Researching Ojibwe family history
- Start with a basic family history guide and a basic ancestor chart or family group sheet.
- Do not focus just on Indian records; use everything available from the time period.
- Be prepared for variance in names and spellings.
- Fur trade records could be helpful. Many are listed under Manuscript Collections.
- Use military records since Indians served in the military in many different wars.
- For members of tribes that are not federally-recognized, try the non-Indian census. The people may be listed, but a tribal affiliation will not be included.
These are a few of the many books about Ojibwe/Chippewa Indians in the Minnesota Historical Society Library. To find more, search the Library’s online catalog by subject headings such as: Ojibwe Indians—Biography; Ojibwe Indians—Minnesota—Genealogy, etc.
Note: Library of Congress subject headings use the spelling: “Ojibwa” while many titles and descriptions use “Ojibway” or “Ojibwe”; other terms and spellings commonly used in sources on the Ojibwe people include “Chippewa”, “Chippeway”, “Anishinabe”, and “Anishinaabe”.
Against the Tide of American History: The Story of the Mille Lacs Anishinabe, W. Roger Buffalohead. Cass Lake, Min.: Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, 1985.
MnHS call number: E99 .C6 B84.
A Dictionary of the Ojibway Language, Frederic Baraga.
St. Paul, Min.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1992.
MnHS call number: PM853 .B28 1992.
Grand Portage Chippewa: Stories and Experiences of Grand Portage Band Members, oral histories collected and introduced by Donald J. Auger and Paul Driben.
Grand Portage, Min.: Grand Portage Tribal Council, 2000.
MnHS call number: E99 .C6 G728 2000.
A History of Kitchi Onigaming: Grand Portage and its People, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. [Cass Lake, Min.: Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, 1983].
MnHS call number: E99 .C6 H54.
History of the Ojibways, Based Upon Traditions and Oral Statements, William W. Warren. St. Paul, Min.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2009.
MnHS call number: E99 .C6 W32 2009.
Lists of Lands Affected by White Earth Reservation Land Settlement Act of 1985, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs.[Washington, D.C.?: The Bureaus, 1986?].
MnHS call number: FOLIO E99 .C6 L68 1986.
Lists Showing the Degree of Indian Blood of Certain Persons Holding Land Upon the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota; and a List Showing the Date of Death of Certain Persons Who Held Land Upon Such Reservation, Bureau of Indian Affairs. Washington, [D.C.]: Government Printing Office, 1911.
MnHS call number: E78 .M7 U5.
We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People, Bruce White; foreword by Gerald Wizen. St. Paul, Min:. Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2007.
MnHS call number: TR654 .W363 2007.
White Earth: A History. [Cass Lake, Inn.: Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, 1989].
MnHS call number: E99 .C6 W535.
CENSUS, ANNUITY, AND OTHER LISTS
The annual Indian Census started in 1885 and lasted until 1940. Those years not available at MnHS can be obtained through the National Archives and its branches, the Family History Centers, and the American Genealogical Lending Library. The Annuity Rolls can be obtained through the National Archives. For Minnesota tribes, check the regional branches of the National Archives in Kansas City Branch first, then the and Chicago Branch.
The entire population of Minnesota was enumerated in two series of censuses: one by the U.S. Census Office/Bureau of the federal government and another by the Territory and State of Minnesota.
Annuity and Other Expense Records for Several Bands of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota, 1874-1876. (MnHS call number: P2643 and +304, 1 box and 1 oversize folder, Manuscript Collection) An accounts ledger (1874-1876) and annuity rolls (1874) documenting annuity payments and other expenses for the Leech Lake Pillager and Lake Winnibigoshish bands and the White Oak Point Mississippi band of Chippewa (Ojibway) Indians. Each entry in the annuity rolls gives the name of the family head; the number of men, women, and children in the family; and the amount of annuity paid.
Chippewa Annuity Rolls (MnHS call number: M390, 5 reels, Manuscript Microfilm Collection)
Annuity rolls and related records for Minnesota Ojibway Indian bands whose members were paid annuities by the federal government under various treaties between 1841 and 1907. They include the names of Indian and “half-breed” heads of families, the names or the number of other family members (primarily women and children), and the amount of annuity paid.
The annuity rolls were filmed in two groups according to the size of the original records, and alphabetically by name of band within each group. Therefore, the annuity rolls for a particular band may not all be filmed consecutively.
(Originals are in the National Archives, Record Group 75, Office of Indian Affairs.)
Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940. (MnHS call number: M559, 88 reels, Manuscript Microfilm Collection) U.S. Office of Indian Affairs microfilm. Includes 88 reels selected from a larger series. Contains only records of Minnesota Indians and Indian groups in Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota with Minnesota connections. Census rolls were submitted each year by agents or superintendents in charge of reservations. They include both Dakota and Ojibwe Indians and are arranged by reservation, although there is not a census for every reservation or group of Indians for every year. Only persons who maintained a formal affiliation with a tribe under federal supervision are listed.
