The Times Morgue File back on the shelves at Minneapolis Central Library


Historians, scholars, intellectually curious Minneapolitans take note. In the spirit of openness the James K. Hosmer Hosmer Collection at the Minneapolis Central Library, has announced that The Times Morgue, the lynchpin historical record of the city, has not been dead, but only sleeping. The Times Morgue file which the Library acquired from the Star Tribune Company many years ago, is now accessible to the public again.

The Times Morgue File, as it is affectionately known, was relegated to storage for several years during construction of the “new” Central Library. The collection remained in storage long after the building opened because of storage issues. Today, the collection has been moved to the 4th floor stacks of Minneapolis Central Library where it is available to serve the public again.

Ted Hathaway, Manager of Special Collections, Preservation & Digitization, notes that “despite the old name, the collection actually consists of clippings and photos from several newspapers: The Tribune, the Journal, the Star and the Star Journal, as well as the Times.” Hathaway adds that the collection consists of “many thousands of clipping folders and photographs dating from the 1910’s to 1950, the bulk of it covering the 1930’s and 40’s. Most of the photographs were taken by newspaper staff photographers.”

Regular users of the Special Collections at the Central Library know that that much of the material from The Times Morgue File has been integrated into the Minneapolis History Collection. A good deal of the material has been digitized. Still, much of the archival material has been stored and out of reach of history lovers.

Because the materials are just too fragile, library searchers will not have direct access; staffers will be available to search on request.

The collection even has a new name: The Minneapolis Newspaper Collection – not as memorable, perhaps, as the Times Morgue, but probably more accurate.

This phoenix-like rebirth of The Times Morgue File is just one example of the changes taking place on the 4th Floor of Minneapolis Central Library. Start with an armchair video tour. There’s a new, simplified, web site, and some irresistible Tumblr samples. Much of the collection – everything from manuscripts to posters from the Kittleson Collection – has been digitized. Cautionary note, leave yourself time to really explore the digital pathways that lead you through a virtual experience of the several Special Collections.

Better yet, visit the Hosmer collection in real time. Hours have been expanded. Staff and interns are mounting exquisite exhibits based on the collection. The calendar is rich with public programs. Real time spent marinating in the riches of the Hosmer Special Collections is more than a learning experience. It’s good for the mind and the soul.