A Basic Bibliography of Minnesota History

From the collections of the Northwest Minnesota Historical Center.

This bibliography on Minnesota history makes no claim to being exhaustive. What it does do is offer information on some of the best books and articles available concerning various topics. For more comprehensive listings consult the bibliographies in several of the works cited here.

The bibliography is arranged by topic, following the general chronology of the history of Minnesota, from pre-history to late 20th century. Each topic is appended by a list of the books and articles about that topic. Links to documents and other sites in Minnesota history are also provided for some of the topics.

Annette Aitkins, Harvest of Grief: Grasshopper Plagues and Public Assistance in Minnesota, 1873-78 (1984) -- combines details on the destruction of Minnesota crops from locusts with information on how the state government responded to this crisis.

Robert Frame, Millers to the World: Minnesota's Nineteenth Century Flour Mills (1977) -- valuable study of early flour mills, how they were built, how they operated.

Merrill E. Jarchow, The Earth Brought Forth: A History of Minnesota Agriculture to 1885 (1949) -- standard history of the development of agriculture in Minnesota.

Charles B. Kuhlmann, The Development of the Flour Milling Industry in the United States, with Special Reference to the Industry in Minneapolis (1929) -- still very useful account of how the flour industry in Minneapolis influenced economic development in the region.

Rodney Loehr, ed., Minnesota's Farmers Diaries: William R. Brown, 1845-46, Mitchell Y. Jackson, 1852-63 (1939) -- two diaries kept by early farmers in southern Minnesota, well organized and annotated so that a great deal of valuable information on early agriculture can be found easily.

Stanley N. Murray, The Valley Comes of Age: A History of Agriculture in the Valley of the Red River of the North, 1812-1920 (1967) -- well done history of farming in northwestern Minnesota.

William J. Powell, Pillsbury's Best: A Company History from 1869 (1985) -- a fair history, produced by the company, has some excellent illustrations.

Thomas J. Schlereth, Cultural History and Material Culture: Everyday Life, Landscapes, Museums (1989) -- a valuable study that demonstrates what we can learn about life in early Minnesota from artifacts and the remains of early industries and homes.

Related Links

  • The Gibbs Farm Museum - operated by the Ramsey County Historical Society, this ongoing restoration has information on early Minnesota farming, including the excavation of the sod house built by the Gibbs family about 1849.
  • Minnesota Historical Society's Photograph Database has more than 100,000 photograph entries (many with online images), many of which deal with agriculture.
  • Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920 - This web site of the Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University, has over 900 photographic images of rural and small town life from 1880-1920. The site also provides access to very nice images of farm equipment in use during this period.
  • The Oliver Kelley Farm - a site operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, with detailed information on early farming in the territory and state. An excellent collection of old farm equipment is used to cultivate typical crops of the 1800s.

Gary C. Anderson and Alan Woolworth, eds., Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862 (1988) -- best source of the Dakota memories of the conflict.

Kenneth Carley, The Sioux Uprising of 1862 (1976) -- a new edition of Carley's 1961 work which provides a good narrative of the events in 1862.

Roy P. Johnson, The Siege at Fort Abercrombie (1957) -- a good, short narrative of the military action in the western part of Minnesota during the Dakota conflict.

Chester Oehler, The Great Sioux Uprising (1959) -- a good narrative that tries to balance both sides of the conflict.

Dewitt Clinton Poole, Among the Sioux in Dakota: Eighteen Months Experience as an Indian Agent, 1869-70 (1881) -- reprinted in 1988, this account should be used with some care but provides some insights into Sioux-government relations after the War of 1862.

Marion P. Satterlee, "Narratives of the Sioux War," in Volume 15 of the Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society (1915) -- includes reminiscences of settlers and soldiers who fought in the battles in southern Minnesota.

Duane P. Schultz, Over the Earth I Come: The Great Sioux Uprising of 1862 (1992) -- a book that provides much more detail on the Sioux side of the story than can be found in earlier works.

Wamditanka, "The Sioux Story of the War: Chief Big Eagle's Story of the Sioux Outbreak of 1862," in volume 6 of the Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society (1894) -- one of the best sources for the Sioux views of the Dakota conflict.

Related Links

  • The Dakota Conflict Trials - maintained by a member of the law faculty at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, this web site contains accounts of the trial of Dakota Indians after the conflict, excerpts from letters and speeches of defendants, witnesses and other participants in the trail, and the text of President Abraham Lincoln's order for the execution of 38 of the defendants in December, 1862.
  • Minnesota Historical Society Collections Online has art & posters, drawings, paintings, photographs, prints, and many other items on the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

French Exploration
J. V. Brower, Minnesota: Discovery of Its Area, 1540-1655 (1903) -- not an easy book to find, but contains accounts of the explorations of Radisson and other French pathfinders.

lan R. Woolworth, The French Presence on Lake Superior and at Grand Portage, 1650-1740 (1996) -- nice summary of the French fur trade and exploration around Lake Superior and into the Minnesota region.

