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J. Adam Bede papers

 Collection — Box: Oversize
Identifier: S3029

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, reference materials, speeches, news clippings, publications and photos. A biographical sketch about Bede by Clarence N. Anderson is included, as well as correspondence on the St. Lawrence Seaway, and incomplete sets of some of Bede's newspapers. Most of the material originates from Bede's activities as a U.S. Representative, 1903-1909, and as an advocate of the St. Lawrence Seaway during the late 1930s.

Biographical Material, 1899-1956, contains news clippings, speech programs, and an essay written about Bede by Clarence N. Anderson.

General Correspondence, 1894-1942, documents Bede's political thought and includes letters from state and federal political leaders.

Subject File, 1860-1941, includes articles and editorials written by Bede, speeches, notes, poems, and some correposndence on selected topics, such as the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Publications, 1887-1921, contains sets of newspapers established by Bede. Many of the newspapers are in poor condition and are extremely fragile.


  • Creation: 1860-1956


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

J. Adam Bede was born on January 13, 1856 in Lorain, Ohio, the son of James W. and Adelia (Ferguson) Bede. He began his newspaper career as a printer's apprentice for the Lorain County News while attending Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. He later became editor of the Daily Argus in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and then in 1887 began The Paragrapher in Duluth, Minnesota. By 1891 Bede had become editor of the Duluth Herald. Two years later, he moved to Tower, Minnesota after establishing Bede's Budget. He was elected U.S. Marshall, Minnesota District, on the Democratic ticket and served until 1895, when he moved his family to Florida because of the health of his sone, Harold. (Bede married Eva Redding in 1886.) Harold died the next year and Bede returned to Minnesota as editor of the Pine Poker in Pine City.

Bede was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1902, this time as a Republican from the Eight District. He served six years and began his lifelong promotion of the St. Lawrence Seaway by becoming a member of the Rivers and Harbors Committee. Failing in his bid for reelection in 1908, Bede returned to his newspaper work and toured as a popular and successful public speaker. He maintained influence over many prominent Washington officials and used his talents in later years to lobby for Duluth interests and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

In 1931, Bede served in the Minnesota Legislature from the 58th District. He established the Duluth Times and Common Sense, the latter "a magazine devoted to the modification of the 18th amendment to hasten prosperity." Until his death in 1942, Bede continued an active life as an advocate of the Seawy, a lecture, editor, and even actor (in the 1935 Duluth Playhouse production of the The Petrified Forest.)

Bede's daughter, Helen Bede, was a Duluth Central High school English teacher with an A.B. degree from Cornell College.

J. Adam Bede was a politician, editor, and prominent lecturer from Duluth, Minnesota. He served as U.S. Marshall from 1894 to 1895 and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the 8th Minnesota District in 1902. Bede also served one term in the Minnesota Legislature from the 58th District in 1931. Bede established many small newspapers, among them The Paragrapher (est. 1887), Bede's Budget (est. 1893) and The Duluth Times (est. 1931). He was an advocate of the St. Lawrence Seaway and used his influence as a speaker and editor to urge congressional acceptance of the Seaway.


1.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains correspondence, reference materials, speeches, news clippings, publications and photos.

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 part of the Northeast Minnesota Historical Collections, which are housed in the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives at the Kathryn A. Martin Library, and are on permanent loan from the St. Louis County Historical Society.

Guide to the J. Adam Bede papers
Finding Aid Authors: B.H. Bruemmer.
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