The State Archives Department identifies, collects, and preserves the historically valuable records of almost 4,000 units of state and local government in Minnesota. These are records generated from the territorial period to the present day.
Materials preserved in the State Archives come from the Executive Branch of state government, including the constitutional officers and state departments, boards and commissions; the Legislative Branch, including the Minnesota Legislature and its committees, commissions and officers; and the Judicial Branch, including the Supreme and Appellate courts, 87 district courts, and antecedent probate, municipal and justice of the peace courts. Local government records include material from Minnesota counties, cities, school districts, townships and regional government organizations.
Government records document the fundamental events and aspects of our lives, both routine and extraordinary. These record types illustrate the rich variety of the collections: correspondence, reports, minutes, memoranda, published records, maps, photographs, architectural drawings, microfilm, sound recordings, ephemera, videotapes, and digital content.
Strengths of the Collection
- Minnesota territorial and state governor records such as correspondence, subject files, and other materials on a wide variety of topics, events and activities.
- Minnesota Session Laws, House and Senate committee meeting books, reports, and other records of the Legislature.
- Case files of the territorial and state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
- Naturalization records, civil and criminal case files, will record books, and selected records of all of Minnesota’s 87 district courts.
- Muster rolls, bonus records and other selected records for Minnesota armed forces members for the U.S. Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
- Selected records, such as admission and discharge registers, indexes and case files for the state’s correctional facilities, hospitals, and other public institutions operated by the state.
- Tax lists and assessment rolls for many of Minnesota’s 87 counties.
- Birth Certificates (dated 1900-1934); the Birth Certificates Index is available online at: http://people.mnhs.org/bci/
- Death Certificates (dated 1908-2001); the Death Certificates Index is available online at: http://people.mnhs.org/dci/
More information about the functions and activities of the State Archives, rather than the collection itself, can be found on the State Archives website
Searching the Collection
Search the online library catalog
for State Archives material. The main catalog page includes information on how to search for materials; for the State Archives collection it is often useful to enter the name of the government unit (i.e., county, township, city, school district) or a state agency and an associated topic.
is an online catalog that searches across multiple collecting areas of the Minnesota Historical Society. State Archives content includes an index to the WWI bonus records, an index to veterans’ graves registration reports, and a limited number of online finding aids.
While visiting the Gale Family Library, refer to the State Archives Inventory Notebooks
for detailed information on holdings for local and state government records and specific locator numbers. Reference staff is available for additional assistance in locating State Archives materials in the Society's collection.
Copies of most State Archives materials are available for purchase through the Library’s Copy Services unit