James-Younger Gang Bank Raid collection guide

A guide to an online collection of digitized items from Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection (DHC) contributors that document the James-Younger Gang’s failed bank raid on September 7, 1876 in Northfield, Minnesota.


Creator: Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection.
 James-Younger Gang Bank Raid Collection.
Dates: Originals created c. 1876, with some outliers recounting the history of the raid years afterward. Digitized copies of the originals were created from 2012-2018.
Language: Materials in English.
Abstract: Digitized photographs, documents, and artifacts documenting the James-Younger Gang’s failed bank raid on the First National Bank of Northfield on September 7, 1876.
Quantity: 320 unique items, including both single pages and multi-paged documents.
Location: Access files reside online via the Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection. Master digital files are saved on multiple servers at the Northfield Historical Society.

Scope and Contents

Many of the Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection’s contributing organizations in Northfield and Rice County own materials documenting the James-Younger Gang’s failed bank raid at the First National Bank of Northfield on September 7, 1876. Their relevant documents have been digitized and grouped together in this online set of items that share a common theme – the bank raid – as well as a standard set of subjects. A variety of media types is represented in this online collection, including text documents, still images, artifacts, and more. The online collection items represent the visual and written record of what happened on that day, as well as the repercussions for those involved.

Item Types
Text Documents: 112 unique items, including newspaper accounts, letters, indictments, memoirs, and more.
Still Images:
 153 unique items, including portraits of the gang members and townspeople, other photographs, postcards, dime novel covers, and illustrations.
Artifacts: 34 unique items, including the gang’s weapons, spurs, and bullets, as well as bank furnishings and commemorative items
Mixed Material: 6 scrapbooks of Northfield history


The digital items are organized based on their original partner collection. The documents are fully transcribed and their descriptive metadata are full-text searchable. All items share a standard set of locally assigned subject headings so that they can be found across all partner collections.

Partner Collection Items

Carleton College:
Histories of the College
The Northfield Bank Raid book
Covers of Jesse James dime novels

Christdala Church Preservation and Cemetery Association:
A history of the founding of Christdala, including early members’ connections to the events of the raid
Church history book
The Northfield Bank Raid book

First National Bank of Northfield:
Portraits of the James-Younger Gang members
Portraits of Joseph Lee Heywood, Oscar Sorbel, and the Magnificent Seven posse
Excerpts from the First National Bank Minutes Book from 1876
Spurs and a gun picked up on the street
Other souvenirs and memorabilia

First United Church of Christ:
People: Highlights of Northfield’s History book

Northfield Historical Society:
Portraits of the gang members, townspeople, and the Magnificent Seven posse
Portraits of the Joseph Lee Heywood family
Photographs and illustrations of the First National Bank in 1876
Weapons, holsters, and bullets
Bank safe, vault door, clock, plaque, and door lock from the bank
Handwritten note from Cole Younger
Inlaid boxes made by the Younger Brothers in prison
Cole Younger’s account of the robbery
Scrapbooks and more

Northfield News:
Newspaper article featuring eyewitness accounts published 1897
Up and Down Main Street 40 Years Ago book
History of the First National Bank booklet

Northfield Public Library:
Newspaper clippings
Postcards and photographs
Northfield Bank Raid reenactment script
Inventory of folders in the Jesse James drawer at the library

Rice County Historical Society:
Various accounts of the robbery
Newspaper clippings
State of Minnesota indictments against the Younger brothers
Letter from Jesse Ames
Posse request for reimbursements ledger

St. John’s Lutheran Church:
The Book of a Century: 1869-1969

Locally Assigned Subject Headings

Access Statement

All partner organizations retain the rights to their materials on the DHC. Non-commercial uses are permitted. Other uses of the objects are governed by U.S. and international copyright law. Contact the partner organizations for permission to use this object.

Additional Resources

View all digitized items in this online collection group on the Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection.