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Minneapolis Red Cross records

Identifier: SW 273

Scope and Content

Administrative and publicity records of the Minneapolis Red Cross, including records regarding the founding of the chapter in 1915. The records include minutes (1915-1976); records regarding the different offices and divisions of the chapter; disaster files for areas served and other areas assisted by the Minneapolis chapter; surveys, studies, and reports; files documenting chapter history; and copies of publications produced by the Minneapolis chapter.

Other materials include photographs and slides, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks documenting chapter volunteers, staff, officers, events, ceremonies, and services. Materials regarding services offered by the Minneapolis chapter, such as blood drives and CPR classes, and events sponsored the by chapter are also included in the records.


  • 1915-2003


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Open for use in Social Welfare History Archives reading room.


Please contact the Archives for copyright information.

Historical Note

The Minneapolis Red Cross, a chapter of the American Red Cross, was founded in 1915 to provide "relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies." The Minneapolis Red Cross serves Anoka, Hennepin, Isanti and Scott counties in Minnesota.

The Minneapolis Chapter of the American Red Cross was founded on July 26, 1915, at the request of a mayoral-appointed organization of community leaders responsible for coordinating the relief efforts for the victims of World War I. As a membership organization, the chapter’s roll listed some of the most prominent names of Minneapolis society: Dayton, Pillsbury, Hill, and many others. The first chairman, Karl deLaittre, oversaw such projects as chapter establishment, fund-raising, and, when the United States entered the war in 1917, the equipping and staffing of a mobile base hospital that spent most of the war tending to the wounded on the battlefields of France. On the home front, Red Cross volunteers knitted supplies for the soldiers abroad.

Following the conclusion of World War I in the fall of 1918, most wartime departments of the Minneapolis Red Cross were closed, but several others programs were opened. Beginning in the 1920s, Public Health services were offered to the residents of the rural Minneapolis area, a Red Cross volunteer lifeguard organization guarded beaches at Lake Calhoun and other lakes, and the Junior Red Cross was founded for youth volunteers. Also, Red Cross volunteers assisted in the cleanup efforts of several tornadoes that hit the Minneapolis area in 1925, 1929, and 1930. With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Gray Ladies Corps was established in 1934 to provide services for veterans, and in 1936 the Red Cross introduced First Aid and Water Safety classes in the Minneapolis schools. Also, the chapter regularly donated large amounts of flour and clothing to the needy.

The World War II era marked several changes for the Minneapolis Red Cross. In 1939, the chapter changed its name to the Hennepin County Chapter of the American Red Cross, to reflect its efforts to serve the outlying areas of Minneapolis. The newly established Local Disaster Committee of the chapter handled its first major disaster when a fire destroyed the Marlborough Hotel in Minneapolis in 1940, and the chapter offices moved to a new home in the fall of 1941. Frank T. Heffelfinger, a Minneapolis banker and longtime local Red Cross volunteer manager and fund-raiser, donated a large Minneapolis house to the chapter in memory of his wife, Lucia Peavey Heffelfinger, and the chapter made the house its headquarters that fall. The World War II effort saw such programs as the Blood Donor Center, Gray Lady services, nursing services, and the Canteen enacted for soldiers both abroad and at home.

After World War II, several of the chapter’s wartime services remained available for local disasters and the V.A. Hospital. In 1950, the chapter again changed its name to a title that accurately depicted the areas it served: the Minneapolis and Hennepin County Chapter of the American Red Cross. This was short-lived however, as a merger between the chapter and the Anoka County chapter in 1968 changed the name of the new joint chapter to the Minneapolis Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. By this time, the chapter was focused mainly on local disaster relief efforts, and was also creating programs to organize volunteers and fund-raisers to aid in the relief of national disasters.

In 1972, Red Cross classes in First Aid and Water Safety were joined by Red Cross Snowmobile Safety and Ski Patrol courses, and in 1973 the chapter’s fund-raising efforts, which had decreased since the organization ceased its paid membership program after World War II, was bolstered by its partnership with the United Way, a relationship that had actually existed since the Red Cross chapter’s founding when the United Way was known as the Community Fund. Jean Krogness, the first woman to hold the post of Chairperson of the Minneapolis Area Red Cross, took office in 1976, and the chapter supplied the First Aid service for the H.H.H. Metrodome when it opened in 1982. Another short-lived name change for the chapter took place when Scott County was added to service area in 1986 and the chapter was briefly known as the Greater Minneapolis Area Chapter of the American Red Cross before reverting to its shorter previous title. The chapter celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 1990 and 1991 and found another new home in the late 1990s when the house donated by Mr. Heffelfinger in 1941 was condemned and a new, modern facility was completed near the downtown Minneapolis river front in 1999

Excerpts from Pfeilsticker, Edward. "A Brief History of the Minneapolis Chapter of the American Red Cross" unpublished manuscript, 2003.


23 boxes


Administrative and publicity records of the Minneapolis Red Cross.


The records are arranged into 15 series:

  1. Minutes
  2. Chapter Records
  3. Disaster Files
  4. Surveys, Studies, Reports
  5. History and Research Files
  6. Publications and Print Materials
  7. Clippings
  8. American Red Cross War Relief Fund
  9. Service Areas
  10. Disaster Services
  11. Events and Ceremonies
  12. People
  13. History of Local Chapter Buildings
  14. Slides, Photographs, Negatives, and Memorabilia
  15. Scrapbooks

Other Finding Aid

Unpublished inventory available. Please contact the archivists for further information regarding this collection.

Minneapolis Red Cross records
Karen Spilman
March 2005
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Social Welfare History Archives Collecting Area