Research Guide for Native Community Members

Gathering Information


Han-ye-tu was-te (Beautiful Night). MNHS call number: E91.1H r10Indigenous history is woven throughout books, records, photographs and more. The key is to figure out how to navigate through these resources to find what you are looking for. Starting with what you already know will help in leading towards the research direction you are trying to go. 

Gather together the information you have, such as names, dates and geographic locations. From there, take note of additional names, dates and locations that pop up to further your research. 

If you are researching on behalf of an organization or for school, check with your institution to determine what resources they offer. Your local library may have access to materials that are unavailable at MNHS. In turn, MNHS may have resources that are unavailable at the local level.   

Start by asking yourself: "What am I researching?"

You may ask yourself questions such as:

  • What do I already know about the topic?
  • What can I find online?
  • What records are only available at the Minnesota Historical Society?

Helpful Search Tips:

  • Search county records in addition to state & federal records.
  • Remember names can change based on the record.
  • Make sure to search between English, French & Indigenous names. 

NOTE: Researching history on Indigneous peoples often includes coming across information, documents or language that may be upsetting or offensive, especially for Indigenous people. 

Digital Resources Specific to MNHS

The following digital resources can be accessed from any device with an internet connection:

  • Library Catalog: This feature performs a general search of MNHS record holdings such as books, archival collections, newspapers etc.  

  • Collections Online: This feature may be utilized to search for photographs, archaeological objects, moving images, etc.

  • Minnesota Digital Newspaper HubThe Minnesota Historical Society has a variety of newspapers available for research including tribal papers. Search by county or city name and utilize the search feature to find specific papers on a community or topic. There are also a variety of Minnesota tribal newspapers available for access online.  

  • Minnesota People Records Search: MNHS has access to birth & death records for the state of Minnesota. Utilize the Minnesota People Records Search to find relevant birth and death records that occurred in the state of Minnesota. You can narrow by county name to find particular individuals.

  • Digital Finding Aids: Finding Aids are a group of materials containing information on documents in a library’s collection. Typically these records are categorized by subject and list a portion of the library's holdings on that particular subject.

Visiting the Gale Family Library

The Minnesota Historical Society Library provides access to all of its collections in one easy-to-use location, the Gale Family Library on the second floor of the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. The Library is open for both advance and walk-in appointmentsStaff are also assisting researchers via phonedistance services, and email.

The Library is divided into two main on-site service points: 


We are also available to help distance researchers!

Any questions? Please email our reference staff at or call our phone desk at 651-259-3300. We are always happy to help!

Helpful Resources Outside of MNHS

Minnesota County Recorders. Resource for finding real estate records throughout Minnesota. County Recorders maintain a permanent public repository of documents including deeds, mortgages, contracts for deed, probate documents, and easements.  

Tribal Colleges & Universities. The website for the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities through the U.S. Department of Education. Resources include Tribal College and University contact information by state, links to White House initiatives, and student aid resources, 

MNopedia. An online encyclopedia with reliable information about significant people, places, events, and things in Minnesota history.  

Indigenous Peoples of Minnesota (FamilySearch). A comprehensive guide for accessing a variety of record types and other resources focusing on the family history of Minnesota's Indigenous people. is a free genealogical resource which can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. 

National Archives & Records Administration. This collection of American Indian and Alaska Native Records includes information relating to American Indians and Alaska Natives from 1774 - the mid-1990s held at National Archives locations throughout the United States. 

MNHS Reference Staff

reading room bookshelves


Gale Family Library
Minnesota Historical Society Library

Located on the Second Floor of the Minnesota History Center
345 West Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Library Hours:
Thursday to Saturday: 10am to 4pm
Sunday to Wednesday: Closed

More Information on Visiting the Library


Contact Us:


Email Us

Visit our Main Website

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Hours and More InformationEmail us