British Exploration
Elliott Coues, ed, New Light on the Early History of the Greater Northwest: Being the Manuscript Journals of Alexander Henry, Fur Trader of the Northwest Company, and David Thompson, Official Geographer and Explorer of the Same Company, 1799-1814. (1965) -- reprint of the 1897 original publication of these two important exploration journals which provide details on their explorations of the northwest region, including parts of Minnesota, North Dakota and points west.

Wayne E. Stevens, The Northwest Fur Trade, 1763-1800 (1928) -- a solid account of exploration and the fur trade in the upper Midwest.

American Exploration
Lucile M. Kane, et al, eds., The Northern Expeditions of Stephen H. Long: The Journals of 1817 and 1823 and Related Documents (1978) -- extremely well organized volume of the records of the U.S. Army expeditions into the region just prior to and after the building of Fort Snelling.

Meriwether Lewis, Lewis and Clark in North Dakota, ed. by Russell Reid. (1988) -- although Lewis and Clark did not traverse the lands that became Minnesota during their expedition, this work, published in 1947 and reprinted in 1988, still provides a detailed and valuable picture of the flora, fauna, and lives of the Native Americans on the upper prairies in the early 1800s, before settlement began to rapidly change the region.

Joseph N. Nicollet, Joseph N. Nicollet on the Plains and Prairies: The Expeditions of 1838-39, With Journals, Notes, and Letters, ed. by Edmund and Martha Bray (1976) -- an excellent work that draws together much of the writings of this explorer whose observations on the region are of great value.

Henry Schoolcraft, Travels Through the Northwestern Regions of the United States (1966) -- most readily available edition of Schoolcraft's journals and letters concerning his explorations, especially his search for the source of the Mississippi River.

Related Links

  • Historic Hudson's Bay Company - part of the HBC corporate website, this site provides a decent history of the Hudson's Bay Company's activities in Canada and the upper midwest. There is also a general description of the Hudson's Bay Company Archives collection at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba.
  • Lewis and Clark, Corps of Discovery Archives - web site of the Public Broadcasting System, containing extensive excerpts from the journals kept by the Lewis and Clark expedition, reproductions of maps created by Clark during the expedition, a timeline of the journey, and extensive bibliography of sources, and interviews with experts on Lewis and Clark.
  • Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature - this museum in Winnipeg contains a number of exhibits on early exploration and settlement in the region. The website provides an overview to the museum.
  • Provincial Archives of Manitoba - site provides some detail on the Hudson's Bay Company Archives collection maintained at the Provincial Archives, a prime source of information on British exploration of the upper Midwest region, including the lands that became the Minnesota Territory.
  • David Thompson - this article from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography discusses the life and activities of David Thompson (1770-1857), a British explorer who in the 1790s traversed much of the Upper Midwest while mapping the exact boundary between the United States and British Canada. Thompson later described his experiences and explorations in a large book, Narrative of David Thomson, which has been republished many times.

John Morgan Gray, Lord Selkirk of Red River (1964) - this biography of the founder of the settlement established on the lower Red River in southern Manitoba provides valuable information on how this colony influenced the growth of settlement in Minnesota.

Marcus Lee Hansen, Old Fort Snelling, 1819-1858 (1958) - a good account of the building of Fort Snelling and its influence on settlement.

Evans Jones, Citadel in the Wilderness: The Story of Fort Snelling and the Old Northwest Frontier (1966) -- an excellent work on how Fort Snelling encouraged both settlement and trade in the upper Great Plains region.

William E. Leonard, "Early days in Minneapolis," in Volume 15 of the Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society (1915) -- contains some interesting details on the early settlers and institutions.

Alexander Ross, The Red River Settlement: Its Rise, Progress, and Present State (1957) - first published in 1856, this account of the Selkirk colony contains information found in no other source.

John Fletcher Williams, History of St. Paul and Ramsey County (1876) - describes the beginnings of early settlement in Minnesota, using recollections of early inhabitants.

Related Links

  • Fort Snelling - managed by the Minnesota Historical Society, this site is now in the center of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Visitors can tour the remains of the fort, built in the 1820s, and learn about the early settlement of the region. The web site provides directions to the fort and background on its construction and development.
  • Fort Union Trading Post - located in the northwest corner of North Dakota, this National Historic Site preserves the history of the American Fur Company's longest lasting fur trade post in the continental U.S. Tours of the site are available. The trading post attracted settlement in the area. A related web site contains information on the history of the trading post and background on the large collection of fur trade records and artifacts preserved from the post's operations.
  • Lower Fort Garry, National Historic Site (Canada) - this web site has an sketch on the history of the fort and its relationship to the early farming population in southern Manitoba.
  • Pembina State Museum - this museum in the northeast corner of North Dakota has much information on one of the earliest white settlements in the region. The web site gives and overview of the museum as well as directions to it and hours of operation.

