Iowa Search Strategies

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Iowa  Gotoarrow.png  Search Strategies

This set of Wiki pages describes major sources of information about families from Iowa. As you read the Iowa Wiki pages, also study the United States Wiki pages, which will help you understand terminology and the contents and uses of genealogical records.

Strategy for Using These Wiki Pages

Before using these Iowa Wiki pages, you need to decide what you would like to learn about one of your ancestors, such as a birth date or a maiden name.

After you have decided what information you want to find, look at the Record Selection Table. Column 1 lists the kinds of information you may need and columns 2 and 3 suggest the best types of records for finding that information.

There is a separate Iowa Wiki page for each type of record. These pages give more information about the records and how to find them. These pages are also listed in alphabetical order in the Iowa Topics area of the main page for Iowa.

Records Available from the Family History Library

References to Using the FHL Catalog

The Family History Library Catalog is a listing of all the records available at the Family History Library. The catalog is available on the Internet, and at the Family History Library, and at each Family History Center. Staff there can help you learn to use the catalog.

This set of Wiki pages gives instructions for finding information in the catalog. For example, on the page called “ Iowa Census,” you may find the following statement:

For more information about census records, look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:


This statement tells you to look in the catalog under:

  • Iowa, and then the subject CENSUS.
  • A county in Iowa, and then the subject CENSUS.
  • A town in a county in Iowa, and then the subject CENSUS.

For additional information on using the catalog, see Introduction to the Family History Library Catalog.

Source Citations

Some of the sources described in the Iowa Wiki pages list the Family History Library’s book, microfilm, microfiche, and compact disc numbers in parenthesis. These are preceded by FHL, the abbreviation for Family History Library. These numbers may be used to locate materials in the Family History Library, and to order microfilm and microfiche at Family History Centers. FHL books do not circulate to Family History Centers.

Book Copies at Other Repositories

The WorldCat, or WorldCatalog, is a listing of all the records available at thousands of repositories primarily in the United States and Canada. By clicking a WorldCat link you will open the Internet to the WorldCat description of that particular book. Part of the WorldCat book description includes a list of libraries nearest your home zip code with a copy of that book in their collection.

The WorldCat catalog network was formerly known as OCLC. The Family History Library is not part of the WorldCat network.

References to Other Wiki Pages or Internet Sites

This set of Iowa Wiki pages refers to many other pages or sites that may help you in your research. Their titles are in blue or purple.

FamilySearch™ Internet Genealogy Service

The Internet site at allows you to preserve your genealogy, learn research strategies, and look for information about your ancestors in database resources like:

  • Ancestral File, a file of over 35 million names organized into families and pedigrees.
  • International Genealogical Index, an index of over 600 million names extracted out of vital records primarily from the British Isles, North America, and northern Europe.
  • Family History Library Catalog, a description and classification of over 2 million microfilm reels, and hundreds of thousands of genealogical books. You can search the catalog by family name, locality, author, or book or film number.