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Edward Wilson Davis papers

Identifier: ua01093

Scope and Content

These papers include a manuscript copy of a talk Davis gave before both the Six O'clock Club and the Lion's Club in January 1924 entitled, "The Iron Mining Industry in Minnesota," and dealt with the problem of the depletion of high grade iron ore resources in the Mesabi Range and how this problem would be solved by the development of a low grade iron ore industry. Eventually this led to the utilization of Mesabi Range taconite deposits. Also discussed in the manuscript are such topics as the nature of iron ore and its relation to metallic iron and the problem of unfair taxation of the mining industry and how it has discouraged the development of new mines.

Also included is a reprint condensation from the Reader's Digest(September 1954) of an article about Professor Davis entitled "The Professor's Crazy Billion-Dollar Dream." This had originally appeared in its complete form in the August 1954 issue of Nation's Business. There is a tribute to E. W. Davis from the Board of Directors of Reserve Mining Company , East Beaver Bay, Minnesota, July 7, 1953. This is an elaborate seven-page illuminated manuscript on parchment paper and bound in leather which speaks of the contributions of Professor Davis in the development of the taconite industry in Minnesota. Also included in the papers are various patent files.


  • Creation: 1924-1967


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Access to Materials

This collection is stored at an off-site facility and requires 3-5 business days for retrieval. Email to request access. Do not make travel arrangements or plans to visit Andersen Library without making prior arrangements with University Archives staff.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of Edward Wilson Davis (1888-1973)

Edward Wilson Davis, B.A. (1911), Electrical Engineering degree (1918), Purdue University. Joined the staff of the school of mines (1912) at the University of Minnesota; served as superintendent (1918-1937), and director (1938-1951) of mines experiment station at the University of Minnesota. Considered the father of the taconite industry by pioneering modern processing of lower grade ore.

E. W. "Bud" Davis, "Mr. Taconite" was born on May 8, 1888 in Cambridge, Indiana. He received a BA in 1911 and an electrical engineering degree in 1918 from Purdue University. He began working at the University of Minnesota as an instructor in mathematics in the School of Mines from 1912-1915. He became superintendent-professor of the Mines Experiment Station in 1919 and was director-professor from 1938 until 1951. He was appointed as professor in 1951 retiring from the University as professor emeritus in 1955. He was awarded honorary doctorates from Purdue University (1955) and the University of Minnesota (1956).

Davis is most noted for a process he developed that could easily produce a pig-iron ingot from taconite ore, greatly increasing efficiency and making the mining of taconite economically feasible. After retiring from the University in 1955, Davis was a consultant for the Reserve Mining Company in Silver Bay, Minnesota, and chairman of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Committee on Mining. Throughout his career, he wrote over 30 mining related articles, such as Pioneering With Taconitepublished in October of 196, and held 15 patents. Edward Wilson Davis died in Duluth, Minnesota December 3, 1973.


1 box (1.0 cubic foot)


Collection contains the papers of Edward Wilson Davis, professor emeritus and director of the University of Minnesota Mines Experiment Station; considered the father of the taconite industry

Physical Location

Off-site (WBOB)

Source of acquisition

The collection was received from the University of Minnesota Records Management Office in 2001.

Related Material in University Archives

Walter Castella Coffey papers

Cloquet Forestry Center records

Mines Experiment Station records

University Relations records

Other Related Materials

The Minnesota Historical Society holds a collection of Edward W. Davis papers; an online inventory is available.

Edward Wilson Davis Papers, 1924-1967
Amy Flessert, Guy Peterson
March 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area