Until further notice, the University of Minnesota Libraries Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment only and appointments are limited to UMN affiliates. Appointments must be made one week in advance of your visit to enable us to page and quarantine collection materials before use.

Please contact ascref@umn.edu for assistance or, if known, the curator of the collecting area you wish to use. We will continue to provide scans of requested research materials whenever possible, especially for our non-campus clientele.


We urge researchers to email the Northwest Architectural Archives for further information about their topic.


You want to send e-mail at least 48-hours in advance to make an appointment Northwest Architectural Archives. We are open M-F, 8:30-4:30) and the materials must be retrieved from storage for you; there is no browsing in the collections. The Archives staff use a number of resources to determine what materials we have in our collections, but rely primarily on the "finding aids". Finding aids are lists of materials in the Archives. The collections are indexed by building OWNER name - individual, company, organization - and we use our index card catalog and/or an online finding aid search found in the search box to the right. Not all of the Northwest Architectural Archives collections have online finding aids, so if you do not locate what you need for your research, please check with the Archives staff. We can consult the index cards in the office.


You must have the name of the original owner (or company name or building name) in order for us to determine if we have any documentation on the building(s) you’re researching. See below for additional information about researching a building.

Will I be able to find information on my building with only an address?

Unfortunately, an address is not sufficient for us to get started on answering your questions. We need three crucial pieces of information before we can even determine if the Archives has any documentation on a building:
  1. Name of original owner (commission name) as it appeared on the building documentation OR the building permit. The Permit Index Card (listing all permits issued against a structure) is not sufficient. It’s the ORIGINAL BUILDING PERMIT that has the required information. Permits were first issued in Minneapolis in 1884; in St. Paul in 1883. For Minneapolis, permit information can be found at the Building Inspection office in Suite 300, 250 South Fourth St. For St. Paul, the Ramsey County Historical Society (Landmark Center) will provide access to and copies of the original building permits for the city of St. Paul.
  2. Year of construction (again – the permit is the best source for this information)
  3. Architect’s name (as above)
If there was no architect involved with the design and construction of the building it’s unlikely we will have any information – but it’s not an absolute “no”. Be sure to check with Archives staff for a firm answer on that! Reading Room procedures and rules: You may use pencils only, though you can bring your laptop with you into the reading room. You will need to place your bags and coats in a locker outside the Archives Reading Room; you must bring change ($0.25) for this locker. Copying is done only by staff as time permits. Our ability to make copies of the archival materials depends on the type and condition of the material. Small format copies (letter & legal) are $0.25 per page; 11x17 copies are $0.50 per page; digital options are available at extra charge and time. Large format materials such as architectural drawings are copied at $11.00 per sheet on bond paper; scans are available as large .tiff files. Three to five working working days are required to allow for copying of the large-format materials, as the copy orders are completed off-site. Pre-payment required for all orders over $50.00. Prices are subject to change without notice.