The data on the rolls usually includes English and/or Indian name, roll number, age or birth date, sex, and relationship to head of family. Beginning in 1930 the rolls also show degree of Indian blood, marital status, ward status, place of residence, and sometimes other information. For certain years, including 1935, 1936, 1938, and 1939, only supplemental rolls of additions and deletions were compiled. There is not a census for every reservation or group of Indians for every year.
(Originals are in the National Archives, Record Group 75, Bureau of Indian Affairs.)
Letters (1936) and Census (1919) of the Bois Forte Ojibway at the Nett Lake Agency. (MnHS call number: P2038, 1 folder, Manuscript Collection) A letter (March 4, 1936), addressed to J.S. Monks, acting superintendent of the Chippewa Consolidated Agency at Cass Lake, Minnesota, was a request from G. Monson of the Office of Indian Affairs at Nett Lake for a copy of the census to be used in securing pension benefits for the elderly. Monk’s reply (March 10, 1936) was accompanied by a copy of the census. Information in the census includes the individual’s Indian name, English name, relationship to the head of the household, date of birth, and sex.
List of Chippewa Indians at Mille Lacs About 1880. (MnHS call number: P189, 1 folder, Manuscript Collection) A handwritten list of 897 Ojibway Indians at the Mille Lacs Reservation in about 1880.
Mahnomen County Tax Lists, 1940-1971. (MnHS call number: SAM 312, 23 reels, Microfilm Collection) Tax lists for the civil subdivisions and unorganized territory of Mahnomen County, recording the taxes assessed and paid on real and personal property for the sample years 1940-1941, 1950-1951, 1960-1961, and 1970-1971. Earlier tax lists are believed to no longer exist. Mahnomen County is located within the boundaries of the White Earth Indian Reservation. Each entry gives the owner’s name; school district number; the property’s assessed valuation; amounts of state, local, and school district taxes levied; date(s) and amount(s) of payment; receipt number(s); and a record of settlements, penalties, and delinquencies. The real property sections give the legal description (location) and size of the property. The personal property sections list the post office address.
Other Census Rolls
Federal Census for Minnesota, 1850-1930. (No MnHS call number assigned, ask staff, Manuscript Microfilm Collection) The federal census occurred in the years ending in “0” beginning with 1850. There was an additional territorial census taken by the federal government in 1857. Although Indian people were not supposed to be listed before 1875, some are listed in the 1850 census. Note: the 1900 census had a separate Indian census schedule.
The Library also has indexed census information regarding Minnesota and other states on subscription databases such as Ancestry.com This service is free of charge for library visitors.
Minnesota State Census, 1849-1905. (No MnHS call number assigned, ask staff, Manuscript Microfilm Collection) The Minnesota state censuses were taken in 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, and 1905. The territorial government also took a census in 1849, 1853, 1855, and 1857. Despite governmental instructions to the contrary in the early years, some Indian people are listed. An index for this series is available online .
Signature Rolls of the Chippewa Indians in Minnesota, 1889. (MnHS call number: Reading Room CS 42 .M553 no. 15 and no. 16, (Article in Periodical)
A transcribed copy of Executive Document 247, 51st U.S. Congress, House of Representatives. On January 14, 1889, Congress approved “an Act for the relief and civilization of the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota.” Three commissioners were appointed to negotiate with the Indians. The signature rolls contain the names of the male adult members of the bands that assented to the treaty, which ceded land to the federal government. Many of the names in the list include English translations. Adult women and all children were counted, but their names do not appear, nor does family size data. The number that appears following the name in the transcription is the age of the person. The transcription was done by Mary Hawker Bakeman and appears in her journal, Minnesota Genealogical Journal, No. 15 (Mar. 1996) and No. 16 (Sept. 1996).
MnHS call number: Reading Room CS 42 .M553 no. 15 and no. 16:
No. 15, pages 1435-1438: Red Lake Band
No. 16, pages 1529-1536: Pembina Bands (White Earth Reservation), White Earth Chippewas of the Mississippi, Gull Lake Band, and White Oak Point.
Church records can provide information about individuals who were baptized, married, or buried by a congregation. Membership lists are available for some congregations. The Library has a rich but incomplete collection of records from denominations that proselytized Ojibwe people, including Presbyterian, Congregational, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic, and from some specific congregations of those denominations.
See also VITAL RECORDS
Catholic Church (Roman Catholic)
Francis Pierz Papers, 1835-1870. (MnHS call number: P2659, 1 box, Archival Collection)
Photographic copies of parish registers for Ojibwe (Chippewa) Indians living at various points on Lake Superior in the United States and Canada (1835-1839) and for the Crow Wing Mission in Minnesota (1852-1870) kept by Father Francis Xavier Pierz, a Roman Catholic missionary priest.
The Lake Superior register records data on baptisms for Ojibwe in Minnesota, Michigan, and Ontario. The register for the Crow Wing Mission contains information on baptisms, deaths, and marriages, not only for Indians at Crow Wing but also for those at Belle Prairie and other mission sites served by Pierz. Some of the information is recorded in Latin.
