There are many resources that one can use to research topics in the history of St. Louis Park. Your topic will dictate which resource is right for you.
KINDS OF INFORMATION
The definitive history of St. Louis Park is a 300-page manuscript written in 1952 by Norman Thomas
called St. Louis Park: A Story of a Village.
The project was initiated and financed by S. Earl Ainsworth.
He had asked Barney Gross, editor of the Dispatch,
for help hiring a writer, and Gross found Thomas, a graduate
student at the U of M. Ainsworth assembled
groups of longtime Park residents to contribute their
memories to the project. Although there were plans to
add pictures and publish the book, only a few copies of the
document were produced - and those with carbon paper.
This document is now available
Something in the Water
is a self-published book of memoirs and vignettes edited by
Don Swenson. Topics run the gamut of St. Louis Park history,
focusing on the era before World War II. This volume is
available for purchase for $20 by sending a check to the St.
Louis Park Historical Society, 3700 Monterey Drive, St.
Louis Park, MN 55416.
Depending on the topic, the St. Louis Park Historical Society may have other books that are useful references.
They are located at Lenox and available during office hours.
The Historical Society has a few of the earliest St. Louis Park
directories, which began publication by
Lydia Rogers in 1933.
These are extremely useful research tools, and we greatly
appreciate any donations of these precious books. Those
in our collection are as follows. (Those in
parentheses are the ones we don't have; it is possible that
they were not published in every single year.)
Also on hand are directories from 1961 to the present time, with duplicates for most of the 1970s and
These materials are not generally available to the public. However, members may make arrangements to see them during office hours at Lenox. There is a full set at the
Hennepin County Public Library in Downtown Minneapolis. The St. Louis Park Library has a few of the earlier ones, and a complete set from 1960 on.
The Historical Society is lucky to have many volumes of the St. Louis Park newspapers. On hand are bound copies of the
Dispatch dated November 1941 to December 1963. There is a gap that picks up again as the
Sun in July 1969 through March 1978. We also
have unbound copies of the Sun-Sailor in various stages of
completeness from the 1980s to the early 2000s.
These newspapers are not generally available to the public, due to their fragility and the fact that they are
also available on microfilm at the Minnesota Historical Society and the Southdale branch of the Hennepin County Library System. However, members may make arrangements to see them.
The Society has some copies of the St. Louis Park
High School newspaper, The
Echo. There is a link to the inventory at the
bottom of our Echo web
High School Media Center has bound volumes from 1946 or
1947 on, and many of the issues from 1940 through 1945 or
1946, plus a few issued in 1939. Unfortunately, they do not
have the issues from 1929 through 1939.
The St. Louis Park Historical Society has an almost complete set of SLP
High School yearbooks. The High School Media Center
has almost a complete set as well. A list of
those the Historical Society is missing can be found on our
Echowan web page.
Echowans are kept at Lenox, and can be viewed during office hours
and by appointment.
VILLAGE COUNCIL MINUTES
The City Clerk’s Office has possession of the St. Louis Park Village Council and City Council Minutes from the very beginning in 1886. The only exception is the volume that covers the years 1891-1900. The City Clerk has other resources as well with regard to the Council, Mayor, and City Manager.
Click here for a pdf file
listing many of the videos available about the history of
St. Louis Park. Those located at the High School must
be requested directly from the Media Center.
Contact us for
inquiries about viewing any of the other videos.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
ST. LOUIS PARK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Historical Society keeps historical documents on file at the Lenox Community Center. These files contain information on people, businesses, civic enterprises such as police and fire, and many more. The Historical Society also has a collection of pictures, also organized by businesses, people, etc.
These files are available during office hours, which are
Thursdays from 10 am to noon and by appointment.
Much historical research can be done over the Internet. Sometimes you can get the actual information you're looking for from websites, and sometimes the websites can be used to identify materials ahead of time so that when you go to a library you can go right to them. The following is a list of some basic websites and other resources that can be helpful when doing research on houses, people, etc.
Hennepin County Property Information Search (PINS)
This website contains public information from the county tax records. Enter an address and it will give you the date the house was built, the name(s) of the taxpayer and owner, the legal description and dimensions of the lot, etc. It will also indicate the name of the subdivision - with that you can enter the name of the subdivision and block number to get a list of all of the houses on the block. For example, if you want to know the ages of all the houses on your street, look up your own address to find out the subdivision name and block number, then enter that information to get a list of each house in that block. Click on each house on your street to get the year built. There is also a very helpful mapping feature.
