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.


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.

Continue reading

Forgotten Duluthians well remembered….

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


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.

Sidney Buchman, 1902-1975, Film Producer, Writer

From the 1919 Zenith Central Yearbook


Sidney Robert Buchman (shown here in 1919) was born on March 27, 1902, in Duluth. His parents were Robert Buchman and Sarah (Zalk) Buchman. Robert was born in Russia in 1874, immigrated to the U.S., and settled in Duluth around 1895. He worked as a clothing merchant and for a while owned his own store, Buchman and Josephs, at 116 West Superior Street. On February 20, 1898, he married Sarah Zalk in a wedding ceremony in the large second-floor hall in the Kalamazoo Building at 18 West Superior Street in Duluth. As the Duluth News Tribune related the next day, “seldom if ever before in the history of Duluth has there been a larger attendance at a Jewish wedding.” Mayor Truelsen was one of the 200 guests and gave a speech congratulating the new couple. Sarah Zalk was the daughter of Max Zalk, who was born in Poland and moved to Duluth in 1884. He was president of the Duluth Iron & Metal Co.

Robert and Sarah lived at 502 East First Street, later moving for a while to Superior, Wisconsin, and then back to Duluth in homes at 421 First Avenue West, 120 East Fourth Street, and finally building their own brick home at 110 West Fifth Street. Robert continued to work in retail clothing sales but eventually took a job in his father-in-law’s metal business. They had four children: Moses, born on March 22, 1900; Sidney; Marian, born on February 13, 1910; and Harold, born on June 24, 1912. Sidney apparently had a typical childhood and earned money with a paper route in the Central Hillside. He later complimented the area, saying that he hadn’t realized that he had “grown up in one of the real melting pots of the world” that demonstrated “complete race harmony.” Sidney was a popular and successful student at Central High School. He was active as an athlete, participating on the football and track teams and serving as captain of the basketball team in his senior year. He also was sports editor of the school newspaper and business manager of the senior class play, and he won the Wallace Cup for oratory in his junior year. Sidney graduated from Central in 1919 and was chosen to be a commencement speaker. From high school, Sidney went on to the University of Minnesota, enrolling in the pre-med program. He left the Twin Cities after a year of studies, however. His parents and siblings moved to New York City in October of 1919, and Sidney moved there in 1920, enrolling at Columbia University where he later received his degree. After graduating, Sidney traveled to England in February of 1924 to study at Oxford. He left Oxford after a few weeks, later referring to the rigid caste system of the English university. He traveled for a while in France and Italy, worked at the Old Vic Theatre in London, and then returned to New York City. For the next eight years he worked as a playwright in New York and had two plays produced—This One Man and Storm Song. Continue reading

Enger Park Golf Course Opens, 1927.

Judge C.R. Magney hits the first ball at Enger Park, July 2, 1927. From Duluth News Tribune, July 3, 1927.

Judge C.R. Magney hits the first ball at Enger Park, July 2, 1927. From Duluth News Tribune, July 3, 1927.

Duluth’s Enger Municipal Golf Course opened on July 2, 1927. The course was named for Bert J. Enger, who donated $50,000 to the city for the development of park and recreational facilities. The original course was nine holes, but a second nine was added within a couple of years. In addition to speeches, the dedication ceremonies featured an 18-hole medal tournament and driving contests for both men and women. Judge Clarence R. Magney, the former mayor, drove the first ball from the No. 1 tee.

New Clubhouse at Enger Park, 1927. From Duluth News Tribune, July 1, 1927.

