The State Archives of Iowa contains records of enduring value created or collected by Iowa stateagencies. 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 researchers
Records of vital statistics are excellent sources of genealogical information. Prior to July 1880, only marriages were recorded in public records, and then only at the county level. In 1880, legislation was enacted creating the Department of Public Health and requiring births, deaths and marriages to be recorded at both the county and state levels. Current state law requires that all records of vital statistics must be 75 years old to be made available to the public by the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI). State law also requires that all records of illegitimate births and stillborns be closed to public inspection.
Refer to County Records Microfilm for SHSI holdings of county level birth records.
State Records Microfilm, Public Health.
The Section 2415 of the 1924 Code of Iowa entitled “Private Genealogical Records” authorized the State Registrar to file and open for public inspection “any record of births or deaths which may be of value in establishing the genealogy of any resident of this state”; most of the births recorded under this provision were filed years after the birth occurred. These birth records are now referred as Delayed Births.
A statewide index for pre-1917 Delayed Births is available to researchers in the Reading Room. There are approximately 225,000 delayed birth certificates for pre-1880 births covering years that births were not recorded in Iowa, as well as more than 400,000 recordings of births from 1880 through 1916. It is arranged alphabetically by name and includes date and county of birth, certificate number and microfilm roll number.
Refer to County Records Microfilm for SHSI holdings of county level death records. There are substantial gaps in the county film for deaths between 1917 and 1934.
In order for the SHSI to provide access to pre-1935 state level death records that are not on County Record Microfilm, state level death certificates are being indexed. State level death certificates pertaining to the following counties are now available:
These linked .pdf files require Adobe Acrobat Reader to be read.
Refer to County Records Microfilm for SHSI holdings of county level marriage records. Marriages were recorded in Iowa at the county level before Iowa became a territory. Legislation enacted in 1880 required that marriages be recorded at both the county and state levels. This act also increased the information recorded for each marriage.
State Records Microfilm, Public Health. The state level recording of marriages did not begin until 1880. Although a dual system of recording system has existed since 1880, some of the County Records Microfilm of marriages has a shortened version of the record. Check the State Records Microfilm for 1880-1920, if the county film does not include names of parents and places of birth of the bride and groom.
Certified copies of Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, and Marriage Licenses are available from the Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Lucas Office Building, Des Moines, Iowa or from the County Recorder.
Records in the State Archives of Iowa which document the functions and responsibilities of the Office of Governor and Lieutenant Governor, date from the term of Iowa’s first territorial Governor, Robert Lucas (1838-1841) through Terry Branstad (1983-1999).The only exception is the Harold E. Hughes Papers which are at the State University of Iowa.
Major series include: Appointments, Correspondence, Criminal Records, Executive Journals, Issue Files, Proclamations, Reports, Speeches and Subject Files.
Related records for some of Iowa’s governors will be found in the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Manuscripts and Audio-Visual Collection.
The State Archives holds the records of the Iowa Adjutant General from the territorial period to 1915, which includes the military records of Iowa regiments who fought in the Mexican War, Civil War and Spanish-American War. Major record series include correspondence, military reports, muster rolls, roster books, and volunteer enlistments. These records not only document Iowa's involvement in military affairs, but also contain the military service records of individual soldiers (however, little genealogical information is included in these records).
Other military records in the State Archives collections include the following:
For 20th Century military service records of individuals who enlisted from Iowa contact National Archives and Records Administration's National Personnel Records Center or write:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5 100
For pension records for federal military service contact the National Archives and Records Administration