Research has begun for the forthcoming World War I Daybook blog!
My name is Molly Kamph, and through the Minnesota Historical Society’s internship program, I acted as the first World War I Daybook Research Intern. Over the past few months, I have surveyed the vast collections of the Minnesota Historical Society in order to lay the foundations for the World War I Daybook blog, scheduled to launch in April, 2017.
Much of my work involved reading through the huge collection of manuscripts and attempting to make connections to other collections like artifacts, photographs and posters, and even recorded pieces from the Oral History collections, through associated dates, events, or general themes. Many of the manuscripts I initially examined discussed the war efforts abroad, but I also found many sources that detailed the various examples of sociopolitical turmoil occurring in Minnesota and the United States.
One particularly interesting example from the MNHS manuscript collections was Walter E. Quigley’s reminiscence entitled “Out where the west begins”, which describes his time as an organizer for the Nonpartisan League (NPL), an organization advocating for state ownership of various farm-related industries. The League began in North Dakota and became fairly popular in Minnesota during World War I. Leading up to the election of 1918, the Nonpartisan League started the Farmer-Labor Party and endorsed candidates running for numerous positions locally, statewide, and nationally to further their left-leaning platform.
Nonpartisan League opponents immediately began to rally against the League. Many within the government were against the League and their aims. For example, Quigley mentions that on October 7, 1918, former president Theodore Roosevelt came to Minneapolis to endorse Governor J.A.A. Burnquist’s reelection and to denounce the NPL. Due to the mention of Roosevelt, I was able to make a connection between the Quigley manuscript and some photographs within the Audio/Visual collections. Two photographs from October 7, 1918 show former president Theodore Roosevelt speaking with Minneapolis Steel and Machinery Company workers on behalf of Minnesota Governor J.A.A. Burnquist.
Some opponents of the Nonpartisan League were more violent. League supporters John Meintz and Nels Hokstad, were tarred and feathered by a mob of those opposing the NPL, who saw the League as “pro-German” and “yellow”. Meintz (top) and Hokstad (bottom) are shown in this photograph. Meintz’s ordeal is also mentioned in Quigley’s account. Quigley states, “Mob rule became the worse after the primary [of 1918]. W.W. Latta, editor of the paper at Luverne, and friend of the League, was deported into Iowa. John Meintz in western Minnesota was tarred and feathered… The homes of many League workers were painted yellow, organizers were chased out of dozens of cities and towns; and all in all, the campaign was intensified by the war spirit” (Quigley p.67, 73).
Overall, the collections at the Minnesota Historical Society demonstrate the varied aspects of this complex time in Minnesota and the United States. We hope that you all will join us in April of 2017 for the launch of the World War I Daybook.
- Quigley, Walter Eli. “Out where the west begins”. Minnesota Historical Society. [P2302]
- Men tarred and feathered in Minnesota during 1918 campaign by anti-Nonpartisan Leaguers. Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. [J1.4 p26]
- Theodore Roosevelt speaking to workers at Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company. Minnesota Historical Society. St Paul, Minnesota. [E435.19 p10]
- Theodore Roosevelt speaking to workers at Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Co. Minnesota Historical Society. St. Paul, Minnesota. [E435.19 p11]