Collections Up Close

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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Ornately Beaded Table Covering

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 3, 2017

November is Native American History month! Join us at the History Center for Native American Family Day tomorrow, November 4.

This table covering is the largest beadwork piece in our collection, ca. 1880 - 1895. The design could be either Cree or Ojibwe in origin.

This remarkable piece is currently on view here at the History Center in the Renewing What They Gave Us exhibit!

"Russia Now Appears To Be Out Of The Great War" and "Schools Must Teach English" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. November 2, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 2, 2017

Canning Season!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | November 2, 2017
canning poster

This 1943 poster encouraged home canning during World War II. 

It was a gift of the Office of War Information.

See it on Collections Online.

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