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

Sabra Hardy: Part 2

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | March 5, 2018

In this letter home, Sabra Hardy tells mer mother about life at Camp Travis. She thanks her for the cookies and candy she sent, stating that the other girls there throughly enjoyed them. Hardy also updates her mother about what is going on in the ward, stating that a new ward with 800 beds is being built, and comments several times about how hot is is in Texas. While this letter may seem a bit mondane, it gives detailed insight as to what it was like for women during the war. They faced many of the same challenged that the men did, battling with heat and illness, though these things are not often recognized. Women took on many leadership roles during the war, and wanted to serve their country just as the soldiers did. In this letter it is clear that Hardy was very patriotic and that she was extremely proud of the work she was doing.


Mar. 5, '18
Dear mother:-
[...] The sun just scorches. I never saw such a place in my life. I can't wear any coat but very seldom & then in the evening when I ride or drive with Lieutenant. Walking a coat is unendurable. I've completely lost my appetite, it's too hot to eat & I'm just getting over earaches that have gone along c my bronchitis & the bronchitis is getting a little better this wk. I hunted up a new doctor & he gave me the right medicine & told me what to do and its working already. I've lost from 186 to 168 lb. since I came here but I was too fat and can afford to. [...] I'm not working too hard this last two wks. We transfered a lot of pts. to other wards & are only going to keep type II of pneumonia in this ward now. So we only have 19 patients yet & they all but 4 are convalescing & we are 3 nurses & 3 ward men. They haven't decided who goes across yet, so no telling. We have 10 nurses here now & are to have 140. They are building wards with 800 beds now in addition & we have 38 or 39 wards already. [...]
Your daughter

Citation: "Hardy, Sabra R." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.3B

The Minnesota State Grange

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 5, 2018

On this day in 1852, farmers in Benton County formed the state's first county agricultural society. County agricultural society members shared information about stock, seeds, fruit, and farming practices. Oliver H. Kelley, who would later found the National Grange, was one of ten charter members. This ballot box was used by the Minnesota State Grange starting in 1869.

See it in Collections Online.

Visit Oliver Kelley Farm starting April 1!

Sequined black satin and lace evening gown

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 2, 2018

This black satin and lace gown with sequin and bead trim was made by Minneapolis dressmaker Mary Molloy between 1904 - 08.

See more dresses by her and others on our Minnesota Dressmakers page.

The Theory of the Leisure Class

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 1, 2018

On this day in 1899, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions by Thorstein Veblen was published. A graduate of Carleton College, Veblen earned recognition as a dynamic economist and social theorist, and his book remains influential today. It was Veblen who coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption.”

"Kill 5 Sammies in Gas Attack" and "Russians Hurl Teutons Back" - The Daily People's Press. February 28, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 28, 2018

Minnesota March to Washington

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 28, 2018

On this last day of Black History Month, we share this letter which was circulated in 1963 to help raise funds for the trip to Washington D.C. to attend the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  This collection was put together by Matthew Little, chair of the Minnesota March on Washington Committee and long time president of the Minneapolis NAACP.

Learn more about Matthew Little.

"American Army Seeing Red Over Terrible Gas Attack" and "Refuses Russian Armisice Plea" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. February 27, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 27, 2018

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.