Duluthian Phillip Merritt and the Manhattan Project

Emblem (unofficial)

Unofficial emblem of the Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project, named for the Manhattan District (the U.S. Army’s designation for the project), ran from 1942 to 1946. It was a research and development project undertaken by the United States with the assistance of Canada and Great Britain with the goal of defeating Germany in the race to develop an atomic bomb. It led to the production of the first nuclear weapons during World War II. Bombs were tested in the desert of New Mexico in July of 1945 and then dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 respectively, leading to the surrender of Japan and the end of the war. Duluth native Phillip Merritt played a key role in the success of the project.

 

Phillip Merritt

Phillip Merritt —  image from the Geological Society of America

Phillip Leonidas Merritt was born in Duluth on February 8, 1906. His father was Alva L. Merritt, the son of Lucien F. Merritt, one of the eight Merritt brothers whose discovery of iron ore in the 1890s opened up mining on the Iron Range. His mother was Ruth Merritt, the daughter of Leonidas Merritt, the undisputed leader of the “Seven Iron Men.” Lucien and Ruth were married in Duluth on November 12, 1895. Phillip grew up in a home at 4603 Oneota Street. He

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Childhood home of Phillip Merritt

attended Denfeld High School for his freshman year and then attended a private school for the remainder of his high school years.  He began as a student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1924 and completed an undergraduate degree in geology in 1928. Continue reading

Duluth’s bid to become headquarters of the U.N

In June 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization. They worked together to write the United Nations Charter, which the conference members approved on June 25, and on June 26, 1945, in a ceremony at the Veterans Building, all 50 representatives signed the Charter. Then, when the Charter was ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries on October 24, 1945, the United Nations (then known as the United Nations Organization or UNO) officially came into existence. Continue reading

Riding Duluth’s Hills on Moving Sidewalks

The invention of moving walkways or sidewalks dates back to the late 1800s. An inventor named Albert Speer of New Jersey received the first patent for an “Endless-Traveling Sidewalk” in 1871. Speer planned to revolutionize transportation in New York City, but his idea was never adopted.

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Scientific American, Jan. 16, 1892, p.1.

It wasn’t until the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago that one was built in the U.S. Continue reading

German Prisoners of War in Northeastern Minnesota

As World War II continued into 1943, some U.S. industries were experiencing shortages of workers. In Minnesota, the pinch was felt especially acutely in agriculture, food processing, and logging. Women and even children often stepped up to help with the labor shortage in agriculture and food processing. One notable local example was Life09274317-year-old Duluthian Shirley Armstrong, who appeared on the cover of the September 27, 1943, issue of Life magazine because she was working in corn fields near Fairmont, Minnesota. She and several other young women from Duluth were featured in an article about the Women’s Land Army.

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Alexander Miles

Users of early elevators were responsible for opening and closing the doors manually, and sometimes the doors were left open, creating a hazardous situation with the shaft exposed. As Andreas Bernard writes in his 2006 history of elevators:

. . .in the 1880s, manually operated or hinged doors. . .on each floor still frequently misled careless passengers wishing to enter the cab into opening them and falling into the shaft. (Andreas Barnard, Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator, p.31)

Duluthian Alexander Miles helped solve this problem by inventing an improved mechanism for opening and closing elevator doors when the car arrives at or departs the floor. This is just one accomplishment of this successful and creative businessman who lived in Duluth in the late 1800s and was thought at the time to be the wealthiest black man in the Midwest.

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Babe Ruth visits Duluth

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Duluth News Tribune11/7/1926

Following the 1926 baseball season, in which the New York Yankees won the American League pennant and lost the World Series in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals, Yankee slugger Babe Ruth went on a twelve-week vaudeville tour. The tour started in Minneapolis, and the next stop was Duluth. Ruth arrived in Duluth early on the morning of Saturday, November 6, 1926, and attended a breakfast in his honor at Hotel Duluth. He was greeted by Mayor Samuel F. Snively, Police Chief E.H. Barber, and Ruth’s friend, Superior resident, and player-manager of the Boston Braves Dave Bancroft.

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Duluth News Tribune11/7/1926

BabeRuth5At 10:30 that morning, Ruth appeared for about 2,000 young fans from the Twin Ports at the Lyric Theater, 213 West Superior Street, in a program sponsored by the Duluth News Tribune. He told them stories of his baseball career, gave them the inside picture of the life of a big league ball player, and passed out fifteen autographed baseballs—maybe some Twin Ports resident still has his or her autographed ball?

On Saturday afternoon, Ruth did the first of four performances for adults at the Lyric—2:30, 4:30, 7:10, and 9:20. He repeated the four performances on Sunday, his last day in Duluth. His vaudeville act usually consisted of him telling stories about his career with the Yankees.

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Duluth News Tribune11/7/1926

The next day, Ruth reportedly went duck hunting in northern Minnesota with three friends from the Detroit Tigers—outfielders Harry Heilman and Heinie Manush, and Tigers manager George Moriarity. He then continued his vaudeville tour in Fargo, ND.


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Duluth Public Library collection

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Duluth Public Library collection

Ye Olde Corner Grocery

Brown's Grocery Store, Duluth

Brown’s Grocery Store, Duluth
Photo: Minnesota Reflections
(http://reflections.mndigital.org/)

At one time, you could find a corner store in just about any Duluth neighborhood.   The 1973 Duluth City Directory lists 69 stores under the Groceries and Meats—Retail heading.  The list includes a few large chain markets like Super Valu, National Food Stores, and Piggly Wiggly, but the vast majority at that time was one-of-a-kind family owned neighborhood shops.  From east to west, smaller markets like Tonkin’s Grocery, London Road Market, Taran’s Food Market, Seventh Street Groceries, Plets Grocery, Tony’s Market, Ideal Market, and Mac’s Grocery dotted the map.

