In the spring of 2003, while finishing up research on my family, I called the Minneapolis Reference Library, which used to be in City Hall. I wanted to know when my dad's uncle Walter and grandfather served as aldermen. So I called the people who should know how to find out quickly. The call seemed to take forever, and as I was calling from work, I didn't feel I had a lot of time. The librarian was very helpful. She went through all volumes of the City Council Proceedings of the City of Minneapolis, from 1910 to 1955, to ascertain that my relations had served from 1913-21, and 1921-51.

I was amazed that no one had organized information on aldermen into a handy format. The lack of a handbook on former city officials looked like a problem. I determined to fix this "problem" as soon as I could. I went to City Hall. The Reference Library was closed, but City Archives is across the hall. As I pondered what to do, Ruth Sobcinski, one of the clerks, came out and asked me if I needed a hand. I told her my proposal, she enthusiastically approved. I told her I would return in 6 months and begin. I did, she remembered me, and I started researching the history of city government in Minneapolis. All the archivists helped me a great deal. I enjoyed my months in their rooms, and even now, when I go back, they ask me how the Project is coming, suggest new information, and invite me to stay.

As I worked on the project, I realized I might have something bigger on my hands. So I called the Minnesota Historical Society one morning, to ask about funding. As it happens, the state legislature had cut a substantial chunk out of the Society's funding on the day before. So when I asked the gentleman from the Historical Society how much he thought they might offer me for my effort, he chuckled and so did I. The question was absurd. He suggested, however, that the whole state could benefit from an historical election website. I surfed the Web, and confirmed his judgment.

So now the time has come to expand the site. The election database has in it all the general elections in Minneapolis since 1855. I'd like to see more cities (St. Paul, for one) in our database. If you agree with me, please consider a gift of $1000 to hurry us along. Your gift is fully tax-deductible, and the first 100 donors will also receive our wee Book of Congress.

Neal Baxter

Highwood Press
EIN 32-0150180