The Darling Observatory 1917 – 1972

Darling Observatory, ca. 1930. From the Duluth Public Library slide collection

John Henry Darling, a civil engineer from Michigan, came to Duluth in 1884 when he was appointed principal assistant engineer for harbor improvements on Lake Superior, Duluth district. He was heavily involved in the development of the Duluth harbor, the piers, and the breakwater. When he retired in 1913, he focused his energies on travel and his hobby of astronomy.
 In 1915, Mr. Darling asked the Duluth City Council for permission to construct, at his own expense, an observatory that would be open to the public to allow people to view celestial objects and to educate them in astronomy. The Council granted him the necessary permission on December 6, 1915, and construction began the following year on a site at Ninth Avenue West and Third Street, next to a city playground and near Mr. Darlings home at 532 West Third Street. Complications regarding the completion of the steel dome caused delays, but the observatory opened in May of 1917, with a long waiting list of people interested to use it. The total cost of the building and equipment was about $12,000, paid entirely by Mr. Darling.   
The Darling Observatory had a steel dome 19 feet in diameter and a nine-inch refracting telescope. The building was open six or seven evenings each month for public viewing and lectures on astronomy. Mr. Darling personally oversaw the operations for years and, when he grew too old, hired an assistant. When Mr. Darling died in 1942, at the age of 95, the building was turned over to the city of Duluth. It later became the property of UMD, which operated the observatory into the 1960s. The building was torn down in 1972.

Mr. Darling and nine-inch refracting telescope, ca. 1930. From Popular Astronomy, November 1930.

Mine accidents March 11, 1911


Two mine accidents occurred on the Iron Range on March 11, 1911.The Norman Mine, an open-pit mine near Virginia, collapsed about 6 p.m. while 30 men were working 125 feet underground. Approximately 500,000 tons of debris—iron ore, rock, earth, and ice—buried 26 of the miners. Four men survived, three with serious injuries. The Duluth News Tribune of March 12, 1911, described the site on the night of the accident:

The place that was an “open pit” 125 feet deep this afternoon is tonight an immense covered tomb of rock, iron ore and earth, with here and there parts of a body in sight or a head sticking out of the mass. Arms and legs can be made out at varying angles as the great lantern of the steam shovel is swung over a scene appearing as if it were a battlefield heaved from the infernal regions.

 On the same day, a cave-in at the Elba Mine near Gilbert trapped three miners in a shaft 150 feet underground. A three-inch pipe was used to provide air to the men. Two of the men, William Stone and Joe Babich, died in the cave-in, but Joseph Benny, referred to as Capt. Benny, was rescued after eight hours.

Enger Tower Dedication

With the impending visit to Duluth of Norway’s King Harald V this October, and the plans for a rededication of Enger Tower at the same time, we wanted to show the program from the original dedication of Enger Tower on June 15, 1939.

Norway’s Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha (Harald’s parents) arrived in Duluth in the afternoon to dedicate the tower. After his address, in which he honored Bert J. Enger for his generous gifts to the city, the Prince unveiled a plaque to be affixed to the tower which read:

Enger Observation Tower
To the memory of Bert J. Enger
Native of Norway
Citizen of Duluth

It was estimated by the Duluth Herald that 5,000 people attended the ceremony. Afterwards, people were allowed to enter and inspect the tower.
Click on the images of the program below to enlarge.

Enger Tower dedication program

Enger Tower dedication program

Millie Baker, 1887-1915, Opera Singer

Millie Baker in 1912 (Duluth News Tribune Sept. 1, 1912)

Amelia Baker was born in Minnesota in December, 1887. Her parents, either biological or foster parents (it’s not clear) were Alfred George Baker and Mary Ann Baker. Alfred was born in England in the 1840s. He immigrated to America around 1860 and fought in the Civil War on the Union side, serving in the 61st New York Infantry. He came to Duluth around 1880 and worked for years as a marine engineer. Mary Ann was born in Ireland about 1862. She came to America in 1874. She and Alfred lived in Duluth at 2209 Minnesota Avenue on Park Point.

