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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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Ice Cream Truck

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 26, 2018

This Kemps Ice Cream truck was used in Minneapolis in 1921.

See it in Collections Online.

French Visa Application

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 25, 2018

This is Dee Smith's application for a French Visa, which was issued to her on this date. Dee Smith was an office worker from Minneapolis who quit her job in the Minneapolis Department of Education to work for the Red Cross in their Bureau of Personnel in Paris from July 1918 through July 1919. In order to work abroad one had to receive a visa from the country they would be working in.


Citation: Dee Smith Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P441

"My Mom Can Cook Better Than Your Mom!"

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 25, 2018

This is a cookbook for kids, authored by the mythical Betty Crocker and published in 1965.

This cookbook and thousands more are available in our Library!

Out to Dinner

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

Going out to dinner was definitely something special for a soldier. The rations they were given at camp were never anything special, so having the opportunity to get a well prepared meal was definitely something of note. David Backus makes note of everytime he had the opportunity to eat out, and, without fault, says the food was delicious every time.


Monday June 24-18
Jack, Mack, Shilic, Treadwell & I all drove machines down to [...] there one caught 3 o'clock train back.
Paris-7- Mack and I over to Cafe de la Paix Meet Mr. Porve he blew Mack and I to dinner and the Colimulen [sic] afterwards-Wild place. We caught 11:45 truck back to camp. [...]

Citation: David Backus Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 123.D.10.6F

"Italians Check Enemy Efforts" and "Invasion Only Begun" - The Daily People's Press. June 23, 1918

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

"900,000 Americans Shipped Across Seas" and "Austrians Concentrating North of Venetian Plain" - The Duluth Herald. June 22, 1918.

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

Funky Parade Bike, 2012

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

Happy Pride weekend in the Twin Cities! This photo forms part of the Pride celebrations series by Randy Stern.

See more from the series on Collections Online.

A Tragic Flight

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

William McFarland was an airplane engine mechanic in the Army stationed at Barron Field in Everman, Texas. In this letter to his Minnesota penpal McFarland describes the dangers of being an airplane mechanic as he tells the story of a friend of his at Barron Field who died that week. McFarland's friend died about 15 minutes after his mother and sisters arrived to visit him when he took a plane up in the air and something went wrong, causing the plane to go into a spin and fall 2000 feet before crashing. The mechanic's mother and sisters, along with the other mechanics standing on the ground, watched his plane fall and saw him die.


Friday, June 21, 1918
Barron Field
Everman Texas.
Dear Mrs. Wells,
[...] We have had a streak of bad luck the past week several accidents and two deaths. One boy from Michigan fell one thousand feet. Another a good friend of mine by the name of Rose. He was a Lieutenant his mother and two sisters came Tuesday morning to visit him. About fifteen minutes after they arrived he took a machine up before he went he kissed them and when up about two thousand feet we saw something was wrong. Never said anything though to his mother because we thought perhaps he could make a landing but he went into a spin and all we could do was to stand and watch him fall that distance. I tell you that hurt me worse than any accidents I have seen yet his mother and sisters being right there and seeing him killed. It seemed like his mother was sent for so as to see him alive. he was one of the best officers and piolets [sic] we had. [...]
So best regards to you and family I remain as ever a boy in Air Service U.S.A

Citation: William McFarland Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P120

Letter of Recommendation, 1828

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

This 1828 letter of recommendation for Samuel Whitefoot was written by W. E. Cruger at the headquarters of the 5th Infantry at Fort Snelling. Cruger calls Whitefoot "industrious, sober and strictly honest" and "a tolerably good cook." Whitefoot had served under Cruger as a private in the 5th Infantry Regiment as well as Cruger's household servant. 

See it in Collections Online.

Selected to Serve

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 20, 2018

This short letter from the Red Cross informs that Miss Helen Scriver has been selected to serve overseas for the Red Cross. Simple, bureaucratic memos like this are the majority of documents collected from the Red Cross.

June 20, 1918.
Paris, France
This will serve to introduce Miss Helen Scriver, who has been appointed by the American Red Cross for European service and who is sailing as indicated in our cable advices.
Yours very sincerely,

Citation: Helen Scriver Papers Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P362