Minnesota Immigrants: People on the Move

People on the Move

Carrying their hopes and dreams for a better future, people have come from all over the world to make Minnesota their home. They chose Minnesota for opportunity, family, and community.

Minnesota has a long tradition of immigration to the state. The Dakota and Ojibwe people, the largest American Indian tribes living in the area in the 1800s, were first joined by white settlers from elsewhere in North America. As land opened for settlement, an influx of European immigrants arrived to make their new home in the state in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The twentieth century brought immigrants to Minnesota from new areas of the world, including eastern and southern Europe, Asia, and Mexico. Some of these people were seeking new homes while also fleeing persecution and war in their homelands.

Immigration continues today, more recently with Latino, Korean, Hmong, Somali, and Karen entrants to the state. Whether they came as settlers, migrants, immigrants, or refugees, all these people made a home in Minnesota.

Why did these immigrant groups come to Minnesota? First, there were economic opportunities like jobs, land, and resources. It was a safe place for families to grow. And it also became a good place for immigrants to relocate their communities—or sometimes create entirely new ones.

This exhibit shares photographs and stories from all these people, many told through their own voices. In telling their stories, MDL seeks to share with the world a broader view of what it means to be Minnesotan.

Farmhouse of B. M. James, Northfield, Minnesota
Nels and Anna Olson family, Thomson, Minnesota.
Y. M. C. A. English class, Minneapolis, Minnesota

These people on the move are grouped by their places of origin. Explore their stories using the page links below.