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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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French military issue gas mask and case

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 2, 2017


World War I was a conflict of unpleasant “firsts”: the first widespread use of trench warfare, the first use of long-range artillery, and the first use of tanks. Today’s artifact bears witness to yet another gruesome first, that of chemical warfare. The world’s first recorded use of chemical weapons agents occurred on April 22, 1915, during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, when the German army fired chlorine gas cylinders at French troops. As the war progressed, all major belligerents made use of poisonous gas, and to the best of their ability, they took pains to protect their own soldiers from it. This French-issue protective mask and case was carried by a soldier circa 1917. The bulk of the mask is made of rubberized fabric, and it features two circular eyeholes with celluloid lenses. It's accompanying cotton bag has a shoulder strap for easy transport.
 

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collections, PUID 1981.38.37.A,B

"U.S. Turns Over German Ships to Allies" and "Question of Sending Troops to Fight in France Undecided," The Duluth Herald, May 1, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 2, 2017

DQ Sign

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 2, 2017

A promotional poster advertising "Dairy Queen Malts and Shakes". Manufactured by Dairy Queen National Development Company, 1959.

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

May Day, 1937

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 1, 2017

Happy May Day!

This photograph is of a May Day/Labor/Union parade in downtown Minneapolis on May 1, 1937.

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.

 

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.

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