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State Agency Records - Historical Data Project Pioneer Biography #30529

Title: State Historical Society. Historical Data Project Records - Pioneer Biography Files

Series Number: 30529

Dates: 1936-1940

Quantity: 42 feet

Abstract: Series consists of more than 5,000 brief biographies of North Dakotans, and consist of forms and personal reminiscences of pioneers in North Dakota. In addition, they provide information on many ethnic cultures in North Dakota, customs, and the challenges that pioneers encountered. Most Pioneer Biography Files contain either a "Pioneer Data Form" or an "Old Settlers Questionnaire Form" which was completed by the Pioneer or by a survey worker. The questionnaire, which includes the family history section of either a "Pioneer Data Form" or an "Old Settler Questionnaire," includes the name of the pioneer, birth and death dates, nationality, name of spouse, parents, children, and other relatives, date of marriage, occupation, date of immigration to the United States, date of migration to Dakota Territory, mode of transportation, education, religion, political affiliation, family history, etc. To show the precise homestead location, the form includes a small township map and indicates locations of schools, churches, neighbor's farms, post offices, villages, groves, cemeteries and other landmarks.
The files are on microfilm arranged alphabetically by county and therein by the name of the pioneer.

Provenance: The North Dakota State Archives acquired these records series through the auspices of the Historical Data Project, Professional and Service Division, Work Projects Administration, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota, ca.1936-1940.

Copyright: Public records are not subject to copyright restrictions, although record series may contain copyrighted material. Consideration of such copyrights is the responsibility of the author and publisher.

Access: These records are available for public inspection under provision of the North Dakota Century Code, 55-02.1-08.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the record group, series name and number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Transfer: Photographs that were filed with Series 529 and Series 548 were transferred to the Photograph Collection. Publications that were filed with all three series were transferred to the printed materials collections.


Established in April 1936, the Historical Data Project was sponsored by the Division of Women' and Professional Projects, Work Progress Administration and the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The purpose of the Historical Data Project was to gather biographical and historical information on early settlers in North Dakota. To limit the scope of the survey, a "pioneer" was "defined as a person who was born before 1870 and who lived in Dakota Territory prior to the division into North and South Dakota, or as the first settler in a township." In addition, Historical Data Project personnel prepared historical sketches of North Dakota counties, cities, townships, agriculture, fraternal organizations, political parties, population, railroads, climate, natural resources, prominent citizens, etc., and prepared transcripts of early North Dakota county and township records having genealogical and historical value. The survey work of the Historical Data Project ceased in 1940.


The records of the Historical Data Project date from 1936 to 1940 and occupy 57.5 feet. The records consist of three record series: Pioneer Biography Files (Series 30529), Local Histories (Series 30548), and Transcripts of Local Government Records (Series 30549).

The Pioneer Biography Files, Series 30529, are arranged alphabetically by the pioneer's last name. There are over 5,000 Pioneer Biography Files occupying 42 feet. Some of the files were formerly designated as "incomplete" or "dropped." To simplify use of this series, the "incomplete" files were merged with the "complete" files. An index to the merged series is available to researchers here and in the Reading Room. Most Pioneer Biography Files contain either a "Pioneer Data Form" or an "Old Settler Questionnaire." Forms were completed by an Historical Data Project survey worker or by the pioneer. Information contained on each form includes the name of the pioneer, birth and death dates, nationality, names of spouse, parents, children, and other relatives, date of marriage, occupation, date of immigration to the United States, date of migration to Dakota Territory, mode of transportation used, education, religion, political affiliation, family history, family heirlooms and relics, and information concerning "firsts" in the community, i.e., the first birth, death, school, church, doctor, lawyer, etc. The forms usually include a small township map providing the precise location of the family homestead, schools, churches, neighbor's farms, post offices, villages, groves, cemeteries, land marks, forts and posts, Indian sites, and stage lines. Some files contain information concerning the pioneer's experiences or knowledge of buffalo hunting, Indians, early settlers, land companies, colonies, mail service, shipping, railroads, land transfers, politics, citizen's organizations, organization of political subdivisions, natural catastrophes, epidemics, farming, vigilantism, military activities, popular entertainment, industry, newspapers, churches, schools, post offices, and landmarks. An occasional "Archaeological and Historical Survey Form" appears in the Pioneer Biography Files. These forms provide information concerning the location and characteristics of land marks, Indian sites, artifacts, historic sites, first settlers in a township, trading posts, trails, first schools, churches, births, deaths, marriages, etc. Many files include pioneer biographical sketches, reminiscences, notes, correspondence concerning interviews and collection of data, newspaper clippings, and photographs. Most newspaper clippings were photocopied and destroyed. All photographs were photocopied and transferred to the Photograph Collection. Photocopies and notes identifying the photographs were placed in each file.


