During the early twentieth century, the population of the Iron Range was among the most ethnically diverse in Minnesota. Tens of thousands of immigrants arrived from Finland, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Canada, England, and over thirty other places of origin. These immigrants mined the ore that made the Iron Range famous and built its communities.
State militia soldiers fought many wars against Britain, Mexico, and American Indian nations to take land for the United States. The federal government rewarded them with military land warrants—certificates that could be redeemed for up to 160 acres of U.S. public land. The warrants were quickly sold and then traded on Wall Street to land agents in the country’s western territories. The agents made huge profits from selling and loaning them to struggling farmers. In Minnesota, German immigrants used land warrants to buy Dakota land, start farms, and found the town of New Ulm.
Constructed in Minneapolis in 1919, the Northeast Neighborhood House (NENH) served both as a portal into American society for newly arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe and as an advocate for the neighborhood's underprivileged. It is a notable example of a social institution created solely for the betterment of the disadvantaged.