Iowa Archives and Libraries

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United States Gotoarrow.png Iowa Gotoarrow.png Archives and Libraries

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—Central Plains Region (Kansas City)
400 West Pershing Road
Kansas City, MO 64108
Telephone: 816-268-8000
Internet: National Archives

The National Archives branch in Kansas City has the records of regional federal offices for Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, including the following:

  • Federal naturalization records
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs and other American Indian records
  • Copies of federal census, military, and immigration records

Historical Societies

State Historical Society of Iowa

(Formerly known as Iowa Historical Society or Iowa State Department of History and Archives)

The state Historical Society of Iowa 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:

State Historical Society of Iowa - Des Moines Center
Library and Archives
600 East Locust
Des Moines, Iowa, 50319
Telephone:  515-281-6200 (Library)

State Historical Society of Iowa - Iowa City Center
Centennial Building
State Historical Society of Iowa (Iowa City)
402 Iowa Avenue
Iowa City, Iowa, 52240-1806
Telephone: 319-335-3916  (Library)

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. Speial schedules: Mortality, agricultural, industrial, and social census records for selected years.
  • Digital Collections: Maps, children's diaries, photographs, and more.

Iowa Genealogical Society

6000 Douglas Avenue
P.O. Box 7735
Des Moines, IA 50322
Telephone: 515-276-0287
Internet: Iowa Genealogical Society

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. Check the "Author/Title Search" of the Family History Library Catalog under Historical Records Survey (Iowa).


Burlington Public Library

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

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
Internet: 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 

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
Internet: State Library of Iowa

Family History Library

  • A 1978 project by the Iowa State Historical Society created inventories for 13 additional counties. The Family History Library has copies of these inventories for Allamakee, Dubuque, Franklin, Iowa, Osceola, and Ringgold Counties.
  • To find other archives and libraries with collections of Iowa records, look in the directories and information listed in the Archives and Libraries and Iowa Societies.
  • Inventories of archive and library collections can be found by using the Keyword Search feature on catalog drop down menu of the Family History Library Catalog to find more records under::

Iowa Digital Collections

Hand and keyboard.jpg Iowa
Online Records

has statewide online database links which may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.

Sources and Footnotes