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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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Snow pants

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

These nylon snow pants were used by Ann Bancroft during the 2000-2001 Bancroft-Arnesen Expedition to Antarctica.

See them in Collections Online.


"War Aims are Stated by Wilson to Solons" and "Peace Negotiations Again Resumed" - Bemidji Daily Pioneer. January 8, 1918.

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

Voyageurs National Park

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

With support from former governor Elmer L. Andersen and Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., President Richard Nixon signed the law creating Voyageurs National Park on this day in 1971.

See images of Voyageurs in Collections Online.

"German-American Loyalty" and "Draft Held Constitutional by U.S. Supreme Court" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. January 7, 1918

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

"Some Site"

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

William K. Fraser was a soldier in the 151st Field Artillery Regiment. In this entry he describes his visit to a vacant town that had been fired on by trench mortars, which were large caliber weapons similar to cannons that left destruction similar to an aerial attack. He describes the shells and shrapnel found at the site and how he took some of the it home with him. Shrapnel was a common souvenir brought back by soldiers.


January 6, '18
Up at 6am. Stayed in camp in morning after dinner went out on gun park. Saw a town vacant, that a trench mortar had fired on, Some site. Trench mortar shells like a aviation bomb. Has wings on. About 8in. shell. After viewing town went on range picked up some shrapnel and pieces of high explosives. Weather rather cool. Walked back at good speed, had fine apetite [sic] for supper. bed 7.30 was raining.

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

"What to Eat and How to Cook It"

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

This poster was produced to promote the Patriotic Food Show, put on by the State Council of Defense. The poster boasts the slogan "What to Eat and How to Cook It." Propaganda like this was very common and it was deemed patriotic to change ones diet in order to support the war effort. Individuals and families were advised to eat less meat and use less sugar so that more food could be sent to soldiers overseas. Because of the more limited diet, new foods and recipies were developed to keep meals from becoming boring. Eating 'patriotically' was seen as one of the best ways to support the war on the homefront.


Ice: Great Moments in the History of Hard, Cold Water

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

There was a time in the early 2000s when subjects we think of as everyday or mundane received their own study and subsequent book. Salt, dust, cod, and walking are just a few examples that come to mind. 

This is a perfect addition to that group. Published by MNHS and in our Library Collection, it details the story of frozen wastelands, visionary explorers, shimmering castles, and more. Cultural historian Karal Ann Marling weaves together fantastic and fascinating topics related to “hard, cold water.”

It is available for purchase here or in our Library Collection.

A request from the Knox Presbyterian Church

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 4, 2018

In a letter to Senator Knute Nelson, The Knox Presbyterian Church in St. Paul called for him to support several moral measures they believed to be important. They asked him to support the prohibition of alcohol, censorship of motion pictures, a ban on inter-state race gambling, and an anti-polygamy resolution. These measures would not just impact Minnesota, but all of "the States and Territories." It is signed by the church pastor, but was compiled by the entire congregation. During this time, many conservative groups had a growing feeling of fear that the nation was descending into immorality, which forshadows the coming prohibition.


Senator Knute Nelson,
Washington, D.C.
Dear Mr. Nelson:-
As loyal and patriotic American citizens, we, the members and friends of Knox Presbyterian Church, do most respectfully, yet empathetically, request your hearty and active support of certain moral measures in this session of Congress and as early in the session as possible - measures that are important at any time to the highest welfare of the nation, but which are many fold more so in this time of crisis.
First: Effective War Prohibition of the liquor Traffic in this country and its dependecies, and a strong request of our Allies to follow suit.
Second: A thorough investigation of the alleged nation-wide boycott system by the brewers.
Third: An amendment to the "bone-dry law" making it apply to the District of Columbia, as well as to the States and Territories.
Fourth: A law to privide deferal censorship of motion pictures by a competent federal commission.
Fifth: A law to supress inter-state race gambling.
Sixth: The Gillett anti-polygamy amendment resolution.
We thank you for your past stand in favor of moral measures and feel sure that you will be glad to be active in favor of the above and other needed motives of patriotism and conservation. We wish to assure you of our support in your efforts along this line, and shall be pleased to have you suggest to us ways of co-operation. In lieu of individual signatures we are asking our Pastor and Clerk to sign this letter for us.
Respectfully yours,
Knox Presbyterian Church & Congregation

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924, Minnesota Historical Society. 144.I.13.2F Box 27

Cold Night

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | January 4, 2018
painting of winter farm

This watercolor painting of an agricultural landscape is titled "Cold Night." It was created by Francis Meisch in 1944.  

See it in Collections Online.

"Debt $5,615,000,000" and "Enemy Agents Fire Norfolk" - The Daily People's Press. January 3, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | January 3, 2018