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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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"Detectives Unearth Plot to Kill President Wilson" and "French Achieve a Great Success" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. October 23, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 23, 2017

Sinclair Lewis's Main Street

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 23, 2017
Main Street cover

On this date in 1920 Sinclair Lewis's novel Main Street was published. Ten years later the Sauk Centre native would be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

David Backus Has a Perfect Landing

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 22, 2017

David Backus has finally been able to get some flight time, and seems to be doing well in his flight classes. In this diary entry, Backus also mentions the Gulf of Riga, where a naval clash between Germany and Russia was happening around this time.


Backus diary page
Backus diary page

Sunday Oct.22 - 17
Foggy - mist still heavy. did not roll out until 9. Edwards brought me some apples, and Yob some sandwiches. mist did not clear up until after eleven - dinner. The Germans are sure raising the dead with the Russians in the Gulf of Riga - am afraid of Russians making a separate peace it surely would be to her advantage to do so. Well I got 3-15 min Tours de Piece at 200 meters + one at 100 meters. my second landing - Mr. de Hooen - told the class was a classic - or perfect landing - other three were also very good. [...]

Citation: David Backus Collection. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 123.D.10.6F

"Troopship Sunk by Submarine" and "First American Casualty List" - The Daily People's Press. October 21, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 21, 2017

Seasick Soldiers on the Atlantic

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 20, 2017

On the Regiment's first full day at sea enroute to France, George Leach describes a rough scene in his diary. Many of the men on the ship, the S. S. Transport President Lincoln, are suffering from seasickness, which impedes operations and military preparations. The men would not reach their destination until the end of the month.


Saturday, October 20th
Four hundred miles east of Hatteras at sunrise. Sea is rough and most of the men sick. Whole day spent in drill and inspection below decks. Two men lost over-board last night. So many of the officers are sick that it makes a tough day for the others. The hold and decks at times look simply hopeless, and all you can do is to keep at it. Details for work get sick before they report, and it is a constant fight to get things done. Tonight the sea is not running so high.

Citatoin: George Leach Diary. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. D570.32 151st .L3 1963

Commemoration ribbon for Minnesota Historical Society Hall, 1856

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 20, 2017
MNHS Ribbon

The Minnesota Historical Society was incorporated by an act of the territorial legislature on this date in 1849. This ribbon is from later to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone for the Minnesota Historical Society Hall in 1856.

Liberty Loans in St. Paul

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 19, 2017

Mary T. Hill wrote in her diary about the success of the 2nd Liberty Loan campaign, which sold government war bonds in the Twin Cities. Apparently a newspaper report proclaimed that $17 million in Liberty Loans were purchased in St. Paul. These bonds were heavily advertised and and marketed as a way for common people to show their support, as they were used by the government to fund the war.


Mary Hill diary

October 19, Friday; North Oaks.
Yesterdays paper reported 17 million subscribe to 2nd Liberty Loan in St. Paul. This is another dark morning - flurries of snow down to 28 last night at 930. In the afternoon I went over to Rachels to see the children found them in the Barn seeing the calves. Helen Bunn and Annita [sic] Furness came out for the night.

Citation: 1915-1920. Mary T. Hill Papers. 64. C.5.6 Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 64.C.5.6

Minneapolis Skyline Mural

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 19, 2017
Skyline of Minneapolis

This mural is made of two Plexiglas panels decorated to resemble the Minneapolis city skyline. It was used in the First Avenue Main Room in Minneapolis, Minnesota until July, 2000.

Be sure to check out the new book out tomorrow on the history of First Avenue from the MNHS Press!

"U.S. Coasts Are To Be War Zones" and "Sentences Pickets: Judge Gives Four Suffragists Six Months in Jail." - The Daily People's Press. October 18, 1917.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 18, 2017

Anit-rape button

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 18, 2017
anti-rape button

While this button was manufactured in New Jersey, it was used and worn here throughout the 1980s. Its message is obviously still timely today.