Manuscripts Collection

Business Records

Businesses have played a major role in the settlement, growth and development of Minnesota. They have helped to define the direction of Minnesota's economy, employed its citizens, and provided goods and services both at home and internationally. They have shaped the state's environment and contributed to the quality of life enjoyed by Minnesotans.

The importance of commercial and financial institutions in the history of the state has been recognized by the Minnesota Historical Society since its inception, when its founders began preserving the records of Minnesota businesses. The effort continues today as the society works with businesses and business organizations to preserve and interpret their history. The society holds one of the two largest sets of business records in the nation.

The Society's holdings on Minnesota business reflect the diversity of the economic history of the state. Some of the oldest collections at the Society record the conduct of business in the territory that was to become the state. For instance, a 17th-century fur trade contract complements the many journals kept by Great Lakes fur traders in pre-territorial decades. Such documents contrast sharply with the thousands of cubic feet of corporate records of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railways, which are among the largest corporate archives in the nation.

In between these extremes, the Historical Society has every size and type of business archives. Industries represented in the collections include transportation, shipbuilding, farming, agribusiness, manufacturing, meat packing, professional sports, construction, banking, lumbering, retailing, food service, utilities, real estate, public relations, milling (flour, paper and textile), mining, and many more.

This selected list of business-related collections is chosen from the records of corporations; organizations and trade associations; and the personal papers of individual business people.

Corporate Records

Trade Association Records

Personal Papers