Barry M. Franklin, Building the American Community: The School Curriculum and the Search for Social Control (1986) -- an interesting and suggestive look at how school curricula can influence social controls, based on a case study of schools in Minneapolis.

Frances E. Kelley, A History of Public School Support in Minnesota, 1858 to 1917 (1920) -- old, but still valuable for its data on financing of education in the growth of the state.

Tom Melchior, They Called Me Teacher: Stories of Minnesota Country School Teachers and Students from 1915 to 1960 (1997) -- numerous anecdotes on teachers and their pupils in the rural schools in Minnesota.

Theodore G. Mitau, Minnesota's Colleges of Opportunity: From Normal School to Teachers College and State University - A Century of Academic Change in Minnesota (1977) -- short narrative on the growth of the teachers colleges into state universities.

Hyman Berman, Jews in Minnesota (2002) - part of the ongoing The People of Minnesota series published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Carl H. Chrislock, Ethnicity Challenged: The Upper Midwest Norwegian-American Experience During World War I (1981) - an excellent study of the Norwegian-Americans in the northwest and how they responded to attempts to "Americanize" them during the early part of the 20th century.

Roger Echo-Hawk, Battlefields and Burial Grounds: The Indian Struggle to Protect Ancestral Graves in the United States (1994) - published in Minnesota, this brief work has an overview of Native American efforts to reclaim ancestral remains from museums and historical societies.

Sherri Fuller, Chinese in Minnesota (2004) - part of the ongoing The People of Minnesota series published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

June Holmquist, ed., They Chose Minnesota: A Survey of the State's Ethnic Groups (1981) - the best source for good, comprehensive essays on the various nationalities who settled in Minnesota, spanning the history of the region.

Anne Gillespie Lewis, Swedes in Minnesota (2004) - part of the ongoing The People of Minnesota series published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Kathleen Lonzen, Germans in Minnesota (2003) - part of the ongoing The People of Minnesota series published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Carlton Qualey, Norwegians in Minnesota (2002) - part of the ongoing The People of Minnesota series published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Ann Regan, Irish in Minnesota (2002) - part of the ongoing The People of Minnesota series published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Linda Mack Schloff, And Prairie Dogs Weren't Kosher: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest Since 1855 (1996) -- excellent book that includes numerous personal reminiscences of Jewish women in Minnesota.

David Taylor, African Americans in Minnesota (2002) - part of the ongoing The People of Minnesota series published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Related Links

  • American Swedish Institute - located in Minneapolis, the Institute maintains a library and archives on Swedish culture in the upper midwest, as well as some genealogy sources. The website provides a general description of these collections.
  • Immigration History Research Center - located on the campus of the University of Minnesota, the IHRC collections contain significant amounts of information on ethnic groups in Minnesota. The website provides short overviews of the major collections for each ethnic group.
  • Saint Olaf College Library, Special Collections - the library's website of St. Olaf provides a general description of the special collections, which contains materials concerning the Norwegian-American Historical Association.

John Earl Haynes, Dubious Alliance: The Making of Minnesota's DFL Party (1984) -- a careful study of the links between the Farmer-Labor party and the various labor groups in Minnesota, and the influence of socialist and communist thought on the Farmer-Labor movement prior to its merger with the Minnesota Democratic party.

Robert L. Morlan, Political Prairie Fire: The Nonpartisan League, 1915-1922 (1955) -- a fairly comprehensive history of the nonpartisan movement which provided a strong impetus to the formation of the Farmer-Labor party in Minnesota.

Aspects of the Fur Trade: Selected Papers of the 1965 North American Fur Trade Conference (1967) - short papers by several scholars on the fur trade describing how it operated and how it influenced regional, national, and international history.

Charles M. Gates, ed. Five Fur Traders of the Northwest (1933) - contains the diaries and narratives of five men who participated in the fur trade on the Great Lakes with much relevant information on the trade in the lands that became Minnesota.

Carolyn Gilman, The Grand Portage Story (1992) - an excellent short book that combines the history of this important fur trading center with an account of how the site was made into a national historical monument.

Carolyn Gilman, Where Two Worlds Meet: The Great Lakes Fur Trade (1982) - well done narrative history of the fur trade in the region.

Nancy and Robert Goodman, Joseph R. Brown: Adventurer on the Minnesota Frontier (1996) - the first of a planned two-volume study of Brown, this details Brown's role in the fur trade in Minnesota during the pre-territorial and territorial period of the 1800s.

Grace lee Nute, The Voyageur's Highway: Minnesota's Border Lake Land (1941) - nice account of the French fur trade in the northeast lake area of Minnesota together with details on how the region developed afterward. 

