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Dakota Family History Research Guide: Church & Vital Records

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About Church & Vital Records

Bishop Whipple and others at St. Cornelia's Church, Morton, 1895.

Church records can provide information about individuals who were baptized, married, or buried by a congregation. Membership lists are available for some congregations. The Library has a rich but incomplete collection of records from denominations that proselytized Dakota people, including Presbyterian, Congregational, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic, and from some specific congregations of those denominations.

The State Archives also holds a vast collection of Minnesota marriage, birth, and death records.  Visit our guide on locating and using Vital Records for additional information. You can also consult the Iapi Oaye Vital Statistics publication listed on our Newspapers page.

Native American death certificates, 1900, 1918-1947 (bulk 1928-1947).
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Episcopal Churches

Diocese of Minnesota. Diocesan Records 1823-ongoing
The records of the Diocese of Minnesota are divided into two principal series, General Diocesan Files and Records of Bishops and Parishes. For Dakota genealogy, the most useful records will be found in the second series, Records of Bishops and Parishes.  
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid 

Parish Record Books, 1856-1985 
Although most parish registers have remained in the custody of the parishes, there are a number of registers that include baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials among the series of Parish Record Books. Parishes for which there are parish registers that might be of use for Dakota family history are: Anoka, Elk River, Belle Creek, Blue Earth, Farmington, Madison Lake, Mantorville, Melrose, Morton, Old Chief's Village, Olivia, Princeton, Red Wing, Redwood Falls, Rush City, Shakopee and Stockton (see finding aid for additional details).
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Bishop Henry B. Whipple

Bishop Henry B. Whipple Records, 1859-1899
Contain a series of Registers of Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, etc., performed by Whipple during his travels around the diocese. The baptisms registers cover 1859-1895, and the marriages and burials register covers 1859-1895.  
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
 
Henry B. Whipple papers1833-1934
Whipple’s correspondence, diaries, sermons, reminiscences, and other materials as the first Protestant Episcopal bishop of Minnesota (1859-1901) and as a reformer of the United States Indian service. Of particular interest for genealogical purposes is material relating primarily to Dakota who remained at Faribault after 1862, and the Lower Sioux community at Morton.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Catholic Churches

Cathedral of St. Paul Parish Record Books, 1840-1857
Photostatic copies of the registers of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and confirmations conducted by Catholic priests at St. Paul and at St. Peter’s Church in Mendota, giving the names of settlers, "half-breeds," fur traders and their families, and American Indians. Many of the entries which are in French, Latin, and English were made by Father Lucien Galtier. (Originals are in the Archives of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.)
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (BA1.2/.S2C3) or (Cathedral of St. Paul).
 
Prairie du Chien and Galena Church Records, 1827-1829
Transcribed and translated by James L. Hansen. Published in the Minnesota Genealogical Journal, no. 5 (May 1986): pp. 421-442.  Transcribed and translated from a copy of the original French records made by Father Francois Vincent Badin, including baptisms, marriages, and burials. (Originals are in the Archives of St. Mary’s College in Montreal; a copy is in the Wisconsin Historical Society.)
MNHS call number: Reading Room CS 42 .M553 no. 5.
 
Prairie Du Chien's Earliest Church Records, 1817
Transcribed and translated by James Hansen.  Published in the Minnesota Genealogical Journal, no. 4 (Nov. 1985): pp. 329-342.  Translated from a copy of the original French records made by Father Joseph Marie Dunand and kept by St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
MNHS call number: Reading Room CS 42 .M553 no. 4.
 
Register of baptisms, deaths, and marriages kept by Father Ravoux, 1841-1844, 1847.
A photocopy of a register in French of baptisms, deaths, and marriages kept by Father Ravoux among the Dakota from 1841-1844, and on a trip up the Missouri in 1847. Accompa-nied by a typed transcript (28 leaves) in French of the register. (Original is in the Archives of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.)  A transcribed and translated version is available as: "The Labors of Augustin Ravoux Among the Sioux," transcribed and translated by Mary Bakeman. In Minnesota Genealogical Journal, no. 14 (Sept. 1995): pp. 1317-1326.
MNHS call number: Reading Room CS 42 .M553 no. 14.
 
Saint Leo's Catholic Church (Pipestone, Minn.) Baptism Records, 1878-1896
("Pipestone County Catholic Baptisms," transcribed by Sheri Flandrick Cox) Transcribed from the original record book held by Saint Leo’s Catholic Church. The book contains entries from several congregations, including Woodstock, Avoca, Edgerton, Jasper, and Pipestone.  
Published in the Minnesota Genealogical Journal:
  • no. 28 (Sept. 2002): pp. 2779-2782 – 1878-1887
  • no. 29 (Mar. 2003): pp. 2883-2886 – 1887-1890
  • no. 30 (Sept. 2003): pp. 2975-2978 – 1890-1892
  • no. 31 (Mar. 2004): pp. 3073-3076 – 1892-1894
  • no. 32 (Sept. 2004): pp. 3181-3184 – 1895-1896
MNHS call number: CS 42 .M553 no. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32.
 
Saint Peter Catholic Church (Mendota, MN) Parish Registers, 1857-1973 
Marriage register (1857-1907), baptismal and confirmation register (1857-1922) and death register (1908-1913, 1931-1973) of one of the oldest Catholic churches in Minnesota. The Dakota Indian Internment at Fort Snelling, 1862-1864, by Corinne J. Monjeau-Marz, contains an abstract of the St. Peter baptismal registry for 1862-1865 of Dakota and Metis baptized at the Fort Snelling Encampment and includes the child’s name as well as parents’ names.
MNHS call number: M263, Reading Room E99.D1 M665 2005
 
Saint Raphael Cathedral (Dubuque, Iowa) Registers of Baptisms, 1839-1858
A typed transcription of entries in the register of baptisms kept by a number of Roman Catholic priests, including Bishop Mathias Loras. At that time the Diocese of Dubuque included part of the present state of Minnesota. (Original is in the Archdiocese of Dubuque Archives; a transcript is in the Archives of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.)
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P1098) or (St. Raphael Cathedral)

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