Abandoned Scrapbooks from circa 1939 to 1947

“Someone dropped a dozen scrapbooks with Duluth newspaper clippings on my front porch,” began the email from Tony Dierckins. “Would you like them?”

“No,” I said out loud to myself before replying to Tony with questions about what the scrapbooks might contain.

Tony operates Zenith City Press, a book publishing house and history website, so he no doubt occasionally has people offering to him, or forcing upon him, old stuff of varying interest. History is a common element to posts on Perfect Duluth Day, so we also get frequent donations of dusty junk as well. Some of it is really cool, so no matter how much I fear what someone is offering might be total crap, I usually can’t bring myself to reject it without inspection.

Of course, most of these donated things end up being difficult to classify as either indisputably cool or obvious crap. Instead, they tend to be reams of mostly boring material that contain a few potential gems. So what generally happens is I get a stiff neck going through it, but eventually find something that tricks me into thinking it was all worthwhile.

But alas, there is limited space in the Perfect Duluth Day archive (a small closet in the basement of my residence). So I had to ask Tony if the scrapbooks contained items related to a specific topic or topics and if they were relevant to Duluth history or just a bunch of random stuff one person thought was interesting.

“Random, and including lots of pages from the Sunday Rotogravure section — high quality sepia tones,” Tony wrote, noting the clippings are mostly of the “pretty girl” variety. And yes, a chunk of it is relevant to Duluth.

I told Tony I wouldn’t pick the scrapbooks up or keep them, but if they showed up at my house I’d look through them before turning them over to the next sucker. Sure enough, they were on my porch within days. In total it’s a baker’s dozen — 13 scrapbooks.

Anyway, all of this is just to say there will be a few posts on PDD featuring items from these scrapbooks. The contents really are pretty random, but some of the Duluth newspaper clippings might prove interesting to someone.

I probed Tony for more information and he said the source of the scrapbooks was John Vigen, a retired real-estate agent, and that some items within indicate the scrapbooks were likely made by Philip Good, who lived in Duluth with his mother Mary, a Polish immigrant. He was 19 and working as an errand boy for a print shop in 1930 and later worked as a fireman.

I reached out to Vigen to find out what else he knew. He said he found the scrapbooks sitting in the corner of a basement in a vacant estate property he was doing an appraisal on many years ago.

“They’re kind of a traveling oddity, aren’t they?” Vigen asked me.

Yes, it seems that’s turning out to be the case.

The contents of the scrapbooks seem both random and precise. For one thing, as Tony mentioned, they contain a lot of clippings of pretty girls. It’s the one theme that is immediately apparent when flipping through.

So below is a kickstart to the scrapbook series — just a peek at some of the lovely lasses who likely won’t be featured in future posts. Many were famous enough that we know them today, like Ginger Rogers. Others, maybe not so famous. There are many clippings of ice skaters and bathing suit models, but also some risqué boudoir pics. And sometimes these gals end up on a page across from something like a clipping of a 65-ton fin-back whale being lifted out of the ocean or an old log-cabin farmstead near the Twin Cities. Random indeed.

There is also something that is not so random, though still random. One scrapbook is dedicated entirely to a single topic: the death of automobile-industry magnate Henry Ford.

1 Comment

Ghist1

about 1 month ago

I think these are a good example of the historic use of the word "scrapbooking"... people just clipped things they thought were interesting to save for later. There was no internet or way to find images except going to the library or looking in magazines/newspapers. This person was curating his own personal library of images/articles to enjoy again later. Pintrest on paper, if you will. The modern version of "scrapbooking", where you buy cutesy paper and custom stickers to fancy up some family photos is kinda strange, in my opinion.

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