Gangsters in St. Paul
The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, known as the Prohibition Amendment (1920-1933), prohibited the manufacture, sale, transport, import, or export of alcoholic beverages. The mandated shutdown of breweries and distilleries ended the lawful production of alcoholic beverages and created a vacuum that was filled by the unlawful production, sale, and control of "bootlegged" products and lawless allied activities: smuggling, gambling, prostitution, extortion, robbery, and murder. These became the province of such powerful crime czars as Chicago's Al Capone, of criminal gangs, and of organized crime. Lawlessness and the corruption of officials and police — the unintended consequences of the legislation — infected many American cities, including St. Paul. The city became a center of operation and a haven for such notorious gangsters as John Dillinger, Babyface Nelson, Roger "the Terrible" Touhy, Machine Gun Kelly, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, and the Barker gang, whose activities extended to robbing banks, holding up mail trucks and trains, and kidnapping and holding their hostages for ransom.
GET STARTED WITH SECONDARY SOURCES:
- Crime Marches On: St. Paul-Gangster's Paradise, by
Raymond Moley and Edgar Sisson.
[Dunellen, N.J.: Today Associates, Inc.], 1934.
MHS call number: Folio HV6795.S3 M7.
- Dillinger: A Short and Violent Life, by Robert Cromie
and Joseph Pinkston.
New York: McGraw-Hill, .
MHS call number: HV6248.D5 C7.
- "The Dillinger Case," by Edwin J. "Ed" Riege; introduction
by Lawrence G. Lawler.
In The Investigator, Part I: Nov. 1988: pp. 9-11; Part II: Dec. 1988: pp. 2-3.
MHS call number: HV6248.D5 R44 1988.
- The Dillinger Days, by John Toland.
New York: Random House, .
Minnesota episodes on pp. 42-52, 59-61, 163-172, 199-203, 238-239, 242-249.
MHS call number: HV6248.D5 T6.
- "Growing Up In St. Paul: Years of Depression, Gangsters, Good
Schools," by Willard L. (Sandy) Boyd.
In Ramsey County History, vol. 27, no. 1 (spring 1992).
MHS call number: Reading Room F612.R22 R3 v.27:1
Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks' Tour of Crime and Corruption in St. Paul,
1920-1936, by Paul Maccabee.
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1995.
MHS call number: Reading Room HV6795.S3 M33 1995.
- "St. Paul Wins a War," by Stanley High.
In Current History, vol. 49, no. 1 (Sept. 1938): pp. 18-20.
MHS call number: D1 .C9 v.49:1.
- "St. Paul's Darkest Decade, 1925-1935," by Donald J.
Giese and Nate N. Bomberg.
In St. Paul Pioneer Press, Sunday Pictorial Magazine, Dec. 3, 1967: pp. 4-39.
MHS call number: FOLIO HV6534.S2 G5.
- St. Paul's Gangster Days, Neil Brede, producer.
[S.l.: s.n., 1990?]
This documentary uses historical photographs, newspapers, and interviews to examine St. Paul's reputation as a haven for many of the nation's criminals, which led to a crime wave in the 1930s.
MHS call number: Videotape 391 (1 56-minute color videocassette).
- "When the Saintly City Wasn't," by Woodrow Keljik. In ACE (St. Paul Athletic Club), vol. 65, no. 5 (May 1985): pp. 4-23. MHS call number: GV563.S2 A4 v.65:5.
- St. Paul Gangster History Research Collection, 1981-1995.
Research and interview notes; correspondence; photocopies of newspaper and magazine articles and book excerpts; photocopies of FBI, St. Paul Police Department, and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation records; photocopies of federal and state prison inmate and court records; and photocopies of birth and death certificates, all created or compiled by Maccabee for his book John Dillinger Slept Here.
MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks — filed alphabetically under Maccabee, Paul — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 7 boxes), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
- Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Criminal History Files.
Fifty-one criminal history files, mainly documenting high-profile 1930s gangsters, including Arthur (Doc) and Fred Barker, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, John Dillinger, Arthur Flegenheimer (Dutch Schultz), Alvin Karpis, Frank Mitchell (Pretty Boy Floyd), George Nelson (Baby Face Nelson), Clair Ralph Gibson, Robert W. Markwood, Fred Ryan, Rocky S. Lupino, and Homer Van Meter. Several criminals involved in high-profile Twin Cities crimes are also documented. The files contain photographs (including "mug shots"), fingerprint cards, correspondence with the FBI and law enforcement agencies nationwide, wanted posters, criminal history transcripts, and newspaper clippings.
Restriction: Access to original files shelved in Reserve requires the curator's permission. Electronic version of the inventory includes digitized representations of original records.
MHS call number: See the black State Archives Notebooks — filed alphabetically under Public Safety Department: Criminal Apprehension Bureau— for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 3 boxes and 1 oversize folder), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
- Newspapers that may be useful for this topic:
- St. Paul Dispatch
- St. Paul Pioneer Press
- Check the library catalog for other materials.