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Using SHPO Files

Although SHPO is still not open to the public, during the COVID-19 pandemic the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has continued to operate through remote work and very limited office time. As the state implements the next phases of the Stay Safe Minnesota reopening of state government facilities, the SHPO has developed plans to fulfill researcher's needs to access paper files, and to continue digitizing archaeological site forms, and historic inventory forms and reports. In doing so, we are taking aggressive steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Organizing and digitizing Minnesota's forms and reports began in December 2019 and will continue through the end of June, 2022. The scanning contractors will also assist SHPO staff to fulfill researcher's requests for needed paper files, mainly historic inventory forms.

Due to limited staff time in the office your continued patience is greatly appreciated. Researchers should assemble their file needs and submit your request by following these steps:

  • Submit your request via email using In the email subject line use either "Database Search Request" or "Paper File Request" based on the nature of your request.
  • For instructions on how to make a Database Search Request please see the Request a Database Search section below.
  • For instructions on how to make a Paper File Request:
    • If it is a historic inventory form*, please provide:
      • Inventory number or
      • Property name, address, county, and city/township
    • If it is a report, please provide:
      • Report number or
      • Year, title, and author
    • Once the requested file has been scanned, it will be either emailed or provided through Citrix ShareFile, depending on its size.

* Researchers should submit archaeological site form requests to the Office of the State Archaeologist using

We understand this situation is evolving and these plans are subject to change. We will continue to update you with any changes to this process, including when the office will reopen for researchers and visitor policies.

Notice to all our partners and friends

Starting the week of December 9-13, 2019 and continuing to June 30, 2022 contractors at SHPO will be organizing and scanning our hardcopy historic inventory files, archaeological site files and historic-architectural reports. This is part of SHPO’s web portal effort to eventually make all our information more readily accessible and useful. If you have any questions about the scanning project please contact our data manager, Jim Krumrie (651-201-3299).

Scanning Schedule

By the start of July 2021, the scanning contractor had completed 100% of SHPO’s archaeological site forms and around 60% of its historic inventory forms. The plan is to continue scanning the historic inventory forms along with the archaeological and historical National Register files and historic-architectural reports. Once scanned, the digital files will be organized, Quality Assured, and released by the contractor to SHPO. All these steps are planned to be completed by June 30, 2022.

At a future date SHPO plans to put the scanned files into a file management system and make them available to researchers and the public through its pending MnSHIP (Minnesota State Historic Inventory Project) web portal.  

Note: Access to some information about archaeological sites is restricted by state and federal law.

Request a Database Search

Please note: Research requests are answered in the order received and could take up to 30 days to complete. Please make sure you consider this as part of your project timeline. 

Various types of cultural resource searches can be requested by e-mail. Results are generally e-mailed to the requestor in the form of Microsoft Excel documents. Email with requests or questions.

Do you need to know the archaeological sites and historic properties within your project area?

Currently, SHPO’s database is searched using the Public Land Survey System (PLSS). Therefore, in your request email please send a list or table of all township, range and sections numbers covered by your project (including buffer areas). Alternatively, you may send a shapefile or kml/kmz file of your project area (buffer inclusion is optional but must be specified).

Example TRS table:

Project 1
Township Range Section
146 51 15
146 51 16
146 51 22

Note: Only numbers are necessary.

Note: Access to some information about archaeological sites is restricted by state and federal law.

Do you need information on a specific property?

When inquiring about a specific property, include:

  • Name of property, if it has a proper name (e.g., Central United Methodist Church)
  • Address (street number and street name)
  • City or Township name
  • County name
  • Historic inventory number, if known (e.g., HE-MPC-12345)

Note: SHPO property records contain varying amounts of detail.

Do you need to obtain new historic inventory numbers?

To perform a property survey for review you will first need to obtain an inventory number from SHPO. Please include the following information in your request:

  • Name of property, if it has a proper name (e.g., Central United Methodist Church)
  • Address (street number and street name)
  • City or Township name
  • County name

Other information is helpful (e.g., UTM coordinates, PIN) but not necessary at this point.

Are you a researcher looking for a customized search?

You may request customized searches by fields such as property type, architect, or style. For more information, please contact us.

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