Minnesota History

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Online Resources


Effective family history research requires some understanding of the historical events that affected your family and the records about them. Learning about wars, governments, laws, migrations, and religious trends can help you understand political boundaries, family movements, and settlement patterns.

State, county, and local histories often contain biographical sketches of local citizens, including important genealogical information. This may be one of the best sources of information for some families.

Historical Content

Histories are great sources of genealogical information. Many contain biographical information about individuals who lived in the area, including:

Brief History

The following important events in the history of Minnesota affected political jurisdictions, family movements, and record keeping.

Local Histories

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. Published histories of towns, counties, and states usually contain accounts of families. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of pioneers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. Local histories are extensively collected by the Family History Library, public and university libraries, and state and local historical societies.

State Histories Useful to Genealogists

Good genealogists strive to understand the life and times of their ancestors. In this sense, any history is useful. But certain kinds of state, county, and local histories, especially older histories published between 1845 and 1945, often include biographical sketches of prominent individuals. The sketches usually tend toward the laudatory, but may include some genealogical details. If these histories are indexed or alphabetical, check for an ancestor's name. Some examples for the State of Minnesota:

United States History

The following are only a few of the many sources that are available:

To find more books and articles about Minnesota 's history use the Internet Google search for phases like "Minnesota history." FamilySearch Catalog Surname Search lists many more histories under topics like:


Web Sites

Wiki articles describing onliine collections are found at:


  1. Brook, Michael. Reference Guide to Minnesota History: A Subject Bibliography of Books, Pamphlets, and Articles in English. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society, 1974. (Family History Library book 977.6 A3b.)
  2. Brook, Michael. A Supplement to Reference Guide to Minnesota History: A Subject Bibliography, 1970–1980. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1983. (Family History Library book 977.6 A3b supp..)
  3. Filby, P. William. A Bibliography of American County Histories. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1985. (FHL book 973 H23bi)
  4. referer=brief_results Worldcat
  5. Kaminkow, Marion J. United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress. 5 vols. Baltimore: Magna Charta Book, 1975-76. (FHL book 973 A3ka.)
  6. qt=results_page Worldcat
  7. Folwell, William Watts. A History of Minnesota. Four Volumes. Saint Paul, Minneota: Minnesota Historical Society, 1921–1930. (Family History Library book 977.6 H2f; film 1036196 items2–5.) This history focuses on firsts in the state: first white men, first commerce, and so on. Volume 4 has a cumulative index. *Blegen, Theodore C. Minnesota: A History of the State. 2d ed. [Minneapolis, Minnesota]: University of Minnesota Press, 1975. ( Family History Library book 977.6 H2bt.)
  8. Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983. (FHL book 973 H2alm)
  9. referer=brief_results Worldcat
  10. Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976. (FHL book 973 H2ad.)
  11. referer=brief_results Worldcat
  12. Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. Springfield, Mass.: G C Merriam, 1971. (FHL book 973 H2v)
  13. Limited view at printsec=frontcover dq=Webster%27s+Guide+to+American+History:+A+Chronological,+Geographical,+and+Biographical+Survey+and+Compendium%27 ei=Vn-xSeS6FJDUlQSby81v#PPP13,M1 Google Books
  14. qt=owc_search Worldcat
  15. Writings on American History By American Historical Association, Library of Congress, United States National Historical Publications Commission, Published by KTO Press, 1921 FHL book 973 H23w
  16. qt=owc_search Worldcat
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