engineer and my business takes me over much territory and in every state everybody welcomes La Follette as the hero of the day. [...] In Minnesota as well as in other states the anti-war feeling is very strong especially in Minneapolis and in St. Paul. Governor Burnquist acted unwisely when he listened to a few unAmerican citizens, unpartiotic [sic] citizens when he forbid the peoples council to hold their convention in Minnesota. [...] Of course I realize you do not get in touch with your constituents, you get your news from the papers, which are owned by the Morgan interests. They tell nothing but lies, and try their best to produce a wrong sentiment. The people do not believe the papers anymore. Take a vote or write to your constituents and you will find that 95% of them are opposed to this war, the conscription, etc. You were elected by these people, you are their servant and you are bound by oath to respect their wishes. Peace! Peace! Everywhere everybody is clamoring for Peace.
In humanity's sake,
Very truly yours,
(signed) A Fick.

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.I.13.2F Box 26

RR Tie Tool

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 30, 2017
Hammer tool

This is a hammer-like tool with steel head and "DS" in raised reversed letters on either end to stamp railroad ties. Manufactured by Panniers, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1940-1990.

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

"No Peace Till German Rulers are Curbed by People at Home" and "Artillery Fighting of Violent Nature Again Begun on Verdun Front" - The Duluth Herald

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

Sittin’ on the sidewalk

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 29, 2017
Cyanotype of people sitting on sidewalk

This cyanotype photograph from 1905 shows people sitting along the sidewalk in Minneapolis. Cyanotype is a printing process that uses blue ink.

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

"German Losses are Fifty Thousand in Flanders Report from July First" and "Do Your Bit; Give the Drafted Men a Rousing Sendoff When They Leave" - The Bemidji Daily Pioneer. August 28, 1917

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

Bancroft Sleeping Pad

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | August 28, 2017
Sleeping pad

This rolled sleeping pad was made by Mountain Hardwear and used by Ann Bancroft of Minnesota during the 2000-2001 Bancroft-Arnesen Expedition to Antarctica.

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