John Berryman (1914-1972) spent much of his teaching career at the University of Minnesota, arriving in the mid-1950s. Berryman was haunted by his father’s suicide when he was 12, and struggled with alcoholism and depression, until finally committing suicide himself by jumping from the Washington Avenue bridge in 1972. The centenary of his birth has brought renewed interest in the troubled poet’s life and work in the shape of several new books.
Erik Roper has detailed the history of the McClellan building, recently demolished in the wake of the Vikings stadium construction project. The photo above, included in his blog, and much of his information came from resources in the Minneapolis History Collection at the Minneapolis Central Library.
Newsboys’ parade on Washington Avenue South, 1900
The life of a young newspaper seller at the turn of the century could be rough. They had to purchase their own papers from the publisher, and make sure they sold enough to turn a profit – a slow news week could translate to a dire financial situation. Standing out in the elements for hours sometimes meant harassment or injury: the Tribune writes of one instance where an 11-year-old newsboy was fatally struck by a carriage, and another instance where a professional boxer goaded a 17-year-old newsboy into a fight (Thankfully, the boy was stronger than he looked and laid the boxer on the ground with one punch, and the incident was resolved with the two laughing and shaking hands.)
The life of a “newsy” wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. The Tribune occasionally paid for its newsboys to be entertained, providing free transportation and admission to such attractions as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Citizens and organizations showed some concern for the boys – for example, in 1900 the St. James African M.E. Church provided a Thanksgiving dinner to all newsboys, free of charge. (Incidentally, this was the first large-scale charitable event put on by an African-American organization in Minneapolis, and the Tribune notes that it was a massive success.)
At the time this photo was taken, newsboys had begun to assert their rights as workers. In 1899, newsboys in New York City went on strike after the Evening World and Evening Journal raised the wholesale price of papers. The strike went on for two weeks, drastically reducing the papers’ circulation, until the publisher agreed to meet some of the newsboys’ demands. While this did inspire at least two other newsboy strikes, this parade is probably not a demonstration – the jovial-seeming mood conveys a celebration.
Photograph by Edward A. Bromley, scanned from glass plate negative.
This post was researched and written by Special Collections intern Helen Walden-Fodge. Helen worked with several archival collections this summer, including the Bromley glass plate negative collection.
Prince and the Popular Song Index
Last week on Instagram we did a #TBT to that time when librarians had to draw a symbol for Prince. Get on the wait list for Prince’s new album "Art Official Age" and keep your eyes peeled for a second album “PLECTRUMELECTRUM” both released today, September 30.
You can find words and music to more of your favorite songs in the Popular Song Index on the 3rd floor at Minneapolis Central Library.
Visit Special Collections to view biography files on Prince Rogers Nelson, as well as his 1974 high school yearbook.