Tag Archives: 1920s

Victory Memorial Drive’s Memorial Trees

On June 11, 1921, more than 30,000 people gathered together on Victory Memorial Drive to remember the 568 Hennepin County men and women who died during World War I. The drive, designed by Charles Loring and Theodore Wirth, stretches 3.8 miles in north Minneapolis. The drive was lined with the memorial trees highlighted in this program, along with a flagpole and hundreds of wooden markers.

In June 1921, World War I was still a very recent memory; the 30,000 people attending the dedication ceremonies were there because they had experienced firsthand the devastation caused by the War, whether on the battlefield or on the home front. Each of the 568 markers represented a real person, a Hennepin County resident who lost his or her life in the war. Many of their family and friends were among the audience on June 11, 1921.

In addition to speeches made by local dignitaries, national figures also sent in messages. “The opening of Victory Memorial driveway by the city of Minneapolis,” wrote President Harding, “with the realization of the beautiful idea of dedicating trees to the brave boys from that city who gave their lives in the great war is an occasion for congratulations to the people of Minneapolis upon having such an impressive, lasting, and useful tribute to the memory of those heroes.”

Victory Memorial Drive remains today, although it has evolved over the years. The original elm trees have mostly been replaced with hackberry trees, and the wooden markers replaced with bronze. Additional walls, plaques, and statues have been added over time. In June 2011, Minnesotans once again gathered on Victory Memorial Drive following the completion of an extensive campaign that repaired, rehabilitated, and updated the living memorial.

This program is part of the Museum’s World War I collection. We will also be sharing more of these materials throughout 2018 as we gear up to commemorate November’s 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

 

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Celebrating a Filipino Hero in the 1920s

On December 30, 1920, members of the Filipino Students’ Association of Minnesota, gathered at the Hotel Radisson to celebrate the life and to mourn the death of of Dr. Jose Rizal, a national hero in the Philippines . Twenty-four years earlier, Dr. Rizal had been executed by the then-Spanish colonial government on charges of sedition, rebellion, and conspiracy. A writer, Rizal’s work had called for political reform, and he had spoken out against Spanish abuses. His execution in 1896 further inflamed the the Philippine Revolution.

Two years later, in 1898, the United States became involved in the Spanish-American War, and in December 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. While some fighting continued, this time against the United States, the aftermath of the Spanish-American War brought with it a close relationship between the United States and the people of the Philippines.

This photograph entered our collection undated; while we are confident that it was taken at the December 30 banquet at the Hotel Radisson during the 1920s, we don’t know which year. The event was held annually, and for most of the decade the program stayed very similar with only the specific speakers changing.

Hanging in the rear of the Hotel Radisson’s banquet room are the flags of the United States and the Philippines, and between them, an image of Rizal. According the Minneapolis Journal, speakers from area schools and churches highlighted the good will between the two nations, but also advocated for full independence. The speakers in 1920 included students and clergy from the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas.

By 1928, things started to get complicated. While a dinner was still held at the Radisson on December 30, a competing dinner was held at the Nicollet Hotel. Both honored Rizal, but the group was splintered after a debate over dancing. The Nicollet Hotel group felt dancing at the dinner inappropriate. Speakers at the Radission dinner that night included Floyd B. Olson, then Hennepin County attorney, and St. Paul mayor L.C. Hodgeson.

On July 4, 1946, the Philippines gained full independence from the United States. December 30 remains a national day of mourning in the Philippines.

 

The Hostess with the Mostest: Harriet Shepardson’s Pink and Silver Evening Gown

By Jack Kabrud, Hennepin History Museum curator

This dress, a classic 1920s fantasy of white and pink chiffon heavily embellished with sparkling silver metallic embroidery, silver tissue leaves, and silver bead flowers with a pink and silver nosegay at the shoulder, was owned and worn by Harriet Shepardson.

Ms. Shepardson was the wife of Professor George Shepardson who organized and served as head of the electrical engineering department at the University of Minnesota. She attended many university events on her husband’s arm, and her role as hostess was officially recognized and codified when University President Cyrus Northrop asked her to serve as official hostess at university events.

President Northrop specifically mentioned that she would be a wonderful asset because of the beautiful gowns that she frequently appeared in. Harriet Shepardson continued in her role as hostess long after President Northrop’s 1911 retirement. She wore this gown in 1923.

The gown was donated to Hennepin History Museum in 1963 by Mary K. Shepardson.

Mu-So Choral Club

The Mu-So Choral Club, a Minneapolis-based choir of approximately 40 African American singers, depending on the year, was formed in 1917 and remained active through the 1920s. Members were drawn primarily from local church choirs, and the group was often considered to feature some of “best of the best” of local African American vocal talent.