A copy of the Crow Wing register is also available in the Parish Registers of the Crow Wing and Belle Prairie Missions, 1852-1887 microfilm (M388). A printed index for the Crow Wing register available as: “Mission Records, 1852-1910, Fathers Pierz, Buh, & Tomazin” (MnHS call number: BX 4601 .M6 M47 1995).
Parish Registers of the Crow Wing and Belle Prairie Missions, 1852-1887. (MnHS call number: M388, 1 reel;, Manuscript Microfilm Collection) Parish registers for the Crow Wing Mission (1852-1870) and for the Belle Prairie Mission (1865-1879, 1865-1887) that were kept, respectively, by Father Francis Xavier Pierz and Father Joseph Francis Buh.
The registers for the Belle Prairie Mission include information on baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and first communions. Some of the information is recorded in Latin.
The register for the Crow Wing Mission records data on baptisms, deaths, and marriages, not only for the Ojibwe at Crow Wing but also for those at Belle Prairie and other mission sites served by Pierz. A copy of the Crow Wing register is also available in the Francis Pierz Papers (P2659).
Cass Lake Indian Convocation record book, 1924-1943. (MnHS call number: P2320, 1 book, Manuscript Collection) Record book including the names of delegates, both Indian and white, who attended the annual Indian Convocation held at the Cass Lake Mission from 1924, when the Diocese of Duluth acquired and improved the property, until 1943, when the Duluth Diocese merged with the Diocese of Minnesota.
Diocese of Minnesota. Diocesan Records. (156 boxes and 2 oversize folders, Manuscript Collection)
The Diocese of Minnesota was founded in 1857. In 1859 Henry B. Whipple was elected as the first Bishop of Minnesota. He established his residence in Faribault and during his years as bishop the church established parishes throughout the state. By 1895 the northern two-thirds of the state was separated and became the Missionary Diocese of Duluth and in 1907 it officially became the Diocese of Duluth. In 1943, however, the two dioceses were reunited under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Minnesota. The records of the Diocese of Minnesota are divided into two principal series, General Diocesan Files and Records of Bishops and Parishes. For Ojibway Indian genealogy, the most useful records will be found in the second series, Records of Bishops and Parishes.
The Records of Bishops and Parishes series is divided into several sub-series. Those of possible use for Ojibway family history include: the Parish Record Books, 1856-1985; the, Diocese of Duluth Records, 1852-1956; and the Bishop Henry B. Whipple Records, 1859-1899. These individual sub-series are described below.
An electronic inventory is available
Bishop Henry B. Whipple Records, 1859-1899. (5 boxes and 1 oversized folder, Manuscript Collection) Contain a series of Registers of Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, etc., performed by Whipple during his travels around the diocese. The baptisms registers cover 1859-1895, and the marriages and burials register covers 1859-1895.
Diocese of Duluth records, 1852-1956. (MnHS call numbers: P1035 and 142.F.15.3B, 9 boxes and 2 volumes, Manuscript Collection) Correspondence, minutes, legal documents, financial records, printed materials, and miscellaneous records documenting the administration, finances, and property holdings of the Diocese of Duluth, from its inception in 1895 through its 1944 merger with the Diocese of Minnesota.
The files also provide information on candidates for ordination to the ministry; missionary work among the Ojibwe; major revisions made to the diocesan constitution and canons in 1938; parish finances and support; details of the merger with the Diocese of Minnesota and subsequent merger of the two property-holding corporations; the diocese’s investments in building bonds and other properties; and a legacy left to the diocese by Lucy M. Warner.
Parish Record Books, 1856-1985 (13 boxes, Manuscript Collection)
Although most parish registers have remained in the custody of the parishes, there are a number of registers that include baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials among the series of Parish Record Books.
Parishes for which there are parish registers that might be of use for Ojibwe family history are:
Baudette: St. John’s Church, Parish register, 1886-1919.
Leech Lake: Good Shepherd Church, Parish register, 1879-1904; Parish register, 1879-1949.
Old Chiefs Village: St. Antipas Church. Parish register, 1889-1919.
E. Steele Peake and Family Papers, 1853-1930. (MnHS call number: A/.P357, 5 boxes, Manuscript Collection) Diaries, correspondence, reminiscences, and other papers of Peake, who served as a Protestant Episcopal missionary to the Ojibwe Indians, Civil War chaplain, and home missionary and pastor in California, North Dakota, and Minnesota. The diaries (1856-1905) cover Peake’s missionary activities at Crow Wing, Fort Ripley, and Gull Lake (Min.); and his pastoral service at Austin, Minnesota (ca. 1865-1867), in California (1867-1878), at Moorhead and Detroit, Minnesota, and Valley City, North Dakota (ca. 1878-1889), and at Faribault (ca. 1890s). They provide information on pastoral calls, sermons, baptisms, marriages, confirmations, St. Mary’s Hall in Faribault, and the Protestant Episcopal Home in St. Paul.
