Research Your History!
The White Bear Lake Area Historical Society has many resources to help you uncover the stories of our community. Whether you are looking for information on your family, a local organization or photographs to decorate your office the WBLAHS may be able to help.
The WBLAHS Resource Library is located in the White Bear Lake Armory at the intersection of 4th Street and Cook Avenue in downtown White Bear Lake. The WBLAHS Resource Library is open throughout the year—hours may vary depending on season.
Resource Library appointments are strongly recommended even during regular business hours as staff and space is limited.
Appointments allow staff to plan accordingly and assist researchers to the fullest benefit. To schedule an appointment please contact us at 651-407-5327.
No fee is charged for onsite research. Please see the WBLAHS Research Library Fees and Policies for information on research services.
Please note: Many items are stored off-site and can be provided for research with advance notice.
The Research Collection
The White Bear Lake Area Historical Society’s research collection spans more than 150 years of local history and continues to grow. With the addition of our Resource Library in 2001 and on-going cataloging projects, the collection is more accessible to the public than ever before. Resources available for research include:
- Books on Local History
- Saint Mary’s and Saint Pius Church – Baptism, Marriage and Death Records
- Microfilm of Local Newspapers—The Lake Breeze, The Breeze, White Bear Life, The White Bear Press, The Free Press, The Railsplitter and The Town Crier (1887-2005)
- Genealogical Index of White Bear Newspapers 1887-1988
- Index of White Bear Lake Cemeteries: St. John’s Episcopal, Lakeview, Union and St. Mary’s Catholic
- Vertical files on local subjects, businesses, events, buildings and more
- Biography and obituary files on local individuals and families
- Organizational records including: American Legion Auxiliary, White Bear Women’s Club, White Bear Lake Fire Department, the Masonic Lodge—Garnet Lodge #166 of White Bear Lake, White Bear Lake Genealogical Society and the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society, White Bear Lake Lions Club, White Bear Lake Men’s Garden Club, Bald Eagle Lake Improvement Association, Priebe Lake Improvement Association
- Plat maps and atlases of the area: 1898/1901, 1908
- School records (1861)
- White Bear Town Board Meeting Minutes 1883-1990
- White Bear Village Council Meeting Minutes 1881-1921
- White Bear Lake City Council Meeting Minutes 1921-2000
- Family and Community Scrapbooks-some indexed
- More than 8,000 Photographs of the area, including original images and negatives from Snap Fournelle’s local photography studio capturing White Bear Lake and its families in the 1930s. (1860s-present)
- Birth and Death Indexes (1916-1932)
- Local Maternity Hospital Registers (1921-1932)
- 1980/81 Ramsey County Historic Sites Survey (local section only) featuring inventory sheets and photographs of buildings deemed historic
Growth of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society’s collection relies on donations from the community members past and present. Photographs, maps, books, papers, letters, family and business records relating to the people and places of the White Bear Lake Area are desired. If you have an item you would consider donating, please contact Sara at 651-407-5327.
Tips for Researching Property History
The best way to approach a history of your home is through the abstract.
- If you received a copy of your abstract when you purchased your home it will be a wonderful resource for your search. The abstract records all of the transactions dealing with your property, but only the land itself. It will not detail the construction or demolition of buildings or other improvements specifically.
- If you did not receive an abstract when you purchased your home it is possible to recreate the document through a land record search at the property records office of the county in which your property is located. This can be a somewhat lengthy process and will require you to physically go to the county offices.
Once you have a record of the transactions it is possible to go through the previous owners and see what you can determine about them and about the property through their history.
- Often properties are used as places of business or other activities and can make for interesting histories.
- You can also search out descendants of those residents and potentially locate photographs or other details of changes that may have been made to the house or lot.
Other possible resources
The Resource Library at the WBLAHS has a couple of other resources that do not apply to all properties, but may be helpful.
- Address Renumbering Cross Reference Homes particularly on the north side of White Bear were renumbered with the introduction of the 9-1-1 emergency system in the 1980s. All homes were required to confirm to the grid system in order to be locatable by emergency services. This directory cross-references the new numbers with the old.
- Fire Department Log Books The White Bear Lake Fire Department Log Books are held by the WBLAHS are currently in the process of being indexed by address. If the fire department was called out to a fire at a certain address the log would include details on the damage and how many firefighters were needed to put out the fire.
- Ramsey County Historic Sites Survey In the early 1980s Ramsey County did a basic survey on what they deemed to be historic structures throughout the county. Copies of the worksheets completed as part of that survey are on file at the WBLAHS.
An additional possible resource with more recent information would be the property files kept on each property within the City of White Bear Lake. Those can be accessed through the Building Department on the first floor of White Bear Lake City Hall.
Support the Resource Library!
Growth of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society’s collection relies on donations from the community members past and present.
Photographs, maps, books, papers, letters, family and business records relating to the people and places of the White Bear Lake Area are desired.
If you have an item you would consider donating, please contact Sara at 651-407-5327.