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.

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Beneta Mchie

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 23, 2018

Wood tennis racket used by Beneta Edwards Mchie, who was born in Saint Paul. She was a member of a prominent African-American family, heavily involved in education and a number of social justice issues. She probably used the racket while a member of the Nicollet Tennis Center, located at 40th and Nicollet in Minneapolis.

See it in Collections Online; see her and her family's papers.

Superb Americanization

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 23, 2018

This letter was sent to the Saint Paul Chapter of the American Red Cross by the Committee on Public Information in Washington D.C., commending the chapter on their superb Americanization work. "Americanization" included actions such as aiding immigrants, teaching them English and civics, providing a supportive community for immigrants, and working against anti-Americanism.


February 23, 1918.
[...] Ladies:
Your name has been sent to this Committee as an agency carrying on Americanization work among foreign-born residents in your city.
You are respectfully requested to fill out and return the enclosed registration card at your earliest convenience. Any further information, data, or pamphlets bearing on this work which you can send us, will be helpful.
Americanization as defined in this inquiry includes: instructing foreign-born residents in the English language and in civics; maintaining information centers and furnishing information, aid and service to immigrants; counteracting anti-American propaganda; holding meetings, addresses and gatherings to bring about unity of immigrant peoples in America; adopting safe-guards against alien enemy activities; and all measured and plans having for their object the bringing of native and foreign-born peoples together in common loyalty to America.
Your prompt cooperation in this matter will be appreciated.
Yours very truly,
George Creel

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

"Bolshevik Government Decides to Fight" and "Patrol Fight Reported on Aisne Sector" - The Duluth Herald. February 22, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 22, 2018

Railroad car hazard sign

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 22, 2018

This warning sign was created by the "Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway Co." It was intended to be applied to railroad car doors equipped with charcoal heaters and warns of potentially dangerous fumes. The sign is dated ca. 1883 - 1960; it comes in a set of four, for each side of two doors into the car.  Why would they bother to heat cars if people couldn’t be in them? What other reason would there be to have heated cars? 

See it in Collections Online.


By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 21, 2018

This memorandum to company commanders of the 350th Infantry Regiment training at Camp Dodge, Iowa, gives the number of specialists recommended for each company. These specialists includes not only mechanics, drivers, barbers, and cooks, but horseshoers, saddlers and wagoners. The memorandum instructs commanders to reply with how many specialists they will need for their company, and if they do not need any specialists then to indicate so.


February 21, 1918
To co. Comdrs:
Tables of Organization give the following quota per company or specialists. Co. Comdrs. will deduct the number of specialists already in their organization from the total allowance and inform this office as soon as possible of the number required from the incoming draft. If none are required, so state. [...]"

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

Coronelli globe gore, 1691

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 21, 2018

This globe gore shows much of what geographically defines Minnesota: the Mississippi, the Great Lakes, and our placement within the continent. The shape of it is unusual, until one considers the spherical shape of a globe, and how printed pieces need to be shaped to fit on it. It was created by Coronelli in 1691.

See it in Collections Online.

The Patriotic Duty to Report Deserters

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 20, 2018

This letter from the American Red Cross National Headquarters to all of its Division Directors of Civilian Relief states that it is the patriotic duty of everyone to report deserters, especially members of the Red Cross. If a member of the Red Cross finds and reports information on deserters during their Red Cross duties, the government reward must be donated to the Red Cross.

February 20th, 1918
[...] 1. It is the patriotic duty of every person knowing the whereabouts of a deserter to report him to the proper authorities.
2. Therefore a special obligation rests upon every member of the Red Cross, because of its peculiar activities as an aid to the Government at this time, to report deserters at once to the proper authorities.
3. If such information is obtained by a member of the Red Cross in the course of the discharge of official Red Cross duties, the resulting reward from the Government could with Propriety go to the Red Center.
4. It is better that no claim for this reward be made. If claim is made, it should be in the name of the individual member of the Red Cross who furnished the information regarding the deserter. The reward from the Government, when received, may then be turned over to the Chapter to which the member giving the information belongs. [...]

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

Girl Scout and Young Admirer

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 20, 2018

Girl Scout cookie season is upon us; that means Spring is coming, right? This adorable photo of a Girl Scout saluting a smaller girl is from 1925. In the early years all Girl Scouts had to bake their own cookies to sell!

See it in Collections Online.

"Germans, Invading Russia Unopposed, Pass Dvina" and "Drafted Men Get Lessons in War at Night School" - The Minneapolis Morning Tribune. February 19, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 19, 2018

Vice Presidential Podium Seal

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 19, 2018

Happy Presidents' Day! This Vice Presidential seal was created to hang on the front of a podium. It was used by Walter Mondale, who served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States, 1977-1981.

See it in Collections Online.