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Genealogy Research at the University of Minnesota

Resources Available at the University of Minnesota Libraries

While there is no collection specifically dedicated to genealogy in the University Libraries, the approximately 7 million volumes, a nationally-acclaimed map library, several thousand newspapers, and well over a million government documents constitute a rich resource for genealogists.

If possible bring with you the correct spelling and spelling variations of individuals' names and place names (foreign characters are very important). Pinpoint the time period in which these people lived; exact death dates will help you find obituaries, if they are available. The more organized you are when you come to the library, the more likely it is you will find what you are looking for.

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University of Minnesota Libraries' Genealogy Web Pages
The library does not have a specialized genealogy collection. It does have books of interest to the genealogist. The following is a list of web pages containing information for genealogist doing research at the University of Minnesota Libraries:
  • General Topics
  • Specific Ethnic Groups
Wilson Library General Information
  • Location
    Wilson Library is located at 309 19th Avenue South, on the west bank of the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus. Public parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis at the 19th Street or 21st Avenue ramps on the west bank. For parking information, please call 612-626-7275.
  • Hours
    Library hours change each semester intersession. Please call ahead to make sure that the service you need will be open when you come in: (612) 624-3321.
  • Borrowing Library Materials
    The University of Minnesota Libraries maintains a major research collection and offer services in support of the academic functions of the University of Minnesota. Direct borrowing privileges are limited to students, staff, and faculty of the University. All others have access to the collection through use of materials within the library or through local public library interlibrary loan systems. Another option would be to join the Friends of Library. Members of the Friends of the Library can check out books
  • Photocoping
    Photocopies can be made from books, periodicals, microfilm, and microfiche. Copy machines are available on each floor for copying from books and periodicals. Copy machines will require a copy card, available at the basement level. The card itself cost a $1.00 and the machine takes $1.00 and $5.00 bills. If you bring a jump drive you can use the scanner.
Collections Located in Wilson Library
  • Reference Services and Collection
    The Reference Room, located on the first floor of Wilson Library, is the best place to start your search for information. Staff members can acquaint you with MNCAT, help you formulate a search strategy for your particular topic, and assist you in locating specific materials in the collections. Staff members will refer you to other sources and units within the library system, depending on your needs.

    The reference collection itself contains a number of tools of particular interest to genealogists as well as materials useful for identifying background information on persons, places, and historical periods.

  • Wilson Library General Collections
    Wilson Library has research-level collections which have been developed over the past one hundred years to support the needs of historical study and research at the University. As a result, genealogical researchers may expect to find both foreign-language and English-language materials to support their historical research. Special strengths include British, Austrian, American, German, and especially Scandinavian history and related subjects.
  • Government Publications Library
    We are the Regional Federal Depository Library for U.S. government publications, a depository for Minnesota, Canada, United Nations, and the European Union publications. We also collect other official foreign and intergovernmental publications.
    • Census Schedules
      We also have the Federal Census Schedules and the state of Minnesota Census Schedules. Census schedules are copies of the actual forms filled out by individuals or census takers. Both the Federal and Minnesota Census Schedules are in microfilm. Wilson Library has machines where you can view, download, or print the microfilm pages.
  • Map Library (John R. Borchert)
    The Map Library, located in Wilson Library, is the main repository for cartographic materials, including thousands of maps, atlases, and aerial photographs. The Automated Cartographic Information Center provides access to digital spatial data, allowing library patrons to create and print their own maps.
  • Newspaper Collection
    The Newspaper Collection includes the major newspapers of Minneapolis and St. Paul and a wide selection of newspapers from major cities elsewhere in the United States and throughout the world, some in long runs extending back into the nineteenth or eighteenth century. A complete collection of Minnesota newspapers is held by the Minnesota Historical Society. Newspapers are listed in MNCAT by title. Indexes to newspapers, where they exist, are available for the most part in the reference room on the first floor of Wilson Library. However, genealogical researchers need to be especially aware that few newspapers have indexes and for the most part, items such as official death, birth, and marriage notices are not included in most newspaper indexes. We also have full text online newspaper databases. To access these databases you will need to come into one of the University of Minnesota Libraries. If you bring a government issued picture ID we can provide you with up to 2 hours/day access to our computers. If you find anything you can print it out, download it to the desk top and then email it to yourself, or add it to your jump drive.
Other Collections of Interest to Genealogists
  • Immigration History Research Center
    Non-circulating personal papers, organizational records, books, newspapers, and other original sources documenting immigration and ethnicity throughout the United States.
  • Minnesota Historical Society Library
    345 Kellogg Blvd. West, St. Paul, MN 55102-1196, (651) 296-2143
    The Minnesota Historical Society Library is the most complete genealogical resource in the area. Included in its collections are Minnesota state and federal census records, 1850 through 1910, and SOUNDEX indexes, when available, on microfilm; history of Minnesota, its counties, cities, towns, communities, and churches; city directories; family histories; and publications of state and local historical societies.
  • Minnesota Genealogical Society Library
    1385 Mendota Heights Road Suite 100 Mendota Heights, Mn 55120, (763) 651-330-9312
    Staffed by volunteers from the Minnesota Genealogical Society, this library has a growing collection of genealogical materials, including CD-ROM resources. As part of its service through the library, the Society conducts classes in beginning and more advanced areas of genealogy research. This is the first place you should contact if you are beginning your research. Call ahead for library hours.
  • Family History Centers, Library of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons)
    These family history centers have small local genealogical collections with access to the extensive resources found at the library in Salt Lake City. The centers are open to the public. Be sure to call ahead for hours.
    • Minneapolis branch
      2801 North Douglas Drive, Crystal, MN, (763) 544-2479
    • St. Paul branch
      2140 N. Hadley, Oakdale, MN, (651) 770-3213
    • Bloomington branch
      9700 Nesbitt Avenue, Bloomington, MN, (952) 893-2392
    • Brooklyn Park branch
      4700 Edinbrook Terrace (86th and Noble), Brooklyn Park, MN, (763) 425-1865

Page Coordinator: Lynne Beck
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