Minnesota County Resources

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This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Minnesota Family History Research series.
History of Minnesota
Minnesota Vital Records
Census Records for Minnesota
Background Sources for Minnesota
Minnesota Maps
Minnesota Land Records
Minnesota Probate Records
Minnesota Court Records
Minnesota Tax Records
Minnesota Cemetery Records
Minnesota Church Records
Minnesota Military Records
Minnesota Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Minnesota Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Minnesota Immigration
Minnesota Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Minnesota
Minnesota County Resources
Map of Minnesota


Records at the county level are the responsibility of the following offices: office of the court administrator—birth, death, and marriage; county recorder—land records; office of the probate judge—probate files; and office of the court administrator—criminal and civil court records. Although years for birth, marriage, and death records indicated in the following chart are the earliest located in that county, not all records may start at that date and there may be different starting dates for different records within the county. The earliest year for probate records may be probate files or wills. Court records may be civil and/or criminal. In some counties, the earlier criminal files may be found in the civil court files.

For some counties there are two years for date of formation listed. The first is the year the county was created. The second is the year it was fully organized if it differs from the creation year. Under the heading “Parent County/ies,” the name/s listed may be the county or counties from which the respective county was formed, or it may be names by which the county was originally known. “Unorganized” denotes that it was formed from non-county areas. A county name in parentheses is the county to which the unorganized land may have been attached at that time. Counties listed with an asterisk (*) are not parent counties but other counties in which you may also find records for the respective county since it may have been “attached” to that county for some period of time.

The files of the Minnesota Historical Society Research Center and the following have been consulted for county information:

  • Dalquist, Alfred J. Minnesota Genealogical Journal. Brooklyn Park, Minn.: Park Genealogical Book Co., 1984–87.
  • Pope, Wiley R. Tracing Your Ancestors in Minnesota: A Guide to the Sources. Vols. 1–8. St. Paul: Minnesota Family Trees, 1980–88. This source draws heavily on the WPA guides that were developed fifty years ago. Record sources have changed in the interim.
  • The Minnesota Legislative Manual, 1989–90. St. Paul: Election Division, Secretary of State, 1989.

What follows is a guide to the various record sources and is not to be considered a definitive explanation for the peculiarities of each county’s holdings.

County addresses were obtained from the Minnesota Department of Health [online], Center for Health Statistics, “Addresses of County Registrars/Recorders” at www.health.state.mn.us/index.html.

Map County County Address Date Formed Parent County(ies) Birth Marriage Death Land Probate Court
D4 Aitkin 209 2nd St. NW, Aitkin 56431 1857 (1885) Pine/Ramsey 1887/*Crow Wing/*Morrison 1874 1885 1885 1872 1890 1862
Aitkin County was spelled Aiken until 1872
Andy Johnson 1862 (as Toombs; renamed 1862; disestablished, 1864; renamed Wilkin, 1868) Pembina 1874 1885 1885 1872 1890 1862