Minnesota (; locally ) is a state in the Midwestern United States. Minnesota was admitted as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858, created from the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and part of the Wisconsin Territory. Its name comes from the Dakota word for "clear blue water." Owing to its large number of lakes, the state is informally known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes." Its official motto is L'Étoile du Nord (French: Star of the North).
Minnesota is the 12th largest in area and the 21st most populous of the U.S. States. Nearly 60 percent of its residents live in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area (known as the "Twin Cities"), the center of transportation, business, industry, education, and government and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; deciduous forests in the southeast, now partially cleared, farmed and settled; and the less populated North Woods, used for mining, forestry, and recreation.
Minnesota is known for its relatively mixed social and political orientations and its high rate of civic participation and voter turnout. Until European settlement, Minnesota was inhabited by the Dakota and Ojibwe/Anishinaabe. The large majority of the original European settlers immigrated from Scandinavia and Germany, and the state remains a center of Scandinavian American and German American culture. In recent decades, immigration from Asia, the Horn of Africa, and Latin America has expanded its demographic and cultural composition. Minnesota's standard of living index is among the highest in the United States, and the state is also among the best-educated and wealthiest in the nation.
Before European settlement of North America, Minnesota was populated by the Dakota people. As Europeans settled the east coast, Native American movement away from them caused migration of the Anishinaabe and other Native Americans into the Minnesota area. The first Europeans in the area were French fur traders who arrived in the 17th century. Late that century, Anishinaabe, also known as Ojibwe Indians migrated westward to Minnesota, causing tensions with the Dakota people. Explorers such as Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, Father Louis Hennepin, Jonathan Carver, Henry Schoolcraft, and Joseph Nicollet, among others, mapped out the state.
In 1762 the region became part of Spanish Louisiana until 1802. The portion of the state east of the Mississippi River became part of the United States at the end of the American Revolutionary War, when the Second Treaty of Paris was signed. Land west of the Mississippi River was acquired with the Louisiana Purchase, although a portion of the Red River Valley was disputed until the Treaty of 1818. In 1805, Zebulon Pike bargained with Native Americans to acquire land at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. The construction of Fort Snelling followed between 1819 and 1825. Its soldiers built a grist mill and a sawmill at Saint Anthony Falls, the first of the water-powered industries around which the city of Minneapolis later grew. Meanwhile, squatters, government officials, and tourists had settled near the fort. In 1839, the Army forced them to move downriver and they settled in the area that became St. Paul. Minnesota Territory was formed on March 3, 1849. The first territorial legislature (held September 2, 1849) was dominated by men from New England or of New England ancestry. Thousands of people had come to build farms and cut timber, and Minnesota became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858. The founding population was so overwhelmingly of New England origins that the state was dubbed "The New England of the West".
Logging and farming were mainstays of Minnesota's early economy. The sawmills at Saint Anthony Falls, and logging centers like Marine on St. Croix, Stillwater, and Winona, processed high volumes of lumber. These cities were situated on rivers that were ideal for transportation. Later, Saint Anthony Falls was tapped to provide power for flour mills. Innovations by Minneapolis millers led to the production of Minnesota "patent" flour, which commanded almost double the price of "bakers" or "clear" flour, which it replaced. By 1900, Minnesota mills, led by Pillsbury, Northwestern and the Washburn-Crosby Company (a forerunner of General Mills), were grinding 14.1 percent of the nation's grain.
Industrial development and the rise of manufacturing caused the population to shift gradually from rural areas to cities during the early 20th century. Nevertheless, farming remained prevalent. Minnesota's economy was hard-hit by the Great Depression, resulting in lower prices for farmers, layoffs among iron miners, and labor unrest. Compounding the adversity, western Minnesota and the Dakotas were hit by drought from 1931 to 1935. New Deal programs provided some economic turnaround. The Civilian Conservation Corps and other programs around the state established some jobs for Indians on their reservations, and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 provided the tribes with a mechanism of self-government. This provided natives a greater voice within the state, and promoted more respect for tribal customs because religious ceremonies and native languages were no longer suppressed.
After World War II, industrial development quickened. New technology increased farm productivity through automation of feedlots for hogs and cattle, machine milking at dairy farms, and raising chickens in large buildings. Planting became more specialized with hybridization of corn and wheat, and the use of farm machinery such as tractors and combines became the norm. University of Minnesota professor Norman Borlaug contributed to these developments as part of the Green Revolution. Suburban development accelerated due to increased postwar housing demand and convenient transportation. Increased mobility, in turn, enabled more specialized jobs.
Minnesota became a center of technology after World War II. Engineering Research Associates was formed in 1946 to develop computers for the United States Navy. It later merged with Remington Rand, and then became Sperry Rand. William Norris left Sperry in 1957 to form Control Data Corporation (CDC). Cray Research was formed when Seymour Cray left CDC to form his own company. Medical device maker Medtronic also started business in the Twin Cities in 1949.
Note: Northeastern Minnesota, east of the Mississippi River and a line drawn northward from its source to Canada, was part of the Northwest Territory (1787) and later of Indiana Territory (1800), Illinois Territory (1809), Michigan Territory (1818), and Wisconsin Territory (1838). Most of the rest of the State was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and included in Louisiana Territory (1805), renamed Missouri Territory in 1812. Both these parts of the present State were included in Michigan Territory from 1834 to 1836, and then in Wisconsin Territory until 1838. The portion west of the Mississippi then became part of Iowa Territory, until Minnesota Territory was established in 1849, including the whole present-day State and the Dakotas generally east of the Missouri River. Minnesota was admitted as a State on May 11, 1858 with essentially its present boundaries. There was only limited census coverage of the present area of the State prior to 1850. In 1830 a few persons near Lake Superior may have been enumerated in Chippewa County, Michigan Territory; in 1840 some persons in northeastern Minnesota were enumerated in Saint Croix County, Wisconsin Territory, and two settlements on the Mississippi River were enumerated as part of Clayton County, Iowa Territory. In 1850 coverage of Minnesota Territory did not extend beyond the present State except for a few settlers near the Red River in what is now North Dakota. In 1860 the census covered virtually the whole State.. Total for 1850 includes a few settlers near the Red River in what is now North Dakota. Total for 1890 includes population (8,457) of certain Indian reservations not returned by county. Total for 1900 includes population (3,486) of White Earth Indian Reservation, not returned by county, and returned in Becker, Clearwater, and Mahnomen Counties in 1910.
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
The Minnesota Historical Society has an index of 20th century death certificates here (1904-2001). The index results list name, death date, death county, and, for later years (post 50s), mother's maiden name, birth date and birth state.
Birth certificates 1900-1934 are indexed here.
Once you find the certificate, you can order a copy from the site.
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
Outstanding guide to Minnesota family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.