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  • Writer's pictureRicki King

Iowa Genealogical Society Locality Guide

Iowa Genealogical Society

Locality Guide

· Iowa Genealogical Society

· List of Iowa county genealogy societies that are members of the Iowa Genealogical Society.

· State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines

History of Iowa[1]

Iowa is the Hawkeye state between Missouri and Mississippi, with the capital located in Des Moines. The first state capitol was in Iowa City and the territory capitol in Burlington.

· 1803 part of the Louisana Purchase.

· 1808 part of Illinois territory.

· 1812 part of Missouri territory.

· 1834 Michigan territory.

· 1836 Wisconsin territory.

· 1836 Iowa territory

· 1846 Iowa becomes a state on December 28.

Iowa's 99 counties [2

Iowa Genealogical Society

Dark brown and light reflection in the glass is State Historical Society of Iowa's research search center. Free parking ramp on the left.[3]


In 1964, Mrs. Lida L. Greene, then Librarian for the Iowa State Historical Library in Des Moines, recognized the need for an Iowa Genealogical Society.[4] The first charter year ran from November 1, 1965, to October 31, 1966, starting with 150 people on day one and ending with 261 with 50 from other States at the end of the first year.[5]


Iowa Genealogical Society (IGS)

628 East Grand Avenue

Des Moines, Iowa 50309-1924

Across the street from State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI).


Phone: 515-276-0287

Fax: 515-727-1824



Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday

10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday

10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

If Des Moines schools close due to weather, the library will also close.

Social Media:

Facebook: Iowa Genealogical Society

Twitter: @IowaGenealogy


Free parking lot.

Free parking garage next to Iowa Genealogical Society building.


$10.00 a day for non-members.

$35.00 a year from the start date on a single membership.

$45.00 a year from the start date on family living in the same household membership.


Stop in to take a free tour of the library at any time during regular business hours.


Free beginning genealogy class offered once a month. Check at to see the date and time of the next class. While there, check out upcoming classes to help with Iowa research, organization, or leave a class suggestion on a subject of your choice.

Library usage: is available free in-library use only.

Computers are available for patron use.

Laptops are welcome

Pencil only no pens or markers allowed.

Free Wi-Fi.

Free library edition.

Small breakroom with microwave, refrigerator, and pop machine available.

Several local restaurants within walking distance.

No food or drinks allowed in the library.

Purses and bags are not allowed in the library. Lockers are provided with a $.25 refundable charge.

Cell phones are to be used in the breakroom.

Copy fees:

Photocopy $.25 a copy.

A $3.00 member or a $5.00 non-member fee per day will be assessed for the use of any scanner, digital camera, or other copying device brought into the library for personal use.

Special Interest Groups:

· Norwegian meets the fourth Thursday of the month at 7:00 p. m.

· English Welsh Scots-Irish meets the second Thursday of the month at 7:00 p. m.

· Irish meets the third Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p. m.

· German meets the first Monday of the month at 7:00 p. m.

User groups:

· meets the second Sunday of the month at 1:30 p. m.

· RootsMagic meets the fourth Saturday of the month at 10:00 a.m.

· Legacy meets the third Thursday of the month at 1:00 p.m.


There are various Iowa county genealogy society publications for sale ranging from cemeteries, newspapers, probate to vital record indexes printed per request.[7]

Census Records:

· Microfilm of all federal census up to 1930. The 1940 census is only issued in a digital format.

· Microfilm of Iowa State censuses expects 1905.

· Microfilm of some Kansas State census.

· Microfilm of various State censuses.

· Digital copies can be found on and

1905 has copies of the actual census, and only has an index of names.

1925 census has three pages with the name of parents, including the maiden name of the wife. The census also lists age at the time of the census so you will be able to tell if the parent has died before 1925 if blank.

Government Records:

Microfilm of Polk County probate records.


· All Iowa counties are represented in the collection with various information from each county.

· Various books are covering the United States except for Utah.

· Various international books with the majority of German interest. IGS's most significant interest group and book donations come from the German interest group.

Records you do not want to miss at IGS:

· Obituaries of African-Americans who died in Iowa [Original funeral/memorial programs with index.]

· L. Fowler Funeral Home index [Black-owned business. Original records at SHSI, which does not have an index.]

