The first extant federal population census for the State of Indiana is 1820. All of the 1800 and most of the 1810 censuses for Indiana were lost. Most of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire, and the 1890 Veterans’ Schedule for Indiana was also lost. Mortality schedules exist for 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880. Other territorial and state censuses (including 1807, 1853, 1866, 1871, and 1877) are incomplete or their content is sparse. Those enumerations are at the Indiana State Archives.
Indiana birth and death records were to be recorded by the counties beginning in 1882. Statewide death registration began in 1899; births followed in 1907. Marriage records have been kept by the clerk of the circuit court since 1807, and there was no statewide registration until 1958.
Birth and death certificates can be ordered from the Vital Records Office in Indianapolis. Marriage records can be ordered from the clerk of circuit court in the county where the marriage took place. Divorces were handled by different courts over time. You may find a ledger book of divorces, or they may be incorporated with other civil case files or in order books.
The Indiana State Library’s Genealogy Division has a searchable database of Indiana marriages, originally created by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), through 1850 on its website. Be aware it’s not without errors and omissions, though http://126.96.36.199/INMarriages1850/marriages_search.asp. WPA-extracted birth, marriage and death records through 1920 are available through the Family History Library (FHL).
In territorial times, there were three courts: Common Pleas, General Court, and Quarter Sessions of the Peace. Circuit court replaced all three in 1814. In 1814, the circuit court became the basic county-level court in Indiana, and still is today. Superior Courts were established around 1871 as case loads became heavier. The court of common pleas appeared again from roughly 1849-1873 and handled probate cases and sometimes divorces and naturalizations. The records of these courts will usually be in court order books and case files, many of which are available through the FHL.
Copies of deeds and mortgages can be ordered from the county recorder’s office. Because research in land records can be time-consuming and indexes are often incomplete, whenever possible make use of microfilmed indexes and records. The FHL has filmed the county land records for more than two-thirds of the 92 Indiana counties. Probate records are in the custody of the circuit court in almost all Indiana counties. Many are on microfilm at the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library hand the FHL.
During most time periods, naturalization could take place in any court of record. Naturalization records from many of Indiana’s counties have been transferred to the Indiana State Archives and microfilmed there. The FHL has many Indiana counties’ naturalization records, and the archives’ website includes a Naturalization Database Search at http://www.in.gov/serv/icpr_naturalization. The largest newspaper collection in the state is at the Indiana Division of the Indiana State Library. The microfilmed newspapers circulate on interlibrary loan. A county-by-county listing of the 16,500 reels of newspaper microfilm is accessible at http://www.in.gov/library/newspapers.htm.
The Indiana State Archives has an interesting array of online databases, such as the Indiana Soldier’s and Sailor’s Children’s Home http://www.in.gov/icpr/2547.htm. Search all databases at http://www.indianadigitalarchives.org.
Indiana’s religious history is richly varied and can be important in researching Indiana ancestors. Church records are abundant, and the best capsule description of where and how to look for them is in John Beatty’s Research in Indiana, a publication of the National Genealogical Society.
The Indiana State Library, Indiana Division manages manuscript and state document collections, as well as photographs, newspapers, and oral history collections. The Indiana Biography Index is a finding aid to books, periodicals, newspaper clippings, obituaries, and other sources. You can search is at http://188.8.131.52/INBiopre1990/bio_cards_search.asp (for materials published before 1990) and http://184.108.40.206/INBio1990/biography_search.asp.
Another branch of the Indiana State Library, the Genealogy Division, has an excellent reference library for Indiana research and beyond. Their collection includes more than 40,000 printed items, electronic resources, and microfilm. Their website offers an array of information and some online databases as well http://www.in.gov/library/databases.htm.
The Indiana Historical Society http://www.indianahistory.org is one more repository that should not be overlooked. In addition to its published reference and historical material, it has a huge collection of photographs and manuscript materials. The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center goes beyond Indiana to cover all 50 states and Canada.