Social Security Death Index
This extremely useful database is made available for a
fee through www.ancestry.com
It may be available through
other sources as well. It can provide you with the birth and death dates of a person, as long as they had a social security card and their death was reported to the Social Security Administration. For a fee, you can also request a copy of the person's application for a social security card - these applications provide information about the person's parents, date and place of birth, and occupation at the time of application. [You'll find that the basic ancestry.com website has a great deal of useful genealogical information as well.]
Class Web Sites
Other web sources are Classmates.com and individual Facebook
pages. The Class
of 1964 has its own web site, as does the class of 1968.
Dave Englund explains how he set up the site for the Class
The website I used is a free site (www.webs.com) Webs
provides pre-made webpage templates & even hosts the
site for free (with outside advertising added) but to
eliminate the advertising, I paid $15 (yr) to have all
advertising removed. Then, so I wouldn't have to use
their name which would have been www.slp64.webs.com, I
simply registered SLP64.Com with GoDaddy ($6.90 on sale
for a .Com) and then I just set the forward domain
feature to the free website address above and set it to
"mask". Doing this allows anyone to simply type
slp64.com into their browser and they will be taken to
the site as if it were a top tier domain, so for a total
of $22/Year it becomes a very easy, very inexpensive
site. All Classmates can visit, email, blog etc. without
having to pay others such as Classmates.Com (which I do
have & it does irritate me to have to use their internal
email features etc.). I think that it would be great if
other classes could set up their own sites.
Minnesota Historical Society
345 Kellogg Blvd. West, St. Paul
The MHS website includes the following
1. WebPALS: This is the online catalog, where you can search for materials by the categories of author, subject, title, or keyword. It will guide you other related materials as well. Most, if not all, of the materials must be used only at the library.
2. AskRon Newspaper Database: This will give you listings of the newspapers held in the collection. You cannot actually see any articles on-line. All newspapers are available to look at on microfilm in the Hubbs Reading Room at the Historical Society. Machines are available to make copies from the microfilm.
3. Visual Resources Database: The library's photographs are included in this database. You can actually view some of the photos on line, but not all. If you want a copy of a photo, you can have a black and white photocopy made at the library (they do not have a color copier), you can order a print of the photo, or you can order a digital copy of the picture to be emailed to you.
The MHS Library also offers classes on researching house histories. The number to call is 651-296-2143.
John R. Borchert Map Library
Wilson Library, University of Minnesota
309 - 19th Avenue South
This collection contains, among other things, aerial photographs taken at different years of specific parts of the city. There are also atlases and maps. (Note: the newspaper section of the Wilson Library does not have any local papers.)
Northwest Architectural Archives
Andersen Library, U of M
222 - 21st Avenue, Suite 213
612-625-3550 (call first)
This collection holds 130 years of records from architects, builders, interior designers, and engineers. If you know who "commissioned" a particular house, (usually the first owner), you might be able to obtain information on building inspections and permits, the name of the architect, and architectural drawings. Whether it includes houses in St. Louis Park is unclear.
2303 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis
This library includes historical atlases of maps from the 1880s and onward, a file of miscellaneous documents and clippings, and a card catalog of manuscripts and other documents. It also has a collection of the histories of other local cities and suburbs.
Hennepin County Public Library, Downtown Minneapolis Branch
300 Nicollet Mall
Microfilms of newspapers are available here, but not to the extent of the Minnesota Historical Society (no St. Louis Park papers). From their website you can search for various books and newspapers, renew a book online, etc. The History section has a complete set of St. Louis Park
start in 1933. Special Collections has
a variety of materials, by topic. There are fascinating
clipping files that go back to the 1930s.
Hennepin County Public Library, St. Louis Park
3240 Library Lane
Some St. Louis Park Phone Directories
The St. Louis Park library does not carry any local newspapers on microfilm, but there is a small file of newspaper articles on schools, prominent people, and businesses.
Hennepin County Library, Southdale
7001 York Avenue So., Edina
This library has some of the same newspapers on microfilm as the ones at the Minnesota Historical Society, including the
St. Louis Park Dispatch and its successors.