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Harry H. Peterson, Associate Justice 1936-1950

Harry H. Peterson

Portrait of Harry H. Peterson

In 1936, Harry H. Peterson was appointed Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.


Born on April 12, 1890 and raised in St Paul, Minnesota, Harry Herbert Peterson attended public schools. He went on to attend the University of Minnesota Law School and graduated cum laude in 1912.  On June 28, 1916, he married Mabel V. Norquist.

Harry H. Peterson served as an Assistant County Attorney and the Ramsey County Attorney from 1923 to 1926.  He was said to be so dedicated to the law that he worked with a ruptured appendix for 10 days before going to the hospital.  In 1932, he was elected as Attorney General.  He was reelected as Attorney General in 1934 and 1936. During the depression years, he drafted the Minnesota Mortgage Moratorium Act. The act provided the courts authority to postpone foreclosures until the homeowner had a chance to refinance. Attorney General Peterson also drafted the Homestead Preferential Tax Act, which provided tax cuts to homeowners.  He drafted a law that allowed farmers, affected by harsh dust-bowl conditions, to borrow money to feed their livestock.  Harry H. Peterson resigned as Attorney General to accept an appointment from the Governor to the supreme court bench, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Justice I.M. Olsen.

On December 15, 1936, Harry H. Peterson was appointed Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.  He was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1938 and reelected in 1944.  Harry Peterson resigned from the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1950 to run as the DFL candidate for governor. He lost the election and practiced law in Minneapolis. He founded and was dean of the Midwestern College of Law, which later became Hamline University Law School.

Harry H. Peterson died on January 23, 1985 in St. Paul.

You may read more about the life and work of Justice Peterson in the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society's book:  Testimony: Remembering Minnesota’s Supreme Court Justices, which is the source of this brief biography.

Harry H Peterson Signature

Image Credit: Harry Herbert Peterson, photographed by Carl Otto Erickson and courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society, por 25218 r3, H. Peterson's signature from the Minnesota Supreme Court's Roll of Attorneys,1858-1970, p 116 (June 14, 1912), available online at: 

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