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J. William Trygg Papers Now Available

Monday, August 18th, 2008

The J. William Trygg Papers (1950s-1960s) are now available for use.


J. William Trygg was born September 17, 1905, at Cook, Minnesota. He was a professional forester who worked for the United States Forest Service (USFS) from 1926 until 1954. He was in charge of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in the Ely, Minnesota, area, and at the time of his retirement from the USFS was a district forest ranger. In addition to his expertise in forestry he had experience with Indian claims throughout the Great Lakes region.


After leaving the Forest Service Trygg worked as a land use consultant and as an apprasier of natural resources. Through an intense interest in the history of the area he developed a system he used to make historical appraisals on behalf of various Indian tribes in the Midwest (including both Dakota and Ojibwe), appraisals for Indian lands already ceded to the United States. With his son he owned the Trygg Land Office, a real estate agency located at Ely.


Trygg was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1966 from District 62 (St. Louis County) and served one term. Trygg died in Washington, D.C. on April 11, 1971, where he was testifying on Indian land claims. He is buried in the Ely Cemetery.


The collection includes legal and background papers related to Trygg’s work as an appraiser for the Indian Claims Commission. The papers are largely organized by docket and Royce designation and include tree tally sheets, land sale information, documentation of terrain, abstracts from U.S. Land Surveyors’ Field Notes, printed reports, and court exhibits. There is some reference material for earlier time periods. An electronic inventory is available, giving more details and locator numbers for the 25 boxes.

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Northern Pacific Land Department Records

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

The Minnesota Historical Society Library is pleased to announce that William M. Bomash’s Guide to a Microfilm Edition of The Northern Pacific Land Department Records is now available online with full text search capability.

The guide details the origin of records, an historical sketch of the Northern Pacific Railroad and its land grant, and a detailed description of the contents of each roll. The records are divided into four series: Land Department letters received and related records (1870-1876, reels 1-14), Land Department letters sent (1871-1876, reels 15-32), printed materials (1821-1876, reels 33-37), and Land Committee minutes (1871-1876, reel 37). In addition, a separate microfilm roll (reel 38) contains extensive editor’s notes about the content of the records.

The microfilm is available for use in the Hubbs Microforms reading room of the Minnesota Historical Society Library and is available for sale (scroll down about half way) and on interlibrary loan.

The records contain correspondence, reports, maps, minutes, and printed materials documenting the establishment and operation of the Northern Pacific’s Land Department’s main office in New York City and its local, district, and foreign offices. Major topics include the acquisition, preparation for sale, and promotion of the company’s extensive land grant from Minnesota to Washington Territory and foreign immigration and domestic migration to and settlement of the region tributary to the line, including the employment of and supervision of emigration agents in Scandinavia, the British Isles, and northern Europe. Substantial data are found on the Yeovil Colony (near Hawley, Minnesota), the Furness Colony (near Wadena, Minnesota), and other colony projects near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and in the Red River Valley, and on townsites proposed for development by the Lake Superior and Puget Sound Company and the Tacoma Land Company.

There is also a great deal of information on the company’s financial relationship with Jay Cooke & Co., as well as the relationship between the American railroad industry and the national and international financial communities; on the railroad’s relationship with competing lines, especially with the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad; on the railroad’s attitudes and policies toward the American Indians living on lands included within the railroad’s land grant; on the social, economic, and political conditions in the United States, Europe and Canada; and on numerous related topics, including, for example, the Chicago Fire of 1871 and the International Exposition held in Vienna in 1872-1873.

A host of major national and international business and political leaders are represented in this collection, of which the following is a sample: George L. Becker, Frederick Billings, Thomas Hawley Canfield, Jay Cooke, Columbus Delano, Horace Greeley, George B. Hibbard, John S. Loomis, William K. Mendenhall, James Buel Power, Thomas Lafayette Rosser, George Sheppard, John Gregory Smith, James Wickes Taylor, Hermann Trott, Benjamin Franklin Wade, and George B. Wright.

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