Sample Minnesota newspaper articles, photos and ads dating back more than 140 years. Fresh items are posted weekly. Go here for tips on how to track down old newspaper articles on your own. Follow the blog on Twitter. Or check out "Minnesota Mysteries," a new book based on the blog.

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Posts about Minnesota History

Nov. 3, 1968: A bad Jimi Hendrix experience

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: January 25, 2015 - 10:12 AM
How much would you have paid to see Jimi Hendrix perform at the Minneapolis Auditorium in his prime? Well, the Tribune paid its music critic to be there, and he wasn’t happy about the assignment.


Jimi Hendrix Show
Plays at Auditorium

Minneapolis Tribune Staff Writer
  Jimi Hendrix on the Isle of Wight in 1970.
The Jimi Hendrix show at the Minneapolis Auditorium Saturday night was billed as “an experience,” and that’s a good name for it. It was an experience, an undesirable one.
For those of you who are not yet aware of this shining new talent, Jimi Hendrix could be best described as a black Elvis Presley.
That is to say, he doesn’t sing too well, and he doesn’t play his white guitar too well, but he does have a lot of sex.
HE HAS long hair. He wears a pink, flowery shirt and pink pants and white shoes. He twists and moves around a lot as he sings and caresses his guitar.
So his talent is really not significant and neither is that of something called [Mother] Cat and the all night newsboys, the rock band that preceded Hendrix before intermission.
The things that made the Hendrix experience an experience was the behavior of the love-oriented (remember) hippie types in all their conforming nonconformist costumes who crowded and forced themselves up to the front of the stage when Hendrix came on.
THE MUSIC by Hendrix and his two white sidemen was loud but not too clear. Among his songs were “Foxy Lady” and “Are You Experienced,” which he dedicated to “all the narcotics agents and detectives and a few other bastards.”
People sitting in the balcony probably had no trouble seeing Hendrix. For those sitting up front it was quite difficult because of those rude, smelly long-haired kids who pushed their way up to the stage, completely intimidating law officers and Andy Frain ushers.
It was possible to see if you stood up, but Jimi Hendrix isn’t worth standing up for.
Here’s what the Minneapolis Auditorium looked like in 1966, two years before the Hendrix concert — and nine years before I witnessed Rod Stewart kicking soccer balls into a crowd there in the fall of 1975. (Photo courtesy

March 1, 1939: Meet Northwest Airlines' first stewardesses

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: January 16, 2015 - 11:45 AM
Northwest Airlines hired its first stewardesses – now known as flight attendants – in March 1930. In the beginning, these “feminine aids” had to be registered nurses, a requirement that was relaxed at the start of World War II.
  Dorothy Stumph

Stewardess Service Goes
With NWA’s New Planes

First Feminine Aids Represent Minneapolis, Chicago
The new Douglas DC-3, 21-passenger skyliner, placed in service by Northwest Airlines on its Chicago-Twin Cities run, features inauguration of stewardess service by NWA.
The first stewardesses to be selected represent the terminal cities of the DC-3’s maiden voyage to the northwest. They are Miss Virginia Johnson of Minneapolis and Miss Dorothy C. Stumph of Chicago.
Miss Stumph has been an airline stewardess for 2½ years, flying out of Chicago to New York and Cheyenne, Wyo. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Miss Stumph studied nursing in Toledo.
Five feet, two inches tall, Miss Stumph is an active young woman. Her hobbies are photography and outdoor sports. When not on duty, she may be found around the airports, photographing the planes on which she flies while on duty.
Miss Johnson studied nursing at St. Andrew’s hospital, Minneapolis. She practiced nursing at that hospital until she joined the NWA personnel. Five feet, one inch tall, she studies art and music during her leisure hours, and is an ardent sportswoman.
For the stewardesses’ uniforms, Northwest Airlines has selected tailored brown suits with topcoat to match.
Coffee, tea or earplugs: Organist Nan Bergin serenaded luxury-class passengers aboard Northwest Airlines’ New York-Chicago-Minneapolis-St. Paul flight in November 1959. (Associated Press photo)

Dec. 17, 1929: Miss Pillsbury scolds prowlers

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: January 14, 2015 - 5:41 PM
The Minneapolis Star of the late 1920s was full of sex, crime, fatal accidents and breathless reports on the lives of the rich and famous. The paper was fueled by a fat classifieds section, reams of legal notices and page after page of ads offering treatments for abdominal gas, bowel difficulties and piles.

This report on an unusual confrontation at the Charles S. Pillsbury home on Lake Minnetonka landed on Page One. It’s unclear whether the paper spelled Miss Pillsbury’s first name correctly. A Time magazine report on her wedding the following year spelled it “Katherine”; her husband’s New York Times obituary 61 years later spelled it “Katharine.” Perhaps one of her descendants can write to me and set the record straight.


