Since 2010, the researchers on this project have been gathering information on over 250 congregations and over 500 sites related to religious and ethnic groups who settled in several neighborhoods in the Twin Cities from approximately 1849, when the Territory of Minnesota was established, until 1924 when the federal government closed off immigration to the United States.
The neighborhoods initially selected for this study fan out from the Mississippi River, the area where settlements were initially established and the corridor that connects the two cities. Thus, the river serves as the project’s geographical link.
While the study initially focused on houses of worship (churches and synagogues) as a means to explore the complexity of religious life and ethnic interaction during this period in the Twin Cities as new immigrants acclimate themselves to the region, we soon realized that other sites needed to be included as well: specifically, places where these diverse people found solace among like-minded individuals, such as social clubs and ethnic/religious institutions, and places where they had to intermingle and interact with the “other,” folks whose beliefs, cultures and languages differed from theirs. These latter places include settlement houses, schools, playgrounds and athletic fields, and hospitals.
As a result, the website allows exploration of a number of topics: community creation, ethnicity and identity, relationships among congregations, intra-congregational interactions, the role of houses of worship, and social class structures.
Tools provided here include information on individual Christian and Jewish congregations along with photographs on their houses of worship (click on Browse) and an interactive map depicting the location of congregations over time (click above on Geography).
The project goal is to document for future generations the legacy of the historic neighborhoods that were once home to their forbearers.
The research continues, and as our documentation progresses, the content of the website and map will be expanded and updated. We urge visitors to periodically check the two sites for updates.
Dr. Jeanne Halgren Kilde, Director, Religious Studies Program, University of Minnesota
Dr. Marilyn J. Chiat, Independent Scholar, Hopkins, Minnesota
Anduin Wilhide, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota
Jeffrey Kerzner, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota
Benjamin Hulett, Undergraduate Student, University of Minnesota