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Duluth Junior College

Duluth, Minnesota



I got the student newspaper of Duluth Junior College through interlibrary loan, providing most of what I know about the school.  The Duluth Public Library and the library at the University of Minnesota-Duluth also provided information.


Duluth Junior College was created by the Duluth school district in 1927 so that “its young people can get their first two years of college at home.”  Eighty percent of D.J.C. students were from Duluth.  Its curriculum was designed “to give the work required for entrance to the senior college or to the professional schools that require two years of pre-professional work.”  The largest groups of students were enrolled in the engineering and business programs. With a population of more than 100,000, Duluth was the largest Minnesota city to support a junior college.  The result was that DJC had “excellent equipment . . . for the engineering and other technical courses.”  Another result was that the faculty was largely a junior college faculty—not a moonlighting high school faculty. 


But from the start D.J.C. faced serious problems.  First, Duluth already had a normal school, so that D.J.C. had to compete for local students—especially for women who tended toward the teaching profession.  Second, the tuition costs were a serious issue.  Initially $250 per year in 1927-28, fees were lowered to $200 in 1930—a figure still out of reach for many prospective students.  The local Duluth newspaper accused the board of “running a junior college available only to the children of the well-to-do.”  So fees were dropped to $100 in 1931 in a move to increase enrollment above 246.  In 1937 Duluth Junior College enrolled 413 students.  However, before closure, enrollment was reported at 111 students.


Ultimately, competition from Duluth Normal College and rumors of impending closures became too much, and D.J.C. closed after the 1949-50 school year.

Bricks and Mortar

Initially D.J.C. was housed on the third floor of Denfeld High School.  The building was only a year old, and its 120-foot clock tower became the symbol for both D.J.C. and the high school.  Through the years the college students complained of having to share a building with high school students.  So in the fall of 1946, with an influx of returning veterans, D.J.C. was moved to the old Franklin Elementary School building.   Franklin School—another building with a tower—was closed in 1977 and razed in 1979.   The site is now a playground. The Denfeld High School building—now renovated—is one of three high schools in Duluth.



Denfeld High School Clock Tower (Photo by Daniel Hass, <   accessed 11-7-2017


        Team name: Bluejays

        Colors: Blue and Scarlet


In addition to teams in basketball, track, tennis and golf, Duluth Junior College fielded a football team throughout its history.  The 1928 team won the conference championship of Minnesota Junior Colleges.  The school’s last three teams (1946-48) also won championships.  After conference victories over Eveleth, Virginia, Itasca, Hibbing, Brainerd, and Ely, and a victory over Minnesota JV’s and Gogebic (MI), the 1948 team was selected as the team from the East to play in the Junior Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. There it lost to the local Compton JC club 48-14.  Harry Carson Frye says that the 1949 team compiled an 8-0 record.



The Junior Rose Bowl team (Courtesy of the University of Minnesota-Duluth Library)

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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