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collections up close Blog

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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High Bar

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 2, 2017

This photograph is of a Winona High School student clearing the pole vault during a May 4, 1952 track meet.

This image forms part of our Minneapolis and St. Paul Newspaper Negative collection. Additional photographs in this series may be available in the library, please view the finding aid.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

Women's War Relief Work

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

During May and June 1917, the women of Hamline University and the surrounding community staged their first major financial drive for the Red Cross. Working for the Women’s Division of the Council of National Defense, these women raised $1801.89, despite their initial difficulties with organization. Subsequent campaigns were significantly more successful; their second, conducted in September 1917, netted $22,400, and donations only increased from there. In addition to their Liberty Loan and Red Cross Campaigns, the Women’s Division at Hamline planted war gardens when commodity prices rose in spring of 1918, taught children how to can homegrown vegetables for storage, and staged conservation drives. During these drives, women would encourage other women to reduce their household’s consumption of sugar, meat, wheat, and flour, and to substitute them with less valuable grains such as corn, rye, and barley. For the most part, these drives were successful, but they did encounter occasional resistance. The text describes one woman who “was willing to fight and die for the old United States if need be, but…would not eat corn-meal for the best Government on earth.”


Hamline in the Great War
The Work of the Women's Division of the Council of National Defense
[...] In the year 1917 however imperfectly organized attempts had been made by the women of St. Paul to assist in War Relief Work. The first Red Cross financial drive was carried to a partially successful conclusion in June 1917, but the campaign was imperfectly organized and in Hamline only a portion of the territory was covered, and many people were unsolicited who would gladly have contributed to the fund. As it was, the Hamline women on this occasion obtained eighteen hundred and one dollars and eighty-nine cents[...] Another attempt of the Hamline women in 1917 was a house to house distribution of conservation recipes and Hoover pledges. This was an innovation in Hamline, as well as in other parts of the country, for the people had never been told before what they ought to eat and drink and many of the housekeepers resented this sudden intrusion into their private affairs. One woman in particular asserted that she was willing to fight and die for the old United States if need be, but that she would not eat corn-meal for the best Government on earth.

Citation: 1917-1921, Hamline in the Great War: articles and extracts. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. [P1560]

Hermann’s Beer Can

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | June 1, 2017

This can is of Hermann's Monument Beer. The beer was brewed and canned by August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota in the 1980s.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this can in our collections database.

"Go to Hell and Take Wilson, is Minister Reply to Liberty Loan" and "Military Officers Visit Bemidji to Look Over Sites for Big Training Camp" - The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, May 31, 1917

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

Minnesota Postcard

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 31, 2017

A postcard from 1985 showing the “Minnesota State Bird," The Mosquito!

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this postcard in our collections database.

Underage L.C. Jones seeks do his "bit" - May 30, 1917

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

This letter from May 28, 1917, was sent from yet another young person expressing their desire to support the war effort. L. C. Jones of Wishek, North Dakota, wrote to the American Red Cross explaing that he was exempt from the draft, being under eighteen years of age. Nevertheless, he felt compelled to serve abroad as an ambulance driver. Despite his mother’s objections to his military service as well as his own aversion to blood, Jones believed he has the necessary automobile experience to be an effective member of the Red Cross Ambulance Corps. The following day the Red Cross sent a reply informing him that they had no immediate need for ambulance drivers, but Jones might do well to contact William Hereford of New York City about serving in another ambulance division. The author of the letter ignores Jones’ admission of queasiness and simply states that he “might be especially fitted for this work if as you say you have had some experience with automobiles.”


Wishek, N.Dak., May 28th 1917.
Red Cross Headquarters
Minneapolis, Minn
Dear Sirs:-
[...] I would greatly appreciate any information in regard to the requirements and needs for enlistment in Red Cross service during the present war, at home and abroad. Not having attained my majority I am not subjected to the coming registration but I feel that if my services are needed I cannot conscientiously with hold it. Heretofore my mother has objected to my joining the military departments but there should be nothing against my doing my ‘bit’ in this service. Personally I am averse to bloodshed but I want to help alleviate the present suffering of those who are called to endure. [...] If possible, I should prefer information regarding the driving of motor ambulances as I have some experience with automobiles. [...]
Awaiting your earliest reply I am
Yours for service,
L.C. Jones

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

First Minnesota Volunteers Pin

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

This Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac shamrock or trefoil-shaped corps badge is made of stamped brass. The badge was worn during the Civil War by Captain Mahlon Black of the 2nd Company of Minnesota Sharpshooters. Black's unit, after serving in the Army of the Potomac, was assigned to duty with the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment on the first day of the battle of Fair Oaks. In 1865, after being formally mustered out, Black re-enlisted and was transferred to the 1st Minnesota Battalion.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this badge in our collections database.

E. J. Blintiff Writes to Senator Nelson on the Availability of Firearms - May 29, 1917

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

In a letter dated May 29, 1917, E. J. Blintiff of Minneapolis, Minnesota, writes to Senator Knute Nelson expressing his concerns about the availability of firearms in the United States. Mr. Blintiff runs his own manufacturing company, and he knows firsthand that many such companies keep firearms of all kinds. Blintiff then reveals his anti-German, anti-Socialist sentiments, suggesting that these groups might arm themselves with weapons from manufacturing plants and attack U.S. citizens. In order to avoid this course of events, Blintiff suggests conducting an immediate inventory of all firearms in the nation, requiring State Department permission for gun purchases, and registering all new gun owners with information on their name, age, address, and ethnicity. He believes these actions will “save the Government a lot of trouble in the future.”


May 29, 1917.
Honorable Knute Nelson,
Washington, D.C.
Dear Sir;
Calling your attention to the fact that there are many fire arms, all kinds and descriptions, handled by large jobbing houses and retailers, through out the United States. It appears to us that there should be an inventory made at once of all fire arms and amunition. Have this matter either handled by the Government or by the States. You know there are many radical Germans and Socialists all over the United States. It would be an easy matter for them to equip quite an army, from the different retail or jobbing houses in the country. Don't you think that some law should be passed at this time, calling for a complete inventory of firearms and amunition. Also that all sales should be reported to the Governor or some Committee appointed by him. That no sales should be allowed without permit from the State Department. Further, the purchaser should be compelled to give his name, address, age and nationality. A law of this kind might save the Government a lot of trouble in the future. This is only a suggestion on our part but we think that it is worth investigating.
Yours very truly,
Bintilff Mnfg. Company
C.J. Bintliff

Citation: Knute Nelson Papers, 1861-1924, Minnesota Historical Society. 144.I.13.2F Box 25, May 28-31

Twins Ticket

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 29, 2017

An admission ticket to game 7 of the World Series at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome with the Minnesota Twins versus the Atlanta Braves, 1991. Yes, we won.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this ticket in our collections database.

Seventeen-Year-Old Edna Robertson of Lyle, MN, Wishes to Become a Red Cross Nurse - May 28, 1917

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

On May 28, 1917, seventeen-year-old Edna Robertson from Lyle, Minnesota, wrote to the St. Paul Chapter of the American Red Cross expressing her strong desire to become a Red Cross Nurse. Citing her patriotism and her natural ability to care for the sick, Robertson notes that she “loves the dear old Flag and our dear Brothers who are wishing to give their lives for this country,” and she is “never more content” than when she takes care of the sick and dying. As a bonus, she never takes sick days herself. Robertson instructs the Red Cross to let her know as soon as possible whether she might become a nurse. A few days later, the Red Cross wrote back to inform her that nurses must be at least twenty-five years of age, and Edna Robertson could not serve despite her enthusiasm.

Lyle, Minn.
May 28, 17
Red Cross Nurse Department
Dear Friends,
Wishing to join the Red Cross Nurse league and become of service to our dear and glorious country. I am writing to you asking if you think I could join. I love the dear old Flag and our dear Brothers who are wishing to give their lives for this country. I am eighteen years of age in June. I have taken care of the sick and dead and I love the work. I am not nervous around them. There is a comfort that speaks to me. Never am I more content when I can give comfort to all who are in pain and suffering. I know I would enjoy going. How long does it take to train for your service? My work during my life was to become a nurse. But on account of illness at home and friends I have been delayed.
If you think it possible for me to join and become a Nurse for the War. Please let me know without delay. I am well and strong. Never knowing what a sick day means. My home is on a farm.
Thanking you very much and hoping to hear from you soon.
Sincerely your friend,
Edna Robertson, Lyle, Minn

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