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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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"What to Eat and How to Cook It"

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 5, 2018

This poster was produced to promote the Patriotic Food Show, put on by the State Council of Defense. The poster boasts the slogan "What to Eat and How to Cook It." Propaganda like this was very common and it was deemed patriotic to change ones diet in order to support the war effort. Individuals and families were advised to eat less meat and use less sugar so that more food could be sent to soldiers overseas. Because of the more limited diet, new foods and recipies were developed to keep meals from becoming boring. Eating 'patriotically' was seen as one of the best ways to support the war on the homefront.


Ice: Great Moments in the History of Hard, Cold Water

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 5, 2018

There was a time in the early 2000s when subjects we think of as everyday or mundane received their own study and subsequent book. Salt, dust, cod, and walking are just a few examples that come to mind. 

This is a perfect addition to that group. Published by MNHS and in our Library Collection, it details the story of frozen wastelands, visionary explorers, shimmering castles, and more. Cultural historian Karal Ann Marling weaves together fantastic and fascinating topics related to “hard, cold water.”

It is available for purchase here or in our Library Collection.

A request from the Knox Presbyterian Church

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 4, 2018

In a letter to Senator Knute Nelson, The Knox Presbyterian Church in St. Paul called for him to support several moral measures they believed to be important. They asked him to support the prohibition of alcohol, censorship of motion pictures, a ban on inter-state race gambling, and an anti-polygamy resolution. These measures would not just impact Minnesota, but all of "the States and Territories." It is signed by the church pastor, but was compiled by the entire congregation. During this time, many conservative groups had a growing feeling of fear that the nation was descending into immorality, which forshadows the coming prohibition.


Senator Knute Nelson,
Washington, D.C.
Dear Mr. Nelson:-
As loyal and patriotic American citizens, we, the members and friends of Knox Presbyterian Church, do most respectfully, yet empathetically, request your hearty and active support of certain moral measures in this session of Congress and as early in the session as possible - measures that are important at any time to the highest welfare of the nation, but which are many fold more so in this time of crisis.
First: Effective War Prohibition of the liquor Traffic in this country and its dependecies, and a strong request of our Allies to follow suit.
Second: A thorough investigation of the alleged nation-wide boycott system by the brewers.
Third: An amendment to the "bone-dry law" making it apply to the District of Columbia, as well as to the States and Territories.
Fourth: A law to privide deferal censorship of motion pictures by a competent federal commission.
Fifth: A law to supress inter-state race gambling.
Sixth: The Gillett anti-polygamy amendment resolution.
We thank you for your past stand in favor of moral measures and feel sure that you will be glad to be active in favor of the above and other needed motives of patriotism and conservation. We wish to assure you of our support in your efforts along this line, and shall be pleased to have you suggest to us ways of co-operation. In lieu of individual signatures we are asking our Pastor and Clerk to sign this letter for us.
Respectfully yours,
Knox Presbyterian Church & Congregation

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924, Minnesota Historical Society. 144.I.13.2F Box 27

Cold Night

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 4, 2018
painting of winter farm

This watercolor painting of an agricultural landscape is titled "Cold Night." It was created by Francis Meisch in 1944.  

See it in Collections Online.

"Debt $5,615,000,000" and "Enemy Agents Fire Norfolk" - The Daily People's Press. January 3, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 3, 2018

Woman's velvet evening coat

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 3, 2018

This incredible green velvet coat stitched with gold metalic trim was made by dressmaker Lizzie Morrissey in Minneapolis in 1918.

And visit our new Minnesota Dressmakers website!

See it in Collections Online.

"Rush Troops to Europe, Say U.S. Delegates" and "Italian Soldiers Win First Victory of Year, Defeating Invaders" - The Duluth Herald. January 2, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 2, 2018

A Man and his Motorcycle

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 2, 2018

Guy W. Webb is pictured here with his motorcycle on his annual 100 mile New Year's Day ride, 1910.

See it in Collections Online.

German Crimes Calendar

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 1, 2018

A paper 1918 calendar that reads, "GERMAN CRIMES CALENDAR" across the top. It consists of six pages, with a calendar for the months of January through June on the front of each page, and July through December on the back. Each page also features an image and a description of crimes committed by the German Army. There are two holes in the tops of the pages with pieces of string tied through to hold the pages together. This calendar is a prime exampe of the anti-German sentiment that was rampant during WWI in America. Individuals were very distrustful of their German neighbors, and prejudice was at an all time high. Items like this were not uncommon, and were not seen as offensive during this time period.

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collections. 12WM.90

Midnight in Coetquidan, France

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

William K Fraser was a Private First Class in the 151st Field Artillary, part of the U.S. Army 42nd Infantry ("Rainbow Division") and the same regiment we have seen through the eyes of George Leech. Fraser recived this diary for Christmas in 1917, and wrote entries consistently until July 1918.

Fraser's New Year's Eve was a bit uneventful, until it came time for midnight celebrations. It seems that others in Fraser's company did not appreciate his celebrations, as he had "hobnail shoes" thrown at him. Hobnail shoes are boots with small blunt metal projections on the soles for traction and durability.


December 31, 1917.
Nothing much. Stayed up till midnight. Then went thru company barracks with a crowd of fellows beating cans and awaking them up. Had our helmets on. Many hobnail shoes came after us. Bed 12:45 p.m.