Skip to main content

Irene Melgaard Hauser Papers on the WPA Minneapolis Newspaper Indexing Project

Identifier: M/A 0245

Description of Contents

Collection contains booklets, notes, clippings, manuals, reports, newsletters, and other materials related to the Minneapolis Public Library’s Newspaper Indexing Project (funded by the Works Progress Administration). Also included is research on the WPA project by Hauser's daughter, Jane Pejsa.


  • Creation: 1938 - 1943



The collection is available for use in Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library during the department's open hours.


In 1938, the Minneapolis Public Library began a WPA project to index the Minneapolis Journal from 1899 to 1914. The project was led by former library director Gratia Countryman and Irene Hauser was her assistant. In 1942, WPA staff switched over to indexing the Star Journal during the World War II years. The indexing done through this project (and a later one based on the standards and procedures as the manual prescribed) has been an invaluable resource for researchers of the history of Minneapolis, its residents, companies and events. The index remains in card format.

Irene Melgaard Hauser was born in Argyle, Minnesota in 1896. She was an English major at Carleton College and graduated magna cum laude in 1918. She was the first female editor of the student newspaper, the Carletonian. Hauser received her graduate degree from the Los Angeles Library School, now University of Southern California. Irene Melgaard married Walter U. Hauser in 1925. They had met in 1918 and corresponded while Irene was in California. Irene's father had a long illness that delayed their marriage until 1925. Walter Hauser was a lawyer and community leader.

Irene worked for the Minneapolis Public Library from 1920 to the birth of her first child, Susan, in 1926. Hauser worked in the reference and catalog departments. By 1932, the family finances were in such dire straits because of the Depression that Irene returned to the library.

In 1938, began her work on the newspaper index. It was one of the most interesting times of Hauser's life. The workers were unemployed stockbrokers, teachers, lawyers and artists. The Hausers invited members of the WPA project without families to their dinner table for holidays. Hauser worked on the project until 1942.

After the WPA project, Hauser continued her library work as a volunteer for Plymouth Congregational Church. She brought together the book collection in one space and cataloged it. The library was later a significant part of the church. Hauser died February 17, 1990.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Donor Information

These papers were donated by Irene Hauser's daughter, Jane Pejsa as accession 2005.06.

Related Materials in Hennepin County Library Special Collections

The Minneapolis Journal Index is housed in the 4th floor stacks of Central Library.

The World War II index is in the card catalog in Special Collections.

Additional information on Irene Hauser and her husband Walter is available in the Minneapolis Collection biography files.

The Minneapolis Public Library administrative archives contains further information on the WPA indexing project.

Irene Melgaard Hauser Papers on the WPA Minneapolis Newspaper Indexing Project
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.