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Metis Family History Research: Manuscript Collections

Manuscript Collections

Dakota-Metis beaded bag, 1860.

Alexis Bailly Papers, 1821-1898.
Original, copied and microfilmed correspondence and financial records (1821-1868) of Bailly, an American Fur Company agent at St. Peter’s (Mendota), 1820-1835, and later at Wabasha, giving details of trade with the Dakota Indians and of the lives of traders and early white settlers. Includes references to Bailly’s cattle drive (1821) from Fort Snelling to the Selkirk Colony on the Red River, and to Minnesota politics when Bailly was a member of the first territorial legislature (1849). The volumes (1821-1851) include personal memoranda; business and personal accounts; daybooks kept at St. Peter’s, Wabasha, and Prairie du Chien; records of the American Fur Company’s Western Outfit (1834-1848); a traders’ credit book; Indian credit and account books; ledgers; inventories; and outward invoice books. Another volume (1884-1898) contains a daily record of river traffic under a bridge, probably at La Crescent, Minn.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

George A. Belcourt Papers, 1832-1857, 1927.
Typed copies (in French) and translations (in English) of letters written by Belcourt to the Bishop of Quebec and others telling them of his life as a Roman Catholic missionary to the Ojibwe Indians at Pembina and Turtle Mountain, Dakota Territory. Includes Father Alexius Hoffmann’s translation (1927) of George A. Belcourt’s "Mon itineraire du Lac des Deux-Montagnes a la Riviere-Rouge" (April 25-June 17, 1831) and his background notes on Belcourt and the Red River settlments.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P2264).

Correspondence, 1827-1878. American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
Typewritten copies of correspondence with missionaries at the Ojibwe and Dakota missions in Minnesota. It also includes biographies, diaries, and other records sent to the board.  There is a student list from La Pointe mission school in Sept. of 1843 that includes a long list of "mixed blood" students.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (BA10/.A512b).

Manuscript Biographies Collections, 1800s-ongoing.
An assortment of manuscript items or groups of related items whose value is largely biographical. They include biographical and autobiographical sketches and notes, wedding and baptismal certificates, appointments, letters, brief reminiscences, school records, clippings, memorial statements, and other personal memorabilia.
MNHS call numberDigital Finding Aid (this finding aid lists individuals covered in this collection).

Joseph N. Nicollet Papers, 1786-1843
Selected manuscripts, mostly in French, written and collected by the French scientist and explorer Joseph N. Nicollet.  They relate primarily to Indian language and culture, particularly those of the Dakota and Chippewa.  
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (M30 (an alphabetical index is available) & M376).

Northwest Missions Manuscripts and Index, 1776-1926
Typed transcripts and negative photocopies of letters, diaries, church records, and articles pertaining to Protestant and Catholic missions to the Ojibwe and Dakota Indians in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakota Territory, and neighboring areas in Canada (1810-1896), and a card index to these and other items relating to northwest missions (1766-1926). The materials in the collection include information on the hiring of teachers for and financial problems of the missions, the conversion and education of the Indians, friction between missionaries and mission organizations, relations with United States Indian agents, the treaty of Traverse des Sioux (1851) and other Indian treaties, Indian intertribal warfare, and government support of mission schools. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid 

Alan R. Woolworth Papers, 1774-2008 (bulk 1830-2000)
Personal papers and research files of Alan R. Woolworth, a Minnesota historian and archeologist, primarily concerning events and individuals from nineteenth century Minnesota.  Among the most useful sections of these papers for Metis family research are the Research Files.  These files relate to work Woolworth did as a research fellow at the Minnesota Historical Society including biographical work on American Indians, fur trade personnel and early white settlers.

MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Additional relevant manuscript collections can be found in the Fur Trade in Minnesota Research Guide

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