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.
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.
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.
Citation: Raymon Bowers Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P111
This old school "Infographic" shows the number of men processed through Fort Snelling at the height of World War II in 1943. This comes from the publication "Reception Center Processing at Fort Snelling, 1943" put out by the Adjutant-General’s Office.
See it in Collections Online.
"U.S. Troops Again Raid German Positions" and "British Foil Hun Raids Near Arras" - The Duluth Herald. March 12, 1918
This stained glass window fragment was recovered from the ruins of the Reims Cathedral in France. It was discovered by Frances Rogers while she was working as an ambulance driver for the American Fund for French Wounded. The Reims Cathedral was a beautiful piece of architecture that was unfortunately destroyed over the course of the war. Early on in the war, the Cathedral was set abaze by German artillery, shattering its beautiful and ornate stained glass windows. It would come under fire again and again throughout the war, destroying everything but the stone walls of the Cathedral. The Allies used the burning of the Cathedral as propaganda to portray the Germans as barbaric men who had no regard for culture.
Citation: Minnesota Historical Society Collections. 8594.2
"German Lunge is Beaten Back" and "Russian Troop Ships are Sunk" - The Daily People's Press. March 10, 1918
Gold Star Roll of First Class Private Louis Sayer. Included is a letter misdated 3/9/1917 as it is from his time in the hospital after he was gassed in the Battle of Toul on February 28, 1918. He was in the hospital until March 10th and then returned to war. Sayer was killed in action in June, 1918, by an exploding gas shell, and buried in a Paris cemetary.
Mar. 9 1917
Rec'd your letter of the 2 of Jan a few days ago. and was glad to hear from you. I have been in the Hospital the last 10 days or so or would have answered sooner. I got some of the Boche gas the last time we were up to the front, but I don't think it will hurt me any as I didn't get very much. am feeling as fit as ever now. Things were pretty lively up there lately. you probably read about it in the papers. Two of my old Bismark chums got killed. Well how is Clem & Hank[?]
Citation: "Sayer, Louis C." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.6F
On this day in 1848, schoolteacher Harriet E. Bishop formed Minnesota's first temperance society. This oil painting of her is attributed to Andrew Falkenshield, ca. 1880.
See it in Collections Online.