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Duluth Police Department records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: S2272

Scope and Contents

The collection contains administrative and crime records including Duluth, West Duluth, West End, and New Duluth offices/stations. Some volumes are indexed. Most records are not comprehensive, and many have date gaps.

Materials in the collection include administrative and technical records concerning alarm systems and signal boxes, 1929-1945; department bulletins/letters/circulars containing information on crimes and criminals, 1902-1942; department rules and regulations, 1906, 1927; missing persons and newspaper clippings, 1894-1897, 1914-1930, 1926-1932; monthly time books, 1916-1957; personnel records, 1884-1981; records including daily logs and property and bail books, 1872-1969, 1972-1974; reports including lists of house calls, 1908-1917, 1945-1957; warrants, to 1941; West Duluth station records, 1889-1943.


  • Creation: 1889-1974


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 1870 the Minnesota State Legislature granted a charter to the city of Duluth. That year Duluth’s new mayor, Col. J.B. Culver, appointed Robert S.D. Bruce, a contractor, chief of police. Bruce had been engaged by Mayor Culver to build a warehouse and dock. In early June, six weeks after his appointment as police chief, Bruce received from Culver the payroll for the construction workers. Bruce left town with the money and was never seen or heard from after that.

Following Bruce’s disappearance, George Berkelman, a patrolman, was designated acting chief. In July, Major J.L. Smith, a Civil War veteran, was appointed police chief by the Mayor. Fourteen police officers were appointed in 1870.

The financial collapse of 1873 reduced the police force from six men to only one, Chief Samuel J. Thompson. In 1877 Duluth was re-chartered as a village and Chief Thompson was now a marshal, still serving alone with only the aid of occasional night watchmen.

Duluth’s new city charter was granted in 1887, making former marshal Patrick Doran Chief of Police. By 1888 the force had grown to 30 officers.

In 2014 the Duluth Police Department has a staff of about 150 officers and 32 support staff. Two deputy chiefs of police oversee the Patrol Division and the Investigative/Administrative Division.


109.00 Volumes

Language of Materials



The collection contains administrative and crime records including Duluth, West Duluth, West End, and New Duluth offices/stations.

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.

Related Materials:

NEMHC Book Collections HV7595.D9 Duluth Police Department Annual Report


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

Guide to the Duluth Police Department 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