Amelia, who became known as Millie, grew up in Duluth. She studied music under George L. Tyler, a local singer and voice teacher. As a child, Millie performed in many local programs and gained a reputation locally as a promising singer and actress. In March of 1904, she sang the contralto role of Frederic in a local production of Ambroise Thomas’ Mignon at the Lyceum Theater. Millie attended Central High School and is last listed in the 1904 Central yearbook with the class of 1907. She left Duluth in the fall of 1904 to study music in Chicago. By April of 1905, she was performing in New York, and in July she joined the Weber Musical Company; she later joined the Charles Frohman Company. On April 23, 1907, in New York, she was married to musician Alexander Oliver Lynch. On a visit to her parents in Duluth in August of 1908, she was interviewed by the Duluth News Tribune as Mrs. Oliver A. Lynch and asked about her stage career. According to the article, she was living quietly in New York where her husband was engaged in the advertising business. The writer quotes Millie: “Of course I love the stage…I hope to go back to it, although my husband is opposed to it.” She says, “Maybe I can do something to make dear old Duluth proud of me.” Continue reading


 Local news from 20 and 40 years ago from the Duluth News-Tribune. This column appears daily Monday through Saturday in the Duluth News-Tribune. Researched and written by the Reference Staff at the Duluth Public Library                         

News Tribune
July 30, 1967  

Joseph Hawthorne of Provincetown, Mass., former conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, has been engaged as conductor of the Duluth Symphony Orchestra for the 1967-68 season.  Hawthorne succeeds Hermann Herz, conductor for the past 17 years.  

Fire and explosions ravaged the U.S. aircraft carrier Forrestal in the Tonkin Gulf yesterday, killing at least 46 crewmen and injuring 56 others.  Several men from Northeastern Minnesota serve aboard the Forrestal. 

News Tribune
July 30, 1987 

The AIDS scare has slowed the donation of blood, an official with Blood Donors Inc. said yesterday in Duluth.  Executive Director Red Tucker said the blood supply in Northeastern Minnesota is dwindling. 

The turnout for tours during the USS Oliver Hazzard Perry’s four-day visit to Duluth, which ended yesterday, is expected to total about 15,000.  The Perry leaves today for Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.   


Local news from 20 and 40 years ago from the Duluth News-Tribune. This column appears daily Monday through Saturday in the Duluth News-Tribune. Researched and written by the Reference Staff at the Duluth Public Library.

News Tribune
July 9, 1967

Starting at 1 p.m. today, 53 boys will race in the Duluth Soap Box Derby championship on the Hartley Field Derby Track.  The track is one of just eleven in the country owned by a local derby.      

The 1967 Duluth Seaway Portorama celebration will be “the biggest in the eight-year history of the event,” David Allison, Portorama general chairman, said yesterday.  An estimated 30,000 area residents are expected to purchase Portorama buttons.

News Tribune
July 9, 1987

District Court Judges Charles Barnes and David Bouschor said yesterday that St. Louis County doesn’t need the new jail recommended last week by a citizens committee.  The judges said upgrading the old jail would be sufficient for the county’s needs.

Tickets for the Concorde supersonic jetliner’s flight from Duluth to London sold out this week.  The round-trip flight, selling for $2,499, is scheduled to leave Duluth on July 27.

Abraham Kaplan and Irving Copi

Duluth Central High School Debate Team, 1932-33

From the Zenith (Duluth Central High School Yearbook), 1933

Abraham Kaplan and Irving Copi

Noted philosophers, writers, and teachers, Abraham Kaplan and Irving Copi both grew up in Duluth, Minnesota. Kaplan’s family immigrated to the United States from Russia, arriving in Duluth when Abraham was six years of age. Copi was born in Duluth as Irving Copilowish.

Kaplan was younger than Copi but was a year ahead of him at Duluth Central High School, starting there at the age of thirteen in 1931. According to Copi, they first met at debate team tryouts in 1932 and quickly became friends. Kaplan was captain of that debate team.

After graduation from high school in 1933, Kaplan attended the Duluth Junior College for two years, then went off to the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Copi graduated from Duluth Central in 1934 and then attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. They both returned to Duluth during the summer breaks and spent their time reading and discussing philosophy, according to Copi.

During the 1938-39 academic year, when both men were attending graduate school, they arranged to study at the University of Chicago, where Bertrand Russell was a guest lecturer.