Saint Paul, Minnesota city directories 1856-1922 digitized and free online!

It has finally happened! Saint Paul city directories have been digitized by the Saint Paul Public Library with the aid of a Heritage Preservation Grant. The years digitized are 1846-1922. Why not later years? The answer is simple, the later years are still under copyright.

Last week, I tried to find an easy way to access these on the library’s website, but that hasn’t worked. A newsletter from the Minnesota Historical Society today helped me locate a link.

I like that we have a collection of these in one place and for free! There are other online collections that have some or all of the directories. No other website that I know about has this comprehensive collection for free.

Checking these city directories needs to be done from cover to cover to see all the information. Among the details to be found in the front and back of city directories are: city government departments and officials, history of the city, churches, schools, railroads, organizations, associations, institutions, hospitals, business directory by type, late additions and corrections, and a description of each street location.

One of my favorite Saint Paul city directories is the Edwards’ Saint Paul Census Report and City Directory, 1873. Keep in mind that the bulk of city directory information is gathered in the year preceding publication. Early directories were compiled from information obtained from directory personnel going door-to-door.

Look at this 1873 directory page and you will see why I love it. It was published in-between the federal census of 1870 and the Minnesota state census of 1875.

For each individual listing, the “w” followed by a number tells in which ward of the city the household resided. This is followed by the number of males and females and the total number of people in the household. That in turn is followed by the place of birth (state or country) if not in Minnesota. Wives names were not listed by name until 1929 and adult children in the household were listed by name beginning in 1933.  These dates vary in other cities.

Are your fingers itching to see this and the other directories? Click here:




© 2017, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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3 comments on “Saint Paul, Minnesota city directories 1856-1922 digitized and free online!

  1. Thank you for sharing this great resource.

    I LOVE city directories and have spent a fair amount of time pouring over those for St. Paul. My great-grandparents immigrated from Norway, directly to St. Paul in 1869 (July 1871 and 1876). I list three years because one brother came–made some money–sent for the next one–made some more money–and sent for the third brother. 🙂

    The first listing was for my great-grandfather Johan Larsen listed in 1871 as a shoemaker and r[esiding] at 31 Wabashaw. His older brother was already in St. Paul, but was not in the city directory. In 1874 they are both now listed: both as shoemakers at C. Gotzian & Co. and both living at 161 Thirteenth. (9th Ward)

    What ‘gave me goose bumps’ was when I found my great-grandmother Amelia Davis [should have been Davidson] listed in the 1884 City Directory as a dressmaker residing at 235 13th. I have yet to figure out HOW she ended up there, but I do know that she is boarding in the same house as the Larsen brothers! On April 15, 1885 she married my g-grandfather !! The rest is history with seven children and over 35 grandchildren. They are buried at Oakland Cemetery, also in Ward 9.

    I’ve located the a home addresses for the years 1871-1924:
    31 Wabasha (1871)
    89 Jackson (1873)
    161 Thirteenth (1874-80)
    233 Thirteenth (1881-84)
    249 13th (1885-1897) – where 5 of the 7 children were born
    149 Mt. Airy (1898-1905)
    950 Jackson (1906-1907)
    761 Cedar (1908-1919)
    192 Mt. Airy (1920-1923)

    I know that ALL of these addresses are within a 12-15 block area of the south end of Ward #9. I suspect that this neighborhood was predominately Norwegian (and other Scandinavians). I’d like to learn more about this neighborhood. I’ve been in contact with the current city officials for the 9th Ward, but they didn’t have much to share. The neighborhood is all but gone now — taken over by a big hospital (you know which one I mean).

    I should also mention, the front material of the city directories is great also (like you said). My great-grandfather was elected City Alderman for the 9th Ward in 1898 and served 2 years. The directory told me the committees he sat on.

    Keep up the excellent work. I look forward to your blog postings!!

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