Collections Up Close

collections up close Blog

Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future

About

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

The Problem with the IWW

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | March 18, 2018

Matt Gulliksen of Saint Paul wrote this letter to Minnesota Senator Knute Nelson expressing his severe dislike of the IWW, (Industrial Workers of the World). He states that he has been traveling for the past four months looking to arrest members of the IWW. His main problem with members of the IWW is that in their protest for workers rights, they have been burning wheat fields during a time when the Unites States desperatly needs its wheat supply. The author continues on to explain that becasue most able bodied men are fighting in the war, there is no one left to farm. He states that the members of the IWW cannot be trusted to take on farming duties because of their history, and because of the fact that they will not work for any price. The author concludes that it is absolutly necessary to keep as many farming men at home as possible, so that they may keep up with the increased demand for food.


St. Paul, N.D., March 18, 1918
[...]
My Dear Senator:
I have been traveling for the Government for the last four months and arresting 65 I.W.W.'s. Some of them went to war and some of them went to the penitentiary. Organized 46 Red Cross. And I have been looking after the food question in our wheat states and found less grain that we have had for a long time. The I.W.W. burned up lots of grain in the fields and in the elevators last year. Now, I will give the Government fair understanding to be awake, to take those rogues to the army or put them in the penitentiary, if they will not go to the army. There are over ten million of those tramps in the United States. Now the I.W.W. are coming back from the war zones to Minneapolis and Staint Paul and all over the east. And this band is now gone east to the farms again and strike for the eastern states. If Uncle Sam takes all out boys from the farms, we cannot do much farming, if we shall depend on the city boys and they cannot harness a horse, not speaking about driving from five to eight horses. We can do the best we can in the spring time, but during the harvest and threshing we have to have thousands of men, and we cannot depend on I.W.W.'s. They wont work for any price. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to save on the farmers' boys as much as possible. if we are to furnish food in the struggle for democratic peace. Our beloved President is to be thanked for his splendid work on the promotion of world peace.
Very respectfully
Matt Gulliksen
St Paul Minn

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 144.I.13.5 Box 28

"Blow at British is German Aim" and "Wilson to Stop All Peace Talk" - The Daily People's Press. March 17, 1918

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

"Rainbow Division Repulses Enemy" and "Enemy Ruthless Against Neutrals" - The Twin City Star. March 16, 1918

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

Echoes of Erin Dance Costume

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

This is a women's dance costume for "Echoes of Erin: To Henry Cowell", which premiered May 7, 1955, at the Minneapolis Young Women's Christian Association. It was designed and made by Robert Moulton, and worn by Gertrude Lippincott of Minnesota. Lippincott was a prominent dancer, choreographer and teacher.

Watch the video to learn more about the Lippincott collection, its conservation, and associated manuscript collection here at MNHS.

And Happy St. Patrick's Day tomorrow!

"Somewhere in France"

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


In this undated letter home to his parents, Elmer Ecklund tells them that he has said goodbye to America and hello to France, indicating that the letter was written in early March. Ecklund was very serious about following military law, so he never included his location in letters home to his parents. All his letters are sent from "Somewhere in France," so he would not accidentally reveal his location should his letter be intercepted by the enemy. Ecklund was killed in action on July 18th, 1918, in the Battle of Soissons by an exploding artillery shell.

 


Somewhere in France
Dear Folks:
I have said good bye to American, and hello to France.
I hope the day comes when I can say hello to America. We were not long at sea when the sight of land was lost from view. After a few days at sea we encountered a storm lasting for over two days. The waves were very high and the wind blew fiercely, whistling and singing in and about the riggings of the big ship tossed and rolled. We could scarcely keep our feet from sliding under us. In the "mess" hall tables would fly nearly across the space set for them and it was amusing to see a man trying to eat and stand up at the same time. Scarcely a man wasn't sea sick and many were to sea sick to eat. During the entire trip I wasn't sick and I felt good all the time. I had no desire of letting any meals go by. But the storm soon passed and we had still weather the rest of the trip. [...] I wish I could tell you the name of this city, but I must not. I must obey military law now. You will never know where I am, or what I am doing while in France. Foreign custom is certainly different, especially to an american. The houses are different and there is some difference in dress. Some of us study a little French every day. An american soldier who would like to open conversation with a beautiful French girl or "madamoiselle" would be in an unhappy affair if he couldn't speak a little French I suppose. [...] I must close now, I am anxious to hear from home, and I must wait a longer time after this. So good bye and you will hear from me very soon again. With lots and lots of love and hope for our wellfare in the future, again good bye.
Pvt. Elmer G. Ecklund.

