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Somali-Americans in Minnesota: Overview

Research Options


A small number of Somalis came to settle in the Northeastern United States in the 1920s, others came to study in the 1960s, and a surge in Somali immigration occurred in the 1990s after the outbreak of civil war combined with years of famine, floods and drought. Somalia has not had a recognized government since 1991.  

Most Somalis who now live in Minnesota came to the United States as refugees, many after first living as refugees in countries like Kenya and Ethiopia. Minnesota is home to the country's largest population of Somali residents, which numbered 87,853 as of 2008. Most Somalis live in the metro area, particularly in Minneapolis.

Tutorial Video

Watch this quick tutorial for an overview on researching ethnic records at the MNHS library. 

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Guide Author

Heather Linehan

Reference Staff

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Tuesday: 9am to 8pm • Wed. to Sat.: 9am to 4pm • Sunday & Monday: Closed • Holiday Hours