The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship


This series consists of over 1500 biographical sketches created by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) from 1936 though 1939. These sketches focus on early settlers of Stearns County, Minnesota, who lived predominantly during the 1800s, though a few can be dated to the late 1700s. By keeping their focus on the "common" person in society, the WPA biographies present examples of how the working class spent their lives. In addition, there are several immigrant accounts that share struggles and triumphs of settling in Stearns County.

A combination of interviews, information taken from books or newspapers, census data and courthouse records are put together in these files to create as complete of a genealogical picture as possible. All files are different - some may contain a combination of an interview summary, information taken from published sources, and census data and courthouse from the Stearns County courthouse. If the interview is not conducted with the subject themselves, they were usually conducted with a family member. This information is listed at the end of each sketch along with the name of the interviewer. Birth and death dates were included if known. It is believed that the people presented in these biographies were selected at random which come from diverse backgrounds. Some of the subjects discuss their interactions with Native Americans, while others briefly talk about their daily routine.

The finding aid for the biographies can be found here.

Visit the University Archives for more information.




Abell, Lvinus [1809-1884], Gruber, Tresa