Peake’s correspondents included such important Episcopal figures as the Reverend Ezekiel Gear, the Reverend Joseph A. Gilfillan, Bishops Henry B. Whipple and Jackson Kemper, and Enmegahbowh (John Johnson), a native missionary among the Ojibway. Also present are reminiscences by Peake, Mrs. Peake, and Enmegahbowh; records (1853-1861) of confirmations at Gull Lake; account books (1889-1895); and an account of the abandoned town of Crow Wing.
Edmund F. Ely and Family Papers, 1833-1931. (MnHS call number: P2637, 2 boxes and 9 oversize items, Manuscript Collection) Typewritten copies of diaries (1833-1854, with gaps) and correspondence (1835-1904) of this missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the Ojibwe Indians in Minnesota and on the southern shore of Lake Superior.
They afford excellent detail on the topography, fur trade, Indian life, and missions of the region. After 1849, data on land speculation and politics at the head of Lake Superior are numerous. One diary was kept mostly by Mrs. Ely and records the babyhood of her two eldest children.
Joseph A. Gilfillan and family papers, 1872-1940. (MnHS call numbers: M168 and P620, 1 reel, ; Manuscript Microfilm Collection and Manuscript Collection) Correspondence, articles, translations, and miscellany concerning Gilfillan’s work as a Protestant Episcopal missionary on the White Earth Indian Reservation (1872-1898) and his study of Ojibwe language and culture.
They include articles and reminiscences by Gilfillan and his wife Harriet on their missionary work; Gilfillan’s translations of Ojibway personal and place names and legends; letters (1883-1893) in Ojibwe from Ojibwe ministers and missionaries, with Gilfillan’s translations; miscellaneous letters and memorabilia on Ojibway language and culture and on church affairs; family and genealogical data; information on the erection of a monument to Gilfillan in Itasca State Park (1940).
Two scrapbooks (1872-1913) contain clippings on Protestant Episcopal church activities, missions in Minnesota, Gilfillan’s work, the Ojibwe Indians, and Minnesota history.
St. Columba Parish (White Earth) Parish Registers, 1853-1933. (MnHS call number: M107,; 1 reel, Manuscript Microfilm Collection) Two volumes of parish registers of an Episcopal mission on the White Earth Indian Reservation.
Baptisms, 1853-1905 Marriages, 1853-1904
Confirmations, 1854-1905 Burials, 1854-1905
Baptisms, 1905-1933 Marriages, 1906-1933
Confirmations, 1906-1932 Burials, 1905-1933
List of families, undated
William T. Boutwell Papers, 1832-1881. (MnHS call number: P2528, 1 box, Manuscript Collection) A copy of a diary kept on Henry R. Schoolcraft’s expedition to the source of the Mississippi River in 1832 and throughout Boutwell’s residence as missionary to the Ojibwe at Leech Lake; rough notes made by J. Fletcher Williams at the time of an interview with Boutwell and reminiscent of the latter’s life as a missionary; two autobiographical articles by Boutwell; a letter received from his father-in-law, Ramsay Crooks, in 1836; and photostats of two letters written by Boutwell in 1832, the originals of which are in the possession of La Forest C. Parkhurst of Stillwater.
See also VITAL RECORDS for birth, marriage, and death records
U.S. General Land Office
Register of Chippewa Half-Breed Scrip Entries, 1858-1880.
An abstract of land entries made in the Duluth land district with Chippewa half-breed scrip, issued to mixed-blood Ojibwe to extinguish their title to land originally reserved to them by treaties of 1854 and 1866.
The abstract for each scrip entry gives entry number, scrip number, date the scrip was issued, person to whom it was issued, person by whom the scrip was located, date located, legal description of the tract located, and occasional remarks with citations to letters from the commissioner of the General Land Office.
Register of Final Homestead Certificates for Chippewa Land, 1899-1908.
An abstract of final homestead certificates for homestead entries made on ceded Chippewa (Ojibwe) reservation land under provisions of the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Nelson Act of January 14, 1889. This series consists primarily of homestead entries on land ceded from the White Earth Reservation.
Register of Indian Allotment Entries under the Nelson Act, 1901.
A schedule of land entries made in the Crookston land district for Indian allotments on the Ojibwe reservations under provisions of an act of January 14, 1889, which provided for cession of most of the Ojibwe reservation land in Minnesota and opening of the remaining land to homestead entry or timber auction.
The record of each allotment entry gives allotment number, Indian and/or English name of the allottee, tribal band of the allottee, legal description of the tract covered by the allotment, allottee’s age in the 1889 census or year of birth if born since 1889, blood status of allottee (full or mixed), and stamped dates apparently indicating the date a patent was issued. The records are arranged by allotment number; the allotments for each band are grouped together.
Registers of Indian Allotment Entries Under the Dawes Act, 1888-1908.
Registers of Indian Allotment Entries Under the Nelson Act, 1896.
The Dawes and Nelson acts provided for the cession of reservation land and the granting of individual allotments of land to enrolled tribal members. These registers record the applications of tribal members to receive their allotted land. They give allotment application number, name (Indian and/or English) of the applicant, application date, description of the land being applied for, and usually remarks on approval or cancellation of the application. Some give age or birth year. Some also include separate columns for children on whose behalf an application was being made (with the implication that the applicant was a parent).