Related Links

  • Fort Union Trading Post - located in the northwest corner of North Dakota, this National Historic Site preserves the history of the American Fur Company's longest lasting fur trade post in the continental U.S. Tours of the site are available. A related web site contains information on the history of the trading post and background on the large collections of fur trade records and artifacts preserved from the post's operations.
  • Grand Portage National Monument - managed by the National Park Service, this site in the arrowhead of Minnesota features reconstructed buildings of the fur trade post that existed here in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The web site provides a background statement about the monument and directions for visiting it.
  • Lower Fort Garry, National Historic Site (Canada) - this site has some historic background on the use of this fort by the Hudson's Bay Company for supplying trappers.
  • Mountain Men and the Fur Trade - this web site has an excellent bibliography on the fur trade across the western parts of North American, plus numerous maps and images.
  • The North West Company Fur Post - maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society, this site has a great deal of information on the fur trade and its impact on the early history of Minnesota territory.
  • The Sibley Historic Site - maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society, this site features the 1836 home of Henry Hastings Sibley, first governor of the state. Sibley was head of the American Fur Company post in this area in the 1830s, and the site has much information on the fur trade.
  • Voyageurs National Park - one of the National Park Service's parks in Minnesota, the park's Visitors' Center has a nice overall of the fur trade.

Annette Atkins, Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out (2007) -- an excellent, new synthesis, employing a variety of individual perspectives and unique evidence to summarize the state's history and its distinctive cultures.

Theodore Blegen, Minnesota: A History of the State (1975) -- currently the best one-volume history.

Theodore Blegen and Philip D. Jordan, With Various Voices: Recordings of North Star Life (1949) -- an exceptional work that reproduces original articles, memoirs, letters and testimony on events in Minnesota history.

Theodore Christianson, Minnesota: The Land of Sky Tinted Waters- A History of the State and Its People (1935) -- entertaining multi-volume history by one of the state's most colorful governors. The last 3 volumes contain numerous biographical sketches written by several contributors.

William W. Folwell, A History of Minnesota (1956-69) -- in four volumes, the most complete history to the 1950s.

Steven J. Keillor, Shaping Minnesota's Identity: 150 Years of State History (2008) -- another fine overview of Minnesota history published to mark the sesquicentennial of statehood, this work focuses on the political development of the state by using examples of geographic, ethnic, economic and interest group disagreements.

Karel Ann Marling, Minnesota Hail to Thee (2008) -- yet another sesquicentennial publication, this volume presents a straightforward narrative of the state's history. But it also is copiously illustrated and delves deeply in cultural issues, in keeping with Marling's expertise on cultural and social history.

Related Links

  • Hennepin History Museum - web site describing the services and collections available on the history of Hennepin County and Minneapolis. The web site has some early photographs of the area.
  • Iron Range Research Center - part of the Ironworld Discovery Center, the IRRC has manuscripts, photographs, and other resources for researching the history of the iron range region. The website provides a general overview of the collections.
  • Midwest Archeological Center - an excellent web site on the extensive collections at this Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. In addition to describing the resources at the Center concerning archeology in the upper midwest, the site has links to many important museums and historic places in the region.
  • Minnesota Historical Society - the best site for Minnesota history, with several features, including lists of the society's major manuscript collections and an on-line catalog of the society's photograph collection. The Society's extensive
  • Minnesota Historical Organizations - a comprehensive listing of county historical societies, research centers, historic preservation groups and other organizations in Minnesota concerned with local and state history and culture. Users may download the lists in a number of file formats.
  • Minnesota Reflections - a database of digitized materials shared by various Minnesotan cultural and heritage organizations. Some of the materials include text, audio, and film.
  • Northeast Minnesota Historical Center Collections - a regional history resource housed at the archives of the University of Minnesota Duluth  that documents four counties of northeast Minnesota: Carleton, Cook, Lake and St. Louis. The website provides an overview of the collections and information on doing research at the Center.
  • Northwest Architectural Archives - a special collections library at the University of Minnesota which has "the records of architects, engineers, contractors, landscape architects, and interior designers from a region which includes Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northern Iowa, and the eastern Dakotas." The website provides a general description of the collections and briefly summarizes the contents of the major manuscript collections.
  • Pioneering the Upper Midwest - Part of the Library of Congress web sits, this site has much valuable information on the settlement of the upper Midwest. There are lists of books an selections of documents and photographs from the LC's collections. There is also an excellent overview "History of the Upper Midwest" linked to the site.
  • Ramsey County Historical Society - located in St. Paul, this site has information on the society's collections, its publications, and its museum.

Edmund Bray, Billions of Years in Minnesota: The Geological Story of the State (1977) - a comprehensive account of the development of the land and water formations that make up the geography of Minnesota.

Lucile Kane, The Falls of St. Anthony: The Waterfall that Built Minneapolis (1987) - an engaging study of the falls, combining details on its pre-settlement importance to its role in the founding of the city and the region's earliest industry. The 1987 edition expands on the 1966 original.

Joseph Kise Minnesota: Star of the North (1961) - long in use in Minnesota schools, copies of this geography and history are available in many libraries.

