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

American Red Cross Motor Corps Uniform Standards

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 17, 2018

This letter from the Minneapolis Chapter of the American Red Cross describes the uniform for their motor corps, which at the time was not standardized. The motor corps itself was not standardized either, though actions were moving toward standardization. Their uniforms were based off the Washington branch's, but used breeches in the winter instead of short skirts, and was made out of rubberized material in winter for extra warmth.

My dear Mrs. O'Donnell,
I have at hand your letter of inquiry regarding the Red Cross Motor Corps. I enclose a statement of our organization and work as it has shaped itself here, [...] I enclose also a booklet concerning uniforms which he gave me. We patterned our uniforms after Washington's but use a rubberized material because it is better adapted to our cold winters. Recently Washington changed riding breeches to short skirts under the coats. We have not found it necessary to change and the breeches are warmer and more convenient. The Motor wheel worn on the sleeve is something new and the Northern Division hasn't them in stock yet. You can procure them there later. We have chosen for out summer informs a dress of gray Hawaiian cloth made as near as possible like the coats, black sailor hats with the cross worn on the band in front. The dress of course is a little longer than the coat as the puttees are too hot for summer. Up to date each Corps seems to have organized as it saw fit and chosen its uniform more or less locally and independently. The movement now on foot to draw them all to-gether nationally I am sure will meet with general approval. [...]
Sincerely yours,
Chairman Mpls Motor Corps

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

US - Italy Relations

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

Paul Thompson writes to his sister Ruth to tell her some more specifics about his impending trip to Italy. He writes that the Italian government has requested the YMCA work with them to strengthen morale and "further friendly relations" between the US and Italian governments.


April 16, 1918
Dear Ruth,
In any [acc...] it will be sufficient to say that I am with about 50 others - mostly business men recruited all the way from Cal. to NY - all being sent to Italy by the YMCA at the request of the Italian government to work with the Italian army for the purpose of strengthening their morale and furthering the present friendly relations between Italy and the US. [...]

Citation: Paul Thompson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. A/T476 4/19-8/19

"British Fight Germans to a Standstill" and "Trying to Keep Stars on Flag All Blue" The Duluth Herald, April 15th, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 15, 2018

"Allies Holding as Crisis Looms" and "Britains Told to Stand Firm" - The Daily People's Press. April 14, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 14, 2018

"Battle Line is Now One Hundred and Fifty Miles Long" and "Must Fight to the End Haig Tells Army" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. April 13, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 13, 2018

Man having trouble with his 1937 income tax return

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

This photo shows a man having trouble with his 1937 income tax return.

Remember, you have until Tuesday, April 17!

Photo by Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company.

See it in Collections Online.

Camp Dodge Court Martial Regulations

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 12, 2018

This letter was sent out to presidents, trial judge advocates and assistant trial judge advocates involved in court martials at Camp Dodge, Iowa. It states that the Court Martial process is moving too slowly because the acquisition of the documents is taking too long. The letter goes on to say that document acquisition should not take more than one week and that those who cannot make that timeline work will no longer be employed.


Greater promptness in trying cases before general courts martial is essential. It is considered that no case forwarded for trial should be delayed longer than one week from the date of its receipt by the Trial Judge Advocate, and written explanation of cause for delay in the trial of any case for a longer period will be made by the Trial Judge Advocare concerned, and such explanation will be made through the President of the Court, to this office. Presidents of courts martial are enjoined to permit no delay that is possibly avoidable. [...]
Altogether too much time is being taken up in the preparation of records. Presidents of courts martial and Trial Judge Advocates will see to it that records of trial, properly checked and authenticated are in the hands of the Division Judge Advocate within one week from the date of the trial, and reporters who cannot furnish completed records within that time will not be employed. [...]
By command of the Brigadier General Getty:

Citation: U.S. Army, 350th Infantry Regiment, Co. G, records 1917-1919. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. BG6/.U584/350th

AIM / Remember Wounded Knee Patch, 1973

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

Dennis J. Banks was born on Leech Lake Indian Reservation on this day in 1937. An Indian activist, he would become one of the founders of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in 1968  along with Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt (from White Earth Reservation) and George Mitchell. This patch is from 1973.

See it in Collections Online

Red Cross "Scammers"

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | April 11, 2018

This letter was sent from the St. Paul Chapter of the American Red Cross to the Duluth Chapter, warning of a potential scammer in their city. It states that they caught a young woman soliciting funds for the Red Cross without authority to do so, and discovered the woman was a crook. The woman claimed she was working with a "Mrs. Keam", who was headed to Duluth, likely to continue the scam there. The Duluth chapter responded on April 17th that they were also dealing with crooks taking advantage of the "magic name" of the Red Cross to ask for money.


April 11, 1918.
Duluth Chapter,
American Red Cross,
Duluth, Minnesota.
Dear Co-workers:-
Yesterday the Chapter had arrested a young lady who was soliciting Red Cross Donations, without authority from the Chapter. Upon investigation we find she is a first-class crook. She tells us that a Mrs. Keam who was working with her left a few days ago for Duluth. We are passing this information along to you, thinking that this Mrs. Keam might try the same plan in Duluth. Our Block and Ward Chairmen have been very helpful to us in keeping a look-out for those who are trying to use the Red Cross for their own personal gains. We trust this information will be a help to you, in case you have any trouble of this kind there.
Very truly yours,

April 17, 1918
Dear Mr. Cutler:
We conveyed the information contained in your letter of the 11th to the authorities. We have similar troubles here, as the crooks are quick to take advantage of the magic name of the Red Cross in securing funds. We thank you for your information.

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

Knotty pine camp armchair

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

 This armchair was part of a set of Tettegouche State Park camp furnishings, ca. 1920-30.

See it in Collections Online