Minnesota Emigration and Immigration
Emigration records list the names of people leaving an area, and immigration records list those coming into an area. The United States Research Outline (30972) "Emigration and Immigration" section lists several important sources for finding information about immigrants. These nationwide sources include many references to people who settled in Minnesota. The Tracing Immigrant Origins Research Outline (34111) introduces the principles, search strategies, and additional record types you can use to identify an immigrant ancestor’s original hometown.
Pre-statehood residents of Minnesota were primarily American Indians and French and British immigrants. After 1858 settlers in Minnesota generally came from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New York. After 1860 thousands of immigrants came from Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, and Denmark.
Minnesota has no ports of entry. Most immigrants to Minnesota arrived at a major eastern port such as New York (New York), Boston (Massachusetts), Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), or Quebec (Canada). Some Minnesota immigrants prior to 1855 entered through the port of New Orleans. The Family History Library has records for the ports of New York (New York), Boston (Massachusetts), and New Orleans (Louisiana) beginning about 1820. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania records start in 1800. See the United States Research Outline (30972) for details. Quebec, Canada port records begin in 1865. Settlers generally followed the Great Lakes and the railroads to Illinois and Wisconsin, or they traveled up the Mississippi River. Steamboats and vessels traveling the lakes and rivers were not required to keep passenger lists.
Lists of persons coming from Canada to the United States were not recorded until 1895. Persons who crossed the border after that year might be listed in Soundex Index to Canadian Border Entries Through the St. Albans, Vermont District, 1895–1924, and other sources mentioned in the "Emigration and Immigration" section of the Canada Research Outline (34545). These and other border entry indexes and lists are also described in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
CANADA – EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION
UNITED STATES – EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION
The Minnesota Historical Society has Alien Registration Records made in February 1918, listing most non-U.S. citizens in Minnesota. The indexes and records are on microfilm but are not at the Family History Library. The registration form gives name, place of birth (sometimes the town), port of entry, date of arrival, names of children, and occupation. Contact the Minnesota Historical Society Library at the address listed in the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline for further information.
Information about immigrant groups from eastern and southern Europe is at the Immigration History Research Center described in the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline.
To find books about migration in Minnesota, use a Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
MINNESOTA – EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION
Records of major ethnic groups are also listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
MINNESOTA – MINORITIES.
Minnesota Alien Registration Index - 1918
Content of the index information:
- City and county of residence
- Roll and frame number
The Minnesota Alien Registration of 1918 registered all foreign born individuals living in Minnesota and who had not yet become citizens. Registration was completed in all 87 Minnesota counties.
A 35-question form was required and much personal information can be found in the original registration.
The repository for these records is the Iron Range Research Center, a library and archive devoted to Minnesota research in Chisholm, Minnesota.
- When you enter information into the search box, the results will also include other databases on this site.
- Copies of the original alien registration document are $10 per search. Payment is preferred by Visa or Master Card through the website.