February 15, 2002

microfilm detective

Today’s weather forecast: Spring

Today’s mental forecast: Spring

I got a great idea for my first book last weekend, and today after some false starts with search engines I started gathering sources.

What I learned: The Star Tribune came into existence in 1986. Prior to that it was known as The Minneapolis Star and The Minneapolis Tribune. If I am reading this correctly, they were actually two separate newspapers (perhaps with previous intimate relationships) that merged. UMD’s Star and Tribune archives only go back to 1973, so I don’t know how far back these newspapers go.

Oh wait, yes I do. Hold on a moment as I google…

From the website of the Minneapolis Public Library:

The Minneapolis Journal (founded in 1878) joined with the Minneapolis Star (founded by the Nonpartisan League in 1920) in 1939 to become the Minneapolis Star Journal. The Minneapolis Times was published from 1889 to 1948. In 1935 John and Gardner Cowles bought the Minneapolis Star Journal and began using the name Star Journal in 1939.

With the ownership of the Cowles and the events that were happening in the 1930s, a new aura of professionalism and social responsibility came to Minneapolis journalism. The Cowles family purchased the Minneapolis Tribune in 1941. On April 5, 1982, the evening paper, the Minneapolis Star, merged with the Minneapolis Tribune.

The Cowles family continued to own and operate the newspaper until 1998, when they sold it to the McClatchy Newspapers, a company based in Sacramento, California.

So now you know. And so do I. Once we pinpointed the name of the newspaper I needed to research, we walked amongst the library shelves and found the hardbound indexes of (hopefully) available Star and Tribune microfilm archives. I soon found out that the Hopkins mall (probably our Knollwood mall in St. Louis Park, as Hopkins doesn’t have any malls) opened in 1973 and was called the Welcomall. Lousy names are no new thing in this society. The Welcomall got three headlines in the Star and Tribune during its grand opening.

Oh yes, I also found some of the information I was looking for. Newspaper articles on Minneapolis caves. One makes reference to the Old Loop Cave, whose dimentions have not changed since 1904. I’m curious to know what happened in 1904 to make this a newsworthy story in 1978.

As the Minneapolis Star didn’t start publication until August 19, 1920, I will need to get my grubby paws on the Tribune to find out.

If my career is anything like this, I’ll be happy. It’s fun playing detective.