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Collection on Floyd B. Olson

Identifier: M/A 0046

Description of Contents

The collection consists of information on Olson’s life from 1921 through his death in 1936. The vast majority of the collection is newspaper clippings, however there are also a small number of pamphlets, magazine articles, and other printed materials.


  • 1921 - 1986

Access Restrictions

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


Serving from 1931 to 1936, Floyd Bjørnstjerne Olson was Minnesota’s first Farmer-Labor Party governor. Olson was born on November 13, 1891. He was the son of poor Scandinavian immigrants who settled in north Minneapolis. His checkered education included one year at the University of Minnesota, a stint as a laborer in the Pacific Northwest, and a degree from Northwest Law College. In 1919 the young lawyer was appointed assistant attorney for Hennepin County and soon became county attorney, a position he held for ten years. By the time he was elected governor, Olson's reputation as a tough-talking man of the people was sealed, and his skills as a canny politician and radio orator were well honed. He used these qualities to appeal to the rural and, especially, urban poor with his rousing rhetoric while gaining the support of a relatively conservative legislature.

In each of three successive campaigns, Olson spoke more vehemently against "the failure of government and our social system to function in the interests of the common happiness of the people." After each election he urged more legislation to alleviate the Depression's devastating effects. His power and popularity helped make Minnesota's Farmer-Labor coalition the most successful third party in America's history.

Olson died on August 22, 1936, in at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, while still in office as governor.


1.25 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Collection on Floyd B. Olson
Nick Steffel
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.