Spy Twin Cities History Sleuth: Resource List

Great Twin Cities Historical Resources

Minnesota Historical Society
Wide-ranging resources from the consistently superb MHS include treasure troves of info on the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota. Expeditions to the MHS Building in St. Paul–and to various MHS museums and historic sites–also are highly recommended.

MHS Family History & Genealogy Research: A resource guide as well as the Minnesota Birth Certificates Index (1900-1934), Death Certificates Index (1908-2001), Minnesota State Census Index (1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, and 1905), and more.

MHS Building & House History: A good guide to researching the history of your home by sleuthing out photos, building permits, directories, and other resources from various local organizations and archives.

Northwest Architectural Archives (University of Minnesota Libraries): Over a century of records of architects, engineers, contractors, landscape architects, and interior designers from across the Upper Midwest. Includes drawings of all kinds, specifications, job files, and photographs. Also useful information on how to draft a house history.

Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest: Photos, stories, oral histories, and more telling the story of 150 years of Jewish history in the region.

Minnesota Streetcar Museum: Small but interesting site featuring articles on the history of Twin Cities streetcar lines.

Hennepin History Museum: Exhibits, archives, and ephemera in a historic mansion. Beware the lack of air conditioning in steamy weather.

Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians: Stories, events, and a newsletter exploring the buildings and neighborhoods of the Twin Cities and beyond.

Subterranean Twin Cities: One of the more unusual Twin Cities history resources, devoted to exploring Twin Cities history through caves and tunnels. Website based on the book of the same name.

Thursday Night Hikes: A goldmine of historical lore based on notes from walks through the neighborhoods of the Twin Cities—plus a calendar of currently scheduled Thursday Night Hikes.

St. Paul

Historic Saint Paul: Nonprofit org’s resources include archives of historical articles and a series covering the history of eight St. Paul neighborhoods. Sign up for the free email newsletter, News from Historic Saint Paul.

Ramsey County Historical Society: Exhibits and resources documenting history of Ramsey County, all in historic Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul.

Hamline-Midway History Corps: Neighborhood history and preservation advocacy in the St. Paul ‘hood bounded north-south by Pierce Butler Route and University Avenue and east-west by Lexington Avenue and Transfer Road.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Walking Tour of St. Paul: One-pager; nicely done spin around the homes and buildings that played a role in the early life of the legendary F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Minneapolis Site/James Lileks
An engaging site, developed with craft and care by local writer and history buff James Lileks. Features many pages and pictures documenting Minneapolis then and now. An old-fashioned slide show, online … enlivened by the snappy writing well-known to fans of Lileks’s newspaper columns and books.
If your historical bents are as rangy and quirky as mine are, you’ll also want to go to Lilek’s main page to dip into his retro cultural stuff.

Minneapolis Collection, Hennepin County Library
Formerly the Minneapolis Collection of the Minneapolis Public Library. A fascinating immersion experience in city history. Covers all aspects of the city’s history and includes books, photographs, yearbooks, archival and manuscript collections, periodicals, maps, and thousands of files of newspaper clippings.

Sheldon Aubut’s Minneapolis History
An interesting collection of historical images, mostly from vintage postcards.

Linden Hills History Study Group
Includes downloadable info on self-guided walking tours of the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis nestled between Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun, as well as irregularly updated info on events sponsored by the group.

Nokohaha: An eclectic “then and now” TC history site.

Old Minneapolis: A terrific Facebook site for sharing photos and memories of pre-1980s Minneapolis.


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