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:
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Minnesota's centennial brought out the stars back in 1958, led by Judy Garland, who fought through a case of laryngitis to entertain 20,000 people at the U's old Memorial Stadium. Also baking in the sun on that hot Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis were Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Princess Astrid of Norway, Prince Bertil of Sweden, the prime ministers of Denmark and Finland, and ambassadors from West Germany, Iceland and Yugoslavia.
South High goalie Tony Julin, who lost an eye when a shot hit him in the face during practice, returned to the ice seven weeks later with a glass eye and a renewed determination to stop pucks. His greatest difficulty: the high shots. "I still can't get the angles right. And I don't always know where the net is," he said.
The New York Times published this chilling account of the execution of 38 Dakota men convicted of "murder and other outrages" against settlers during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.
In 1977, Gerry Spiess began building a 10-foot plywood-and-fiberglass sailboat in his garage in White Bear Lake. Spiess, a technical instructor at 3M Co., had designed and built other boats and was an experienced sailor. He had sailed down the Mississippi River and crossed the Gulf of Mexico to South America. But two attempts to sail around the world were scuttled by illness and bad weather. He designed little "Yankee Girl" to set a world record as the smallest boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
"I want a pair of skates and I want a pair of leggings also I can have some fun I am 8 years old and of course I want some candy and I want one or two story book and that will be all I want."