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Dakota Family History Research Guide: Manuscripts

Manuscript Collections

Sioux tepee, 1895.

Letters received by the United States Office of the Adjutant General (Main Series), 1861-1870
Letters, briefs, memoranda, and notes sent to or originating in the office of the Adjutant General, the majority of which were received for filing in the period 1861-1870. Of particular Minnesota interest is File 5I-1866 (frames 501-735), which pertains to the U.S.-Dakota War and its aftermath. Among the items are several letters relating to the escape to Canada of Indians involved in the conflict; several letters appealing for the pardon of the Indians held in captivity at Camp Kearney (Davenport, Iowa); and a list of those being held (frames 692-697).
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (M166)

John Felix Aiton and Family Papers, 1817-1892
Correspondence, diary entries, school papers, and financial records of Aiton, an early Presbyterian missionary teacher to the Dakota (1848-1855) and Nicollet County farmer (1856-1857, 1861-1892); and letters of his two wives.  Also included are a Dakota-English dictionary compiled by Aiton, and an attendance register for schools Aiton taught in Kaposia, Little Crow’s Village, and Pike County, Illinois (1851-1852, 1855-1856, 1857-1861).
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (Aiton, John Felix) or (P1447)
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Correspondence, 1827-1878
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 information about Moses Newton Adams, John F. Aiton, Frederick Ayer, Hester Crooks Boutwell, William Boutwell, Edmund F. Ely, Sherman Hall, Robert Hopkins, Alexander G. Huggins, Gideon H. Pond, Samuel W. Pond, Stephen R. Riggs, Jedediah D. Stevens, Jane S. Williamson, John P. Williamson, Ojibwe and Dakota Indians, and the Congregational and Presbyterian churches in Minnesota.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions) or (BA10/.A512b)
Joseph R. and Samuel J. Brown and Family Papers, 1826-1956
Correspondence and other papers, including letters, historical reminiscences and articles, speeches, financial records, newspaper clippings, and photographs; financial records (1862-1916); and volumes, including letterbooks, account books, memo books, and a diary (1838-1908) relating to the lives and careers of the prominent Minnesota pioneer Joseph R. Brown, his son Samuel J. and daughter Ellen Brown Allanson, and other members of their immediate and related families in what is now Minnesota and South Dakota.  The papers reflect Joseph R.’s wide-ranging activities as fur trader, Indian and special military agent, soldier, townsite and real estate developer, inventor, newspaper editor and publisher, politician, local government official, and legislator, as well as his relations with the Dakota and other prominent pioneer families.  The papers also reflect Samuel J.’s lifelong interest in and involvement with the Dakota (he was one-eighth Dakota and a member of the Sisseton tribe) as an interpreter, superintendent of government scouts, missionary school teacher and lay missionary, and Indian industrial school superintendent; editor of an Indian-oriented publication; campaigner for annuities for Indian scouts and other benefits for the Sisseton and Wahpeton tribes; and memoirist and lay historian of the U.S.-Dakota War (1862-1865) and its aftermath; as well as his involvement in business and real estate ventures, some of the latter on reservation lands. The oversize items include 2 plats: one of Brown’s Valley in Traverse County, Minnesota, and another of the Riverside park addition to Brown’s Valley.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
Chambers and Johnson Family Papers, 1827-1942
Correspondence, financial papers, deeds, business papers, genealogical data, essays, and miscellaneous printed items documenting the lives of three Minnesota families: Alexander Chambers of Owatonna; Harvey Hull Johnson of Winona and Owatonna; and Alexander Anderson of Blue Earth. All three families are related by marriage.  Most of the collection documents the activities of the Johnson and Chambers families, with only a few items concerning the Anderson family. The papers contain much information on family life; pioneer life in Winona and Owatonna; the Civil War; the U.S.-Dakota War; local weather; economic conditions; and military life at many Western army posts.  
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (Chambers, Alexander) or (P1240)
Dakota Conflict of 1862 Manuscripts Collections
This compilation comprises a variety of small collections of letters, reminiscences, reports, diaries, and related materials dealing with the U.S.-Dakota War and related activities of 1862-1865. They primarily detail the personal experiences of both white and Indian participants or witnesses, including raids and killings, construction of fortifications, hostages' experiences, the execution at Mankato of 38 Dakota men, and the subsequent Sibley and Sully punitive expeditions into western Minnesota and Dakota Territory. 
MNHS call number: Access records online via the Digital Finding Aid.  
Dakota, Mixed Blood Indian, and White Biographical Files Notebook
Compiled by Alan Woolworth from the Minnesota Biographies Project, this notebook contains photocopies of biographical information on Dakota people and whites who married into Dakota families.  Most entries include date and place of birth and death, a brief narrative of their life, and citations to newspaper articles or other sources.  Arranged alphabetically.
MNHS call number: Reference Desk F605.W86 1983 (Chaney Room); ask staff for help.
Charles Eugene Flandrau and Family Papers, 1850-1935
Papers of Charles E. Flandrau, a lawyer and associate justice (1857-1864) of the Minnesota territorial and supreme courts, and his family, consisting largely of correspondence, invoices, receipts, deeds, and legal documents. Many date from the years 1856-1858, when Flandrau was Indian agent for the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute Dakota, and document his management of Sioux Agency affairs, annuity payments, and councils between the Dakota and government officials. A set of contracts (1897) reflects his representation of Dakota bands in supporting an 1897 Congressional bill to restore rights forfeited in 1863.  For tips on using this collection for Dakota family history research, see Mary Bakeman’s The Flandrau Papers: Treasure Trove for Mixed Blood Dakota Indian Genealogy
