Nearly 2,000 Military Items are Kept from Past Wars


A collection that started over 100 years ago — and it’s all military gear. 

The North Dakota Historical Society collects artifacts from North Dakota’s history and one that may catch your eye consists of exactly 1,773 items.
It’s all kept in a climate controlled room and special access is needed, but behind these doors holds a lot of history with rows of millitary attire. 

Geoff Woodcox, Assisted Curator of Collections at the Heritage Center, says, “It started with the Spanish-American War cause that was the first war where North Dakotans were pretty heavily involved. The North Dakota National Guard was apart of that, that was 1898.”

Those are the earliest uniforms that are in the collection.

Others include WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.
All has a connection to our state.

Woodcox says, “Whether it comes from a North Dakotan, whether it’s from an event that happened in North Dakota has to have some kind of tie there.”

Woodcox says a lot of the earlier items don’t have a back story since the goal wasn’t for it to be preserved, but now when donations come in – one goal is to find that story.

Woodcox adds, “There’s a lot of things that tell you about the time period that tell you about the individual person that we’re able to collect with these stories.”

Geoff Woodcox is in charge of the whole collection and he’s found some interesting items including a comb and a handkerchief that tell part of story.”

“An opera ticket from France and it was shoved into a breast pocket of a WWI uniform as someone had just put it in there and forgetton about it. And it was one of the first things I found in the pocket and that’s what made it soooo cool to find,” says Woodcox.

There’s Arabic writing in one jacket that says the Veteran’s name and address.

Woodcox says, “Which is kind of cool because it gives this human element otherwise which isn’t really there.”

He says items from modern wars are lacking from the collection since most of it is from earlier battles.

There is only one combat assisted uniform from the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan, while there are many from WWI and WWII.

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