Since 1820 people living in what is now Minnesota have been enumerated in various state and territorial censuses:
The Minnesota Territorial and State Census records can now be searched and viewed online--for free!--through our PeopleFinder system.
To search these records:
For more hints on Searching MN State Census Records, visit the State Census FAQs.
Onsite researchers can also access MN State and Territorial Census Records for free through the Library's Ancestry.com subscription. Visit the Minnesota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905 search page in Ancestry.com to get started.
The information gathered by the MN Census varied from year to year, but starting with the final Territorial Census in 1857, the questions provided more than just a count of household members by gender. The following is a list of the data collected in each year, using the language from the original forms.
Minnesota inhabitants were first included on the 1820 Michigan Territory Census and the 1836 Wisconsin Territory Census.
A separate census of the Minnesota Territory was ordered in 1849. For each household, it included the name of head of household and number of males and females.
The 1849 census included the former Wisconsin Territories of St. Croix and La Pointe, as well as the rest of the new territory which had not yet been organized into counties.
By 1850, the new territory had been organized into the counties of Benton, Dakota, Itasca, Mankatah, Pembina, Ramsey, Wabashaw, Wahnahta, and Washington.
Most 1853 schedules are only head of household, number of children, and total number in household, but a few include names of all household members. These records are very incomplete and searchable databases contain information for only two counties:
Largely lost. The published schedule for Wright County has survived, as have manuscript copies for Chisago, Doty, and Superior Counties.
The 1857 MN Territorial Census was mandated for statehood qualification and apparently included fictitious names in seven counties to boost the population. The following counties are included for this year:
Anoka, Benton, Blue Earth, Brown, Buchanan, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chisago, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Dakota, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Isanti, Itasca, Jackson, Lake, Le Sueur, Mahnomen, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Pembina, Pierce, Pine, Pipestone, Ramsey, Renville, Rice, Rock, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, St. Louis, Stearns, Steele, Todd, Wabasha, Waseca, Washington, Winona, and Wright.
Soundex - A system for indexing names by the way they are pronounced, rather than the way they are spelled. By using Soundex, you could do one search to find all the people with the similar-sounding names like Peterson, Petersen, Petersohn, Pieterson, etc.