Minneapolis city directories from 1859 to 1917 are now online, thanks to the Hennepin County Library and a donation from the city's Professional Librarians Union. The address: http://box2.nmtvault.com/Hennepin2.
It's a powerful research tool and a great way to kill an hour or two. You can search or browse the database to track down famous residents of years past. I found listings for George D. Dayton, the department store founder; Theodore Wirth, the pioneering parks superintendent; and Ada L. Comstock, the University of Minnesota's first dean of women. Lillian M. Knott, the “penniless prima donna” who later taught at the Northwestern Conservatory of Music, turns up in the 1917 directory. You can look up your great-grandfather Gustav or your great-aunt Mabel or the family that lived in your house a century ago. Occupations, addresses and, in later years, phone numbers are listed for each resident. Dayton is listed as president, Dayton Dry Goods Company, residing at 2020 Blaisdell, telephone “T-S 4906.”
Many of the job titles are familiar: teacher, plumber, laborer, physician, reporter. Other titles are far less common or unknown more than a century later: maltster, milliner, horseshoer, smutter, cupola tender.
The directories are packed with ads. Here's one I stumbled across in the 1906 directory. While researching the business, the Northwestern Scavenger Company, I discovered that a blogger who works for the county library posted this very image in 2011. What are the odds? I hate duplication, but I've already spent 10 minutes reassembling multiple screen grabs in Photoshop, so here goes:
More from Star Tribune
More from Yesterday's News
Minneapolis Star editors used a funny-looking spelling (ludefisk) for Scandinavia's funny-smelling food (lutefisk) in this page one story from January 1951.
An enterprising Tribune reporter got the chance to write about Oscar Wilde during the Minneapolis stop on his U.S. lecture tour. The reporter found the Irish writer's accent difficult to decipher and his attire "too utterly utter" – though by no means unbecoming.
With diamond earrings in her ears and rings on her fingers, Mrs. Lina Dale, who shot and killed William Lear several weeks ago in a fight at the Alberta hotel, 622 Hennepin avenue, is working in the laundry at the county jail while awaiting trial on a charge of murder.
Hartman's first bylined column, "The Roundup," appeared in the Minneapolis Daily Times, tucked away with the agate type on the bottom of the Daily Times' second sports page. The lead story on the front page that day: "Tojo Shoots Self as U.S. Officers Attempt His Arrest."
For two weeks in 1965, you had a pretty good excuse for missing a bus or being late for work in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The two cities could not agree when to start daylight saving time. State law designated May 23 as day to turn clocks forward. St. Paul's City Council decided to make the move on May 9, in line with most of the rest of the nation. Minneapolis decided to go by state law and fell an hour behind St. Paul on the second Sunday in May. It was a mess, but people muddled through.