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Marjorie Wilkins papers

Identifier: U6267

Content Description

The collection contains materials related to Marjorie Wilkins’ life and work in Duluth, Minnesota. Included are materials related to her career as a nurse anesthetist, as well as her work as an activist and local leader for racial equity. A large portion of the materials in the collection are related to her work for racial equity in education, both in K-12 public schools and in higher education. Also included are personal correspondence and photographs, along with handwritten notes, ephemera, and research materials used by Wilkins. Some materials related to Wilkins’ extended family are also included, notably military records belonging to Wilkins’ father, George B. Kelley. The collection also includes photographs related to Black community life in Duluth in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s.


  • 1888-1998


Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Kathryn A. Martin Library, Archives and Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Marjorie Jane Wilkins was a Black community activist and leader in Duluth, Minnesota. Born in Duluth in 1923 to George and Leona (Barles) Kelley, she graduated from Central High School in 1941. After high school she spent two and a half years in Seattle, WA working for Boeing Aircraft during World War II. She returned to Duluth, and in 1947 became the first Black woman to graduate from St. Mary’s School of Nursing at St. Scholastica, after initially being denied entry because of her race. She later became the first Black nurse anesthetist at St. Luke’s Hospital, where she worked for almost 30 years. In 1968 she became president of the Duluth Branch of the NAACP, a position that she held for eight years. She was the first woman president of the branch. Over the years, she served on many committees in the Duluth community, with a special focus on issues of racial equity in Duluth schools, both K-12 public schools and higher education. Her committee work included the Duluth Public Schools Desegregation Advisory Committee, the Black Education Advisory Committee (BEAC), and the Minority Academic Excellence Pathway (MAEP) Advisory Board. In 2013 Myers-Wilkins Elementary School was named after Wilkins and Ruth Myers, an Anishinaabe community leader and long-time friend of Wilkins. Marjorie Wilkins passed away in 1992.

A 1975 interview with Marjorie Wilkins is available in the Minnesota Black History Project.


3.73 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Physical Location

This collection is located at the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives. For more information about this collection or to make an appointment, contact us at or 218-726-8526.

Guide to Marjorie Wilkins papers
S. Aue
May 19, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University of Minnesota Duluth Archives and Special Collections Collecting Area

Kathryn A. Martin Library
University of Minnesota Duluth
416 Library Drive
Duluth MN 55812-3001
(218) 726-8526