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Archives and Library

Census Records
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The State Archives and Historical Research Library, a division of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, has many collections which are helpful to genealogical researchers seeking information associated with North Dakota's past. These collections are available to researchers in the Orin G. Libby Memorial Reading Room of the North Dakota Heritage Center during regular business hours. The reference staff will attempt to answer specific requests by mail if you are unable to visit the North Dakota Heritage Center. Due to the small number of staff and the large number of requests, search time cannot exceed twenty minutes per letter. Therefore, please do not include more than three requests per letter and provide us with as much information as possible, including names, precise locations and dates. No general or surname searches will be attempted. A list of genealogical researchers can be provided if desired.

Interlibrary loan (See Charges for Reference Services): Although SHSND materials generally do not circulate, most newspapers, North Dakota state censuses, and early atlases are on microfilm and are available through interlibrary loan. We encourage researchers to use this service and therefore will not do extensive searching of these materials. While Federal censuses are not loaned by SHSND, they are available for a fee from:
National Archives Census Microfilm Rental Program
Post Office Box 30
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-0030.


New! The Public Death Index is now available through the North Dakota Department of Health website. The Public Death Index will allow you to search the index and order certified copies if you wish.

Census schedules: Census research request forms are available upon request and must be filled out as completely as possible and returned with the necessary fee. Precise locations must be provided for non-indexed censuses.

Pioneer Biographies or Historical Data Project (WPA) Biography files, gathered in the 1930s through personal interviews, are organized by county and by individual name. Microfilm copy may be requested by interlibrary loan (Specify county and name).

North Dakota Biographical Index created by the Institute for Regional Studies at North Dakota State University, indexes more than 152,000 entries found in some 544 publications. Many of these publications are available at the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Oral History Project Collection consists of taped interviews conducted from 1974 through 1977. Copies can be provided for a fee. Indexed by individual name.

Naturalization Records, formerly held by the clerks of state district courts, cover the period up to 1955. Consult the on-line searchable index. Please provide the name of the head-of-household and the county location where the records were filed. Note: Records prior to 1906 do not contain family background information. All naturalization records are available on microfilm.

Land Office Tract Books list first entries for public land. Not indexed. Township and range must be provided to attempt a search. We do not have the homestead files. For these, write to:
Bureau of Land Management
Post Office Box 36800
Billings, Montana 59107

Vital Records are restricted by law. For marriage, divorce, birth and death certificates write to:
Vital Records Office
Health Department
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505.
Index to deaths in North Dakota. Through the cooperative efforts of the Vital Records Office of the Health Department and the Bismarck-Mandan Historical and Genealogical Society, an index to deaths in the state is available for use in the reading room. It supplies the individual's full name, date of birth (if known), date of death, county of residence and county of death.

Newspapers are sources for information of local interest. Marriage and birth announcements, obituaries or other items from the newspapers can be searched only if the month, day, year and location of the event can be provided. Most newspapers held by SHSND have been microfilmed. Microfilm copies may be requested by interlibrary loan (Specify county).

County Plat Books and Atlases dating from 1884 show land ownership by township. Microfilmed atlases are available through interlibrary loan. Searches can be attempted only if the county, township and range can be provided.

The Pioneer Mothers Project created by the North Dakota Federation of Women's Clubs in the 1930s contains family histories, biographical materials, obituaries and a few lineage charts. Indexed by individual name.

Family Genealogies may be requested by individual name. Due to limited funds available for purchases, the State Historical Society is not able to buy copies of family genealogies, but does accept gifts of genealogies containing information concerning North Dakotans.

Local History Books and some of the standard histories of the state, as well as North Dakota History, contain biographical information. Not all books contain indexes and only limited searches can be attempted in these books.

Business Directories and gazetteers dating from 1884. Microfilm copies are available.

City Directories from the larger cities of the state. The earliest directory dates from 1879.

Telephone directories.

Passenger and Immigration List Indexes only. We do not have the ship lists in our collection.

Cemetery Lists for several counties compiled by local historical societies.

Norwegians in America (2 Vols.) by Martin Ulvestad lists many of the people who immigrated from Norway and indicates where they settled in America. Written in Norwegian.

There are numerous on-line sources of family history information, including the USGenWeb North Dakota site. These sites are not affiliated with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and we cannot compile or maintain a listing of such sites in the very dynamic web environment.

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Copyright ©2002-2005 State Historical Society of North Dakota. You are free to use information from these pages for any non-commercial purpose. Any use of this information should credit the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Photographs shown on the State Historical Society of North Dakota's web site are taken from the collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota and may not be included in any publication, printed or online, without the written permission of the Society.

(Information last revised 11-07-05)