Minnesota Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections

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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


The Minnesota Genealogist, quarterly publication of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, includes a variety of genealogical articles, cemetery readings, newspaper and vital records extractions, book reviews, queries, and miscellaneous information of interest to the Minnesota researcher. Indexes are available through the society.

Minnesota History usually contains three to four full-length historical articles. It is indexed and published quarterly by the Minnesota Historical Society.


An excellent source for the historical development of Minnesota's newspapers is George S. Hage, Newspapers on the Minnesota Frontier, 1849'50 (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1967). The Minnesota Historical Society was chartered in 1849 as a repository for these territorial 'day-books of history.' On 28 April 1849, the first issue of the Minnesota Pioneer was published by James Madison Goodhue. By 14 July of that year Minnesota had three newspapers, all printed in St. Paul. The St. Anthony Express, the earliest newspaper in what is now Minneapolis, was first printed in 1851. The prime objective of these early papers was to attract settlers to the territory.

There are two reference sources available for locating information in the Minnesota Pioneer. The Minnesota Pioneer Index is a card file located at the Minnesota Historical Society that covers the newspaper through 4 Sept 1851. The Minnesota Genealogical Journal includes important extractions from the same newspaper through 4 April 1854. Obituaries, probate notices, lists of arrivals at St. Paul hotels, and letters remaining at the post office are covered.

The Minnesota Biography File is an extensive ongoing alphabetical card file index citing Obituaries and other biographical details from newspapers, serials, books, and microfilmed scrapbooks in the collection at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul city libraries have printed contemporary indexes of their respective major newspapers. The Minnesota regional research centers and local historical and genealogical groups may have indexing projects of community newspapers underway.

Two other sources are the Babcock Newspaper Index to articles in Minnesota newspapers (1849'58), which is a card index located at Minnesota Historical Society Research Center and the University of Minnesota, and the Immigration History Research Center's Newspapers on Microfilm (St. Paul: Immigration History Research Center, 1978). The latter is for ethnic newspapers.


The Minnesota Historical Society has manuscript collections for almost every aspect of Minnesota territorial and state history. Many of these are listed in three guides:

  • Kane, Lucile M., and Kathryn A. Johnson, comps. Manuscript Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Guide Number Two. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955.
  • Lucas, Lydia A., comp. Manuscripts Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1977.
  • Nute, Grace Lee, and Gertrude W. Ackermann, comps. Guide to the Personal Papers in the Manuscripts Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1935.

Significant collections at the Minnesota Historical Society include the historical records of the Northern Pacific and Great Northern railways (1854'1970). Personnel files are limited. The Mission File Index, developed by Grace L. Nute, is an index to copies of manuscript materials about missionaries and pre-twentieth century life in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Historical Society also has an immense number of fur trade papers. These are described, although not inclusively, in Bruce M. White, The Fur Trade in Minnesota: An Introductory Guide to Manuscript Sources (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1977).

Manuscript collections of value can be found at the Iron Range Research Center, Minnesota Regional Research Centers, Immigration History Research Center of the University of Minnesota, and university and religiously affiliated libraries in the state. Some repositories have printed guides or bibliographies.