Minnesota Emigration and Immigration

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Minnesota Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Minnesota Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

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). See United States Immigration Online Genealogy Records.

Cultural Groups[edit | edit source]

Passport Records Online[edit | edit source]

Offices to Contact[edit | edit source]

Although many records are included in the online records listed above, there are other records available through these archives and offices. For example, there are many minor ports that have not yet been digitized. There are also records for more recent time periods. For privacy reasons, some records can only be accessed after providing proof that your ancestor is now deceased.

National Archives and Records Administration[edit | edit source]

  • You may do research in immigration records in person at the National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001.

U.S. Citizenship and and Immigration Services Genealogy Program[edit | edit source]

The USCIS Genealogy Program is a fee-for-service program that provides researchers with timely access to historical immigration and naturalization records of deceased immigrants. If the immigrant was born less than 100 years ago, you will also need to provide proof of his/her death.

Immigration Records Available[edit | edit source]
  • A-Files: Immigrant Files, (A-Files) are the individual alien case files, which became the official file for all immigration records created or consolidated since April 1, 1944.
  • Alien Registration Forms (AR-2s): Alien Registration Forms (Form AR-2) are copies of approximately 5.5 million Alien Registration Forms completed by all aliens age 14 and older, residing in or entering the United States between August 1, 1940 and March 31, 1944.
  • Registry Files: Registry Files are records, which document the creation of immigrant arrival records for persons who entered the United States prior to July 1, 1924, and for whom no arrival record could later be found.
  • Visa Files: Visa Files are original arrival records of immigrants admitted for permanent residence under provisions of the Immigration Act of 1924.[1]
Requesting a Record[edit | edit source]

Minnesota Historical Society[edit | edit source]

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.
Minnesota Historical Society
345 Kellogg Boulevard W.
St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 USA
Telephone: 651-296-2143
Fax: 651-297-7436


The Minnesota Historical Society Library acts as a State Archives, including a great genealogical collection, histories, biographies, newspapers, indexes, local, county, school district, city, and state or county government records, historical documents, and unpublished personal papers. Ethnic groups covered: Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, Germans, and American Indians.ks, and genealogical data.

Immigration History Research Center[edit | edit source]

Immigration History Research Center
311 Elmer L. Andersen Library
222 21st Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Telephone: 612-627-4208
Fax: 612-627-4190

The Immigration History Research Center’s collection is national in scope but includes European immigration to Minnesota by Czechs, Poles, Byelorussians, Carpath-Rusins, Finns, Greeks, Italians, Russians, also Albanians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Estonians, Hungarians, Jews, Latvians, Lithuanians, Macedonians, Romanians, Serbs, Slavs, and Ukrainians. The immigrants are from central, eastern, and southern European countries.

Iron Range Research Center[edit | edit source]

Iron Range Research Center<br> Minnesota Discovery Center
1005 Discovery Drive
Chisholm, MN 55719

Phone: (218) 254-7959
E-mail: info@mndiscoverycenter.com

Minnesota Alien Registration Index - 1918[edit | edit source]

The repository for these records is the Iron Range Research Center, a library and archive devoted to Minnesota research in Chisholm, Minnesota.
Content of the index information:

  • Name
  • City and county of residence
  • Age
  • Roll and frame number

A 35-question form was required and much personal information can be found in the original registration.

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.

Finding Town of Origin[edit | edit source]

Records in the countries emigrated from are kept on the local level. You must first identify the name of the town where your ancestors lived to access those records. If you do not yet know the name of the town of your ancestor's birth, there are well-known strategies for a thorough hunt for it.

Background[edit | edit source]

  • 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.
  • According to the 2017 American Community Survey, 5.1% of Minnesota's population were of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race): Mexican (3.5%), Puerto Rican (0.2%), Cuban (0.1%), and other Hispanic or Latino origin (1.2%).The ancestry groups claimed by more than five percent of the population were: German (33.8%), Norwegian (15.3%), Irish (10.5%), Swedish (8.1%), and English (5.4%).
  • Minnesota has the country's largest Somali population, with an estimated 57,000 people, the largest concentration outside of the Horn of Africa.[2]

Immigration Records[edit | edit source]

Immigration refers to people coming into a country. Emigration refers to people leaving a country to go to another. Immigration records usually take the form of ship's passenger lists collected at the port of entry. See Online Resources.

What can I find in them?[edit | edit source]

Information in Passenger Lists[edit | edit source]

  • Before 1820 - Passenger lists before 1820 included name, departure information and arrival details. The names of wives and children were often not included.
  • 1820-1891 - Customs Passenger Lists between 1820 and 1891 asked for each immigrant’s name, their age, their sex, their occupation, and their country of origin, but not the city or town of origin.
  • 1891-1954 - Information given on passenger lists from 1891 to 1954 included:
    • name, age, sex,
    • nationality, occupation, marital status,
    • last residence, final destination in the U.S.,
    • whether they had been to the U.S. before (and if so, when, where and how long),
    • if joining a relative, who this person was, where they lived, and their relationship,
    • whether able to read and write,
    • whether in possession of a train ticket to their final destination, who paid for the passage,
    • amount of money the immigrant had in their possession,
    • whether the passenger had ever been in prison, a poorhouse, or in an institution for the insane,
    • whether the passenger was a polygamist,
    • and immigrant's state of health.
  • 1906-- - In 1906, the physical description and place of birth were included, and a year later, the name and address of the passenger’s closest living relative in the country of origin was included.

Information in Passports[edit | edit source]

Over the years, passports and passport applications contained different amounts of information about the passport applicant. The first passports that are available begin in 1795. These usually contained the individual's name, description of individual, and age. More information was required on later passport applications, such as:

  • Birthplace
  • Birth date
  • Naturalization information
  • Arrival information, if foreign born

Minnesota Alien Registration Index - 1918 [edit | edit source]

A 35-question form was required and much personal information can be found in the original registration.
Content of the index information:

  • Name
  • City and county of residence
  • Age
  • Roll and frame number

In-country Migration[edit | edit source]

Minnesota Migration Routes[edit | edit source]

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Library has additional sources listed in their catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

Minnesota Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.

NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.