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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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Memorandum: Troops Movements are Confidential

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 1, 2017

These orders were given to the 350th Infantry Regiment, part of the 88th Division, and directs officers and soldiers to be dilligent in keeping their orders and movements secret, so that troop movements aren't publicly known. Secrecy is stressed for the protection of troops as they travel, as it was feared that troops could be more esily targeted if their movements were known. Attacks by German submarines on ships crossing the Atlantic were particularly feared.

This memo also blames women for spreading such information about troop movements, saying that "much publicity was obtained through information imparted by officers to female members of their family."

Hoboken, New Jersey.
November 1, 1917.
MEMORANDUM for Chief of Embarkution Service, Washington, D. C.
1. The prevention of publicity in regard to the movements of troops and transports is a matter of the utmost concern to the welfare of the Army and of the Navy which is charged directly with the duty of safely convoying vessels. Either through lack of explicit orders or through gross carelessness, much information in regard to our troops and our ships becomes public in spite of the best efforts to the contrary. A single individual who gives publicity to these movements may do harm which the best efforts of all others concerned cannot remedy. From some specific instances that have come to my knowledge, much publicity was obtained through information imparted by officers to female members of their family. Once the publicity is started, it gathers force as it goes, and movements which should to kept strictly secret become a matter of common knowledge.
(Signed) David C. Shanks.
Major General, N.A.

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

Autumn Glow Quilt

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 1, 2017
quilt image

Autumn Glow sampler quilt. Screen printed, sun printed, and hand dyed cotton fabrics by Diane Bartels. Quilt designed, pieced, and quilted by Susan Stein, 2002.

"A Real European Halloween Scare" and " Italian Troops Fighting with Great Valor" - The Duluth Herald. October 31, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 31, 2017

Treat-or-treating, 1948-style

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 31, 2017
trick or treat photo

Treat-or-treating in Saint Paul in 1948; they seem pretty happy to get apples. 

Happy Halloween!

See this and more Halloween photo here.

Meatless Wednesday in St. Paul

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 30, 2017

Food conservation was a major concern for homefront families. Americans at home were asked to be diligent about not wasting any food, and to refrain from using specific food groups on certain days, such as Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays. Americans were asked to conserve meat, sugar and wheat so that these products could be sent overseas to America's allies where food supplies had been interrupted by the war. Even the Hill family of Saint Paul participated in these conservation efforts, as Mary Hill recounts in her diary.


October 30, Tuesday
St. Paul. 20 this morning. No wind however. It is predicted that sun may shine today.
To-day is meatless day. I do not mind it.

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

The magus, or Celestial Intelligencer: being a complete system of occult philosophy

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 30, 2017

Written by Francis Barnett and published in London in 1801, this book of magic called The Magus is certainly one of the creepiest in our collection. Made up of three books, it contains the practice of the cabalistic art, natural, and celestial magic. It discusses alchemy, hermetic philosophy, magnetism, ceremonial magic, and the conjuration of spirits.  The whole volume is illustrated with a great variety of curious engravings; this page is just one example. 
Happy day before Halloween!

A Petit Voyage to Châteaudun

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 29, 2017

In his diary David Backus describes his first "petit voyage," which is logged in his flight notebook as over 120 minutes in the air. He and a group of classmates left from their base in Tours, France, and took barograph readings. They landed for a lunch of peach bread and butter with apples, and then Backus departed for Châteaudun, a small city to the northeast of Tours. There he reports that a Lieutenant took him to an excellent dinner at a hotel. Backus also stayed the night in Châteaudun, on a feather bed.

Backus refers to the Le Rhône, which is a plane engine. Backus and his classmates take barograph readings while flying with this engine. Backus also refers to the Anzani, which is the plane engine he uses to fly to Châteaudun. Backus also takes careful notes about his altitude and timing in his diary.


Monday Oct.29 - 17
Well, Robert, Lachid, Sewall, Hoppy, Dickie, Bradshaw + me went direct to Voyageur Class. Left at 9 [...] in 25 minutes, made good landing, right back then stocked up in Le Rhône for altitude. Barograph broke had to come back get a new one. Had a corking machine went up again, took 15 mins to make 2200 meters, 8 more to 2800, stayed at 2800 meters for one hour + twenty five minutes (85 mins) made a perfect Barograph reading. Came down 2000 meters in 4 min. Our ears hurt so came down the rest slowly. Got peach bread and butter, couple apples. Got my machine, Anzani's, used on Voyage work [...] left for Châteaudun there at 4:35 - found Hanger easily went at about 800 meters. Lieutenant took me down to town in sidecar had some dinner at St. Louis hotel + rolled in at 8:20 - wonderful bed - feather [...].

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

Gold Star Roll: Frank Kreuz, Army Cook

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 28, 2017

Frank Kreuz, a cook with the 356 Infantry of the 89 Division, enlisted on this day in 1917. Kreuz died in a train accident on July 1, 1919, while serving with the Army of Occupation in Trier, Germany, the same village where his father was born. His file includes a photo of him holding a spatula, a letter from the Chaplain who performed his burial, and a hand-transcribed news article about his death. Kreuz was from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and was scheduled to return home before his death. The train accident may have occurred as he was returning from visiting his father's family.


Copy from Daily News July 20 1919
Accident Caused Death
F.H. Kreuz was Cook with Army in Germany. Army Cook F.H. Kreuz of St. Paul attached to the cooking corps of the 356 Infantry of the 89 Division died in Germany from accidental injuries July 1 according to word received in St. Paul by his parents, Mr. Mrs. Hub. Kreuz 263 University Av. He was 36 years old. Cook Kreuz had been in France with the american Force about 19 mos. He was scheduled for transport home shortly prior to his death which occurred at Trier, Germany, while with the Army of Occupation. Kreuz prior to his enlistment in April 1917 had served 3 years with the regular Army in the Phillipine [sic] islands according to his mother in 1903 to 1906. He died in the same village that he visited when he was eight years old in Co. with his Father Hubert Kreuz. He had visited his Uncles and Aunts in Irrel, Bitburg, Germany and found a big change allthough [sic] he could remember a lot of the years gone by.

Citation: "Kreuz, Frank H." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.4F

Preparing For the Worst at Sea

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 27, 2017

In his diary George Leach describes his regiment's transatlantic journey to the war front in France. In this entry, the S. S. Transport President Lincoln has reached the most dangerous area of their journey, where torpedo and submarine attacks are most likely. In the days preceding this entry, Leach reported multiple incidents of ships in nearby regions of the ocean that met watery fates. The men aboard the Lincoln had to be vigilant of security and safety procedures. They also practiced abandon ship drills in preparation for a worst case scenario at sea.


Saturday, October 27th
Cold and cloudy. Passed a sailing vessel at daylight, and the destroyers searched her. Worked all day making fixed arrangements for abandoning the ship in case of disaster. We are only four days off our final destination tonight, and from now on all officers remain at their posts. The air is Iike winter and the water very cold, so a plunge does not look as attractive as it did, back in the gulf stream. From now on, we will be in the acute submarine and mine danger zone.

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


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 27, 2017

A hand-colored lithograph from John James Audubon's Imperial Folio Edition of "The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America" (1843-1848), Folio 2, Plate VIII. The illustrations for this series were made by J.J. Audubon and his son John Woodhouse Audubon. Most of the backgrounds were done by another of J.J. Audubon's sons, Victor Gifford Audubon. The printing and hand coloring was done by J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia.

In the book they are referred to as "chipping squirrels" because of noise they make.