Following last week’s theme of utilizing local resources, I thought I’d highlight a site that at first glance doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Red River Valley region but if you have Minnesota roots, you may want to check out The Iron Range Research Center. In addition to an extensive onsite collection, there are many online resources. Let’s explore.
For those who may not be familiar, the Iron Range region of Minnesota has been mining iron ore for over a century. This region has a rich history with many ethnic groups coming together to work in the mines.
According to the Iron Range Research Center site they have one of the “largest collections of genealogical and local history research materials in the Upper Midwest.” These include such resources as census, naturalization records, passenger arrival records, reference books, maps, oral histories and newspapers.
If you do have ancestors from this area of Minnesota who worked in the mining industry, a visit to the Minnesota Discovery Center may benefit your family research. One of their goals is to preserve the history of the Iron Range area of Minnesota. “The archives are a designated government records repository for the Taconite Tax Relief Area and consist of local, municipal, county, and state records; records of social organizations, businesses, and personal papers; maps; mining records; and photographs.”
The online search provides a great way to find records across the state of Minnesota. Categories that you can search include Alien Registration of 1918, Arrest Records (Hibbing), Birth Record, Cemetery Record, Chippewa Census, Marriage, Mining Accident, Naturalization Record, Obituary, Souvinir, Ore Iron and Men, Women in Industry and High School Index. (Souvinir is spelled this way on the site and appears to be related to newspaper clippings from the area.)
Here’s an example of a search I did for a relative in Goodhue County, Minnesota which is a long way from the Iron Range. You can easily order a copy for a fee by clicking on the “order” button.
A visit to the Minnesota Discovery Center where the Iron Range Research Center is housed would definitely be worth your time if you have ancestors who worked and settled in the Northern Minnesota area. I would recommend reading the FAQs to learn more about onsite visits and their onsite collections or scheduling time with their archivist.
By expanding your view and exploring sites outside of your favorite larger sites, your efforts may result in finding that one elusive piece of information about your ancestor. Happy mining!
“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy...Let’s go exploring!”
-- Bill Watterson, cartoonist
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.