MNHS Reference Librarian Wins Award for Research on Legendary Con Man

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 24, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137,
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148,


MNHS Reference Librarian Wins Award for Research on Legendary Con Man

Reference and User Services Association’s Learning History Research and Innovation Award will help Jenny McElroy continue to dig into the story of Lord Gordon Gordon

The Minnesota Historical Society is pleased to announce that Gale Family Library Reference Librarian Jenny McElroy is the 2018 winner of the Learning History Research and Innovation Award from the History Section of the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association. 

The $2,500 award, sponsored by Gale, a Cengage Company, aims to help facilitate and further research relating to history and history librarianship. It recognizes McElroy’s innovative research into the complicated tale of legendary con man Lord Gordon Gordon, whose U.S. crime spree started in Minnesota. 

In the 1870s, Gordon passed himself off as a wealthy Scottish lord and befriended powerful men in Minneapolis and St. Paul. “With the connections he made in Minnesota, Gordon headed to New York, where he eventually bilked railroad tycoon Jay Gould out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks and cash,” said McElroy. “The story continues with lawsuits in New York, a bail-breaking flight to Canada, a kidnapping, and an international incident between the U.S. and Canada. Major historical players like Horace Greeley, Boss Tweed and President Ulysses S. Grant all appear in Gordon’s story.”

McElroy will use the funding for travel expenses to continue her research, potentially in Canada and New York. She plans to turn her research into a series of articles or a book.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.