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Cathedral High School/The Marshall School

The Duluth Public Library doesn’t just collect books, it collects memories! Take a trip down Memory Lane by looking at some  old yearbooks. Check out the fashions and relive your carefree youth.

We have yearbooks from Cathedral/Marshall, Central, Denfeld, East, Harbor International, Hermantown, Morgan Park, and Proctor. Be sure to check the catalog to see if we have your years. Click on the “Full Display” tab to see the years owned by the library.

Check out some of the local celebs who attended CATHEDRAL AND MARSHALL HIGH SCHOOLS.

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Denfeld High School

The Duluth Public Library doesn’t just collect books, it collects memories! Take a trip down Memory Lane by looking at some  old yearbooks. Check out the fashions and relive your carefree youth.

We have yearbooks from Cathedral/Marshall, Central, Denfeld, East, Harbor International, Hermantown, Morgan Park, and Proctor. Be sure to check the catalog to see if we have your years. Click on the “Full Display” tab to see the years owned by the library.

Check out some of the local celebs who attended DENFELD HIGH SCHOOL.

Continue reading

East High School

The Duluth Public Library doesn’t just collect books, it collects memories! Take a trip down Memory Lane by looking at some  old yearbooks. Check out the fashions and relive your carefree youth.

We have yearbooks from Cathedral/Marshall, Central, Denfeld, East, Harbor International, Hermantown, Morgan Park, and Proctor. Be sure to check the catalog to see if we have your years. Click on the “Full Display” tab to see the years owned by the library.

Check out some of the local celebs who attended EAST HIGH SCHOOL.

Continue reading

Central High School

The Duluth Public Library doesn’t just collect books, it collects memories! Take a trip down Memory Lane by looking at some old yearbooks. Check out the fashions and relive your carefree youth.

We have yearbooks from Cathedral/Marshall, Central, Denfeld, East, Harbor International, Hermantown, Morgan Park, and Proctor. Be sure to check the catalog to see if we have your years. Click on the “Full Display” tab to see the years owned by the library.

Check out some of the local celebs who attended CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL.

Continue reading

Minnesota Digital Library

Historical Duluth documents from the Duluth Public Library’s Duluth Collection, including atlases, maps, and books, are now included in the Minnesota Digital Library’s Minnesota Reflections web site. Below are a few sample images.

The entire collection can be viewed at: http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16022coll6

From the book Souvenir of Duluth, MinnesotaFrom The Booster Book : West Duluth in 1916

 

From The Booster Book : West Duluth in 1916

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

From the 1890 Atlas of the City of Duluth, St. Louis Co., Minnesota, and Vicinity

From the book Have a Look at Our City : Postcards of Duluth and Advertisements of Duluth Businesses

Early drawings of Enger Tower

Proposed sketch of Enger Tower, September 1937, by architect A. Reinhold Melander.

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New proposal for Enger Tower by architect A. Reinhold Melander, December 1937. 

Both drawings are gifts to the library from Donald Melander.

Clinton F. Russell, 1895 – 1961, Blind Golf Champion

From the Duluth Public Library slide collection

Clinton Francis Russell was born in Duluth on October 8, 1895. His parents were Newell F. Russell and Isabelle J. Russell. Newell was born on a farm near Rush City, Minnesota, on July 16, 1869, and moved to the Duluth area in 1888. In that year, he founded, along with Henry Bridgeman, the Bridgeman-Russell Co. Isabelle came to Duluth from Michigan about 1890 and she and Newell were married in November of 1891. They had three children–Earl C., Clinton F., and Myrtle. They lived at several addresses in Duluth–309 Mesaba Avenue, 453 Mesaba Avenue (Munger Terrace), 5518 London Road, and 4440 London Road.

Clinton attended public elementary schools in Duluth and Duluth Central High School. In 1916, he began studies at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. At the outbreak of World War I, Clinton enlisted in the Army. Following the war, he returned to Syracuse to resume his studies. Clinton married Marion Ruth Jones, who went by Ruth, in Port Byron, New York, in 1920. They moved to Duluth and lived at 2132 East Fifth Street. Clinton worked at various jobs for the Bridgeman-Russell Co.

Clinton lost his sight around 1924 in an accident in which an automobile tire exploded in his face as he was repairing it. He didn’t play golf for several years after the accident, but tried it again when he was visiting relatives in California. He began playing at Ridgeview Country Club in Duluth and started taking lessons from the pro, Sammy Belfore. He began to count on his caddy teeing up the ball, adjusting his stance for direction, and lining up the club face. Some of his caddies at Ridgeview were Jim Koehler Sr., Dick Kohlbry, Bruce Schwartz, Jerry Weld, and Bob Hammerstrom.

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Forgotten Duluthians well remembered….

Check out the review of Forgotten Duluthians on Jim Heffernan’s blog at:

http://www.jimheffernan.org/2011/05/forgotten-duluthians-well-remembered.html

Forgotten Duluthians, a 2010 NEMBA nominee, was written by David Ouse, the library’s manager of reference services. The book profiles 39 people from Duluth, and their accomplishments. Included are actors and actresses, dancers, philosophers, writers, space scientists, diplomats, artists, Garfield the Cat (voice of), and Joe DiMaggio’s first wife.

Forgotten Duluthians is available for purchase at the Main Library Circulation Desk, and at both branch libraries. The cost is $14.95 plus tax. The book can also be purchased on the library website through the Gift Shop. All proceeds from sales go to the library.