Digital directories tell the Minneapolis story


More open doors to learning – and endless armchair meanderings – from Special Collections at the Minneapolis Central Library. I know because I have been lost for far too long now in the digital collection of Minneapolis City Directories, now accessible online covering the years 1858-1917. The collection is accessible remotely, free of charge, no library card necessary.

The expanded access to this treasure trove of local history is made possible in parat by donations from the former Professional Librarians Union of Minneapolis and a grant from the Minnesota Legacy program..

Cautionary note #1: Don’t let the pedantic title be a turn down – never judge a directory by its title. These directories are rich with magnificent ads, beautifully engraved and otherwise illustrated attention grabbers, many promoted by enterprises that remain today’s directories. There is also a wealth of information about city government and services as well as addresses and occupations of city residents.

Cautionary note #2: Approach your armchair perusal of the directories with an open schedule. It is absolutely captivating – a joy to explore, especially when it’s displayed at your leisure and you have time to follow your browsing whim! Great for genealogists, local historians, attorneys and any Minneapolitan with a whit of curiosity about the City.

Kudos to Special Collections for their continued efforts to digitize and otherwise expand access to the Library’s holdings – great for scholars and the rest of us!