1 Aafedt, Peter-Alstad, Joseph K.

2 Alstad, Thomas J.-Anderson, Olaf

3 Anderson, Oscar-Baglien, Ole Hanson

4 Bagstad, Erik J.-Bass, John E.

5 Basye, Mrs. Florence-Bell, Benjamin

6 Bell, Bent-Birkholz, John Jr.

7 Bisek, Thomas-Boe, Tosten

8 Boeckel, George-Bourque, Thiliman

9 Boushele, George-Brown, Frank

10 Brown, H.E.-Butler, Edward C.

11 Buttree, James E.-Cartier, Mary Exhilda

12 Cary, L.N.-Christianson, Herman

13 Christianson, John G.-Comstock, Oliver D.

14 Connall, Bartholomew-Creel, Herber M.

15 Crider, Magner-Davidson, Ole Mrs.

16 Davies, Frank C.-Dickinson, George

17 Dickinson, Nancy L.-Doyen, Theodore

18 Doyle, James-Dyste, John H.

19 Dyste, N.H.-Enge, George

20 Engebretson, John-Ewald, Fred B.

21 Ewing, Sarah H.-Fisk, Charles

22 Fisk, Henry-Foubert, Israel

23 Foussard, Emile-Funk, George H.

24 Gad, Charles-Giesler, August

25 Gieszler, Mrs. Catherine-Grantier, Jay

26 Granum, Christ-Gulack, Theodore 0.

27 Gulbranson, Martin-Hall, Sarah Esther Thornton

28 Hall, Miss Vannie-Hanson, Katherine

29 Hanson, Lars J.-Hauck, Fred

30 Haug, Anton M.-Heiser, Mike

31 Heisig, Elmer-Hertz, Henry

32 Herz, Anton-Hofstrand, Mrs. Ella

33 Hofto, K.A.-Houser, Harry

34 Houde, Lars-Imhoff, Jacob

35 Imhoff, Joe-Jelsing, Rognald

36 Jenks, Charles-Johnson, Iver

37 Johnson, James-Jolliffee, John Thomas

38 Jondahl, Mrs. Laura-Kamp, Mrs. Olga

39 Kamrud, Edward T.-Kilbourn, Fred G.

40 Killander, John E.-Koehler, Rev. Robert

41 Koehn, Augusta (Ell)-Kuntz, Martin

42 Kunz, Fred Albert-Lang, Agnes and Michael

43 Lang, Fredrick-Layton, Fred

44 Leach, John-Less, John E.

45 Letraille, Louis-Little, Laura L.

46 Little Bird, Robert-Luzier, N.A.

47 Lybeck, Nellie-McDonald, William

48 McDonald, William Edward-McLeod, John

49 McLeod, Malcon-Maresh, Mary Padden

50 Margoch, William-Mattson, J.L.

51 Mattson, Peter-Meyer, Julius

52 Meyer, Mrs. Mary-Mitts, W.F.

53 Mix, Horace P. and Lena (Collier)-Morgan, Thomas Edgar

54 Morgan, Mrs. Vivian-Murphy, Zilphy

55 Murray, Charles B.-Nelson, Nels Martin

56 Nelson, Nels P.-Nordness, Lars Larson

57 Nordquist, Charles-Oien, Halvor

58 Oium, Thomas N.-Olson, Mrs. Mary

59 Olson, Nub-Ostrum, William

60 Ostund, Alice-Pederson, Jens H.

61 Pederson, Jonathan-Pierce, Mary Jane Roberts

62 Pierce, Thomas Sr.-Purintun, Everett

63 Purintun, Orrin-Rehberg, John P.

64 Reich, Mathias-Roberts, Lee A.

65 Roberts, Margaret Barr-Rothe, Martin

66 Rothert, Gust L.-Sanderson, Henry

67 Sanderson, Sander-Schoenbecker, Lawrence

68 Schoening, Herman-Seglem, Carl

69 Seibert, Elizabeth Stewart-Simmer, Susanna

70 Simmers, Francis E.-Smiley, Mrs. Margrete

71 Smishek, J.J.-Sperry, Mrs. Phena

72 Spitzer, Carl-Stenger, John

73 Stenmo, Thor O.-Strong, M.L.

74 Strubel, George-Taylor, Andrew A.

75 Taylor, Benjamin-Thompson, Mr. T.O.

76 Thompson, Mrs. T.Y.-Torrance, James

77 Torrison, Goodnow-Underdahl, Peter

78 Underwood, Fred-Vold, Christian B.

79 Volkmann, Andrew-Walley, Bertha Marie

80 Walper, Leah Geiger-Weeks, John

81 Weeks, Stephen Palmer-Whitfield, George S.

82 Whitt, Griffea William-Wilson, Mary Ann Asher

83 Wilson, Mary L. Barr-Woodrow, Robert John

84 Woods, Daniel R.-Zuern, Fred

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