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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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How To Keep A Soldier Fed

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 17, 2017

This booklet, to be read to all officers training at Fort Dodge, Iowa, states, "There is no duty of greater inportance to any commander [...] than that which embraces proper sustinance of his men." The pamphlet goes on to explain how good food boosts morale, what a balanced diet looks like, how not to waste food, how to purchase food, and what sort of standards to which soldiers at meals, eating areas, and the kitchens themselves ought to be held. The pamphlet stresses thrift and reducing food waste, and explains how to maintain nutrition and achieve these goals with advice on things like how to tell if meat is spoiled.


Camp Dodge, Iowa,
November 17, 1917.
The following will be read to all officers and non-commissioned officers of regiments and separate organizations at the first meeting of officers school after receipt of this paper: There is no duty of greater importance to any commander, be he of a company or army corps, than that which embraces the proper subsistence of his men. Beginning with the General he must guard his line of supplies at all hazards, and ending at the Company Commander, he must see that these supplies which have reached his organization are provided in sufficient quantity, good quality and properly prepared.

The value of food when served, depends upon the ability of the system to appropriate to the needs of the body and the five thousand or more heat units stored up in a ration are necessary for the laboring man. If, however, this ration is damaged by transit, wasted by the cooks or so poorly prepared that the men will not eat it, then the value quickly drops to a point at which the soldier cannot subsist or it is largely rejected by the natural processes on account of improper preparation and unfitness for assimilation.

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


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 17, 2017

This birchbark container or makak is decorated with an etched design. It was made and used by an Ojibwe maker prior to 1919.


Citation: 2100.E201.1

Little Knitters and Sewers: The Junior Auxillary Does Their Part

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 16, 2017

This chapter letter from the American Red Cross provides suggestions for activities that can be undertaken by Junior Auxiliary groups, which consists mostly of supplies needed in France that children can easily sew or knit. The list of needed items is divided into three groups by difficultly level. The first group, intended for younger children, includes items like hot water bottle covers, pillows, and knitted wash cloths. The second group, intended for older children, includes bed socks, leggings, sheets, and finished pillow cases. The third group, intended for older children working under supervision, includes more complex items like pajamas, sweaters, and under-shirts.
Finally, there is a suggestion that all of these activities are better suited for girls; boys might collect metal scraps and newspapers for money to financially support these projects, and assist through in their Boyscout activities.


Red Cross letter
Red Cross info

Northern Division Headquarters
202 Essex Building, Minneapolis.
Chapter Letter No 29

The requests for information concerning Junior Auxiliaries grow more numerous every day. Chapter letter No 23 outlines in sufficient detail the method of forming the new auxiliary. The next step is to map out the activities to be undertaken by the Junior Red Cross workers. The following are suggestions which might be adopted. [...] The Women's Bureau have recently sent representatives to France to study the various needs for hospital supplies and refugee clothing. These representatives come back assuring us of the very great need for the simple and useful articles, many of which can be made by the children. They bring with them a full set of models for the refugee clothing. [...] We have received positive instructions as to the need of the following articles, which we have arranged in three groups. Group one names only the things which can be made by the younger children. Group [2] supplies work for the older children, while the work outlined in group three had best be done under supervision.

[List of articles, in groups]

The above mentioned articles apply more particularly to the work of girls. The boys most find some means of assisting financially. [...] They can perform many acts of service for the local chapter, in fact they can help the Red Cross just as they carry on their Boy Scout service.

These few suggestions may be used until the Manual of School Activities now being prepared by National Headquarters, reaches you.

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

Apple Pie Please!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 16, 2017
ad for pie

Seems about time we start thinking about apple pie; check out this bargain from 1949!

Citation: Norton & Peel, 1949

"Battle Front of Fifty Miles" and "U.S. Soldiers Catch Enemy" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. November 15, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 15, 2017

Montezuma, now known as Winona

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 15, 2017
Painting of Winona

On this date in 1851 the town Montezuma is founded by Orrin Smith, a steamboat captain. The town is more recognizable by its present name, Winona. This is an anonymous painting of Winona done in 1870.

"Armies In Italy In Heavy Duel" and "Slowly Force Germans Back" - The Daily People's Press. November 14, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 14, 2017

Freezing Friends

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 14, 2017
Photo of cold people watching football.

This photo is of two men bundled up watching a cold November 1937 University of Minnesota football game.

Letter from Dirigible Training: Louis H. Maxfield

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 13, 2017

This handwritten letter is from Louis H. Maxfield to his mother in Buffalo, New York. He reports that he is "now in the south-west of France, learning to be a dirigible pilot." Most of the letter is very difficut to read, however, he also comments on the very old town he is in, both his current and preivious conditions, his interesctions with the French, and the effect of war on the area. Maxfield was born in Minnesota in 1883 and attended the Naval Academy before beginning Naval service in 1907. During World War I, he served as a dirigible pilot. A dirigible, or airship, is a lighter-than-air aircraft that generates lift using gas-filled bags, similar to a zeppelin. Maxfield eventually acheived the rank of Commander and worked on the development of the ZR-2 dirigible (also know as the R38) in England. He died on August 24, 1921 when an accident occured on the ZR-2 that destroyed the airship.

Dearest Mother:

a letter from you today and I was so glad to hear from you [...]. I am now in the south-west of france, learning to be a dirigible pilot. The town I'm in is on the coast and very very old. [...] I succeeded yesterday in buying a package of toilet paper. [...] The food is not so bad [...].

Your loving son,


Citation: Cathcart, Alexander Henry and Family. Papers. Corresp. and Misc. Papers, 1912-1921. Box 3 P985

Governor Olson's Top Hat

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 13, 2017
Olson's top hat

Floyd B. Olson was born on this day in 1891 in Minneapolis. He would be the first Farmer-Labor governor, serving from 1931 until his death while in office on August 22, 1936. He is remembered for implementing New Deal policies and for his skilled negotiating during the 1933 Hormel strike in Austin and the 1934 teamsters' strike in Minneapolis. While he was a man of the people, he still needed a top hat.