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Collection on the Sumner Field Housing Project

Identifier: M/A 0233

Description of Contents

This collection includes materials documenting the construction of the Sumner Field Homes. Materials include scrapbooks of newspaper clippings (1936-1939), photo albums, newspaper clippings, and the copper cornerstone box and its contents.


  • Creation: 1924 - 1945
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1936 - 1939



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


Built in 1938, Sumner Field was the first public housing development in Minneapolis. It consisted of 44 two-story row houses and four three-story apartment buildings in a municipal park-like setting on the city’s north side. Sumner Field’s construction was part of a government effort to clear slums, address a housing shortage and create construction jobs during the Great Depression. Private landlords opposed it.

In 1998, Sumner Field was razed. It was the oldest, largest, and second of four housing complexes demolished after the Hollman settlement. The Hollman v. Cisneros lawsuit alleged that public agencies discriminated by concentrating minorities in inner-city public housing. Sumner Field was replaced by the Heritage Park Housing Development, built between 2002-2009. Heritage Park is roughly bounded by Lyndale, Emerson, 3rd and 10th avenues north.

The early residents of Sumner Field were predominately Jewish along with some African Americans. African Americans and Southeast Asians made up the majority of residents immediately before Sumner Field was razed. Sumner's most famous residents were the musician Prince Rodgers Nelson and Richard Green, who at one time led the Minneapolis and New York school systems.


0.83 Linear Feet (3 boxes, 1 oversize map)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The cornerstone box and contents were given to Grace Belton, librarian at Sumner Library. In 2002, the Sumner Library staff under Dan Kelty and David McAloney turned the materials over to the Special Collections Department. Newspaper clippings and photographs from the Minneapolis History Collection were later added to the collection.

Collection on the Sumner Field Housing Project
October 2002
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.