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

Car decorated for 4th of July parade, 1913

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | July 4, 2018

This is a real photo postcard showing a car decorated for 4th of July parade in Kerkhoven, 1913. 

From left to right: Blanch Westerdahl, Blanch's father, Genevieve Negaard and John Rost; Merchant's Hotel at right

Not sure who the two costumed people are meant to represent: Lady Liberty and a good witch?

See it in Collections Online.

Ever Changing Plans

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

Plans were always on a contingency during the war. Things could change at a moments notice, which would affect the plans for several regiments. In this entry William Fraser comments on the fact that the radio men are setting up their equipment again, indicating that the Drive they were supposed to be on did not go well or did not happen.

July 3
Clear day rather cool for summer. Things came back and were unpacked again guess we are going to stay for a while. Radio set its outfit up again so I guess the Drive did not come.

Citation: William K Fraser Diary. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P1943

Picnic basket used by Beneta and John McHie, 1950

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

This picnic basket with dishes was used by the McHie family in Minneapolis. Beneta McHie, a Saint Paul-born woman from a prominent African American family, was heavily involved in the education of women and minorities. The McHie's often used the basket for picnics after playing tennis.

See it in Collections Online.

"Tells of Brave Girls" and "Americans Capture Vaux; Hit Every House; Take 450" - Bemidji Daily Pioneer. July 2, 1918

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

Vacation Northeastern Minnesota, ca. 1970

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

This postcard is very much of its time, promoting the vacation joys of canoeing, lakes, and...mining? While all are important aspects of the Northeastern Minnesota economy, both then and now, one doesn't usually see it on a postcard.

See it in Collections Online.

American Red Cross Aims to Attract Volunteers

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

These letters from the American Red Cross dated today discuss trying to increase interest in Red Cross work. This is the approximate date for the starting of the first class of the Army School of Nursing. Students had to be from 21 to 35 years old, have graduated from high school or an equivalent, and have good health. The tuition was free, with the only cost being having to pay for their own uniforms, which could likely be taken out of the $15 monthly allowance. Graduates of the three year course would be put into the Army Nursing Corps as positions opened.


July 1st, 1918
Mr. C.B. Newton, Headmaster of Blake School, has agreed to take charge of our Monthly Bulletin. [...] It is our hope that this bulletin may be made more interesting and serve as a medium of increasing value for furnishing our workers in this city with information and advice which will be helpful and stimulating to their general interest in Red Cross work. [...]
Yours truly,
B.H. Woodworth

Citation: American Red Cross, Northern Division, records, 1915-1921. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. [P781]

Recruiting in WWI part 2

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 30, 2018

Fritz Gustafson was a Marine Corps recruiter during the war. In this letter home he talks extensively about how one can serve their country. He recounts an encounter with a man who said he was doing his bit in the war by buying Liberty Bonds. Gustafson asks if there was anything stopping the man from joining the Marine Corps, and he said no. Gustafson criticized the man for not doing more for the war, and claimed that one those who had given their life for their country, those who were buried in the ground in France, were 100% Americans who had done their full duty to their country.


June 30, 1918
Dear Mother:
[...] Since joining the Marine Corps I have done a great many things that I would never have thought of doing in civil life, but we must do them it is all for the best of the corps, I have soon qualified myself for almost any kind of a job, I have been out amongst many kind [sic] of people and have done a good many different kinds of jobs, [...] the Marines surely does wonders with a man, and when we come back again to our homes we will have worlds of experience, and be benefited by our sojourn in the corps. Even poor recruiters will be better man [sic] they have served an enlistment in the Marine Corps, we are out on the streets every day and meet all sorts of people some of whom are not the best, but whats the difference we are broadning [sic] our minds. Just the day before yesterday I stopped a man on the street, who when I asked him to join the Marines stated that he was doing his bit by purchasing Liberty Bonds and trift [sic] stamps. I then asked him if there were anything in the world to stop him from enlisting, and he said No, I then says "Why dont you enlist in the Marine corps?" He then said that he had done his bit buying bonds. Just that incident caused me to think how much are we really doing to help this war? We think that we are doing all we can, some think that by buying a few bonds that they have done their bit, but I say that there is only one who is 100% American, only one who has done his bit, the American who has given the last full measure of devotion, the man who now lies buried underneath the sunny skies of France. [...]
With warm love from your son,
Fred A Gustafson
Sergeant U.S.M.C. N.C.O.


"Senate Takes up Suffrage" and "Soldiers Being Rushed Abroad" - The Twin City Star. June 29, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | June 29, 2018

Sailing, 1940

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 29, 2018

This image of multiple sailboats on a lake was taken by the Minneapolis Journal in 1940. 

See it in Collections Online.

Woman's bathing suit, 1920

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 28, 2018

This bathing suit was made in 1920. It is one piece and made out of a knit fabric.

See it in Collections Online.