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Somali-Americans in Minnesota: Overview

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Somalis in Minnesotaby Ahmed Ismail Yusuf.
St. Paul, MN : Minnesota Historical Society Press, c2012.
MNHS call number:  Reading Room F615.S67 Y87 2012 , also available for purchase

Elusive Jannah : The Somali Diaspora and a Borderless Muslim Identity, by Cawo M. Abdi.
Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2015.
MNHS call number: DT402.45 .A23 2015

Oral History Interviews of the Somali Skyline Tower Oral History Project, 2004.
The interviews in this collection come from the Somali Skyline Tower Oral History Project. In 2004, fifteen young Somali women from St. Paul public schools joined together to create two films about what it is like to be Somali in Minnesota. These interviews are among those conducted for the project.
MNHS call number:  Digital Finding Aid 


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.

Research Options

Tutorial Video

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

Guide Author

Heather Linehan

MNHS Reference Staff 

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Currently open by appointment only.