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WWI: Minnesota in the Great War: Minnesota's Home Front

A description of major resources on World War I and related topics.

Minnesota's Home Front

Dr. O. D. Howard, First Sergeant in the Home Guard, and his grandson Raymon Howard Maxwell, 1918

The First World War had a profound impact on Minnesota. Political movements at home clashed with growing efforts to silence opposition to America's involvement abroad. Growing patriotic fervor led to fear and suppression of Minnesota's immigrant, and especially German, populations. Thousands of young men were called into military service, at a time when war related demand in both industry and agriculture needed their labor. As a result, many women took jobs outside their traditional roles.  

This page organizes resources by these broad topics. Materials listed may include personal papers (manuscripts), books, articles, state archives resources, and more. For even more resources, be sure to search our library catalog

Food Supply & Vicory Gardens

Influenza & the 1918 Moose Lake Fire

Patriotism, Hysteria, & Politics

Service in Minnesota

Women on the Home Front

Food Supply & Victory Gardens

Food Will Win the War, by Rae Katherine Eighmey
Saint Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2010.
MNHS call Number: Reading Room TX357 .E45 2010, also available for purchase

Minnesota Commission of Public Safety, Farm Crop and Labor Reports, 1918
Data from a statewide farm census conducted by the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety. Includes individual farm reports as well as statistical information by county. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Influenza & the 1918 Moose Lake Fire

1918 Fire Stories, compiled by the Moose Lake Area Historical Society
Moose Lake, Minn: Moose Lake Area Historical Society, 2003.
MNHS call number: SD421.32.M6 N56 2003

Minnesota Home Guard
State military organization's records includes information on relief service during the Moose Lake fire and the 1918 influenza epidemic. 
MNHS call numberDigital Finding Aid

Saint Cloud, Records 1861-1955
The records from the Citizens Advisory Committee include a report from the Stearns County Flu Committee regarding the influenza epidemic of 1918.
MNHS call number: 110.B.11.14F. 

Patriotism, Hysteria, & Politics

Poster: Don't Be Suspected! Use American Language c.1914-1918

J. A. A. Burnquist papers, 1884-1961
Burnquist's career as a St. Paul lawyer, state representative (1909-1911), lieutenant governor (1913-1915), governor (1915-1921), state attorney general (1939-1955), and retirement. Relevant papers focus on the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety and the Minnesota Home Guard. This contains information on work involving the surveillance of alleged subversive activities, opposition to labor unions and strikes, draft evaders, discouraging the use of non-English languages in schools, registering and monitoring aliens, and other work suppressing political activities and civil liberties. 
MNHS  call number: See the finding aid in the library (P448).

Minneapolis Civic and Commerce Association, Records 1916-1919
Includes records on Americanization efforts, solider entertainment, food conservation, the Hennepin County Red Cross, land for returned soldiers, war savings stamps campaign, and solider rehabilitation. The Civic and Commerce association was also involved in labor disputes and played a large role in crushing the Twin Cities Streetcar Strike. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid 

Minnesota Commission of Public Safety, Alien Registration Correspondence and Other Records
Information regarding the required registration of immigrants by the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety. Includes correspondence and various county files.
For more information about locating individual alien registration records, see our Naturalization Research Guide
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Minnesota Commission of Public Safety, Main Files, 1917-1919
Files contain various materials, organized by subject, from the watchdog state agency. Subjects include orders, investigations, local committees, the draft, patriotic meetings and speakers, publicity, labor problems, liquor and saloons, marketing and sale of food and goods produced, use of foreign languages, forest fire relief, shortages of fuel, food, and fodder, and alleged subversive and anti-American activities.
There are multiple collections outside the Main Files: see the library's research guide on the Commission of Public Safety for more information. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

National Nonpartisan League Papers, 
The Nonpartisan League was an agrarian political movement attacked by the Commission of Public Safety. Information in this collection spans outside the Great War, but includes data concerning opposition attacks, particularly in Minnesota during World War I. See the library's research guide on the Nonpartisan League for more information on available materials. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Northern Information Bureau, Organization records, 1909-1933
The Northern Information Bureau was a private detective agency that investigated various Minnesota political organizations during and after the Great War. This collections includes correspondence, reports from investigators, organization membership information, and more.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (Northern Information Bureau (Minneapolis, Minn.)). 

William A. Schaper papers, 1917-1938
Materials concerning Schaper's dismissal by the University of Minnesota board of regents for alleged pro-Germany political leanings. Contents include letters, typed copies of newspaper articles, public reactions, and other materials. Covers Governor Elmer A. Benson's efforts to have the dismissal rescinded in 1937, and Schaper's exoneration by the board of Regents and compensation payment in 1938. 
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P521). 

Service in Minnesota

Minnesota Home Guard
State military organization's records. Includes enlistment papers and records documenting the duties and activities of the Guard, including service during the Moose Lake fire and the 1918 influenza epidemic. 
MNHS call numberDigital Finding Aid

Minnesota War Records Commission, Collected Materials
Materials related to WWI compiled from various sources. Incudes records, sheet music, and personal correspondence received from Minnesota service men and women abroad. Includes some records from the American Legion Auxiliary, Minnesota Dames of the Loyal Legion, Minnesota Hall of States Hostess Committee, St. Paul Red Cross (Fire Relief File), Jewish Welfare Board, Women's Naval Service, Daughters of the American Revolution, and National Guard Company I, and the Third Minnesota Infantry. 
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

Red Cross Northern Division records, 1915-1921, 1960-1977
Records from Red Cross organizations in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Montana during World War I. Topics include relief work, chapter activities, and miscellaneous reports and correspondence. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

War Camp Community Service, Records, 1918-1920
Correspondence, reports, and other miscellaneous records related to the work of providing recreation and wholesome surroundings for soldiers stationed in or near the Twin Cities. Files are organized by subject.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Women on the Home Front

Minnesota Public Safety Commission, Women's Division, Correspondence and Subject Files, 1916-1920 
Various materials generated or received by the state Women’s Division and its Minneapolis branch. Subjects include  Americanization, child welfare, liberty loans, food and clothing conservation, nurses and nursing, the Red Cross, social hygiene and social welfare, and women in industry.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Minnesota Public Safety Commission, Women's Division, Records of the Committee on Women in Industry, 1918-1919
Correspondence and reports relating to the survey of women in industry; committee minutes; general literature, orders, and circulars of the national committee (Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense); and various bulletins and other publications collected or received. The Women’s Division was more commonly known as the Woman’s Committee.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Minnesota Public Safety Commission, Women's Division, Women in Industry Survey Forms, 1918-1919
Data collected during a statewide survey conducted by the Public Safety Commission Women's Division, in cooperation with the Bureau of Women and Children and the Department of Labor and Industries. Survey looks at women employed outside the home, especially those who had entered the work force due to World War I and/or who needed to support dependent family members. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Minnesota War Records Commission, Collected Materials
Materials related to WWI compiled from various sources. Includes some records from the American Legion Auxiliary, Minnesota Dames of the Loyal Legion, Minnesota Hall of States Hostess Committee, St. Paul Red Cross (Fire Relief File), Jewish Welfare Board, Women's Naval Service, Daughters of the American Revolution, and National Guard Company I, and the Third Minnesota Infantry. 
MNHS call numberDigital Finding Aid

Minnesota's Home Front: Links

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