There are five lists covering four of these registers (one register is in two parts). The lists are of the individual entries in numerical order and give application number, applicant’s name(s), and date of application. Four of them are filed in the finding aid notebooks following the inventories for the pertinent land districts, and a fifth (4 names) is incorporated into the Crookston Dawes Act inventory.
Although the data in these registers is fairly sparse in terms of genealogical interest, they do show land-holdings and give some idea of family relationships.
Register of Red Lake and Pembina Scrip Entries, 1873-1906.
An abstract of land entries made with Red Lake and Pembina scrip. The authorization for this scrip is not specified on the abstract, but it probably pertains to cessions under treaties with the Red Lake and Pembina bands of Ojibwe of 1863 and/or 1867.
The abstract for each scrip entry gives entry number, scrip number, person to whom the scrip was issued, legal description of the tract entered with the scrip, date the tract was entered, person who located the scrip, and occasional remarks with citations to letters from the commissioner of the General Land Office.
The records are photostatic copies of originals that were sent to the General Land Office.
Bonus Records and Index (MnHS call number: SAM 158, Microfilm)
Applications for military service bonus payments to Minnesota veterans of the Korean War.
EAn electronic inventories is available at:
Bonus Beneficiary Records (MnHS call number: SAM 159, Microfilm)
Applications for military service bonus payments to beneficiaries of deceased Minnesota veterans of the Koreans War.
An electronic inventory is available
Military Service Record Cards (MnHS call number: SAM 1, Microfilm)
Service record cards for persons who entered federal military service via the Minnesota National Guard and its predecessor, the Minnesota State Militia. They include army, navy, marines, foreign service, naval militia, surgeons and nurses, home and state guards. They cover the period from the Civil War through World War II.
An electronic inventory is available.
World War I
Adjutant General's Office file of bonus applications. Includes basic service information and post war occupation, etc. A finding aid is available.
Bonus Files Index (MnHS call number: SAM 3, Microfilm)
Name index to the World War I Bonus Files of the Adjutant General’s Office. The warrant number is the key piece of data from this index, since the Bonus Files are arranged by warrant number. An electronic inventory is available.
World War II
Bonus Records (MnHS call number: SAM 232, Microfilm)
—Applications for military service bonus payments to Minnesota veterans of World War II.
An electronic inventory is available at:
Bonus Records and Bonus Index
Newspapers and Other Periodicals
The Minnesota Historical Society Library has microfilm copies of most older newspapers published in Minnesota, arranged by city of publication. There was a great variation in the news from Indian communities covered by non-Indian newspapers. You can check for obituaries, however, if you have a date of death for a family member. For death dates between 1905 and 2001, check the online Death Certificates Index <http://people.mnhs.org/dci/>. The Library also has several newspapers published by or for Indians:
A monthly journal devoted to the interests of the Franciscan Missions among the Ottawa and Ojibwe Indians.
Harbor Springs, Mich.: Holy Childhood Indian School, 1896-?
MnHS has volumes 21-28.
MnHS call number: BV 2131 .A59.
The Anishinabe Journal.
Ponsford, Min.: White Earth Reservation Business Committee, 1972-?
MnHS has only September 1, 1972.
MnHS call number: Newspaper microfilm; filed under Ponsford, then Anishinabe Journal.
The Chippeway Herald.
Published monthly at the White Earth Boarding School by Indian pupils.
MnHS has volumes 1-8 (1902-1909).
MnHS call number: E 99 .C6 C53.
Minneapolis, Min.: The Circle Corporation [Minneapolis Regional Native American Center], 1980-
MnHS has issues from Nov. 1976 to the present. 1976-1995 are available on microfilm.
MnHS call number: Newspaper Microfilm, 874.
The Minnesota Chippewa Bulletin.
Duluth/Cass Lake, Min.: Consolidated Chippewa Agency, 1938-?
MnHS has volumes 1938-1948 (volumes 1-106).
MnHS call number: E 99 .C6 M5.
Ojibway Akiing (Ojibway Turf).
Hayward, Wis.: Indian Country Communications, 1996-current.
MnHS has 1996-2004 (volumes 1-8), published as Ojibway Akiing;
2004-2006 (volumes 8-10), published as Akiing;
starting in January 2007, Akiing appears as a special section in the
News from Indian Country in the first issue of each month.
MnHS call number: Newspaper Microfilm; filed under Wisconsin, Hayward, then Akiing.
The Ojibway News.
“Voice of the Anishinabeg (The People).”
Bemidji, Min.: Native American Press Co., 1994-1995.
MnHS has 1994-1995 (volumes 5-7), published as The Ojibway News; .
MnHS call number: Microfilm, 1297.
White Earth, Min.: Gus H. Beaulieu, 1886-1889.
MnHS has 1886-1889 (volumes 1-2).
MnHS call number: Newspaper microfilm; filed under White Earth, then Progress.
Red Lake News.
“A newspaper devoted to the interests of the Red Lake Chippewa Indians.”
Published in Red Lake, Min.