The group performed at churches, benefits, and at public venues such as Minneapolis City Hall. In April 1923, the Mu-So Choral Club was the featured music of that week’s WLAG’s “Listenin’ in Radio News-Program.” The photo featured here, as well as the images below, come from our extensive historic radio, film, and theater program collection.

Never heard of radio station WLAG, “the call of the North”? WLAG, based out of the Oak Grove Hotel in Loring Park, Minneapolis, was only on the air from 1922 to 1924; soon afterwards, the Washburn Crosby Company took it over, renamed it WCCO, and the rest is, as they say, history.

WLAG cover photo

Mu-so choral club WLAG flyer 1923

Object of the Week: Zuhrah Temple Fez

This fez belonged to Henry Sparby, who was a member of the Zuhrah Temple and the Minnesota Consistory No. 2 as early as 1920. The model for Mr. Sparby’s fez is our own George H. Christian—first owner and overseer of construction of the Christian mansion where Hennepin History Museum is now located.

The Zuhrah Temple is the local chapter of the fraternal system known as Shriners International. With over 2,000 members, the Zuhrah Temple is the largest shrine in the Midwest region.

Today, the order is based in Minnetonka, but it has a long history. It was one of the first centers in the Midwest, obtaining a charter in 1886 along with St. Paul, Chicago, St. Louis, Cedar Rapids, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids.

The Zuhrah Temple is proud that the first uniformed marching unit was the Zuhrah Patrol, meaning the long tradition of Shriners marching in parades began here in Hennepin County. There have also been three leaders (“Potentates”) in Zuhrah history to become national leaders (“Imperial Potentates”).

Shriner fraternities, like the Zuhrah Temple, are dedicated to fellowship and philanthropy. They work to improve their communities by giving back through service and financial support. Across the country, Shriners are particularly known for establishing hospitals in their communities. The Zuhrah Temple completed the Twin Cities Shrine Hospital in 1923.

The fez was donated by the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center.

Collection Item of the Week: Perm Machine

Permanent Wave Machine 

By HHM collections manager Heather Hoagland

Despite appearances, this is not some kind of torture device—although may have caused women to suffer for fashion. This is a permanent wave machine. With the combination of a reagent on the hair and the addition of heat through the top of the device (known as the “chandelier”), this machine would create a stylish wave.

permmachine2

Image: Wiki Commons

First, a proprietary alkaline reagent would be applied to the hair. Each beautician would create their own special blend, determined by their own experience, as well as the type of hair and style desired. Although I couldn’t confirm this myself, curator Jack Kabrud claims this reagent could include cow urine!

Sections of hair would then be wrapped around one of the metal coils and clamped into place and the electric machine would add heat to the hair, setting the wave in place.

This particular machine was produced by E. Frederics, Inc. of New York, circa 1928. The image below shows representatives of the company giving a demonstration in New York in 1928.

Embed from Getty Images

Buzza April Showers

From The Art of Entertaining by Jean Waldon, published by the Buzza Company of Minneapolis in 1924:

An “April Shower” for a Bride-t0-Be

Springtime is a glorious time in which to entertain for a Bride-t0-be, and April is noted for its “showers.” Therefore, let us combine a luncheon, a few tulips, a bit o’Bridge, twelve girl friends of the bride, and a parasol all in one, and call it a real shower!

If the Hostess asked ten girls to share the expense with her, they might easily “chip in” and buy a really beautifully monogrammed parasol for the guest of honor, without any one person spending too much  money. Delegate to one girl the task of obtaining a sample of the bride’s traveling suit, and match as nearly as possible in a silk parasol.

The Hostess may arrange her luncheon table in the following manner. A centerpiece of dainty pink tulips placed in a glass basket, the handle of which is tied a crisp tulle bow of robin’s-egg blue, is unusual and decorative.

Place-cards are tiny parasols, containing a rhyming couplet underneath the fold, with a different message for each of the twelve girls present.

After the luncheon (which should be very simple), the guests are asked to find their Bridge tallies by searching the ouse.

Finally, someone discovers them, all hanging in groups of two, to the spokes of the open gift parasol. Each guest is then asked to detach the colorful little tally bearing her name and the two girls finding their tallies together from the same “spoke” are partners.

The tally belonging to the Hostess hangs alone, and that belongs to the honor guest is not to be found! Instead it is attached to the handle of the parasol, and the hostess then graciously presents the gift to its rightful owner on behalf of her friends. Upon the back of the tally belonging to the Bride-to-be, may be written the following verse, to which are signed all the names of the girls present:

After every little April shower

The skies are a brighter blue,

So may a shower of Happiness

Come every hour – to YOU!

***

Want to learn more about the Buzza Company and its work? Greetings, an exhibition chronicling the company’s history and its work, is showing at Hennepin History Museum through July 3, 2016.