Citation: "Ecklund, Elmer J." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.3B

Sister Elizabeth Kenny and Treatment for Polio

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 15, 2018

Sister Elizabeth Kenny discovered a revolutionary treatment for infantile paralysis and devoted her life to its dissemination. After her ideas were rejected on the coasts, she came to Minnesota in 1940 and worked with doctors at the Mayo Clinic, opening her own Sister Kenny Institute in 1942. Her revolutionary methods went against traditional treatments for polio and urged that the stricken limbs be exercised; this procedure opened the modern-day era of physical therapy.

This photo of Sister Kenny at work is from 1945.

Learn more in MNHS Library.

Sister Elizabeth Kenny and Treatment for Polio

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 15, 2018

Sister Elizabeth Kenny discovered a revolutionary treatment for infantile paralysis and devoted her life to its dissemination. After her ideas were rejected on the coasts, she came to Minnesota in 1940 and worked with doctors at the Mayo Clinic, opening her own Sister Kenny Institute in 1942. Her revolutionary methods went against traditional treatments for polio and urged that the stricken limbs be exercised; this procedure opened the modern-day era of physical therapy.

This photo of Sister Kenny at work is from 1945.

Learn more in MNHS Library.

Family History

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


This is the second letter William McFarland sent to Mrs. Cyrus Wells. In this letter he recounts his family history, stating that both his parents were born and married in Ireland and moved to the United States before that had him. He tells her that his parents passed away when he was young, so he was left to fend for himself in the world. But despite this disadvantage, he got a good education and found a way to persue what he was passionate about, engineering, which is was he is now doing in the army.

 


Everman Field Texas
Mar. 14, 1918
Dear Mrs. Wells
You letter at hand and was certainly glad to hear from you and to know that you good women are taking an interest in the boys of the army. I for one sure aprechiate [sic] it and I know that many more of the boys feel the same as I. You were almost right when you thought that I was Scotch I am Irish though borne in this country my parents were both borne and were married in Ireland they came to this country and settled in Illinois not far from Springfield There I was borne but they both passed away and I was left to fight the world alone and I lost track of my relatives in Ireland. But nevertheless I managed to obtain a fair education and at the same time to get some experience with machinery. After leaving school I took up steam engineering but when we saw what the gass motors were able of doing I fell for them and for the past four years I have put every opportunity that I have had in on them. That is how I am holding the position in the Aero Corpse that I do today. [...] I do not know when [we] will go over men are leaving here almost every day but my Squadron is supposed to be a training squadron for others and we have a large training school here. My Commanding officer told me that I would be held here as an instructor but I don't know yet[.] I spoke about going across and he says we must have men here to teach the others so they will do as they like not what I want but then I don't kick[.] we are in the Army to win and what the Goverment sees best to do that suits me. [...] hopeing to hear from you in the near future[.] I remain as ever with the colors.
Wm McFarland

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

Student Protest, 1972

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 14, 2018
Student protest, 1972

In honor of the students walking out of class today in protest, we post this reminder of earlier student protests. This photo is of University of Minnesota students protesting against United States invasion of Cambodia, 1972.

See it in Collections Online.

A Dance in Town

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


In this letter to a Miss Palmes, Raymon Bowers writes about what training is like in Jackson, South Carolina. Like a true Minnesotan he complains about the heat a great deal, commenting on the humidity, not being able to use his blankets at night and the lack of rain. He also recounts a trip into town where his company went to a dance. Bowers states that this was the first time he had the opportunity to talk to a girl since he enlisted. This night back in the normal world was special for the soldiers, as they will not get to experience that again for a long while. Bowers also comments on some of the cultural differences in South Carolina versus Minnesota, like that musicians would sometimes change the cadance of the waltz, and that when a dance ended they would take the men by the arm and talk with them around the room instead of sitting down.

 


Jackson, S.C.
Mar. 13, 1918
My Dear Miss Palmes,
[...] When we'll be shipped, the devil only know. We were told on arriving in 3 weeks and again and again we've heard the same onl story. I'll not attepmt to say when; I will obey however I hope it won't be long. I'm very anxious to get across and then there's the fear of having to stay down here all summer when it will be so beastly hot that a certain place will seem cold comparatively speaking. [...] A week ago tonight our company went to town and had a great time at a dance. There were plenty of girls and good music and everyone had a great time. They dance down here much the same as they do up north, one peculiarity is that during a waltz they sometimes change the time increasing or decreasing the cadence. Perhaps the most unusual thing is on finishing a dance, the girl takes the boys arm and around and around the hall you go, they rarely sit down between dance: but promenade instead. [...] Lights out in ten minutes so I guess I'll have to stop. I hope this finds the entire Hist. staff well & the weather as fine as it could be.
As ever
Raymon

Citation: Raymon Bowers Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P111

Pages