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Minnesota Records Details and Resources

By Family Tree Editors Premium


Federal censuses start in 1850 (as a territory) and 1860 (as a state). Only fragments of the 1890 federal census have survived for Minnesota, but the full 1890 Veterans Census is available for the state. Mortality schedules exist for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880, and a portion of the 1900 Mortality Schedule survives. The 1856 territorial census and state censuses for 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895 and 1905 are available on microfilm. Partial indexes to some state censuses are online at the Minnesota Historical Society website

The district court for each Minnesota county has civil and criminal cases, including divorce. Divorce proceedings are usually indexed with other civil cases for that county. The Minnesota Department of Health has a statewide index to divorces that begins with 1970. Each county’s probate court handles probate, guardianship, incompetency and sometimes juvenile cases. Land and vital records are usually found in the recorder’s office. WPA inventories were completed for a number of Minnesota counties and serve as a shopping list for other, lesser-used court records.

While some county-level records start earlier, statewide birth registration began in 1900 and deaths in 1908. Any Minnesota courthouse can provide any post-1900/1908 Minnesota birth or death record, as each county courthouse has online access to the Minnesota Department of Health’s birth and death record database and indexes. The documents that result, however, don’t necessarily include all the detail from the original document. Access to Minnesota marriages is a different story, as there’s no statewide registration and no central index except to marriages after 1957. You’ll need to know the county where the marriage likely took place to find the record. MHS has an online index to births and deaths.

For later immigrants, alien registration records from February 1918 list non-US citizens residing in Minnesota with their name, place of birth, port of entry and date of arrival, names of children and occupation. They’re indexed and microfilmed, available at the MHS.

The MHS offers a wealth of resources, including the state archives collections. Minnesota law requires counties, state agencies, local governments and school districts, to offer records they no longer use or plan to retain to the state archives. Older land, probate and other court records from many county courthouses have been transferred to MHS. For example, naturalization records (with indexes) from all 87 Minnesota counties have been transferred to MHS and microfilmed. Those films are available on interlibrary loan (look for copies at the Family History Library, too). Examples of state agency records at MHS are the records of Stillwater State Prison, various state hospitals, the Minnesota Veterans Home and applications for military service bonuses.

Minnesota Genealogical Society (MGS) resources include the MGS Cemetery Project, which lists many cemetery locations in Minnesota, and identifying who holds any records, transcriptions or indexes.

Don’t overlook local libraries, county historical societies and museums, and genealogical societies. They may hold unique resources, including helpful staff.

Other resources in specialized collections include Celtic and Luxembourg materials at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, the Roberg Collection of Norwegian materials at St. Olaf University in Northfield, the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, and mining and northern Minnesota history at the Iron Range Research Center in Chisholm. The Immigration History Research Center in Minneapolis is a major repository for American immigration research, containing manuscripts, books, newspapers and serials.

The Minnesota USGenWeb Project is an indispensable resource for the resources, indexes and links it provides at both the state and county levels. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City holds microfilmed records for a number of Minnesota counties, primarily in the southern tier of the state, as well as some for Ramsey (St. Paul) and Hennepin (Minneapolis) counties. Active microfilming continues in Minnesota.


  • Guide to the Minnesota State Census Microfilm by Mary Hawker Bakeman (Park Genealogical Books, 1992)


  • Declarations of Intention (1847-1852) of 262 Minnesota Pioneers by James E. Erickson (Park Genealogical Books, 1997)
  • For Sale — Minnesota: Organized Promotion of Scandinavian Immigration, 1866-1873 by Lars Ljungmark (Swedish Pioneer Historical Society, 1971)


  • Federal Land Grants to the States with Special Reference to Minnesota by Matthias N. Orfield (Matthias N. Orfield, 1915)
  • A Guide to the Records of Minnesota’s Public Lands by Gregory Kinney (Minnesota Historical Society, 1985)
  • Land Records: AL, AR, FL, LA, MI, MN, OH, WI (Broderbund, 1996. CD-ROM)
  • Minnesota, 1820-1908: Cash and Homestead Entries from the US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM Eastern States, 1995, CD-ROM and at
  • Minnesota Land Owner Maps and Directories by Mary Hawker Bakeman (Park Genealogical Books, 1994)