Two Lads Surprised as Girl Stops in From Skating Party
House Found Ransacked; One of Pair Reported On Probation
When Miss Katherine Pillsbury, daughter of Charles S. Pillsbury, vice president of the Pillsbury Flour Mills company, captured two youthful prowlers in the Pillsbury home at Ferndale, Lake Minnetonka, she gave the two a severe scolding and then expressed the hope they “wouldn’t have to go to jail.”
  Dear old Dad
But the two lads, who had hidden in the basement of the home when they heard Miss Pillsbury open the front door, had ransacked the house quite thoroughly and had gathered up several articles of jewelry. So A.D. Cruickshank, constable at Wayzata, refused to release them. Today they are held in the county jail.
Had Attended Party.
Miss Pillsbury, prominent in Junior league and other younger society circles, had attended a skating party at the lake home of Edwin H. Brown at Ferndale. After the skating, members of the party started back to Minneapolis. They stopped a moment at the Pillsbury home while Katherine went inside to secure some small articles to bring into the city. As she unlocked the door and stepped inside she heard a noise in the basement. The electric current had been turned off so Katherine went back outside and summoned O. Christian, caretaker, and members of the pary.
Christian, followed closely by Miss Pillsbury and the party guests, went to the head of the basement stairs.
“Come on up, we’ve got you,” he shouted.
A moment later there was a scuffle of feet and two prowlers, who had entered the house by prying open a window, came up the steps. Then Cruikshank was summoned.
Lectures Boys
“I’m certainly surprised,” Miss Pillsbury told the two youths, who looked up shamefacedly at the skating party guests. “You boys should be ashamed of yourselves, breaking into houses like this. Now you’re caught. This should be a lesson to you and I hope you’ll not have to go to prison.”
An examination of the house showed drawers in several rooms had been opened and ransacked, many articles being tossed at random onto the floor. A gold watch and chain and a cigar lighter belonging to Mr. Pillsbury were found in the pockets of one of the boys, who said they were 14 and 15 years old, respectively.
Cruikshank took the lads to Wayzata and today brought them to the county jail. One is said to be on probation.
  A well-groomed Miss Pillsbury astride a well-groomed horse.

Dredging up Minnesota’s past

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: August 8, 2005 - 12:26 PM

Welcome, history lovers!

The Star Tribune newspaper archives, which date back more than a hundred years, are just about a hundred feet away from my perch on the copy desk. On slow nights, I head to the library, load up a roll of microfilm and take a look back in time.

How much did it cost to block and clean a bowler hat in 1898? How did the Minneapolis Tribune play the sinking of the Lusitania? What were the hot nightspots during Roaring ’20s? What movies were showing in Hennepin Avenue theaters in the ’50s? Did St. Paul’s “super mayor” of the early ’70s, Charlie McCarty, really use an electronic device to turn traffic lights in his favor?

If you’ve lived in Minnesota long, you probably have similar questions about the region’s history. (Well, some of you might!) If you do, send 'em to and I'll see what I can dig up. I try to post a couple of fresh items each week.

I hope that most of the articles (and occasionally photos and ads) will prompt readers to share observations, memories and links to additional resources. I’m striving to build a collection of enduring interest, snapshots that will, over time, paint an engaging portrait of Minnesota’s past.

A note on the format: I write an introduction for nearly every entry. These editor’s notes are indented and centered (like this paragraph). Some entries also include follow-up interviews, which are also indented.

A note on title dates: For the sake of consistency, the title of each post shows the newspaper publication date, not the date or range of dates of the event covered. Apollo 11, for example, landed on the moon at 3:17 p.m. CDT July 20, 1969 (Earth time!). The Yesterday’s News title, however, is the date of publication of the Minneapolis Tribune story about the landing, July 21, 1969. You can derive the date of the event — if any; some posts contain only advertising, or are editorials about an ongoing event — from that publication date.

A note on photos: Most of the photos posted here are from the overstuffed filing cabinets in the newsroom library or from the Minnesota Historical Society’s awesome online archive of digital images. Unless otherwise noted, the captions are mine.

A note on research: Are you looking for your great-great-aunt’s paid obituary? I don’t have time, unfortunately, to track down items of narrow interest. But you probably have easy access to the same resources I use. In Minnesota, most larger libraries carry the Minneapolis Tribune, Minneapolis Star and Star Journal on microfilm, dating back more than 100 years. Check with your friendly neighborhood librarian to locate the microfilm trove nearest you. If you live outside Minnesota, check the nearest university libraries, especially those associated with journalism schools.

Hard-copy indexes of these papers are sometimes available, covering content from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s, when newspapers began archiving content in digital, searchable form. If you’re looking for content published prior to the mid-1950s, no indexes are available. You’ll have to do what I do: Pop in a roll of microfilm and start browsing.

July 2014 update: After 20 years at the Star Tribune, I'm taking a buyout and starting a new job as communications director for Entropy Solutions, a Plymouth company that's been making an extremely useful product, phase change material, for nearly as long as I've been blogging. I will continue to update this blog weekly and am planning to write a third book, "Minnesota Muscle," in 2015.

January 2015 update: Hundreds of Yesterday's News posts became history a few months ago, thanks to an unexplained cleansing of servers that apparently cannot be undone. As time allows, I'll recover the best of these, using the Internet Archive's indespensible Wayback Machine, and repost them here.

Ben Welter
[Former] Star Tribune copy chief

April 8, 1904: Gunmen catch Frank Pracna by surprise in his saloon

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: January 9, 2015 - 11:59 AM
Sorry to hear that Pracna on Main, a saloon that swung open its doors for the first time more than 120 years ago, has suddenly gone dark. Here’s a snapshot of one scene in the bar’s colorful past, as reported in the Minneapolis Journal.  


Two Bold Robbers Hold up Frank Pracna in His Saloon.
During a lull in business last night, Frank Pracna, a saloonkeeper at 117 Main street SE, was suddenly awakened from a pleasant nap by two men, who pushed their revolvers in his face and commanded him to deliver his cash. Taken unawares, the saloon man was unable to resist and handed over the contents of his till — $60 in all. The men left before the astonished proprietor could secure their description.
Pracna's saloon is in a lonely district. When the robbers entered, there was no one but the proprietor in the place. He had a large revolver near, but so sudden was the entry that he was unable to use it.
The police think that the robbers are the same pair that have been holding up saloons and small grocery stores in various parts of the city. 
The Pracna building in 1974. (Hennepin County Library Minneapolis Collection)

The Pracna building in 1974. (Hennepin County Library Minneapolis Collection)


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