Minnesota Immigrants: Immigrant Experiences


What was it like to be an immigrant to Minnesota? How have immigrant experiences changed over time? How are they similar?

For Minnesota's immigrants, there is no one "immigrant experience." Each immigrant's story is personal and unique to their situation. Yet similar themes run through them all—themes like survival, establishment, and belonging.

Minnesota has a long tradition of immigration to the state. Thousands of people have come from places all over the world to make Minnesota their new home. After deciding to leave their home countries, these immigrants often traveled thousands of miles to get to Minnesota. Once here, they focused on their immediate survival needs by finding shelter and starting to work.

Many immigrants joined together to establish community organizations, including churches, to help each other and themselves. They also started families within these communities, or even across ethnic groups. Those who came to Minnesota for a chance at a better life focused on providing education for themselves and their children.

Immigrants were not always welcomed in Minnesota, however. Many have had to learn how to overcome discrimination, prejudice, and hardship. Despite these challenges, over the years Minnesota's immigrants have become valuable members of our society.

This exhibit shares stories from immigrants to Minnesota, 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.

English class for new Americans, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Swenson family, Svea, Minnesota
Four generations of Jewish women, Minneapolis, Minnesota

There is no one way to tell an immigrant story because no single story represents all immigrants and their histories.

– Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota

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