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Northfield Raid & the James-Younger Gang: Primary Sources: Archives & Records

Manuscripts

Northfield Bank Robbery of 1876 Selected Manuscript Collections.
The collection contains letters, reminiscences, and related materials about the robbery and subsequent manhunt, primarily from southern Minnesota residents. It also includes correspondence from Cole Younger and copies of correspondence from W. C. Bronaugh, who was instrumental in securing Jim and Cole Younger's parole from prison.
MNHS call numberDigital Finding Aid

Bronaugh-Younger Papers
Photocopies of letters, mainly written to Warren Carter Bronaugh, reflecting efforts by Missouri citizens to obtain pardons for James and Cole Younger, who were held in the Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater, after their robbery of the Northfield bank in 1876.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (Microfilm M468) 

John E. Risedorph Papers
John Risedorph was living in LeSueur, Minnesota, in the fall of 1876. Amid his entries about his daily life, Risedorph kept daily record of the chase for the Northfield robbers, including their capture. His entry for September 10 clearly reveals that the identities of the robbers were not widely known until days after the raid.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (A/.R595).

Charles H. Taylor Reminiscences.
Photocopies of reminiscent articles published in the Northfield Independent, August 16 and 23, 1951. Taylor describes, among other things, the 1876 Northfield bank robbery.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P939).

A Chronology of Selected Newspaper Accounts Relating to the Attempted Bank Robbery at Northfield, Minnesota, September 1876, index cards compiled by Terry Nordenstrom.
Nordenstrom cites September-December, 1876, articles in eleven newspapers from Faribault, Mankato, Minneapolis, New Ulm, Saint Paul, and Saint Peter.
MNHS call number: Microfilm 576 

Herman Roe Papers.
Roe was a Northfield newspaper editor and publisher. His collection includes data on the 1876 robbery of the Northfield bank by the James and Younger brothers.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P451).

George C. Clapp and Family Papers.
The collection includes George F. Clapp's 1943 reminiscence of a visit to the Clapp farm by the James brothers prior to the Northfield Bank Raid.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P452).

Government Records

Minnesota State Prison. Case Files Younger Brothers
Correspondence, reports, administrative forms, and related papers documenting the incarceration, parole, and discharge of prisoners at the Minnesota state prison. A prisoner’s file may include the admittance record; correspondence with the sentencing court and with relatives; record of the inmate’s work, discipline, and other activities while in prison; physician’s reports; correspondence with criminal justice agencies in other states; photograph (in later files); and parole reports. Recent files tend to be more fully documented than earlier files.
Cole Younger is file #699 and James Younger is file #700. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid (Incudes digital version of Younger case files)

Minnesota State Prison, Case Files: Younger Brothers, (1900-1979).
Correspondence, parole reports, photographs, and newspaper clippings relating to the incarceration in the Minnesota State Prison of Thomas Coleman "Cole" Younger (file no. 699) and James Younger (file no. 700).
MHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (M468).

Governor Van Sant: Pardon Matters: Younger Brothers (File 644c)
Correspondents supporting the release and pardon include Cole and Jim Younger, the latter enclosing a letter of recommendation from his employer James Elwin, a Minneapolis cigar manufacturer; Alix J. Mueller, St. Paul reporter and fiancee of Jim Younger, requesting his full pardon so that they could marry, which was forbidden under the terms of his parole. Also, letters protesting the brothers’ release from prison. Other items in the file include state prison warden Henry Wolfer’s letter forwarding the Youngers’ paroles to the State Board of Parole.
MNHS call number: M468 (Reel 2)

Rice County District Court: Criminal Case Files 1482 and 5665: State of Minnesota v. The Younger Brothers
Two files of documents relating to the indictment and conviction of Cole and Robert Younger for murder and the robbery of the First National Bank of Northfield in 1876. File No. 1482, State of Minnesota v. Younger Brothers, 1876, includes grand jury indictment; and the district court’s judgment roll receiving the grand jury’s report, finding the brothers guilty, and committing them to the state prison at Stillwater. File No. 5665, State of Minnesota v. Cole Younger, Jim Younger, and Bob Younger, 1876, contains related papers filed in conjunction with File No. 1482, including subpoenas, witnesses’ statements and notes, and a complaint and arrest warrant from the Faribault city police court.
MNHS call number: Microfilm M468 (Reel 2)

Books & Other Publications

The Story of Cole Younger, by Himself.
"Being an autobiography of the Missouri guerilla captain and outlaw, his capture and prison life, and the only authentic account of the Northfield Raid ever published."
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000 [reprint].
MNHS call number: Reading Room HV6446.Y7 A2 2000, also 
available for purchase

Funeral Discourse of Joseph Lee Heywood . . . Given at Northfield, Minn., Sunday A.M., Sept. 10, by Delavan Levant Leonard.
Minneapolis: Johnson, 1876.
Copies of Reverend Leonard's eulogy for Joseph Heywood were distributed widely. The description of the robbery contains no mention of the James-Younger Gang. Their participation would not be general knowledge until later that same Sunday.
MNHS call number: HG2463.H62 L5

Search for Primary Sources at MNHS

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
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