Gathered from all parts of the country and overseas, the materials in the Center's collections are largely the products of the immigrants and their descendants. Typical manuscript and archival materials are the personal papers of community leaders, clergy, journalists, or educators and the records of fraternal organizations, immigrant service agencies, or publishing companies. Most of the books, pamphlets, serials, and newspapers originated from the prolific ethnic presses in the United States (and Canada) from the late nineteenth century to the present. All of these materials document many kinds of ethnic activities, from daily life in the household to work, celebrations, and organizational activities.
The Center's collections have particular strengths in documentation on eastern, central, and southern European and Near Eastern ethnic groups -- those associated with the epic trans-Atlantic migration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the IHRC also holds valuable primary and secondary source materials on earlier as well as more recent migration waves, encompassing immigrants and refugees from throughout the world. The IHRC also has a substantial body of records that document the response to immigration by organizations and individuals who provided services, worked for government policy reform, and educated Americans about immigrant needs and problems. See Research sources and services for more details.
The IHRC is open to researchers 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mondays-Fridays. Many of the Center's holdings are catalogued in automated form and described in various published inventories, subject guides, and bibliographies available from the IHRC. Cataloging descriptions for a large percentage of the Center's book collection are accessible through the University of Minnesota Libraries database. See Online Searching for more details. IHRC materials do not circulate; however, in most cases photocopies or photographic reproductions can be obtained at cost and within customary limits, and microfilm for which the IHRC holds the master negative can be purchased or borrowed through inter-library loan. Center staff conducts actual research for users only in extraordinary circumstances and at a charge of $20.00 per hour. See Patron Services for details.