Genealogy Resource: Immigration History Research Center & Archives
Do you know the Immigration History Research Center & Archives (IHRC/A)? If not, and if you love genealogy you really should. So read on.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the IHRC/A is located at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities’ campus in the Elmer L. Andersen Library. It is a combined interdisciplinary research center of the College of Liberal Arts and a special collections unit of the University of Minnesota Libraries. As a genealogist you are going to benefit from both halves of this great combination.
Founded in 1965, the mission of the IHRC/A is stated on their website (http://www.ihrc.unm.edu) and is the following:
“The Immigration History Research Center and Archives share a mission to:
• promote interdisciplinary research on migration, race, and ethnicity in the U.S. and the world
• develop archives documenting immigrant and refugee experiences, especially in the United States
• support public programming and outreach efforts that connect U.S. immigration history research to contemporary issues and communities.”
While I personally have attended and know the events and gatherings of the Center are world class, as a genealogist it is the Archives that I find exceptional. Their holdings consist of a library of published materials, collections of serials and newspapers, and thousands of individual archival collections of personal papers and organizational records. The materials document a variety of immigrant experiences in the United States post-1848, with the bulk of the holdings pertaining to immigrants and refugees arriving between 1880 and 1980. There are over 23,000 books, more than 900 newspaper titles, over 300 serial titles, and more than 900 manuscript collections. They also have a small map collection, but have an excellent working relationship with the Bochert map collection at the main library. The IHRC/A’s collection of ethnic newspapers is one of the largest and very best anywhere in the nation.
The oral history collections are second to none. Among their ‘crown jewels’ are the “Minnesota Finnish American Family History” collection, the “Italians in Chicago” collection, and the “Italian Immigration to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan” collection.
They also hold some very exciting secondary studies, which include studies of such diverse populations as “Ukrainians in Pennsylvania”, “Italian-Americans in St Louis”, and the “Slovenian Community in Bridgeport, Connecticut”.
The Center’s manuscript collections are truly amazing and most are one-of-a-kind.
They also understand how important their holdings can be to us genealogy folks as evidenced by the page on their site explaining their connection with family history and genealogy. You can access that page at http://www.ihrc.umn.edu/research/sources.php. Their collections include:
•Newspapers & Serials
•Fraternal Society Material
•Church Records and Publications
Suzanna Moody and Joel Wurl have written a guide to the complete holdings of the IHRC/A titled“The Immigration History Research Center: A Guide to Collections”. Very conveniently you can access this guide online at http://www.ihrc.umn.edu/research/g1991/index.php.
Using this guide you can find the IHRC/A’s holdings by ethnicity for Albanian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Belarusian, Carpatho-Rusin, Croatian, Czech-Bohemian, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Jewish (East/Central Europe), Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Near Eastern, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Ukrainian, and a multiethnic collection as well. It is amazing stuff!
Perhaps best of all is the fact the staff of the IHRC/A is well trained, amazingly knowledgeable, and extraordinarily helpful. All they suggest is if you are planning a trip to the IRHC/A kindly call in advance to make an appointment. Their contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org and their phone number is (612) 625-4800.
Check them out…I promise you will not be disappointed!