Minnesota Archives, Libraries, and Societies

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This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
Minnesota sil.png
the Minnesota Family History Research series.
History of Minnesota
Minnesota Vital Records
Census Records for Minnesota
Background Sources for Minnesota
Minnesota Maps
Minnesota Land Records
Minnesota Probate Records
Minnesota Court Records
Minnesota Tax Records
Minnesota Cemetery Records
Minnesota Church Records
Minnesota Military Records
Minnesota Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Minnesota Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Minnesota Immigration
Minnesota Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Minnesota
Minnesota County Resources
Map of Minnesota

Minnesota Historical Society

345 Kellogg Blvd. W.
St. Paul, MN 55101

The Minnesota Historical Society has been collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of Minnesota since 1849, which makes the society older than the state it represents. Now located at the Minnesota History Center, the center also includes the Minnesota State Archives. See Minnesota Historical Society Library and Archives Division, Genealogical Resources of the Minnesota Historical Society: A Guide (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1989) for an excellent guide to the multitude of sources in their collection. This handbook alphabetically lists resources, cross-referenced, with a description of contents, location within the society's departments, and means of access.

At the above location are the audio-visual library (genealogists will appreciate the photograph collection of approximately 200,000 images, indexed by subject and name); the map library; the newspaper library (over 3 million issues of approximately 6,500 newspapers); reference library (over 500,000 books, pamphlets, periodicals, microforms, and documents); the largest collection of published Minnesota materials; extensive holdings on railroads, Canadian history, the fur trade, Scandinavians, and Native Americans in Minnesota; and publication offices.

With the integration of the Minnesota State Archives into the historical society, state archives records here include those created by state or local governments in Minnesota. There is an on-going program of transferring these records to the Minnesota Historical Society's system of research centers (see below). The collection is immense, covering a broad spectrum of Minnesota history beginning in 1849. Representative of the collections to be found are the State Board of Auditors for the adjustment of claims for war expenditures (1862'68); Supreme Court Naturalization Records (1858'1906); and Stillwater State Prison (1853'1976). References to numerous items at this location are included under various subjects covered in this chapter.

Manuscript collections at the historical society encompasses over 6,000 collections, including diaries, letters, account books, scrapbooks, business papers, and personal papers of politicians and farmers.

Minnesota Genealogical Society

1185 Concord St. N., Suite 218
South St. Paul, MN 55075-1150

Membership includes the quarterly Minnesota Genealogist and the MGS Newsletter. Meetings are held quarterly, with state and national speakers. The Minnesota Genealogical Society Library, contains over 3,000 reference books, research materials on Indian and Metis groups, and the books and research materials of several of the branches of the society. The society also has an extensive number of special interest groups focusing on a wide variety of ethnic research concentrations.

The Minnesota Genealogical Society office and library are staffed by volunteers, and hours are limited. Classes are provided for beginning and advanced genealogists.

Iron Range Research Center

801 SW Hwy. 169, Ste. 1
Chisholm, MN 55719

Located at the Iron Range Interpretative Center with a full-time library and archives staff, it is designated as the government records repository for Iron Range communities and includes manuscripts, oral histories, and photographs, immigration and naturalization information, and a mining accident index.

Minnesota Regional Research Centers

This network was originally established by the Minnesota Historical Society. James E. Fogerty states in Preliminary Guide to the Holdings of the Minnesota Regional Research Centers (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1975) that its purpose was to expand research possibilities within the state by collecting and preserving sources at various locations in the state. See also James Fogerty, Manuscript Collection of the Minnesota Regional Research Centers: Guide Number 2 (St. Paul: Division of Archives and Manuscripts, Minnesota Historical Society, 1980).

The centers, which are located on the campuses of, and now associated with, colleges and universities in the state, concentrate on topics of regional importance. They are not all staffed on a full-time basis. Material varies at individual centers from information on the Stephen H. Long expedition of 1823 to the account of an auto trip from Minnesota to California and back in 1929. There are oral history interviews and such items as the register of a nineteenth century inn on the Mississippi River.

The Minnesota Historical Society serves the counties of Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties. Other centers and the counties they cover include:

Central Minnesota Historical Center

Centennial Hall, Rm. 148
St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud, MN 56301
Serves Aitkin, Benton, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, and Wright counties.

North Central Minnesota Historical Center (closed)

Some collections are now held by the Beltrami County Historical Society and some are held by the Minnesota Historical Society. The center formerly served Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, and Lake of the Woods counties.

Northeast Minnesota Historical Center

University of Minnesota'Duluth
Library 375
Duluth, MN 55812
Serves Carlton, Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties.

Northwest Minnesota Historical Center

Livingston Lord Library
Minnesota State University'Moorhead
Moorhead, MN 56560
Serves Becker, Clay, Kittson, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, and Wilkin counties.

Southern Minnesota Historical Center

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Mankato, MN 56001
Serves Blue Earth, Brown, Fairbault, Freeborn, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Rice, Sibley, Steele, Waseca, and Watonwan counties.

Southwest Minnesota Historical Center

Southwest State University
Marshall, MN 56258
Serves Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Rock, and Yellow Medicine counties.

West Central Minnesota Historical Center

University of Minnesota'Morris
Morris, MN 56267
Serves Big Stone, Chippewa, Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens, Swift, and Traverse counties.

Other Resources:

Blue Earth County Historical Society
415 Cherry St
Mankato, Minnesota 56001

Phone (507) 345-5566
Email:         [email protected]
Website:     http://www.bechshistory.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/bechshistory

The Research Center contains an extensive collection of books, photographs and manuscripts regarding Blue Earth County's history.
Serves Blue Earth County and surrounding communities.  Welsh/German/Norweigans communties.