Five-minute excerpt of Minnesota Woolen film from 1959

It’s been over a year since a post was published on PDD inquiring about the history of Duluth-based clothing manufacturer Minnesota Woolen. The first thing that came out of that post was the discovery that the Northeast Minnesota Historical Center Collection has a 16mm film about the company, but does not have a projector. Well, a projector was found this week and loaned for a little screening.

The entire film is roughly 45 minutes in duration and is in better condition than it appears here. The flashing brightness level is an issue with my cheap camera, not the source, and the sound of the projector running interferes with the sound quality. Obviously propping up a pocket-size Canon in front of a projection wall is not the ideal method of reproducing an old film.

I would estimate the cost of having the entire film professionally digitized would run $550 at minimum. It will probably take a long time, but efforts will be made to at least present a little more of this film in one way or another. The data card on my camera couldn’t come close to holding it all. There is a fun section at the end (of the full film, not this excerpt) that features Duluth Mayor Clifford Mork and Congressman John Blatnik. The excerpt above features company president Nathan G. Polinsky, his sons Jerrold and Richard, and many other executives, as well as a few laborers. Many more of the laborers in various divisions are featured in the full film, along with numerous Duluth postal employees involved on the shipping end.

Thanks to Pat Maus and Mags David at the Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections Unit for their help in bringing us this classic little Duluth flick. Their voices are briefly heard in the background of the excerpt. We were looking for clues about what year the film was shot. The end segment of the full film shows scenes from the company’s “1959 Sell-a-thon,” so we did get that piece of information.



about 7 years ago

This needs to come with an epilepsy strobe warning.

Jan Olson

about 7 years ago

Thanks for this fine memory of Minnesota Woolen.  Although I was a pre-teen when this film was made, it brings back great memories of heading downtown with my mom and checking out the latest at the company's store.  I wish Duluth had the ability to bring more manufacturing businesses back, although I have to concede that because of automation, the production line would contain many fewer faces.


about 7 years ago

My grandma was a floor lady and then a floor manager, I believe, at Minnesota Woolen. She worked there for a long time until it closed. She had barrels and barrels of fabric in her attic that she purchased by the pound from them (she was an amazing seamstress). I would so love to see the whole video, as I am sure my mom would (she would know a lot more details.) The floor lady in the video could be my grandma, but it's really hard to tell without a face shot and with the quality issues. Hair and physique match up. Sadly the women aren't named, but the men are in the goofy office shots.

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