Minnesota Emigration and Immigration

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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Emigration records list the names of people leaving an area, and immigration records list those coming into an area. United States Emigration and Immigration lists several important sources for finding information about immigrants. These nationwide sources include many references to people who settled in Minnesota. Tracing Immigrant Origins article 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 Emigration and Immigration article 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 "Canada Emigration and Immigration" article. These and other border entry indexes and lists are also described in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:



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" article 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" article.

To find books about migration in Minnesota, use a Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


Records of major ethnic groups are also listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


See the "Minorities" and "Naturalization and Citizenship" articles for additional sources on immigrant groups.

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

Content of the index information:

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

Original documents[edit | edit source]

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.

County Histories[edit | edit source]

Consult Minnesota county wiki pages for available county histories. Many of these histories contain information about ethnic groups which settled that county.

Websites[edit | edit source]

Tips[edit | edit source]

  1. 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.

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.