The Immigration History Research Center Archives in the University of Minnesota Libraries (IHRCA, or IHRC Archives) is a renowned archives and library for the study of immigration, ethnicity, and race. We select sources documenting a broad range of immigrant and refugee experiences, and strive to connect history to today’s experiences. We work closely with our colleagues in the Immigration History Research Center, and we are part of the Migration and Social Services Collections in Archives & Special Collections (ASC) in the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Our collections' strengths are first and second generation immigrants and displaced persons who came to the USA from central, eastern, and southern Europe; the eastern Mediterranean (formerly called the “Near East” region of the Middle East and North Africa); and late-20th and early 21st century immigrants and refugees. Our collections vary from print to manuscript to born-digital. They include personal papers as well as organizational records of ethnic and immigrant-formed groups, and of social service providers.

We are open to the public and we welcome you to visit us in person. To ensure we can help you, contact us in advance.

Or, let us know how we can help you through our distance and virtual services.

Immigration History Research Center Archives, 311 Andersen Library, 222-21st Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55455, Email: ihrca@umn.edu Telephone: 612-625-4800


Digitizing Immigrant Letters Project (2008 – present)

Continuing the tradition begun at the University of Minnesota by Theodore C. Blegen in the 1920s when he proposed an international collaboration to collect and preserve letters written by American immigrants and sent to Norway, it is appropriate that the IHRC & Archives - which has been collecting for research migrant correspondence since the acquisition of its earliest collections in the mid-1960s - initiated the Digitizing Immigrant Letters (DIL) Project.

The Project, now hosted by the Archives in the University of Minnesota Libraries, aims to collaborate with a wide variety of institutions in North America and abroad in order to create digital archives of letters written between migrants and their loved ones, to provide their translations into English and promote research of migrant correspondence across disciplines - in accordance with the Center's mission to promote interdisciplinary research on international migration, develop archives documenting immigrant and refugee life, especially in the United States, and make specialized scholarship accessible to students, teachers, and the public.

The timeline below is a summary of events and activities developed as part of the Project so far, with generous assistance of the DIL Project's sponsors and supporters.

The Digitizing Immigrant Letters Project team (2008-2020)

Sonia Cancian, Kelly Condit-Shrestha, Marija Dalbello, Ellen Engseth, Wladimir Fischer, Donna Gabaccia, Ilze Garoza, Haven Hawley, Chelsey Kueffer, Johanna Leinonen, Halyna Myroniuk, Daniel Necas, Keit Osadchuk, Bruno Ramirez, Annemarie Steidl.
Letters selection, transcription and translation, context research: Sarah Barakat, Ana Begus, Lucia Bolechova, Sonia Cancian, Marija Dalbello, Wladimir Fischer, Ilze Garoza, Li Gerhalter, Aneta Gorgon, Rawley Grau, Jasna Halvorson, Helena Janezic, Sofia Karadimitriou, Stefan Kucik, Ihar Labacevich, Johanna Leinonen, Halyna Myroniuk, Daniel Necas, Josh Olson, Keit Osadchuk, Justin Schell, Marusa Verbic, Maria Vincze, Birgit Wagner, Joanna Wojdon.
In 2011, the Project was featured in an exhibit at the Andersen Library curated by Haven Hawley and Student Exhibit Curator Kao Choua Vue.
Thanks also to the University of Minnesota Libraries' Media Archive and Jason Roy for providing a platform - U Media Archive - to host and deliver the project's digital content. And to Jennifer Hootman and Benjamin Wiggins of the Digital Arts, Sciences and Humanities program (UMN) as well as to John Barneson and Shane Nackerud from the University Libraries Web Development department for their crucial roles in the design and construction of the DIL project's new website, launched in September 2017. Melinda Kernik, Spatial Data Analyst and Curator of the University of Minnesota Libraries created a new version of the map in 2020.
Scholarly Advisory Committee 2009-2012:
Suzanne Sinke, Florida State University
Walter Kamphoefner, Texas A&M University 
John Willis, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa
Ursula Lehmkuhl, Trier University 
Wolfgang Helbich, Bochum University, emeritus 
Solveig Zempel, St. Olaf College
David Fitzpatrick, Trinity College Dublin
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