Floyd Perkins and Dudley Brainard, Minnesota: Its Geography, History and Government (1948) - another account of Minnesota geography and history that has been widely used in schools.

C. J. Posey, "The Influence of Geographic Factors in the Development of Minnesota," in Minnesota History Bulletin, vol. 2 (1918) -- a thoughtful essay on how the geography of the region influenced settlement and economic development of the state.

Carole Zellie, Minnesota's Geographic Features of Historical and Cultural Significance (1989) - useful for scholars, students, and travelers alike.

Steven J. Keillor, Hjalmar Petersen of Minnesota: The Politics of Provincial Independence (1987) -- one of the best political and social histories of a state during the depression, this work concentrates on the events of the era from the viewpoint of Petersen, lieutenant governor under Floyd Olson and governor in his own right in the mid 1930s.

George H. Mayer, The Political Career of Floyd B. Olson (1951) -- the best study available for this pivotal figure in Minnesota politics with much information on the Farmer-Labor party and the depression years.

William Millikan, A Union Against Unions: The Minneapolis Citizens Alliance and Its Fight Against Organized Labor, 1903-1947 - This fine book will be the standard history of the Minnesota Citizens Alliance; the book also contains an excellent overview of organized labor in Minnesota from the 1920s to about 1950.

Arthur Naftalin, "A History of the Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota," (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota, 1948) - this detailed history of the Farmer-Labor party and its influence in the 1920s and 1930s has unfortunately never been published.

James Shields, Mr. Progressive: A Biography of Elmer Austin Benson (1971) - this partisan biography of Benson, governor from 1936-1938, details decline of the Farmer-Labor party during the latter years of the depression.

D. Jerome Tweton, The Depression in Minnesota (1981) - although brief, this provides one of the best overviews of the depression years in the state of Minnesota.

D. Jerome Tweton, The New Deal at the Grass Roots: Programs for the People in Otter Tail County, Minnesota (1988) - carefully researched and well written, this is the best study yet of how state and federal programs provided assistance to people in a rural county during the depression. 

Related Links

  • American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1940 - a searchable site from the Library of Congress, providing access to nearly 3000 manuscripts created by the Federal Writer's Project. The manuscripts contain case histories of individuals interviewed during the depression. The interviews "consist of drafts and revisions, varying in form from narrative to dialogue to report to case history. The histories describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations. Pseudonyms are often substituted for individuals and places named in the narrative texts." A major resource for understanding the depression at the grass roots.
  • Photographs of the Farm Security Administration - website from the Library of Congress, containing over 50,000 images of photographs taken in the 1930s in order to document the depression in rural America. The website images may be searched. There are numerous images in the collection concerning Minnesota in the 1930s, as well as other states in the upper Midwest.

William H. C. Folsom, "History of Lumbering in the St. Croix Valley," in volume 9 of the Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society (1901) - still useful article on the beginnings of the lumber industry in Minnesota.

Nancy and Robert Goodman, Joseph R. Brown: Adventurer on the Minnesota Frontier (1996) - the first of a planned two-volume study of Brown, this details Brown's role in lumbering in Minnesota during the pre-territorial and territorial period of the 1800s.

Ronald A. Hackett, Minnesota Timber Industry: An Assessment of Timber Product Output and Use, 1992 (1997) - this publication by the USDA's North Central Forest Experiment Station in Minnesota provides good details on the modern timber industry in the state.

Agnes M. Larson, History of the White Pine Industry in Minnesota (1949) - the standard narrative overview of the heyday of Minnesota's lumber industry.

John Emmett Nelligan: A White Pine Empire: The Life of a Lumberman (1969) - a very interesting book in which Nelligan recounts his experiences as a lumberman across the Great Lakes pine region.

Related Links

  • Forest History Center - A Minnesota Historical Society historic site in Grand Rapids, the web site provides an overview of the historic site and activities there.

E. W. Davis, Pioneering with Taconite (1964) -- a good account of how the taconite mining industry was developed, written by one of the early developers.

David l. Fritz, Gold Mining Near Rainy Lake City from 1893 to 1901 (1986) -- although hard to find, this short history by the National Park Service tells the story of the gold mining that occurred in the northeast lake region in what is now Voyageurs National Park.

Michael Karni, ed., Entrepreneurs and Immigrants: Life on the Industrial Frontier of Northeastern Minnesota (1991) -- contains some nice details on how early miners lived in the iron range.

Paul H. Landis, Three Iron Mining Towns (1970) -- reprint of a 1938 study of the growth of three towns on the Mesabi range -Hibbing, Virginia, and Eveleth.

David A. Walker, Iron Frontier: The Discovery and Early Development of Minnesota's Three Ranges (1979) -- solid study of iron mining in Minnesota from its origins to its impact on American industry.

Freemont P. Wirth, The Discovery and Exploitation of the Minnesota Iron Lands (1937) -- older, but still good study of how the iron range mines developed from land grants and land claims.

