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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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YMCA in Italy

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | July 16, 2018

Sometimes when your family bombards you with questions about what you're doing, the best way to answer is with bullet points. That is exactly what Paul Thompson did in this letter home to his sister Ruth. He answers all 6 of the detailed questions she asked in her previous letter, including what type of uniform he wears, as he is a secretary stationed in Italy. Thompson replies that he wears the same uniform as every other soldier, but the insignia he has on his uniform is different, thereby distinguishing him and his position.


July 12, 1918
Dear Ruth,
[...] Answering yours -
1. All YMCA secretaries wear regular US officers uniforms overseas except insignia. The YMCA overseas is militarized. In Italy by proper application we are allowed for official business a pass on the railways as are officers, ect. 2. Am glad taxes and bills are paid. They should have sent a tax statement to the office. I didn't pay it because the statement had not come when I left. [...]
3. If the house didn't rent, don't rent it. Guess you will get along someway. [...]
Your loving brother,
Paul Thompson

Citation: Paul Thompson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. A/T475 4/19-8/19

"Jobs for Women Being Offered" and "Four Minute Men Talk Patriotism" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. July 11, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | July 16, 2018

Flower King, 1980

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 16, 2018

This print was made by Gary Egger for the Dayton's Bluff Print of the Month Club in 1980.  It is based on an historical photograph.

See it in Collections Online.

Aztecas Soccer Club, Minneapolis, 1972

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 13, 2018

In preparation for the finals of the World Cup this weekend, we share this photo of the Aztecas Soccer Club. It was taken at Bde Maka Ska, known at the time as Lake Calhoun, in 1972.

See it in Collections Online.

Potter's Tools, 1877 - 1967

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 12, 2018

These tools were used at Red Wing Potteries, Inc. as manufacturing equipment. The Pottery employees evidently were not required to use standardized tools for daily tasks as working the potter's wheel, crate packing, mixing and pouring glazes and clays into molds, and trimming clay. 

See these in Collections Online.

Washburn-Crosby flour advertisement card, ca. 1904

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 11, 2018

This paper advertisement from 1904 shows a miller moving a barrel of flour, a mill site, and flour containers. At one end is a coupon for a Gold Medal cookbook, which we likely have in the Library collection too.

See it in Collections Online.

"Germany Plans Drastic Action" and "French Tanks Aid in Advance" - The Daily People's Press. July 10, 1918.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | July 10, 2018

Ralph Samuelson water skiing, 1925

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 10, 2018

This photo from 1925 is of Ralph Samuelson water skiing. He was known as the "father of water-skiing," which started with him on Lake Pepin in 1922.

See it in Collections Online.

"Germans are Hit Smashing Blow by French" and "New York Newspaper Owned by Germany is Government Charge" - The Duluth Herald. July 9, 1918.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | July 9, 2018

Hmong story cloth, 1979

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 9, 2018

This is a piece of Hmong pa ndau (paj ntaub) textile art. It is a story cloth illustrating temples, animals, birds, people and spiritual figures. At the center are two temple representations with meditating monks. Within the border, figures include god of thunder, dragons, people on horseback and standing, bulls, trees, birds, and a boar.

Story cloths were made for sale by Hmong refugees in Thailand and were sold around the world. This one was made in Ban Vinai, Thailand and purchased in Saint Paul circa 1979.

See it in Collections Online.