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Pioneer Biography Files (WPA)


The WPA Historical Data Project in the 1930s gathered biographical information on over 5,000 pioneer residents of North Dakota through the use of surveys. In order to limit the scope of these surveys, a "pioneer" was defined as a person who was born before 1870, and who was living in Dakota Territory prior to the division into North and South Dakota, or who was the first settler in a township. The names of the pioneer and spouse, birth and death dates, names of parents, and date of migration to Dakota Territory are the most common pieces of data compiled from these surveys. Other information, including family heirlooms and relics, and community "firsts" are also included. The data, microfilmed by the State Historical Society of North Dakota, where the originals are housed, is arranged by county, and then alphabetically therein.

The microfilm, 34 reels, is located in the Institute Microforms Area (Call No.: Microfilm F635.P56). Roll 34 contains an incomplete alphabetical index for the entire state. All sketches have also been included in the North Dakota Biography Index