Skip to main content

Inventory of the Minnesota Geological and Natural History Survey papers

Identifier: ua00894

Scope and Content

The collection contains four letterpress volumes of correspondence by Ulysses Sherman Grant (1867-1932), a survey assistant, who administered the survey while Winchell traveled to Europe to study Minnesota clays and mineral deposits (vol. 1-4). There are also two volumes that record books and serials owned by Geological and Natural History Survey (vol. 5-6). The volumes were presumably part of a Winchell’s private collection that were given to the Department of Geology to form the Winchell Library of Geology in 1911.

A bound ledger titled, “The Receipts and Disbursements of the Geological and Natural History Survey Funds” contains the “Report of the Geological Survey” written by Winchell, which outlines the original legislative act establishing the survey. It describes the sale of salt spring lands which, in addition to regular appropriations from the legislature, financed the execution of the survey. The ledger includes a chronological listing of all survey expenditures, including salary for field assistants, supply & equipment purchases, travel costs, etc., from August 1st, 1872-July 31st 1906.

Digital Access

The bulk of the contents of this collection were digitized in 2013. Digitized volumes and folders are represented by a file icon surrounded by a black box on the item records. Select the icon to access the digital material in the UMedia Archive.


  • Creation: 1872-1906


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

The Minnesota Geological and Natural History Survey was established by an act of the Minnesota state legislature on May 1, 1872.The act called for “a thorough geological and natural history survey of the state” with the aim to record a complete account of the mineral kingdom, vegetable productions, and animal kingdom present within Minnesota. Authority to administer the survey was granted to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota. In June 1872, Newton Horace Winchell, assistant on the geological surveys of Michigan and Ohio, was appointed as State Geologist and director of the Survey..

Winchell began a “general reconnaissance” of the geological formations of Minnesota in September of 1872 and continued his examinations as State Geologist, county by county, through 1898. His work culminated in twenty-four annual reports submitted to the Board of Regents, ten bulletins, and the six-volume work, “The Geology of Minnesota: Final Report of the Geological and Natural History Survey,” which includes 4,130 pages, 261 plates, 420 figures, and an atlas complete with maps and summary reports for each county in the state. The natural history portion of the survey was removed from Winchell’s responsibility with the appointment of Henry F. Nachtrieb as State Zoologist in 1888 and Conway MacMillan as State Botanist in 1890.

Upon the publication of the Final Report in 1900, Winchell’s duties as State Geologist and director of the survey were deemed fulfilled by the Board of Regents, and he was relieved of his position. The geological portion of the survey also concluded at that time. The zoological and botanical veins of the survey, formally established in 1888 and 1889, continued under the direction of the State Zoologist, Henry Francis Nachtrieb, and State Botanist, Conway MacMillan, respectively.


2 Cubic Feet (3 boxes (1 hollinger; 2 oversize flat))


This collection contains correspondence and records of books and serials pertaining to the Minnesota Geological and Natural History Survey.

Source of acquisition

This collection was donated by Professor G.M. Schwartz, former director of the Minnesota Geological Survey on January 28, 1953 and two volumes and several miscellaneous items received March 27, 1948 from an unknown source.

Related Materials in University Archives

William Watts Folwell papers

Christopher Webber Hall papers

Newton Horace Winchell papers

Minnesota Geological and Natural History Survey field notebooks

Minnesota Geological Survey papers

University of Minnesota. Bell Museum of Natural History papers

University of Minnesota. Board of Regents papers

University of Minnesota. Comptroller papers

University of Minnesota. Dept. of Botany papers

Inventory of the Minnesota Geological and Natural History Survey papers, 1872-1906
Archives Staff; updated by Karen Spilman
Updated 2004; Updated 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area