Joseph Kimball, Piano Tuner and his grandson Ric Johnson

The Minneapolis Newspapers Collection (formerly the “Times Morgue File”) is a huge collection of photographs and news articles from Minneapolis newspapers from 1920-1950 housed in the Special Collections dept.  Most of the file is about individuals.  On a recent tour of the dept with other Hennepin County Library staff, IT Specialist Ric Johnson wondered if there might be a file in this collection on his grandfather, Joseph Kimball.  Sure enough, there was a folder with two excellent black & white portraits and several news clippings.

Minneapolis resident Joseph Kimball was a blind piano tuner and concert baritone who performed as far away as New York.  When Joseph died in 1939, his daughter (Ric’s mother) was only 16 years old.  The family had no photographs of Joseph as Ric’s mother was the only sighted member of the family.  “This was the first time my brother, sister and I had ever seen him,” said Ric.  “I spent an hour and a half with my mother and heard more about her father then I’d ever heard before. She didn’t know about those articles and doesn’t remember him going to New York… but she was only 4 years old.”