Related Links

  • Iron Range Research Center - part of the Ironworld Discovery Center, the IRRC has manuscripts, photographs, and other resources for researching the history of the iron range region. The website provides a general overview of the collections.

Laura K. Auerbach, Worthy to be Remembered: A Political History of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, 1944-1984 (1984) -- a brief history authorized by the DFL, this book is polemical and should be used with care.

Ivan Hinderaker, "Harold Stassen and Developments in the Republican Party in Minnesota, 1937-1943," (Ph.D. thesis, University of Minnesota, 1949) -- unfortunately never published, this detailed thesis has important findings on Stassen's role in rebuilding the Republican Party in Minnesota.

John P. Jacobson, "The Merger of the Democratic and Farmer Labor Parties in Minnesota" (MA thesis, Bemidji State University, 1969) -- although never published, this brief study contains hard to find information on how the DFL came into being.

Alpha Smaby, Political Upheaval: Minnesota and the Vietnam War Protest (1987) -- detailed account of the anti-war movement in Minnesota, by one of the participants.

Terry L. Shoptaugh, Roots of Success: History of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers (1997) -- an account of the sugarbeet industry in northwest Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, and its importance to the economy of the region.

Carl Solberg, Hubert Humphrey: A Biography (1984) -- an excellent biography of Humphrey, including his role in the merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties, and his impact on the state.

Harold Stassen, Where I Stand! (1947) -- in the absence of a good biography, this "campaign autobiography" by Stassen has some information on his role in the politics of the 1940s.

Barbara Stuhler, Ten Men of Minnesota and American Foreign Policy, 1898-1968 (1973) -- although these essays span the 20th century, those on the individuals who influenced foreign policy in the 1930s and 1940s are particularly important for understanding Minnesota's influence in the federal government at that time.

Clifford E. Clark, ed., Minnesota in a Century of Change: The State and Its People Since 1900 (1986) -- compilation of articles by noted scholars on the state in the 20th century with much detail on the last 30 years of Minnesota's economic, political and social changes.

Charles L. Garretson, Hubert H. Humphrey: The Politics of Joy (1993) -- this study focuses on Humphrey's congressional career, his influence on legislation, and how the federal-state relationship was altered in the 20th century.

Steven Gillon, The Democrats Dilemma: Walter Mondale and the Liberal Legacy (1992) -- analysis of the decline of the liberal "big government" tradition in the last decades of the century with focus on one of the most prominent Minnesota leaders of that tradition.

Tom Hauser, Inside the Ropes With Jesse Ventura (2002) -- an interesting look at Governor Ventura's term in office, written by a Twin Cities political repoter. The book is made up of near-equal measures of serious political analysis and juicy tidbits about Ventura and his followers.

Larry Millett, Lost Twin Cities (1992) -- a richly illustrated account of the architectural history of the Twin cities, noting significant structures that have been destroyed and on-going efforts to save buildings that are still standing.

Schier, Mary Lahr, Take Your Victories As They Come: The Carlson Years in Minnesota Politics (1998) -- a decent summary of Carlson's years as governor in the 1990s, of Minnesota, written by a writer had and inside perspective of the administration.

Rod Searle, Minnesota Standoff: The Politics of Deadlock (1990) -- incisive look at the 1978-80 Minnesota legislature when the House of Representatives was equally divided by the two major parties, written by one of its members.

Ashley Shelby, Red River Rising (2003) -- published by the Minnesota Historical Society, this account of the devastating 1997 flood of the Red River covers events both in Minnesota and North Dakota. While it focuses primarily on Grand Forks in North Dakota, it contains useful information on how the governments of both states reacted to the flooding.

Barbara Stuhler, No Regrets: Minnesota Women and the Joan Growe Senatorial Campaign (1986) -- account of Joan Growe's campaign for the U. S. Senate in 1984 and what the campaign revealed about the cost and demands of modern political campaigns.

Jesse Ventura, I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Rebuilding the Body Politic From the Bottom Up (1999) -- autobiography of Minnesota's late 1990s governor, this book is less useful for understanding the reform political movement than for glimpses of the thoughts of this professional wrestler turned politician.

John Wesley Bond, Minnesota and its Resources (1853) - reprinted many times since its appearance, Bond's book contains some of the best descriptions of Minnesota territory just when its population was beginning to grow rapidly.

Nancy and Robert Goodman, Joseph R. Brown: Adventurer on the Minnesota Frontier (1996) - the first of a planned two-volume study of Brown, this has a host of information on the territorial period.

Anne Kaplan and Marilyn Ziebarth, eds., Making Minnesota Territory, 1849-1858 (1999) - excellent compilation of articles on the territorial years.

William Lass, "Minnesota's Separation From Wisconsin: Boundary Making on the Upper Mississippi Frontier" in Minnesota History, vol. 50 (1987) - fine article that covers the separation of the Minnesota lands from Wisconsin territory just before the latter became a state.

