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Blood Donors, Inc. Duluth, Minnesota records

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: S6040

Scope and Contents

The collection contains: Articles of Incorporation, minutes of board meetings (1980-1985), names of directors (1956-1973), annual meetings, Reports on Examination (1959-1977), audits, National Blood Policy (1974), financial report (1991), publicity.


  • Creation: 1956-1991


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

In 1935, a group of anesthesiologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, having organized a transfusion service two years earlier, were the first to begin storing citrated blood and utilizing it for transfusions within a hospital setting in the U.S.

In January 1941, at the behest of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army and Navy, the American Red Cross agreed to organize a civilian blood donor service to collect blood plasma for the war effort. The first center opened in New York on February 4, and the Red Cross collected over 13 million units of blood over the course of the war.

The first true blood bank was organized at Chicago's Cook County Hospital. Irwin Memorial Blood Bank – the first community-based blood center – was established in San Francisco in 1941. Others were founded in all parts of the country during the next decade. Blood banking began growing in earnest with the return of physicians who had seen the effectiveness of transfusion therapy on the front lines in World War II. They began to demand that blood be made available for treatment of their patients.

The American Association of Blood Banks [now AABB] was organized to support and encourage continued blood research, promote exchange of scientific information and develop standards of practice for blood banks. By 1948, the American National Red Cross began operating a full-scale blood program to collect and distribute blood to patients in need.

In Duluth, the non-profit Blood Donors, Inc., formed in 1957, because in 1956, the two Duluth hospitals, St. Luke's and St. Mary's, faced the problem of needing increasing amounts of donated blood and the donor base was shrinking. (Miller Dwan hospital patients were taken to either St. Luke's or St. Mary's for procedures needing blood.) As more people became aware of the advantage of members giving one pint of blood when called upon to ensure having blood available if needed, the non-profit emerged. On December 16, 1956, an office opened with a plan for recruiting donors that was still the basis for the operation in 1992 when the local office closed. Cloquet Memorial Hospital soon became a member. Miller Dwan became an important part of BDI, and by 1992 there were nine hospitals associated with the group including Superior Memorial (Wisconsin), Two Harbors, Grand Marais, Ely, and Aurora.

Membership in Blood Donors, Inc. nearly doubled in 1963. In 1964, the time between donations was 15 months and would be extended with more member participation. In 1964, a hospital patient paid $35 a pint for blood if they had no other source.

The organization began in a small office on the main floor of Miller Memorial Hospital in Duluth. In 1964, there were two paid employees, one full-time and one part-time. Ms. Dee Harper, executive secretary, administered the operation. In 1965, Blood Donors, Inc., with more than 3,600 members, moved into enlarged quarters at 1202 East Superior Street.

On at least three occasions the Board of Directors gave consideration to a full scale blood center for the Duluth area. It was beyond the group's capacity. In 1992, the hospitals were again facing limited financial resources. It was agreed that a single blood center that could meet all the licensing and inspection requirements as well as the efficiencies in performing testing procedures was desirable. It was decided to support a venture with Memorial Blood Center of Minneapolis.

After 35 years of Blood Donors in Duluth, the group disband.


1.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains: Articles of Incorporation, minutes of board meetings (1980-1985), names of directors (1956-1973), annual meetings, Reports on Examination (1959-1977), audits, National Blood Policy (1974), financial report (1991), publicity.

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 Blood Donors, Inc. Duluth, Minnesota records
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