- 1820 Federal Census for Indiana by Willard Heiss (Indiana Historical Society, Genealogical Section, 1966)
- Census of Indiana Territory for 1807 (Indiana Historical Society, 1980)
- Indiana Territorial Pioneer Records, 1801-1820 by Charles M. Franklin (Heritage House, ca. 1983-1985)
- An Index to Indiana Naturalization Records Found in Various Order Books of the Ninety-two Local Courts Prior to 1907 by John J Newman (Indiana Historical Society, 1981)
- The National Road in Indiana by Lee Burns (C.E. Pauley, ca. 1920)
- French and British Land Grants in the Post Vincennes (Indiana) District, 1750-1784 by Clifford Neal Smith (Westland, 1996)
- Indiana Land Entries by Margaret R. Waters (The Bookmark, 1977-1979)
- Jeffersonville Land Entries, 1808-1818 by Janet C. Cowen (J.C. Cowen, ca. 1984 )
- This Land of Ours: The Acquisition and Disposition of the Public Domain; Papers Presented at an Indiana American Revolution Bicentennial Symposium Indiana Historical Society (The Society, ca. 1978)
- The Vincennes Donation Lands by Leonard Lux (Indiana Historical Society, 1949)
- Early Indiana Trails and Surveys by George R. Wilson (C.E. Pauley, 1919)
- Genealogical Atlas of Indiana by Charles M. Franklin (Heritage House, ca. 1985)
- Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society, 1968)
- Indiana: Atlas of Historical County Boundaries by Peggy Tuck Sinko (Charles Scribner’s Sons, Simon & Schuster Macmillan, ca. 1996)
- Indiana Boundaries: Territory, State and County by George Pence (Indiana Historical Bureau, 1967, ca. 1933)
- The Indiana Gazetteer, or, Topographical Dictionary by John Scott (Indiana Historical Society, 1954)
- Indiana Place Names by Ronald L. Baker (Indiana University Press, ca. 1975)
- Maps of Indiana Counties in 1876 (Indiana Historical Society, 1979)
- New Topographical Atlas and Gazetteer of Indiana: Comprising a Topographical View of the Several Counties of the State. . . .
- (Unigraphic, 1975)
- Northwestern Indiana from 1800 to 1900, or, A View of Our Region through the Nineteenth Century by Timothy Horton (W.C. Cox, 1974)
- Enrollment of the Late Soldiers, Their Widows & Orphans, of the Late Armies of the United States Residing in the State of Indiana, Kosciusko County, 1886, 1890, 1894 by Anne Laurie Austin Smith (Kosciusko County Historical Society, 1992)
- Index to Admission Book, Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Home, 1868 through 1995 by Ruth Dorrel (Indiana Historical Society, 1997)
- Index to the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana: An Every Name Index to Volumes I, II and III by Glenda K. Trapp (Trapp Publishing Service, ca. 1986)
- Index to Revolutionary Soldiers of Indiana and Other Patriots by Barbara Schull Wolfe (Ye Olde Genealogie Shoppe, ca. 1983)
- Indiana, War of 1812 Soldiers: Militia by Charles M. Franklin (Ye Olde Genealogie Shoppe, 1984)
- Biographical Sketches and Review of the Bench and Bar of Indiana. by Charles W. Taylor (Bench and Bar Pub. Co., 1895)
- Directory, Wills and Estates Information in Genealogy Dept., Indiana State Library by Vera Mae (Ginder) Moudy (Ye Olde Genealogie Shoppe, 1981)
- Index to Indiana Wills: Phase 1, through 1850; Phase 2, 1850 through 1880 by Charles M. Franklin (Heritage House, ca. 1986-1987)
- The Laws and Courts of Northwest and Indiana Territories by Daniel Wait Howe (Bowen-Merrill Co., 1886)
- The Laws of Indiana Territory, 1801-1809 (Trustees of the Ill. State Historical Library, ca. 1930)
- Preliminary Inventory, Records of the United States Courts for the District of Indiana by the National Archives and Warren B. Griffin (Federal Records Center, 1967)
- Research in Indiana Courthouses: Judicial and Other Records by John J. Newman (Indiana Historical Society, 1981)
- 1850 Indiana Mortality Schedule by Lowell M. Volkel (L.M. Volkel, ca. 1971)
- 1870 Illinois Mortality Schedules by Lowell M. Volkel (Heritage House, ca. 1985-1987)
- Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Indiana by the Historical Records Survey (Indiana Historical Records Survey, 1941)
- Illinois Mortality Schedule, 1860 by Lowell M. Volkel (Heritage House, 1979)
- Indiana, 1851-1900 (Br¿derbund, ca. 1998. CD-ROM)
- Indiana Marriages, Early to 1825: A Research Tool by Jordan R. Dodd and Norman L. Moyes (Precision Indexing, Inc., ca. 1991)
- Miscellaneous Records of Indiana, 1827-1922 by the Historical Records Survey (Indiana, 1968)
- Pre-1882 Indiana Births, from Secondary Sources by Dawne Slater-Putt (Heritage Pathways, Inc., ca. 1999)
- Southern Seed, Northern Soil: African-American Farm Communities in the Midwest 1765-1900 by Stephen A. Vincent (Indiana University Press, ca. 1999)
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