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Directories offer a glimpse into Minneapolis' history

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: March 26, 2013 - 11:27 AM

Minneapolis history geeks now have a new way to peak into the city's past.

The Hennepin County library announced Tuesday that the city's directories between 1859 and 1917 have been digitized in a searchable format online.

The books offer a comprehensive listing of who lived where in the city, their family members and occupations. They also document the past locations of city businesses, peppered between ads for haberdasheries, millers and sign makers.

The digitization of the decaying directories was made possible because of a donation from the city's Professional Librarians Union.

“The directories are invaluable for people researching individuals, houses, buildings, occupations and population patterns,” said Ted Hathaway, special collections librarian for the Hennepin County Library.

History isn't hard to find. Page 126 of the 1901 directory, for example, includes a listing for the most-famous corrupt mayor in the city's history, A.A. Ames. Ames is listed as a "Physician and Surgeon and Mayor City of Minneapolis," residing at 627 Elwood Ave -- north of what is now Harrison Park.

Just up the page is Ames' brother Fred, who the mayor appointed to run a graft operation as head of the city's police department.

Lincoln Steffens, who publicized Minneapolis corruption in a nationally read article, said the Ames brothers organized the police department to "protect, share with, and direct the criminals." The mayor later fired his brother and resigned after a grand jury started to hand out indictments, as Iric Nathanson documented in his book "Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century."

A search for "Minneapolis Tribune" in the 1875 edition turns up a listing for Edward Henderson, a reporter who lived downtown on 7th and Marquette. The paper's editor, Thomson Clifford, lived near 10th Street and 3rd Avenue South.

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