MnHS has 1915-1920 (volumes 3-6).
MnHS call number: Newspaper microfilm; filed under Red Lake, then News.
“Official organ of the Minnesota Chippewas.”
White Earth, Min.: Gus H. Beaulieu, 1903-192?; Calloway, Min.: L. A. Weston, 1927-?
MnHS has 1903-1926 Oct. (volumes 1-24), published as The Tomahawk;
1927 Jan-.June (volume 24), published as The Callaway Tomahawk.
MnHS call number: Newspaper microfilm; filed under White Earth, then Tomahawk.
Oral history interviews of the Minnesota’s Greatest Generation Oral History Project: Minnesota Native American interviews, 2006. (MnHS call number: OH 118)
This project chronicles the lives of Minnesota Native Americans who lived during World War II and are part of "Minnesota’s Greatest Generation." Subjects discussed include growing up on a reservation; attending government run boarding schools; powwows; the Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC]; the Works Progress Administration [WPA]; enlisting in the armed forces; past and present life at the Red Lake Indian Reservation; the Great Depression; combat experiences during World War II; life after the war; the dropping of the atomic bombs; American Indian cultural identity and traditions; the American Indian Movement; and views on the Cold War and Iraq War.
Oral history interviews of the Mille Lacs Ojibway Social History Project, 1992. (MnHS call number: OH 36) This source contains written transcripts of the original interviews; the original tapes are held by the Mille Lacs Tribal Archives, in Onamia, Minnesota.
These interviews document various aspects of the history of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians living in Minnesota. Subjects include childhood, family, education, work, social customs, language retention, relations with tribal and local county governments, and current economic and social conditions on the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation. INTERVIEWEES: Mable Boyd Albino, Marge Anderson, Brenda Boyd, Albert Churchill, Sr., James Clark, Jessie Clark, Joseph Nayquonabe, Doug Sam, Julie Shingobe, Don Wedll and Joycelyn Wedll.
Oral history interviews of the Vermillion Lake Bois Forte Oral History Project, 1996-1997. (MnHS call number: OH 108)
These oral history interviews were conducted for a project entitled The Vermilion Lake People, commissioned by the Bois Forte Heritage Center. Those interviewed discuss various aspects of the history of and life on the Bois Fort Reservation in northeastern Minnesota, including childhood, education, work, social customs, and economic and social conditions.
OTHER MANUSCRIPTS/ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS
Ah-Gwah-Ching Sanatorium (Minnesota State Sanatorium) Records
Access to some of these records are restricted. Patient records are closed for 50 years from the date of the last entry. Researchers may apply to use these records in accordance with the State Archives access statement. Contact Library staff for assistance.
Authorized by the state legislature in 1903, the Minnesota Sanatorium for Consumptives—popularly known as the Ah-Gwah-Ching Sanatorium—was opened in 1907. The facility treated individuals suffering from tuberculosis until it was converted into a state-run nursing home in 1962. For Ojibwe Indian researchers, the most useful records will be found in the collections of Patient Records, Patient Registers, and Patient Index Cards. These individual collections are described below.
Patient Records, 1908-1975. (13 boxes, Archival Collection)
Records contain information on patients, much of it on individual patients. Included are movement of population records, reports to the State Board/Department of Health, patient admission and applications files, examination/X-ray records, and social histories detailing individuals’ families and backgrounds. Also present are post-mortem reports, death records, cemetery records, patient follow-up letters, and birth certificate stubs. Movement of population records include statistics for males and females, residents and non-residents, and Indians. Beginning in 1935, there are separate sets of application files for Indian patients. The examination/X-ray records mainly concern non-patients served at the sanatorium or off-site by sanatorium staff, particularly among the Indian population and at schools and public screenings.
Patient Registers, 1907-1961. (14 volumes, Archival Collection)
Patient registers include patient number, admission data, examined by, name and address, county, sex, age, marital status, religion, occupation and place of business, maintained by (county or USIS), dependent, family physician, date of discharge, payment, and data on relatives or friends. The volume for Aug. 1921 – July 1925 is missing. Also present are admission (Nov.1943-April 1960) and death registers (Jan. 1944-Feb. 1960). Admissions data includes patient number and name, admitting date and doctor, age, sex, floor, address, county, marital status, guarantee, veteran, and physician. Death data includes patient number, name and address, death date, hour and attending physician, autopsy performed by, cause of death, and mortician.
Patient Index Cards, 1907-1962. (14 card file drawers, Archival Collection)
Patient information cards (5” x 8”) giving name, address, sex, date of birth, admission and discharge dates, discharge condition, and other information.
Alan R. Woolworth Papers, 1774-2004 (bulk 1830-2000). (42 boxes, Manuscript Collection) Access to part of this collection is restricted. Contact Library staff for assistance.
This collection includes biographical information on Ojibwe, Dakota and other Native American people in the Minnesota region.
