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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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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.

The Red Cross and War Orphans

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 26, 2017

These instructions were sent by the American Red Cross to all divisional directors of Civilian Relief. The letter refers to suggestions that the Red Cross should establish institutions for children that are taken from soldiers' families. The Director-General conveys the direction of Dr. Hastings H. Hart of the Department of Child-Helping of the Russell Sage Foundation that this should not happen whenever possible, and that children should be kept with their families except where both parents were dead, the mother was "insane or feeble-minded" or incapable of caring for her children or very cruel to them. He also indicates that these cases should be referred to and handled by the established state agencies who normally handle orphan cases.


Red Cross Information
Red Cross Info
Red Cross Info

Inter-Office Letter
Date: October 26, 1917.
To: All Division Director. of Civilian Relief
From: Director-General of Civilian Relief
Subject: Child Welfare

From individual members of Chapters the suggestion has come that institutions for the care of children to be taken from soldiers' families, should be established by the Red Cross. [...] Dr. [Hastings H.] Hart [of the Department of Child-Helping of the Russell Sage Foundation] says:

"I believe that the children of soldiers should in almost all cases be regarded as members of a family and not as separate individuals. If there is a mother who is fit to bring up her own children she should have the opportunity to do so. It is a great cruelty to express our sympathy for a soldier's widow and then double her bereavement by taking away her children also.

"I believe also that where there are competent and fit relatives they should be encouraged and stimulated to care for the children of their kinsman. [...]

"It appears to me that it might be wise for your office to select one or two responsible agencies in each state and then recommend to the local chapters that whatever placing-out work needs to be done in their several states shall be done through those selected agencies."


Furness sisters rake leaves

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 26, 2017
Raking photo

Sisters Anita and Laura Furness, granddaughters of Governor Ramsey, are seen here raking leaves in this photo from 1949. They lived together in the Ramsey House; after their deaths they left the house and all its contents to the Minnesota Historical Society, which was founded in part by their grandfather in 1849.

"Surgeons at Clinics" and "Enemy Retires on Slav Front" - The Daily People's Press. October 25, 1917

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 25, 2017

Remembering Senator Paul Wellstone

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | October 25, 2017
Wellstone sign

Fifteen years ago today, Senator Paul Wellstone and seven others are killed in plane crash near Eveleth, MN. After his death, his surviving sons and former campaign manager would go on to create The Wellstone Action progressive advocacy organization in their family's honor.