This is the "Overview" page of the "African American Family History Research" guide.
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African American Family History Research   Tags: african americans, family history, how-to, rondo, somali americans  

Last Updated: Apr 8, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Overview Print Page

Research Options

  • Visit the MNHS Library
    A guide on visiting and using the MNHS library.
  • Research Services
    Fee-based research services offered by MHS Library staff.
  • Your Local Library
    Many books listed in the Secondary Sources can be checked out at other libraries.
  • Local Historical Societies
    A list of MN county and town historical societies, with contact info and web links
    A subscription genealogy website. Visit the MHS Library to use our subscription.
  • FamilySearch
    A free family history site that allows you to search records from around the world.

Overview Box

" For more than 150 years, the Twin Cities have been home to small, independent, and industrious African American communities."  [David Vassar Taylor, African Americans in Minnesota]. 

Unlike other ethnic groups in the state, their ancesters were brought to North America as slaves, and some were held as slaves by whites living in Minnesota -- from officers at Fort Snelling to pioneer settlers in St Paul.  Like other ethnic groups, they organized social clubs and churches, published newspapers, and fought for their rights, to create a community within the larger Twin Cities.  Many worked for the railroads, most often as Pullman porters, dining car workers, and cooks. Knowledge of  African American history in Minnesota helps people researching family histories think about where to look for specialized information, as well as checking the usual censuses, city directories, military records, and county historical society holdings that everyone doing genealogy needs to use.

Minnesotans typically leave records of births and deaths, marriages, education, employment, religious and political affiliations, military service, property ownership, and relationships to government and the law, ranging from paying taxes and registering a business, to living in a sanatorium or other state institution. The Minnesota Historical Society Library has many of these records, as well as additional valuable items.

Related Research Guides & Webpages


MHS Reference Staff

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Gale Family Library
MN Historical Society Library
345 West Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Contact Us:
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Guide Author

Reference Staff

Katie Jean Davey
Reference Librarian

Minnesota Historical Society Library • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300

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