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Alworth family papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: S3635

Scope and Contents

This collection shows only a small segment of the Alworth family business. The abbreviated nature of these records may reflect their origin from Tarpon Springs which was not the primary business office of the Alworth enterprise. These materials were part of a donation of property to the University of Minnesota Duluth in an estate settlement in the 1980's.

The collection is arranged alphabetically because no original provenance was evident. It is likely that these records do not reflect all business transactions and correspondence of this time period. While there are papers dated from 1895 to 1967, the bulk dates from 1920 to 1945. The Alworth building still houses the Alworth offices, and the various business records are still under family administration.  For these reasons the individual files seem incomplete. No one file has a clear beginning, middle, and conclusion. Most files are not in chronological order and have large gaps. Much of the correspondence is unclear in its details of participants and events.

The collection consists of only two series: correspondence and photographs. The correspondence series is subdivided into personal and business. Personal correspondence includes various family members and more interestingly, that between Marshall W. Alworth as a young boy at Philips Exeter Academy and his father. The business correspondence includes files on Judge Herbert A. Dancer, A. Miller McDougall, Frank Wilson, and also letters written between the father, Marshall H. Alworth, and both sons. The second series contains photographs and a brief description of the Alworths' yachts: the "Marnell," the "Sea Foam," the "Oneida".


  • Creation: 1895-1967


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

Marshall H. Alworth (1846-1931), while exploring timber lands for hire, acquired personal working capital in major land holdings on the Mesabi Range. He helped form the Alworth Mining and Development Company. He and his wife Nellie had seven children of whom two survived: Marshall W. (1883-1980) and Royal D. (1889-?). The Alworth family lived in Duluth and had many business interests in the city including the Alworth Building which still houses the Alworth offices.

Marshall H. Alworth (1846-1931) began life with a district school education in western New York, left home at age thirteen or fourteen, and worked his way to adulthood as a land and timber explorer.

Alworth  first came to Duluth  during the 1873 depression. There was no opportunity in land investment at the time. He returned to northern Minnesota in 1882 acquiring major land holdings on the Mesabi Range through an auction in 1883. Alworth and his associates Jed L. Washburn, William C. Agnew, and William H. Cole believed there were underground resources on this land. Unimpressed with local explorers, Alworth and his associates formed the Alworth Mining and Development Company.

Mr. Alworth married his wife Nellie in 1878 and had seven children of whom two survived: Marshall W. (1883-1980) and Royal D. (1889-?). This prominent Duluth family had many business interests within the community of Duluth including Oneida Reality and the Alworth Building (1910). It appears from the collection contents that the two sons continued to run the Alworth family businesses from Duluth and the second family home in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Marshall looked after the mining properties and Royal after the real estate holdings. The Alworth family is visible at the University of Minnesota Duluth where it donated the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium (1965) and established the Royal D. Alworth Institute for International Study (1989).


14.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection consists of two series: correspondence and photographs. This collection shows only a small segment of the Alworth family business.

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.


This collection is owned by the Minnesota Historical Society, but is housed at the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives.

Guide to the Alworth family papers
Finding Aid Authors: P. Maus.
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