Skip to Main Content

State Parks of Minnesota: Primary Sources: Archives & Records

Government Records

Minneopa Falls, Minneopa State Park, Mankato, c. 1915

Files from the Minnesota Division of Parks and Recreation

  • Land Acquisition Files Regarding State Parks, 1960, 1972-1991
    Files documenting the acquisition of private land by the Department of Natural Resources State Parks Division. The files may also record improvements, renovations, and project plans within the state parks. The records include deeds, correspondence, maps, environmental assessments worksheets, project descriptions, blueprints, memoranda, permits, newspaper articles, minutes, agendas, legislation, land classifications, notes, reports, and lists. 
    MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

  • Divested State Park Files, 1935-1984
    Files documenting the development and history of select Minnesota state park properties that were divested by the state and turned over to local control, including building improvements, maintenance costs, and other related data. The records include maps, work plans, diagrams, correspondence, newspaper articles, quitclaim deeds, notes, pamphlets, contracts, blueprints, reports, and permits. 
    MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

  • State Park Project Files, 1934-1938
    Plans, photographs, work program outlines, and progress reports in files kept by Wesley G. Wells, who worked for both the National Park Service and the Minnesota Conservation Department on state park survey and improvement projects. 
    MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

  • State Parks Files, 1840s-2002
    Correspondence, memoranda, contact and planning reports, opinion surveys, press releases and clippings, annual reports, photographs, and maps regarding development projects and usage provisions and regulations in state parks. 
    MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

  • Subject Files, 1933-2012
    Correspondence, reports, studies, legal and financial materials, clippings, minutes, maps, photographs, histories, and related materials documenting the organization and operation of the Division of Parks and Recreation. Topics include natural resources information in the parks, park manager annual reports, and state park annual activity reports. 
    MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

  • Reading Files, 1970-2000
    General correspondence, primarily outgoing, of the Park Development and Resources Section (1974-1987), and copies of outgoing letters of the Parks and Recreation Division in general and of individual staff members.
    MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

  • Environmental Assessment Files Regarding State Parks, 1966-1989
    Files documenting environmental assessments for select state parks, trails, routes, rivers, and management/recreational areas. The records may include correspondence, surveys, articles, maps, fact sheets, inspection reports, appraisals, management plans, master plans, contracts, and permits.
    MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

Files from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

  • Published Records and Reports, 1971-2000
    Reports, newsletters, and miscellaneous print and near-print items of or about the Natural Resources Department. State Park trail maps, brochures, reports, and other materials from specific state parks are included in this collection.
    MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid


Minnesota Parks Foundation Records, 1954-1995 (bulk 1967-1990)
This collection documents the history of the Minnesota Parks Foundation and other related organizations dedicated to expanding, supporting and improving state parks in Minnesota. The collection includes correspondence, financial records, legislative and legal material, meeting files, minutes, maps, land purchase records, and park project files from the Minnesota Parks Foundation, the Minnesota Council of State Parks, the Metropolitan Park Reserve Board, and the Afton Land Company. A number of state parks and trails across Minnesota are represented in this collection. 
MNHS Call Number: See the finding aid available in the library (Morgan, Samuel H.)



Pamphlets Relating to State and Local Parks in Minnesota, ca. 1900-
The Minnesota Historical Society Pamphlet Collection contains pamphlets and printed ephemera relating to Minnesota state parks in general, several individual state parks, an attempt (ca. 1900) to garner support for a national park in northern Minnesota, and county and local parks in Anoka, Dakota, and Hennepin counties. 
MNHS Call Number: SB482

Researching State Parks

The Minnesota Historical Society holds a number of collections containing information regarding the creation and management of Minnesota State Parks. A sampling of some of these collections is listed above.

Interested in discovering more? Search our catalog for the following topics:

  • State park
  • Division of parks and recreation
  • Individual park names (Itasca, Jay Cooke, etc.)

Search for Primary Sources at MNHS

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