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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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"President Wilson Re-States United States' War Aims" and "Ukrainians Sign a Treaty" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. February 11, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 11, 2018

"I.W.W. Leaders Plot Sabotage" and "Nationwide Fast Day" - The Daily People's Press. February 10, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 10, 2018

"American Soldiers Lost, Probably 147" and "Bad Defeats for Germans" - The Duluth Herald. February 9, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 9, 2018

Vulcan getting ready to light a pile of Christmas trees on fire, 1947

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 9, 2018

Remember how Winter Carnival ends? With the Vulcans winning and thereby bringing Spring? Let's hope that happens this year! This photo of a Vulcan about to set a pile of Christmas tree on fire is from 1947; if it was actually lit it must have been quite a sight!

See it in Collections Online.

Blot Out the German Nation

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 8, 2018

This letter was sent to Senator Knute Nelson by a constituent, warning about spies high up in the military. He claims that the Kaiser doesn't go to the slums to insert spies, but to the highest level of the military and government. He advocates for systematic and swift raids through all military and government offices to find the spies the Kaiser has planted. The man also states that US soldiers shoudl fight to the death against Germany. He seems to be against ending the way diplomatically, saying, "to blot out the German nation for an everlasting example for generations to come."

Feb. 8, 1918.
[...] Dear Sir:-
[...] Then kindly pardon me for more suggestions, which I think also immediately important. When the Kaiser places plotters, he does not go to the slums first - he places queens and kings. He bribes generals and lords and men too high for the "dare" of investigation. Seek bomb makers and plotters as high up as you can get and make systematic raids in the head offices of the ammunition firms themselves and with their trusted foremen and with the heads for boats and transportation and their most trusted managers and soon there will be no more blasting of plants and explosions of boats.
Let the detectives come friendly and say, "To get the guilty ones we are ordered to raid systematically all, our own folks too, you are O.K. but we have to go through the systematic cleanup now, and sweep friend and foe alike". Then you will find some wonderful revelations and see how deep the Kaisers insurance system covers losses. And by all means make raids on the detectives themselves. [...] So every officer and soldier's belongings should also be raided at times most suitable, to save the U.S. Army from the experience of the Italian army last fall.

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 144.I.13.2F Box 27

South of Freedom, 1952

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 8, 2018

Carl Rowan received a M. A. in journalism from the U of M and wrote for the Minneapolis Spokesman, St. Paul Recorder, and the Minneapolis Tribune covering Civil Rights issues. His provocatively titled first book South of Freedom began as a series of articles for the Tribune which were his observations based on his visits to the south and for which he received a “Service to Humanity” award.

The Problem of Illegitimate Children

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 7, 2018

This letter was from the American Red Cross National Headquarters to its Division Directors of Civilian Relief. It concerns trying to prove the paternity of illegitimate children of soldiers for insurance purposes, as the wives and children of soldiers were eligible to receive aid from the Red Cross. It contains a letter from the Judge-Advocate General saying that court martials cannot be used to determine paternity, and marriages also cannot be forced upon soldiers just to make children legitimate. Thus, if a woman comes to the Red Cross claiming that a certain soldier is the father of her child and he denies it, the case cannot be brought to a civil court, as the man is a member of the military, and it cannot be decided in a court martial as there is no mechanism by which a decision could be reached. The letter concludes that Red Cross chapters who encounter this situation may do nothing to help those women.


February 7, 1918
The correspondence quoted below leads to the conclusion that there is no possibility of establishing the paternity of an illegitimate child by court-martial proceedings, and that the military authorities will not surrender an enlisted man to the civil courts for the purpose of having his obligations, if any, in such cases determined. [...] The Home Service Sections are charged with the responsibility of rendering such service to the families of soldiers and sailors as may be desired or expected by them. [...] In relatively few instances -- perhaps two score -- our Home Service workers have been asked for advice and help by unmarried mothers or by unmarried expectant mothers, each of whom has alleged that a certain soldier is the father of her child. [...] Proceedings to establish the paternity of children are of a quasi criminal character, but in effect they are civil suits. [...] There is no provision in courts-martial proceedings for the trial of such actions. There is no machinery known to military which the same or a like result could be reached.

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

Laura Ingalls (Wilder) is born

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 7, 2018

On this date in 1867 Laura Ingalls (Wilder) was born near Pepin, Wisconsin. The family moved around quite a bit in her youth, living in Walnut Grove, Minnesota two different times.  She is remembered for writing the Little House on the Prairie book series based on her family's experiences.

Minnesotan Casualty in the Sunken Tuscania

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | February 6, 2018

On February 6th, 1918, the USS Tuscania was hit by a German torpedo and sank in the Northern Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland. This Gold Star Roll is for Fred Allen of Ada, Minnesota, who was aboard. Several newspaper articles were written about his death, as he was the only Minnesotan on board. The articles include information such as a snippet from the last letter he wrote his parents, the date of the memorial service, and his engagement to Irene Edwards of Wisconsin.

Citation: “Allen, Fred Kent” Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.2F

Drawers for skiing

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | February 6, 2018

These full-length drawers were made by Munsingwear, 1940 - 1949. They are made from a knit of rayon and wool, and were to be used as underwear while skiing. Today we would simply call them long underwear.

See them in Collections Online.