Frank B. Mayer, With Pencil and Ink on the Frontier in 1851 (1986) - reprint of traveling artist's journal with his observations of life in Minnesota territory.

William Lass, "Minnesota's Quest for Salt," in Minnesota History, vol. 52 (1990) - important article on the crucial importance of salt deposits to the growth of Minnesota settlement.

Related Links

  • Minnesota Territory, 1849-1858 - this Minnesota Historical Society website contains an overview of the territorial history and an online exhibit about how the territory was formed and developed.

Edward Denig, Five Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri (1961) - a good general account of the major Native American groups that lived in or traversed the Minnesota area prior to and during European exploration and settlement.

Everett Edwards, "American Indian Contributions to Civilization," in Minnesota History, vol. 15 (Sept. 1934) - still a valuable essay on how European settlers benefited from their peaceful interactions with the Native Americans during the exploration, fur trade and early settlement decades.

Dakota (Sioux)
Gary Clayton Anderson, Kinsmen of Another Kind: Dakota-White Relations in the Upper Mississippi Valley, 1650-1862 (1984) - excellent overview of its subject, with much information on the Minnesota region.

Mary Eastman, Dahcotah, or Life and Legends of the Sioux Around Fort Snelling (1849) - like any such work by an early settler, Eastman's observations on Dakota life near Fort Snelling has limits and errors; but it is still one of the best narratives we have of early Dakota-European interactions.

Samuel Pond, The Dakota or Sioux in Minnesota as They Were in 1834 (1986) - Pond's narrative has some of the same limitations as that of Eastman; it also has the same merit of containing details on Dakota life we would not have otherwise.

Mary Ann Clark Riggs, A Small Bit of Bread and Butter: Letters from the Dakota Territory, 1832-1869 (1996) - nicely organized work on the life of a missionary to the Sioux in Dakota Territory.

Charles M. Robinson III, A Good Year to Die: The Story of the Great Sioux War (1995) - although this book mostly concerns events in 1876 and 1877, Robinson's account contains background on the "Sioux Uprising" of 1862 in Minnesota, and has one of the best summaries to date on the cultural clashes of the Dakota and white settlers.

Doane Robinson, A History of the Dakota or Sioux Indians (1967) - a decent narrative history of the Dakota, containing much information of their lives in the Minnesota area.

Ojibway (Chippewa)
Frances Densmore, Chippewa Customs (1929) - a fairly well done detailing of Ojibway cultural ways and beliefs.

Carolissa Levi, Chippewa Indians of Yesterday and Today (1978) - a good narrative of Ojibway history.

Laura L. Peers, The Ojibwe of Western Canada, 1780 to 1870 (1994) - of value to Minnesota history because of Peers' lucid account of how and why the woodland Ojibwe migrated westward onto the prairies and plains.

William Warren, History of the Ojibway Nation (1957) - originally published in 1885, this work is still very valuable for the information that Warren gathered from years of studying Ojibwe culture and traditions.

Marcel Giraud, The Metis in the Canadian West (1986) - translated from the original French edition, this two volume study is the most detailed work of Meti history and traditions.

William Green, ed., Oneota Archaeology: Past Present, and Future (1995) - compilation of papers on the Oneota culture which dominated much of the upper Midwest region, including parts of Minnesota, during the period 1000-1600 AD.

Joseph K. Howard, Strange Empire: Louis Riel and the Metis People (1952) - recently reprinted, this is a classic account of the Meti, their mixed Native American and French culture, and their troubled history in both the United States and Canada. 

Related Links

  • Jeffers Petroglyphs - site on the prairie of southern Minnesota, where Native American carvings of persons, animals, and symbols can be seen in the rocks. The carvings span nearly 5000 years. The Visitors Center plans exhibits on what is known about the carvings.
  • Lac qui Parle Mission - managed by the Chippewa County Historical Society in Montevideo this historic site has information on missionary activities among the Dakota and the development of the Dakota alphabet.
  • Lower Sioux Agency - site of the remains of the Lower Sioux agency, part of the reservation grounds of the Dakota Sioux from 1852 to 1862. The agency was the site of the first organized Dakota attack in the Dakota Conflict of 1862. The site has the remains of the buildings, some of which were destroyed in the 1862 attack. A self guided tour can be taken at the site.
  • The Mille Lacs Indian Museum - another Minnesota Historical Society site, the museum here has a great deal of information on the history and culture of the Ojibwe in Minnesota.
  • Pipestone National Monument - a National Park Service site in the southwest corner of Minnesota. The Visitors Center has a museum on the ceremonial purposes of the pipestone quarry that has been used by Native Americans for centuries. Visitors can also take a walking tour of the quarry site.

Carl H. Chrislock, The Progressive Era in Minnesota, 1899-1918 (1971) -- a detailed study of the successes (and shortcomings) of the progressive movement in Minnesota.

