Iowa Archives and Libraries

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Archives and libraries often have maps, gazetteers, and other place-finding aids. They frequently have collections of previous research, such as family and local histories and biographies. Many have record-finding aids, such as guides to their own collections or inventories of records housed elsewhere in the state.

The following organizations have major collections or services for genealogical researchers:

National Archives[edit | edit source]

Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center
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Midwest Genealogy Center 1.jpg

Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center
3440 S. Lee's Summit Road
Independence, MO 64055-1923
Telephone: 816-252-7228

One of America's most complete genealogical centers: censuses and indexes, 80,000 family histories, 100,000 local histories, 565,000 microfilms, 7,000 maps, and newspapers. Surrounding states like Iowa are well represented.[1] [2]

National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri
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National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri
400 West Pershing Road
Kansas City, MO 64108
Telephone: 816-268-8000


The National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri has the records of regional federal courts and offices for Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, including:
  • Federal naturalization records including A-files
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs and other American Indian records
  • Copies of federal census, military, and immigration records

Newberry Library
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Newberry Library

Newberry Library.jpg

60 West Waltron Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Telephone: 312-255-3512

A large Chicago repository with genealogies, local histories, censuses, military, land, indexes, vital records, court, and tax records some from Iowa, the Mississippi Valley, eastern seaboard, Canada, and the British Isles.[3] They have over 17,000 printed genealogies. The collection is noteworthy for its colonial America, especially New England holdings. They have church, town, and county histories from all parts of the United States, Canada, and the British Isles. This includes a comprehensive set of New England town histories, and strong collection of county histories from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. Their Civil War unit histories collection is one of the best.[4] This library has research guides on various subjects related to genealogy and library holdings cataloged from 1978.  See
  • Genealogy Collection Guides and Research Tools for more information about the collections. 
  • A surname index to genealogical periodicals and local history books in the Newberry Library was completed in 1915 and published as The Genealogical Index of the Newberry Library[5] Since this index is old, be sure to use the online guide sheet to this collection before using the source.

Statewide Archives[edit | edit source]

State Historical Society of Iowa[edit | edit source]

The State Historical Society of Iowa, formerly known as Iowa Historical Society or Iowa State Department of History and Archives has two centers. One is in Des Moines, the other in Iowa City. The Centers have many similar collections, and they share a website and a catalog. The centers are:

Des Moines Center
State Historical Society Iowa, Des Moines
Library and Archives
600 East Locust
Des Moines, Iowa, 50319
Telephone:  515-281-6200 (Library)
Website:  State Historical Society
Biggest collection of county records on microfilm, including book, manuscripts, and periodicals—the starting place for Iowa genealogists.[6]

Iowa City Center
State Historical Society Iowa, Iowa City
Centennial Building
State Historical Society of Iowa (Iowa City)
402 Iowa Avenue
Iowa City, Iowa, 52240-1806
Telephone: 319-335-3916  (Library)
Website:  State Historical Society
Not a repeat of Des Moines—this is an outstanding set of records for genealogists.[6] The Special Collections rooms of the facilities include manuscript records of the state, government records, photographs, newspapers, and more. They also have family histories in book and manuscript form.

The State Archives of Iowa contains records of enduring value created or collected by Iowa state agencies. These materials document all facets of the state’s history. The following are some groups of state and local government records which may be of particular interest for family historians:
  • General history books for Iowa and other states; city directories; plat maps; cemetery surveys;  biographies and memoirs; school yearbooks; selected government documents; and extensive genealogy resources are available in the libraries; periodicals.
  • Photo Collections - about a half million from daguerreotype to digital. A webpage has been created on the Flickr's photo-sharing site to showcase some representative portions of the holding.
  • Newspapers from hundreds of communities from all of Iowa’s 99 counties from 1836 to the present. The collection features several foreign language and special interest newspapers published in Iowa.
  • County government records: including marriage, birth and death records, naturalization papers and land deeds. Microfilm copies of many of these county records are available in the libraries’ reading rooms.
  • Manuscript, Audio-Visual and Map Collections: including collections of personal papers; records of organizations an extensive photograph collections; and maps.
    Census materials. Both state and federal from 1840 through 1930. Special schedules: Mortality, agricultural, industrial, and social census records for selected years.
  • Digital Collections: Maps, children's diaries, photographs, and more.
Publications of State Historical Society of Iowa
  • Annuls of Iowa
  • Iowa Historical Record
  • Iowa Journal of History
  • Palimpsest

Iowa Genealogical Society
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Iowa Genealogical Society
628 E. Grand
Des Moines, IA 50309
Telephone: 515-276-0287

