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Immigration to the Iron Range, 1880–1930

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.

Black and white scan of a military land warrant used by William Thiele to buy part of New Ulm at the Winona Land Office, c.1856 (the patent was issued in 1858).

Military land warrant

Military land warrant used by William Thiele to buy part of New Ulm at the Winona Land Office, c.1856 (the patent was issued in 1858).

Black and white photograph of the first real estate office in Minneapolis, c.1855.

The first real estate office in Minneapolis

The first real estate office in Minneapolis, c.1855.

Black and white photograph of the founders of New Ulm, c.1854.

The founders of New Ulm

The founders of New Ulm, c.1854.

Military Land Warrants in Minnesota, 1854–1863

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.

Smith, Alice Gustava (Sister Maris Stella) (1899–1987)

Alice Gustava Smith, better known by her students and readers as Sister Maris Stella, taught English at the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) in St. Paul for nearly fifty years. During that time she also published books of verse that built her reputation as a skilled and spiritual poet.

Northeast Neighborhood House, Minneapolis

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.

Black and white photograph of Swede Hollow, c.1969.

Swede Hollow after being cleared out

Swede Hollow, c.1969.

Black and white photograph of the burning of Swede Hollow, St. Paul, 1956.

Burning of Swede Hollow, St. Paul

After deeming Swede Hollow an unhealthy place to live, the city evicted the remaining families and burned what structures remained, 1956. Photograph by the St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press.

Black and white photograph of boxcar chapel in Swede Hollow, 1949.

Boxcar chapel in Swede Hollow, St. Paul; served the Mexican American Community

Boxcar chapel in Swede Hollow, 1949. Mexican Americans were the final immigrant group to call Swede Hollow home. Photograph by St. Paul Dispatch.

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