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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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"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

Victor Johnson Diary

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

ATTENTION: The following letter and transcription contain language that is derogatory. We have chosen to include this letter and it's complete transcription as it provides evidence of the racism many African American soldiers experienced while serving during the War. However, it may be offensive to readers.

In this diary entry, Victor Johnson of the 16th Regiment of the Army Corps of Engineers describes a cruel prank that was played on an African American man in their regiment. Johnson recounts how some of the boys were annoyed with the man because he snored so loud that it kept them awake. So someone decided to steal a nurse's apron and pretended to be the Night Doctor to "treat" the man for his snoring. The "Doctor" told the man to take medicine, which was just water, every half hour so that he would not sleep the entire night. While African American men were allowed to serve in the army, mostly in segregated regiments, they still faced extreme racism and prejudice.


April 9-1918
We have a nigger here who snores so loud at night that the boys can't sleep. As for myself it takes more than a snoreing [sic] nigger to keep me awake. So last night one of the boys put on a white apron (the nurses) and acted as the Doctor after the lights out. All the tools he had was a cup of hot water, a spoon and a piece of 2 inch adhesive tape. Then he want down to and told the nigger to drink half of the medisen [sic] and to take two teaspoons full of medicen [sic] every half hour. That of course was to keep him awake while we slept. Then he took and split the tape to 1 inch strips and put one over the top of his nose and the other from ear to ear under his chin. But you should have been there when the nurse came in the morning and saw him when the nurse did. She sure had a good laugh. She asked him who put the tape on? He answered that night Doctor. But we put her wise to who the doctor was and why.

Citation: Victor O. Johnson Diary. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P1987

Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam

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

Today's Item of the Day is the book by Kim Heikkila called Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam. Heikkila will be the guest at tonight's History Lounge at the Minnesota History Center to talk about these women's experiences and stories.

David Backus has Target Practice

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

In this diary entry David Backus recounts being unable to fly due to the weather, so he had target practice shooting at pigeons, (possibly clay pigeons). He didn't seem to do too well, only hitting three of the first 25 and 6 of the next 25.


Tuesday April 9 - 18
Out 6- breakfast[.] Berty and I went to Spiral Field- only flew an hour celing [sic] got too low had to quit and neither of us got up. Shot at 50 birds got 3 out of first 25[.] 6 out of next string. Letter from Kit- Well 7 of them went on a small voyage 5 out of 7 got lost- 3 of them- smashed one one chap smashed his arm. Lulu is not back yet- got lost once- guess he is lost again.

Citation: David Backus Collection. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 102.I.4.7B-2