The Minnesota Historical Society’s archaeology collections contain more than 950,000 artifacts dating from about 11,500 years ago to the present.
Artifacts are acquired through excavation, surface survey, and underwater recovery techniques in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, portions of Canada, and through donations from private collections. MNHS also serves as the repository for archaeological discoveries made on Minnesota public land by designation of the state archaeologist. Together these materials make up nearly 4,000 distinct collections, each representing a particular excavation or survey.
Archaeological collections constitute the historical record of long-ago Minnesota. For the more recent past, archaeological findings provide knowledge of architectural detail as well as living conditions and daily lifestyles not available from other sources. Some examples of our holdings:
These archaeological collections present exciting research opportunities as MNHS's holdings continue to grow and new methods of analysis provide fresh perspectives. Learn more about the curation of archaeology collections.
Archaeological materials and records are available for further study.
Archaeology collection records (card catalogs, reference files, and electronic records) are kept in the collections department and most may be printed or copied for a fee. The collections department also provides photographic services for a fee, depending on restrictions and use. All services are arranged with the department and charges calculated at the time of order or service. Orders for copy services are not available online. Please refer to the copy services price list for a current listing of fees and services.