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
Grey Cloud Woman Notebook 
Notebooks compiled by the MNHS Education Department staff, containing photocopies of various articles and other material concerning Grey Cloud Woman. Notebook number II contains genealogical material, including family tree charts.
MNHS call number: No call number; ask staff for help
James McLaughlin Papers, 1855-1937
Microfilm of the Major James McLaughlin Papers.  This collection contains letters, applications for land patents, publications, financial records, notebooks, letter books, and other papers relating to McLaughlin’s work as Dakota Indian agent at the Devils Lake and Standing Rock reservations in North Dakota (1876-1895) and as agency inspector and treaty negotiator for the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs (1895-1923). They concern his inspections and negotiations at agencies throughout the U.S. and his work in determining the competency of Indians for citizenship and land patents.
  • Rolls 5-13 contain information on allotments, citizenship work, and applications for citizenship. 
  • Roll 21 contains a listing of Standing Rock Dakota, giving the Indian and English names, the ages, and family relationship.  
  • Roll 38 contains the index created by the Abbey Archives on 15,675 cross-reference cards, that give the exact frame numbers to pinpoint information on individual persons and Indian agencies.
  • The "Census of Medawakanton Sioux of Minnesota," which lists entire families and their locations is found on roll 1 of M405.
  • Santee Sioux Roll of individuals living in Minnesota and elsewhere, to be used in fulfilling a Court of Claims judgment. This roll is also found on roll 1 of M405.
    MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (M230) and (A/-M162); Digital Finding Aid (M405)
Papers relating to Prairie Island Indian Community, 1958-1959
Typescripts and photographs containing biographical and historical information on the Prairie Island Indian Community and, especially, on members of the Rouillard and Wells families who settled there beginning in the 1880s. Also included is a 1-page list of Indian names from the mid-1860s and mid-1870s.
MNHS call number: See finding aid in the library (filed under P2314).
Pond Family Papers, 1833-2009
Papers documenting the history of a Minnesota pioneer family, particularly the ministry of two brothers—Samuel and Gideon Pond—who were early missionaries among the Dakota Indians. The papers include photocopies and original correspondence, some with typed transcripts (1833-1935), diaries (1836-1858, 1885-1914), sermons (1857-1879, 1948), addresses (1905-1954), poems, lexicons, a Dakota grammar, a Dakota-Hebrew vocabulary, genealogies, an autograph album, reminis-cences (undated and 1874, 1881, 1891), account book (1873-1889), photocopied (1890-1969) and microfilmed (1833-1967) scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings (undated and 1891-1958). Topics include Samuel and Gideon Pond’s missionary activities, their interest in the Dakota language, and the churches the brothers helped found.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
Stephen R. Riggs and Family Papers1837-1988
Letters and miscellaneous materials of this Presbyterian missionary and other family members, focusing on the Riggs’ missionary service at Lake Harriet (now Minneapolis) and Lac Qui Parle, Minnesota (1837-1862), his work as an interpreter during the 1862 Dakota Conflict, and his sub-sequent activities as an author of Dakota-language teaching materials. Of particular interest are lists of prisoners at Davenport in the 1860s, and a list of men who died in prison. There also are many letters written by Indians, some of them in English, but most of them written in the Dakota language.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
Henry Whipple St. Clair Papers, 1908-1956
Henry St. Clair was a Dakota clergyman in the Protestant Episcopal Church at Birch Coulee [Cooley/Coolie] (Lower Sioux) and elsewhere.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (St. Clair, Henry Whipple) or (P894)
Marion P. and William W. Satterlee Papers, 1878-1937
Primarily Marion P. Satterlee's research files as a historian of the 1862 Dakota Conflict.  Marion's research files include two boxes of card files with data on both Indian and white participants in the U.S.-Dakota War, including Dakota who were killed; reminiscent letters from white survivors; and correspondence with descendants of Little Crow.  
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
Henry H. Sibley Papers, 1815-1932
More than a third of the papers concern the fur trade with the Dakota Indians of the Upper Mississippi Valley from 1815 to 1855, documenting Sibley’s business association with the American Fur Company and its successor, Pierre Chouteau, Jr., and Company, as well as his interest in the treaties, wars, and welfare of the Dakota. They provide extensive information on the administration of the American Fur Company and the general status and conduct of trade; on individual traders and Dakota bands in the Minnesota area; on prices for furs, trade goods, and supplies; on the company’s system of agreements and credits for traders and Indians; on missionaries, explorers, and others who visited pre-territorial Minnesota; on Sibley’s long-standing rivalry with Henry M. Rice; on the gradual decline of the fur trade and its replacement by general merchandising; and on all of the treaties concluded in the Minnesota area with the Dakota, Ojibwe, and Winnebago Indians during 1834-1851.  There is considerable data on the U.S.-Dakota War, on the 1863 punitive expedition led by Sibley, and on his subsequent service with several Indian affairs commissions and boards.  
  • Roll 12, frame 89, contains a list of men who were scouts for Sibley in 1863.

MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Lawrence Taliaferro Papers, 1813-1868 
Correspondence, journals, order books, financial records, an autobiography, and miscellany, the bulk of which document Taliaferro’s career as U.S. Indian agent to the Ojibwe and Dakota at the St. Peters Agency near Fort Snelling.  Taliaferro’s journals make reference to most of the prominent Ojibwe and Dakota Indians, Indian traders, explorers, military officers, and missionaries active in Minnesota during that time, as well as visitors of note and many settlers, voyageurs, and Red River colony migrants. There are details on Indian bands, trade goods, annuity payments, gifts, health, missionary work, frontier life, and relations between whites and Indians. Taliaferro’s friendships with Josiah Snelling and Joseph N. Nicollet are well documented, as are his objections to unscrupulous trade dealings with the Indians in general and his feud with Alexis Bailly in particular.
Thomas S. Williamson Papers, 1839-1939
Correspondence, articles, and accounts of this physician who was also a missionary to the Dakota Indians at Lac Qui Parle and Kaposia, Minnesota (1835-1862).  Most of the correspondence (1861-1879) is between Thomas S. and his son John P., a missionary to the Dakota Indians in Dakota Territory; it gives information on the Indians’ removal from Minnesota following the U.S.-Dakota War, life in the Indian agencies, and family matters.  Especially important for Dakota family history are documents relating to T.S. Williamson's work with the prisoners at Davenport and John P. Williamson's letters relating to the removal of the Dakota to Crow Creek Agency.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
Alan R. Woolworth Papers, 1774-2008
Personal papers and research files of Alan R. Woolworth, a Minnesota historian and archaeologist, primarily concerning events and individuals from nineteenth-century Minnesota.  Among the most useful sections of these papers for Dakota family research are the Research Files.  A major portion of the Research Files consists of defense exhibits (1831-1945) from Docket No. 363 of the United States Court of Claims for the Lower Sioux Community in Minnesota.  These files, arranged by exhibit number (A-1 - A-61), consist of copies of disbursement sheets prepared by the Indian Trust Accounting Division of the General Services Administration and representing claims for payment by persons performing work within the Lower Dakota Indian community.  They summarize information on payee, voucher number, nature of work performed, amount of settlement, name of the Dakota band with regard to which the work was performed, and other descriptive materials.  See the finding aid to determine which boxes in the collection contain material of interest.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

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