World War I-era sheet music

Items of the week, for you music lovers: World War I-era sheet music. The copies we have digitized include hits like “When the War is Over, Will There Be Any Home Sweet Home?” and more. The lyrics offer great hints on how Americans felt about war service. For example, the song titled “America He’s For You!” by Andrew B. Sterling offers a mother’s perspective on sacrificing her sons to the war cause: [Verse 1] This is just another story of a mother and three sons, How she gave them to Old Glory like a million...

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Pvt. John Fredrickson and the 54th Pioneers

Item of the Week: Here is Private John Fredrickson’s handwritten poem about his unit in World War I: Company L of The 54th Pioneers, who were cross-trained in combat engineering and infantry tactics, and often were responsible for building the roads for their fellow troops – all while under heavy bombardment. Apparently the Pioneer Infantry units were often overlooked in stories about the war, and Fredrickson felt the need to laud their efforts when he wrote: We read about the dough boys and their valor, which is true, And of the...

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The St. Olaf Victory Viking Yearbook

In the spring of 1919, St. Olaf College published an annual yearbook commemorating the classes of 1919, 1920, 1921, and the Freshmen. It was a special year for St. Olaf students, since many of them in these classes had participated in World War I service at home, on military bases, and in Europe. For this reason, the yearbook was dedicated to those who served in the cause of world freedom. They called it the Victory Viking. Hints of war service appear on many of the pages within this yearbook. Illustrations of tanks and ships appear below...

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Private Arthur N. Persons

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of Northfield’s servicemen during World War I. Arthur Newton Persons was born November 26, 1891 to Newton and Phebe Persons in Waterford. He attended Carleton College, graduating in 1915. He registered for the draft alongside his fellow Northfield citizens after the U.S. entered the Great War in 1917. On June 25, 1918, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He spent the rest of the summer training at Camp Grant in Illinois, and we have recently digitized a large collection of letters that he...

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World War I primary source sets

Primary source sets are online tools created by¬†organizations like the Library of Congress, Digital Public Library of America, and the Minnesota Digital Library. They are devoted to a specific topic and include multiple types¬†of digitized historical records (photographs, documents, artifacts, and more) and are meant to foster critical thinking. Usually they come with a topic overview, high-quality reproductions, teachers’ guides, and related resource lists. In light of the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I, you may not be...

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Service and Sacrifice

Two of the major themes we are exploring at the Northfield Historical Society for our centennial commemoration of World War I are service and sacrifice, both at home and abroad. While going through some of the individual soldier records in the Rice County War Records Commission collection at the Rice County Historical Society (2 file cabinets full!) I have already found a few examples of both service and sacrifice from Northfield-area citizens. Miss Delphine Carpenter is one of the few women included in the files. She was from Northfield and...

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