Carl H. Chrislock, Watchdog of Loyalty: The Minnesota Commission of Public Safety During World War I (1991) -- this study focuses on how conservative forces in Minnesota politics used the First World War to suppress progressive, ethnic, and labor movements in the state.

Agnes M. Larson, John A. Johnson: An Uncommon American (1969) -- nice biography of Johnson, one of the first Scandinavians to win high office in Minnesota, who as governor pressed for progressive reforms.

Bruce L. Larson, Lindbergh of Minnesota: A Political Biography (1973) -- very good biography of Charles Lindbergh, Sr., the father of the famous flyer and a major figure in Minnesota's progressive movement.

Martin Albro, James J. Hill and the Opening of the Northwest (1991) - award-winning biography of the Minnesota entrepreneur who built the Great Northern Railroad.

Harold T. Hagg, "Logging Line: A History of the Minneapolis, Red Lake and Manitoba [Railway], " in Minnesota History, vol. 43 (1972) - a nice essay on the importance of the railroad to the success of the lumber industry in the state.

Michael Malone, James J. Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest (1996) - another excellent biography of Hill, which details his many business ventures, including his railroads.

Sig Mickelson, The Northern Pacific Railroad and the Selling of the Northwest: A Nineteenth Century Public Relations Venture (1993) - an interesting study of how this railroad advertisement promoted settlement in the upper great plains.

Related Links

  • The Lake Superior Railroad Museum - web site provides an overview of this museum in Duluth, dedicated to the history of the Lake Superior Railroad.
  • Minnesota Steam Locomotives - an interesting web site that lists the locations of steam locomotives on display in Minnesota, and provides a brief description of each locomotive.
  • Minnesota Transportation Museum - web site provides an overview of this museum in St. Paul, which has displays and artifacts concerning railroad history in Minnesota.
  • Railroads Build the Red River Valley - web site developed by Terry Shoptaugh, archivist at Minnesota State University Moorhead, with assistance of students, which highlights the role of railroads in the development of the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota.
  • The Stockwood Fill - another site designed by a professor at North Dakota State University, provides a photo essay of the construction of the Stockwood Fill, a complex engineering project by the Northern Pacific Railroad. From 1906 to 1910, the Stockwood Fill project created a carefully-graded embankment for the railroad to use in traversing the steep ground of the Red River Valley.

Kenneth Carley, Minnesota in the Civil War (1961) - good summary of the state's role in the Civil War.

John Q. Imholte, The First Volunteers: History of the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment, 1861-1865 (1963) - a study of the Minnesota unit that comprised the first volunteer soldiers in the Union Army for the American Civil War.

Robert H. Jones, The Civil War in the Northwest: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas (1960) - another summary of the state's role in the Civil War, also has a good account of the Pope military campaign against the Sioux in the Dakotas.

Richard Moe, The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers (1993) - another study of the 1st Minnesota, that contains newly found information and a good description of the unit's decimation at Gettysburg.

Helen White, ed., Ho! For the Gold Fields: Northern Overland Wagon Trains of the 1860s (1966) - a fascinating study of early trade between Minnesota businesses and lands to the west. 

Related Links

  • First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - a website maintained by a Civil War reenactment group, this contains information on this famous Minnesota regiment, the first volunteer unit to respond to President Lincoln's call for troops in April, 1861.
  • Civil War Rosters - Minnesota Links - partial lists of sailors, soldiers and regiments of Minnesota units that served in the Civil War.

Rhoda and Carolyn Gilman and Deborah Schultz, Red River Trails: Oxcarts Between St. Paul and the Selkirk Settlement, 1820-1870 (1979) - an excellent account of the oxcart trade between Fort Snelling (and later St. Paul) and the early settlements in southern Manitoba.

William Lass, A History of Steamboating on the Upper Missouri River (1962) - although concerned with the lands west of Minnesota, this account of these areas is important to understanding early trade development in Minnesota.

George B. Merrick, Old Times on the Upper Mississippi: The Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854 to 1863 (1987) - a well written memoir of a riverboat pilot who traversed the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers; contains some nice descriptions of early Minnesota towns, including Minneapolis.

Gretchen U. Beito, Coya Come Home: A Congresswoman's Journey (1990) - well researched and well written biography of Coya Knutson whose career in Congress became embroiled in a debate over the role of women in society.

Schloff, Linda Mack. And Prairie Dogs Weren't Kosher: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest Since 1855 (1996) - using diaries, letters, and oral histories, this provides an excellent account of the lives of Jewish women in Minnesota, Iowa Wisconsin and the Dakotas.

Barbara Stuhler, Gentle Warriors: Clara Ueland and the Minnesota Struggle for Woman's Suffrage (1995) - exceptional study of the suffrage movement in Minnesota, also contains important findings on the development of education in the state.

Barbara Stuhler and Gretchen Kreuter, eds., Women of Minnesota: Selected Biographical Essays (1998) - updated and revised, this is the most extensive source for biographies of Minnesota women.