Library hoping to ID people in vintage Twin Cities photo negatives found in trash bags

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Courtesy of the Hennepin County Library

Like his father, Anthony Scott is a history buff, particularly about the African American experience in Minnesota, helping recently to uncover a treasure trove of photos that paint quite a picture of black life in the Twin Cities.

"I still like the idea that if you don't keep it going, it does fade away," Scott said. "I think it's important and I think that we can learn something from it." 

Scott's uncle, John Glanton, was a professional photographer in the late 1940s before he became a civil engineer.

It wasn't until he died in 2004 and his family found trash bags full of negatives while cleaning out his garage that they discovered his former career.

"There were leaves in them, they were just paper bags," Scott said. "They weren't stored properly," 

So Scott donated the negatives to the Hennepin County Library, which recovered more than 800 photos of the African American community in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Some feature famous people--like Hubert Humphrey while he was the mayor of Minneapolis and musician John Nelson on the piano, who would eventually have a son named after his stage persona Prince Rogers.

But most show a wide range of ordinary people doing ordinary things at family gatherings, clubs and sporting events.

"There are 800 photos. It's representative of a large segment of that population at the time," Hennepin County Library Special Collections Manager Ted Hathaway said. "Clearly not a well represented population, so it's really a snapshot into this lost world," 

Since the photos didn't have any captions, the library has hosted a series of community meetings to help ID the people in the pictures and hopefully establish a connection to a little-known piece of Minnesota's past.

"That time period is often left out of the history books," Scott said. "I think its an interesting period and the people who've seen it seem to agree." 

The library's next event will be May 23 at the Heritage Park Senior Services Center in North Minneapolis.

If you'd like to check out the pictures, you can find them here.