Personal papers, project files, field notebooks, and Indian claims court exhibits (1831-1945) of a Minnesota historical archaeologist, documenting his archaeological, ethnological, and historical consulting work in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas (1950-1989), as well as his work with the Minnesota Archaeological Society (1949-1983) and research on events and individuals in 19th century Minnesota. Correspondence (1942-2002) is with colleagues, friends, and family members, including wartime correspondence between Woolworth and his family. Project files contain correspondence, archaeological and historical surveys, field notebooks, legal documents, and similar materials created by Woolworth Research Associates (Alan R. and Nancy L. Woolworth) to assist private companies, and city and county governmental units, in locating and preserving Indian artifacts and sites on property in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.
Defense exhibits (1831-1945) created for the United States Court of Claims, Docket No. 363, enumerate information on those receiving claims, amounts received, and similar information. The records of the Minnesota Archaeological Society (1949-1983), an amateur archaeological association founded in 1932, contain historical information on the organization, constitution and articles of incorporation, minutes (1968-1981), financial records, correspondence, and miscellaneous papers.
Annals of Minnesota: Chronological, Subject, and Geographic files, 1849-1992, 1941-1942 (bulk 1849-1887). (MnHS call number: M529,; Manuscript Microfilm Collection)
Includes typed transcriptions of or excerpts from newspaper articles relating to the history of Minnesota, compiled (1938-1942) from selected Minnesota newspapers under the auspices of the Minnesota Federal Writers’ Project, a program of the Minnesota Work Projects Administration.
Information on the following broad topics appears in the chronological file, and in the subject and/or geographical files as appropriate: agriculture, business and industry, conservation, cooperatives, education and culture (includes religion), federal government, folkways, geography, immigration and settlement, labor, names, nationality (ethnic and racial) groups, natural resources, politics, public welfare, social attitudes, taxation, transportation, utilities, and weather and climate.
Correspondence, 1827-1878. American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. (MnHS call numbers: BA10/.A512b,; Manuscripts Notebooks)
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.
Northwest Missions Manuscripts and Index, 1776-1926. (MnHS call number: M587 or P489, 21 boxes and 5 reels) Typed transcripts and negative photocopies of letters, diaries, church records, and articles pertaining to Protestant and Catholic missions to the Ojibwe and Dakota Indians in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakota Territory, and neighboring areas in Canada (1810-1896); and a card index to these and other items relating to northwest missions (1766-1926).
The materials in the collection include information on the hiring of teachers for and financial problems of the missions, the conversion and education of the Indians, friction between missionaries and mission organizations, relations with United States Indian agents, the treaty of Traverse des Sioux (1851) and other Indian treaties, Indian intertribal warfare, and government support of mission schools.
Ransom Judd Powell Papers, 1843, 1896-1938. (MnHS call number: M455,; 15 reels, Manuscript Microfilm Collection)
Ojibway genealogical and census records, land allotment rolls, transcripts of legal testimony, correspondence, notes, abstracts of title, plats, deeds, and other papers stemming from Powell’s involvement with the Ojibwe Indians of the White Earth Reservation as (1) a member of a commission established by Congress in 1913 to investigate the blood status of Indian allottees within the reservation, and (2) legal counsel both to lumber companies seeking title to Ojibway lands and to various individual Indians defending their allotment selections.
There is a substantial set of case files comprising testimony on the blood status of individual Ojibwe, Indian estate claims, and land titles and transfers; extensive files of family genealogies; a printed report on the blood status of White Earth landholders (the “Hinton roll”); several allotment rolls and supporting documentation; and White Earth Reservation plat books.
This collection is available for purchase or may be borrowed through Inter Library Loan services.
Records of an Investigation of White Earth Reservation Mixed Blood Indians, 1911-1915, United State Office of Indian Affairs. (MnHS call number: M444,; 2 reels, Manuscript Microfilm Collection) Letters, memoranda, legal documents, proceedings and testimony of hearings, a report, maps, and a genealogical chart from a investigation conducted during 1912-1915 by Thomas G. Shearman, assistant attorney for the Department of the Interior, in response to a claim by certain full-blood Ojibwe Indians of the White Earth Reservation that some Indians of mixed descent were illegally enrolled on the reservation’s annuity rolls, and should be removed from the rolls
Testimony of the Indians and related documents contain information about their families, the fur trade, and treaties. Also included is information on the handling of the cases of the Indians of mixed descent by their attorney, Ransom Judd Powell.
(Originals in the National Archives, Record Group 75, Records of the Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs.)
An electronic inventory is available .
United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Selected Files Regarding Minnesota Chippewa Agencies. (2 boxes, Manuscript Collection)
Photocopied records selected from files in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, gathered together by a researcher for a doctoral dissertation on White Earth Reservation (Min.) Indian claims. The White Earth, Red Lake, and Consolidated Chippewa agency files include some information on land claims.
White Earth Indian Reservation Register, 1895-1906. (See State Archive inventory for Becker County, White Earth Indian Reservation) A register that appears to have been used to keep track of new enrollees on the reservation who may have been eligible for allotments (pp. 114-243), including a death register for Jan-.May 1896 (10 entries, pp. 2-3).