  • Atlas of the State of Minnesota compiled by the Thomas O. Nelson Co. (MN: Thomas O. Nelson Co., 1971)
  • Comprehensive Index to A.T. Andreas’ Illustrated Historical Atlas of Minnesota — 1874 by Mary Hawker Bakeman (Park Genealogical Books, 1992)
  • The Establishment of County Boundaries in Minnesota by Mary Ellen Lewis (Master’ Thesis, University of Minnesota, 1946)
  • Every Person’s Name Index to An Illustrated Atlas of the State of Minnesota by Paul J. Ostendorf (St. Mary’s College, 1979)
  • Gazetteer of Minnesota Railroad Towns, 1861-1997 by Hudson Leighton (Park Genealogical Books, 1992)
  • German Place Names in Minnesota — Deutsche Ortsnamen in Minnesota by LaVern J. Rippley (St. Olaf College, 1989)
  • Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Minnesota by Alfred T. Andreas (Unigraphic, 1874, 1976)
  • Minnesota Atlas and Gazetteer, 2nd edition, (DeLorme Mapping Co., 1995)
  • Minnesota’s Boundary with Canada: Its Evolution since 1783 by William E. Lass (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1980)
  • Minnesota Genealogical Periodical Index by Arthur Louis Finnell (Finnell Richter and Assoc., 1980)
  • Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance by Warren Upham (Minnesota Historical Society, 1920, 1969)
  • Newspapers on the Minnesota Frontier, 1849-1860 by George Sigrud Hage (Minnesota Historical Society, 1967)
  • The Post Offices of Minnesota by Alan H. Patera and John S. Gallagher (The Depot, 1978)
  • Windows to the Past: A Bibliography of Minnesota County Atlases by Mai Treude (Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota, 1980)


  • History of the Fourth Regiment of Minnesota Infantry Volunteers During the Great Rebellion by Alonzo L. Brown (Higginson Books, 1892, 1995)
  • Known War of 1812 Veterans Buried in Minnesota by Arthur Louis Finnell (A.L. Finnell, 1996)
  • Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861-1865 (Pioneer Press, 1890-93)
  • Minnesota in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection by Franklin F. Holbrook (Minnesota War Records Commission, 1923)
  • Minnesotans in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, April 21, 1898-July 4, 1902 by Antona Hawkins Richardson (Paduan Press, 1998)
  • Minnesota’s World War II Army Dead (Park Genealogical Books, 1994)
  • Minnesota’s WWII Combat connected Naval Casualties (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard) from the US Navy (Park Genealogical Books, 1996)
  • Pensioners on the Rolls as of 1 January 1883 (living in Minnesota) (Park Genealogical Books, 1883, 1994)


  • Adoptions & Name Changes: Minnesota Territory & State, 1851-1881 by Stina B. Green (Park Genealogical Books, 1994)


  • Church Records in Minnesota: Guide to Parish Records of Congregational, Evangelical, Reformed & United Church of Christ Churches 1851-1891 by Anne A. Hage (Park Genealogical Books, 1983)
  • Early Presbyterian Church Records from Minnesota 1825-1871 by the Pond Brothers, transcribed by Mary Hawker Bakeman (Park Genealogical Books, 1992)
  • Guide to Church Vital Statistics Records in Minnesota: Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals (Historical Records Survey, 1942)
  • Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Minnesota (Historical Records Survey, 1941)
  • Minnesota Cemeteries in Print: A Bibliography of Minnesota Published Cemetery Inscriptions, Burials, Etc. by Wiley R. Pope (Minnesota Family Trees, 1986)

Return to the main Minnesota page

From the Family Tree Sourcebook
Also available: the State Research Guide Book, State Research Guides CD and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.

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