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

Early Snow Plow

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 27, 2018

This photo is of an early motorized hand-operated snow plow from 1935. 

See it in Collections Online.

Heavy Artillery

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 26, 2018

In this entry, William Fraser describes a day in which they were under heavy gunfire all day. He states that the gunfire began in the early morning and continued until the sun went down. He saw several German planes in the sky and even saw a French plane swoop in and chase a German plane away. While this day must have been stressful and draining for Fraser, he ends the entry saying that he had a delicious dinner and was able to go to bed at a reasonable hour.


Feb 26, 1918.
Heavy gun fire early in morning and during rest of day. Balloon up. German aeroplane. shoots at it. French aeroplane comes to resque. German got away, no harm done. Saw 2 Ger observation balloons. 1 at bat. under fire all day. 4 wounded. Clear and sunny all day. German plane adjusting fire on the battery. 150 going to position I'll so lots of French batteries going out Road near here shelled. after hearing fire all day ate a good supper than prepared for bed at 9.

Citation: William K. Fraser Diary, 1917-1919, 1944. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul Minnesota. P1943

"Glory of the West"

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 26, 2018

This china pattern was created and used by the Great Northern Railway; the pattern is named "Glory of the West." The white china plate has a transfer-printed watercolor-style motif of gray mountains, green grass, and a single green tree in the foreground. It was used between 1940 - 1957.

See it in Collections Online.

"Bemidji Soldier Hero Honored in Death; Victim of Tuscania's Fate" and "Sammies in Brisk Brush with Enemy" - Bemidji Daily Pioneer. February 25, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 25, 2018

Last Day at Home

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 24, 2018

Oscar Dahlgren was enlisted in February of 1918 in Glenwood, Minnesota, into Company C, 349th Infantry, 88th Division. This entry details his last day at home before he had to report to camp. He talks about staying with his wife at her parents house, and about a surprise party that was thrown for him and three other men from his district who had been drafted with him. Overall, Dahlgren seems very indifferent to both leaving his family and wife and to entering into the military. In this entry, he is very matter-of-fact about everything that happened, not dwelling on the sadness of leaving his family behind, nor the excitement of embarking on a new adventure in the US military.

Feb 24, 1918.
After moving stayed at my wifes folks place till the time came I had to leave. Some time before leaving for camp the young people in district 76 arranged a surprise party for 3 of us boys in the district that was to leave. A purse of $13.00 was given us. A good time was had too. [...]

Citation: Oscar R. Dahlgren World War I Journals, 1917-1919. . Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul, Minnesota. P2745

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