· Quaker card catalog of birth, death, and marriages [Clippings start in the late 1940s through mid-1970, various original newspaper clippings with newspaper name, date, and location. If the clipping was from a college paper, some will list years attending college. You never know what handwritten message you will find on volunteer submitted notecards from all over the United States. All the person needs to be an Iowa connection is to have their information submitted to IGS.]

· Obituary card catalog [Starts late 1890's through mid-1970 varies original newspaper clippings with newspaper name, date, and location listed on some cards. Females are crossed referenced under the maiden name if listed in the obituary. Volunteers submitted Information across the United States on people with an Iowa connection.]

· Bible Records [Volunteers submitted birth, death, and marriage information from family bibles, which varies from original pages, copies, and transcriptions. Some have other original family documents included in the file. There is an index under the husband and wife's name, but the index does not indicate how it was determined which couple to use or if all couples are indexed. If there is miscellaneous information with the bible record, it is listed on the index.]

· Family histories and newsletters

· Statehood Certificate application [8][Directly descended from a person who settled in Iowa by 1846.]

· Pioneer Certificate application[9] [Directly descended from a person who settled in Iowa by 1856.]

· Century Certificate application[10] [Directly descended from a person who settled in Iowa 100 years before the date of application.]

· Camp Dodge Records index [Original records at SHSI, which does not have an index...]

· Iowa National Guard Enlistment Records index [Original records at SHSI, which does not have an index.]

· Naturalization first papers[11]

The person did not have to be an Iowan to be included in Iowa records. They only had to serve in Iowa. Records are of persons who died after the war and are a mix of originals and copies. The record contains birth and death locations along with birthdate and other various information.

FamilySearch microfilm location:

IGS is an affiliate FamilySearch library. It means you can request microfilm or microfiche and have it sent to IGS to review. If you choose to keep the microfilm long term, IGS will house the film. When you order microfilm, choose to have it delivered to the Iowa Genealogical Society, and they will notify you once it is received.


Hawkeye Heritage 1966-

Interlibrary loan is not available.

Research Assistance

"Members $15.00 per hour includes copying and postage if mailed.

Non-members $25 per hour includes copying and postage if mailed.

Research is not done on living persons.

Research is not done relating to adoptions." [13]

Worth your time:

· Member Societies of Iowa Genealogical Society [Contains contact and address information.]

· Iowa, United States Genealogy on Wiki

· Cyndi's list on Iowa

· Free newspapers on [Includes more than Iowa papers.]

· Internet Archives "Founded in 1996 and located in San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities."[15] [Search term Iowa returns a result of 22, 5839 with 184 referencing genealogy. There is a subject list on the right hand, which includes yearbooks, city directories, and county history books.]

· Grissom, Marieta A. "Genealogical Research in Iowa," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (December 2014): 263-306.

· Silag Bill, ed., Outside In: African-American History in Iowa 1838-2000. Des Moines, Iowa: State Historical Society of Iowa, 2001.

[1] Carol L Maki and Michael John Neill, “Iowa,” Alice Eichholz, ed., Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources (Provo, Utah, Ancestry Publishing, 2004), p. 213-214. [2] USGenWeb Project. IAGenWeb Project, database with images ( : accessed 23 April 2016). [3] Iowa Genealogical Society building, photograph taken by Ricki King, 19 April 2016. [4] Judy McClain, complied, Iowa Genealogical Society A Fifty Year Celebration 1965-2015 (Des Moines: Iowa Genealogical Society, 2015), p. 8; digital images, Iowa Genealogical Society ( : accessed 18 April 2016). [Excerpts used with permission from Iowa Genealogical Society President and Executive Director provided 18 April 2016.] [5] McClain, Iowa Genealogical Society A Fifty Year Celebration 1965-2015, 10. [6], website, ( : accessed 19 April 2016). [7] Iowa Genealogical Society, website, ( : accessed 19 April 2016). [8] Iowa Genealogical Society, website, ( : accessed 19 April 2016). [9] Ibid. [10] Ibid. [11] Ibid. [12] Ibid. [13] Iowa Genealogical Society, website, ( : accessed 19 April 2016). [14] Dick Eastman, “A Long List of Digitized Newspapers Online,” Dick Eastman, Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, The Daily Online Genealogy Newsletter, 24 May 2014 ( : accessed 17 April 2016) citing Larry Parker’s compiled list of Advantage Preservation newspapers ( : accessed 17 April 2016). [15] Internet Archives, website, ( : accessed 20 April 2016).

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