Many of the works found here are cannot be found anywhere else, including published genealogies, periodicals, histories, county indexes and unpublished family histories. This is one of the largest societies in America with important publications of indexes, abstracts, and county records from all over Iowa. They have also collected material from states contributing to Iowa's population such as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and New England.[6]
To learn more about the history and record-keeping systems of Iowa counties, use the 11 inventories of county archives published by the Historical Records Survey from 1938 to 1942. They are available for Carroll, Cherokee, Dallas, Dubuque, Ida, Jasper, Montgomery, Polk, Sac, Taylor, and Woodbury Counties. The Family History Library has all of these, except for Carroll and Sac counties. Historical Records Survey (Iowa)

State Library of Iowa
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Ola Babcock Miller building.jpg

State Library of Iowa
Ola Babcock Miller Building
1112 E. Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50319-0233
Phone: (515)281-4105 1-800-248-4483
Fax: (515)281-6191
Website, Iowa Digital Archives

They have the largest collection of books and periodicals in Iowa, including county histories, and biographies.[6]
But from their website: Genealogy Information: Iowa Library Services does not have genealogy materials.
Iowa Digital Library prestents: Civil War Diaries and Letters, Special Collections and University of Iowa Libraries.

Regional Archives[edit | edit source]

Burlington Public Library
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Burlington Public Library
210 Court Street
Burlington, IA 52601-1647
Phone: (319)753-1647
Fax: (319)753-5316
Website, Genealogy, Burlington Public Library

This is a good solid regional genealogical resource library including sources related to the migration of Germans, Dutch, and French. Located on the Mississippi River, they have many river boat, and river traffic related sources.[6]

Davenport Public Library[edit | edit source]

Davenport Public Library
321 Main Street
Davenport, Iowa 52801
Phone: 563-326-7832
Fax: 563-326-7809
TDD/TTY: 563-326-7843
Special Collections 563-326-7902
Richardson Sloane Special Collections 

The Davenport Public Library has the following databases on line, by clicking on Local databases:
  • Obituaries
  • Scott County Marriage Certificates: Index, pre 1836-c1925
  • Marriage Announcement Index
  • Gazette (Davenport Daily Gazette:
  • 1856 Census
  • 1885 Census
  • 1925 Iowa State Census
  • Civil War Enlistments 
  • Mortality Schedule Index 

Fort Madison Public Library[edit | edit source]

1920 Avenue E
Fort Madison, IA 52627
Ph: (319) 372-5721
Fax: (319) 372-5726

This little rural library has a regional-size genealogy collection including books, manuscripts, surname folders, pedigree charts, special name indexes, and genealogical periodicals. This is a good all-around genealogical facility.[6]

Grout Museum of History and Science Library[edit | edit source]

Grout Museum District
503 South St.
Waterloo, IA 50701

This huge library is also a resource for genealogists with ancestors who lived beyond the borders of just Iowa. They have a very large family folder collection, guides and indexes to cemeteries, and county histories.[6]

Iowa State University Library[edit | edit source]

Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa 50011

Huge book collection including many county histories. They also have a great newspaper archives and good map collection.[6]

Marshalltown Public Library[edit | edit source]

105 West Boone Street
Marshalltown, IA 50158
Phone: 641-754-5738
Fax: 641-754-5708

They have a good regional genealogy section and DAR collection of printed genealogies, periodicals, newspaper archives, and family folders with coverage beyond Iowa's borders.[6]

University of Iowa Main Library[edit | edit source]

100 Main Library (LIB)
125 West Washington St.
Iowa City, IA 52242-1420
Phone:(319) 335-5299 (Service Desk)
Phone:(319) 335-5867 (Administration)
Fax:(319) 335-5900)

They are strong on rare books, manuscripts, histories, oral histories, and have one of the largest German language book collections in America. They also have very large book, and periodical collections, with good newspapers, and ethnic resources.[6]

Iowa Online Records[edit | edit source]

Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

United States, Iowa - Archives and Libraries
United States, Iowa, [County] - Archives and Libraries

References[edit | edit source]

  1. William Dollarhide, and Ronald A. Bremer, America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1988), 67. WorldCat 39493985; FHL Book 973 J54d.
  2. Midwest Genealogy Center in Mid-Continent Public Library (accessed 7 March 2014).
  3. Genealogy and Local History in The Newberry (accessed 27 February 2015).
  4. Dollarhide and Bremer, 39.
  5. The Genealogical Index of the Newberry Library. Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall, 1960. WorldCat 83367401 FHL films 928135–928137 and FHL book 973 D22n vols. 1–4
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 Dollarhide and Bremer, 45.