Here’s the place for famous lettersThe Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum at 902 E. First Street in Duluth is one of 12 museums across the country which display the largest private manuscript collection in the world.
By: John Shirley, For the Budgeteer News
The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum at 902 E. First Street in Duluth is one of 12 museums across the country which display the largest private manuscript collection in the world.
The different exhibits are rotated periodically between the different locations. These exhibits are always free to the public. The two exhibits being hosted from now
to the end of the year highlight
the Boy Scouts and the Great Depression.
“I think it’s great for all ages to come and see a piece of history,” said the museum’s current curator Luis Rego, who set up these two exhibits.
Boy Scout Exhibit
The Boy Scout exhibit chronicles the founding and growth of the Boy Scouts in the United States and overseas. Letters between people instrumental in the early days of the Boy Scouts can be seen.
A few of the documents are signed by very famous people. John Wayne’s signature can be clearly seen on a document titled, “A Tribute to the Boy Scouts Badge of Honesty.” The “Bill of Rights for Boys” is signed by
President Herbert Hoover. Finally, there is a letter signed by Lyndon B Johnson, in which he praises the Boy Scouts.
Great Depression exhibit
When you are finished with Boy Scout mania, you can take in the “Great Depression” exhibit. These hand-signed letters are evidence that this unbelievable period really did happen. Many of the documents are signed by either President Herbert Hoover or his successor Franklin Roosevelt.
One ironic document is the proclamation, signed by president Hoover, calling for an annual day of Thanksgiving. This was issued one week after the 1929 crash. In it, he says: “Both capital and labor have enjoyed an exceptional prosperity.”
One can see firsthand evidence of the steps Roosevelt was taking to combat the depression in many letters, where he discusses his plans.
One of curator Luis Rego’s favorite exhibits is President Herbert Hoover’s pay check for the amount of $6,250. This check was cashed by him just days after the famous stock market crash.
Along the walls surrounding the rotating exhibits are permanent displays. These include Egyptian artifacts, a tribute to the Hinckley fire, a page of sheet music from the hand of Puccini, and an Admiral Nelson display. This fascinating exhibit has a replica of the admiral’s ship next to a memorandum he issued, explaining his war plan for the pivotal battle of Trafalgar.
About the Karpeles
The Karpeles collection is owned by David Karpeles, who bought the former church building in 1993. Museum curator Howard Larson, who is currently in Arizona for the winter, remembers how it started.
“We had a class reunion back in ’93 and were sitting around the table. My wife and David were childhood neighbors and he was talking about his museum. My wife asked him, ‘When are you going to have one in Duluth?’ So, the next day he went out and bought the present
Depending on the exhibit, the documents may be typed letters with signatures, old newspapers, or 200-year-old handwritten notes. All this can be seen for free, Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to