Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette were the first European visitors to what is now Iowa. They came to the area in 1673. The area became U.S. property as a result of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, Indians and white settlers had many disputes in the area. Indian land was taken as a result of the 1832 Blackhawk War and more lands were again taken from them in 1836 and 1837. The capital of Iowa was Iowa City when it gained statehood, in 1846. However, since Des Moines was in a more reasonable central location, it became the new capital in 1857, at the same time that the boundaries of the state were drawn to be in their present-day form.
Getting Started with Iowa Genealogy and Family Trees
Learning to Search for Iowa Genealogy Materials – As a state situated in the heart of the country, Iowa has seen a great deal of activity in terms of migration and expansion. This has led to a relatively high demand for genealogical materials that are available in the many state and local archives scattered throughout the entire region.
Whether someone is seeking details about their Native American heritage, information about the agricultural branch of their family, or information about relations who still live and work in the state, there is a lot of information for Iowa genealogy enthusiasts.
Savvy Methods for Iowa Genealogy Work – Today’s genealogists have a huge number of resources available for an Iowa genealogy project, and many of them are accessible through a good computer with an Internet connection. For instance, it is possible to access a state’s online resources in order to begin gathering data or requesting copies of the materials needed for an Iowa genealogy project.
Because there are so many resources online, it does not mean that ALL resources will be available in an electronic format. Iowa’s many archives, libraries and museums are actively digitizing their collections, but there are still places that have yet to do such work. This means that those doing work for Iowa genealogy projects will have to also begin learning about the “offline” resources too. These are just as valuable (and often more so) to people looking for Iowa genealogy, because they have such unique data available.
It is extremely useful for genealogists to familiarize themselves with these tools for Iowa genealogy, and to discover which are the online resources, and which are not.
Most research begins in public records, since these are the most readily available of the online resources for Iowa genealogy. Public records are easily the most useful resources for Iowa genealogy work, and they are divided into the following categories:
- Local Records – state research will often start in county clerks’ offices or websites, and then use the local genealogical societies, small local libraries, historical societies, and school or college libraries for Iowa genealogy data. These are materials that are usually offline and viewable only by appointment or special arrangement.
- Vital Records – these will always cover the basic birth, marriage, divorce, and death records available from county, state, and national archives. These might also contain immigration and naturalization details, cemetery or obituary information, census records, newspaper items, military records, and passenger lists and records as well. These are generally available as online or offline resources for Iowa genealogy.
- State Records – from probate information to private manuscripts, surname lists, newspapers, state census information, marriage details, military or veterans information, land records, maps, estate information, genealogical folders, death records, deeds, birth certificates, cemetery information and more, such records are available as online and offline resources for Iowa genealogy.
Your Best Tools for Iowa Genealogy – Modern research has introduced all new tools for Iowa genealogy projects. These are the tools that will unearth the most information with the least amount of effort. We have indicated the best of these tools for Iowa genealogy below:
- Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Records, Lucas Office Building, 321 East 12th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319-0075; Website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/iowa.htm.
This is where you can request birth, death, marriage and divorce records via a written notice, or even online.
Additional state and local records can be found at the:
- Iowa State Historical Society Library and Archives, State of Iowa Historical Building , 600 East Locust , Des Moines, Iowa, 50319;
This is a very comprehensive online resource that has census materials, manuscripts, maps, insurance records, vital records, books, photographic collections, and extensive county government records along with newspapers dating to the 1700s!
Also, consider using the Iowa Genealogical Society at: http://www.iowagenealogy.org/.
Finally, these popular websites provide a tremendous amount of state-specific details to those in search of details for Iowa genealogy projects.
- Iowa Genealogy Network (facebook.com)
- Encyclopedia of Iowa (iowapedia.com)
- The Iowa Family Group Sheet Project (fgs-project.com)
- USGenweb – Iowa Genealogy (iagenweb.org)
- Free GenForum Message Boards – Iowa (genforum.genealogy.com)
- Free Rootsweb Message Boards – Iowa (boards.ancestry.com)
- Cyndis List Iowa Links (cyndislist.com)
- Iowa Mailing List (rootsweb.ancestry.com)
- Iowa American History and Genealogy Project (usgennet.org)
- Iowa (wikipedia.org)
- Iowa Genealogy Look Ups (geneasearch.com)
- USGenWeb Archives Project for Iowa (usgwarchives.net)