In most cases, new enrollment was occasioned by birth. Hence, a majority of entries give child’s name, birth date, sex, band with whom enrolled, parents’ names, where enrolled, and related remarks. No private data is included. Entries do not run in exact chronological order. There are frequent references to individuals enrolled in bands other than White Earth, including Gull Lake, Otter Tail, Eastern Mississippi, Pembina, Mille Lacs, and Fond du Lac, and a list of "omitted Leech Lake Pillagers" (pp. 167-168). [Also laid into the volume is a student census for school district no. 15 (undated, 1 page).]
Visual Resources Database (Photo and Art Database)
There are many photographs and artworks in the Minnesota Historical Society collections related to the Ojibwe, including portraits. The first place to check is the Visual Resources Database (VRDB), which is available online .
Note: When searching the photograph database the spelling “Ojibway” is most common, followed by “Ojibway” then “Ojibwa”; many photographs can also be found by searching “Chippewa”.
Bishop Henry B. Whipple Indian Photograph Collection
This collection consists primarily of views of Native American Indians from the midwestern United States, many are identified portraits. Minnesota views include people and buildings on the White Earth Indian Reservation. Many of the views document the Episcopal ministry at these locations.
Birth and death records were recorded in Minnesota townships/villages/cities from 1870 to 1953; in Minnesota counties from 1870 to the present; and at the state Department of Health from 1899 to the present. Beginning in 1908 the state Department of Health’s copy was declared the “official” record of birth or death. Marriages have only been recorded by Minnesota counties.
County Birth Records
State Department of Health Birth Records
Township Birth Records
County Death Records
Native American Death Certificates
State Department of Health Death Records
Township Death Records
County Marriage Records
County Records (Microfilm, each county has its own State Archives Microfilm [SAM] number assigned, see catalog)
The Minnesota Historical Society Library has county-wide birth, death, and marriage records from a number of counties.
County Probate Records
Final Decrees of Distribution
Final decrees contain data on decedents’ estates and the distribution to heirs and/or legatees. Most volumes include a personal name index, primarily to names of decedents.
Becker County (SAM 250, 18 reels,; State Archives Microfilm Collection). Volumes for ca. 1900-1910 include many decrees for Ojibway Indians living on or near the White Earth Indian Reservation. An electronic inventory is available
Mille Lacs County (SAM 351, 10 reels,; State Archives Microfilm Collection). Some volumes include documents for Ojibway Indians living on or near the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation.
An electronic inventory is available
Pine County (SAM 250, 18 reels,; State Archives Microfilm Collection). Volumes for ca. 1900-1910 include many decrees for Ojibway Indians living on or near the White Earth Indian Reservation. An electronic inventory is available
Native American Death Certificates, 1900, 1918-1947 (bulk 1928-1947) (MnHS call number: SAM 401, 3 reels, ;State Archives Microfilm Collection)
Arranged by state, within each state by Indian agency, and thereunder chronologically by date of death.
Death certificates and other documents containing information on deaths and stillbirths for Native Americans who: 1) died in Minnesota and were enrolled in or connected with American Indian tribes or bands located in Minnesota and other states (South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, and Nevada); or 2) died in other states or Canada but were enrolled in or connected with tribes or bands located in Minnesota. They are not considered official death records.
Each certificate may include some or all of the following: date and place of death; deceased person’s name, sex, color or race, tribal affiliation and blood quantum, age, date and place of birth, marital status, usual place of residence, and usual occupation; spouse’s name and parents’ names and birthplaces; cause(s) of death; date and place of burial, cremation, or removal; and date the certificate was filed.
Certificates for stillbirths frequently are accompanied by death and birth reports recorded on U. S. Indian Service record cards issued by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Indian Affairs. The reports additionally give the Indian agency, reservation, and tribe; allotment number; percentage (exact fraction) of Indian blood of the mother, father, and enrollee and whether each is full blood, over one-half blood, over or under one-quarter blood, or non-Indian. An electronic inventory is available.
State Department of Health Birth Records (Digital; ask staff for help)
Statewide. Unofficial birth cards, 1900-1907; official (but non-certified) birth certificates, 1908-1934. You may order copies online or make copies in the Weyerhaeuser Reading Room for a standard fee.
SOURCES AVAILABLE ELSEWHERE
Kappler’s Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties
Includes: Permanent general laws relating to Indian affairs; Permanent acts relative to particular tribes; Executive orders relative to Indian reserves; Proclamations; Revised spelling of Indian names; Miscellaneous orders and documents pertaining to executive orders establishing reserves; Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court; and Index.
Library of Congress
American Memory from the Library of Congress
Enables you to search six historical collections at one time; formats include: books, photographs, music, and more.
Chronicling America – Historic Newspapers
Collection of digitized historic newspapers.
Guide to Law Online: Indians – Law Library of Congress
Lists of Texts, Commentaries, Agencies, and other links
Minnesota Official Marriage System
Includes searching capabilities by county; links to official county web sites; dates included in county’s index.
Wisconsin Historical Society - Genealogy
Includes: Genealogy Tools; Topics; Genealogy Classes and Workshops; Online Resources (available only at the WHS Library); and Online Catalogs