Indiana ancestors? The State Library can help you in your search.
In the decade that I’ve been doing family history research in Chicago, I’ve come to believe one thing: there is no substitute for hands-on experience when it comes to knowing how to use local resources to the best advantage. I’ve decided to pick the brains of some of our knowledgeable local research providers to get the inside scoop on records at the repositories they visit.
New provider indianagenealogy agreed to help me with the first post and when I asked which Indiana research facility we should spotlight, he replied:
The Indiana State Library, Genealogy Division, is a great place to start to learn more about your family’s history, no matter what part of the state in which they may have resided. The library holds invaluable records that are yet unavailable online, and can only be accessed by onsite research.
One of the off-line resources he mentioned is a “wonderful collection of Indiana newspapers covering every county in the state.” I agree. A few years ago I visited the Library to look for obituaries related to Dean’s family tree and it was very convenient to be able to access films from multiple areas in one place.
Another valuable collection housed by the Library is county cemetery records which indianagenealogy says are “crucial to finding … ancestors’ places of burial.”
The library also holds “wills, probate and civil records (including estate dispositions), and land deeds … for many of Indiana’s counties.” I was surprised by that. My first thought would be to look for those types of records at the various court houses around the state.
Lastly, he mentioned a unique resource—the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Veterans Grave Registration cards, which include vital statistics, regimental identification and place of burial for Indiana’s veterans, primarily Civil War soldiers.
The Indiana State Library’s website is rich with resources for genealogists—too many to describe here. But, just as an example, the Genealogy page links to a marriage database and the Indiana Collection page links to newspaper indexes.
If you poke around the genealogy section of the Indiana State Library’s website you will find some treasures that might not come to mind as you’re planning your research strategy. Maybe one of your relatives is included in their oral history collection? Or maybe you’d be interested in photos from Camp Atterbury if one of your relatives was treated there during World War II?
The website has a number of online exhibits, too, including historic photographs from 90 of Indiana’s 92 counties—a great way to get a feel for the places where your ancestors lived.
Recently I’ve been spending more time with these kinds of records for my own family research and I am learning details about my ancestors’ lives that I otherwise would not have known.
I learned through a petition for a divorce filed by my great-great grandfather’s second wife that great-great grandpa was an alcoholic and a spendthrift. This had been a family legend passed down, but I was delighted to find some documentary evidence of this family legend. I was also thrilled to find an estate record for my 3rd great-grandfather who died in 1895, which included an inventory of his personal property. You never know what you might find in civil and probate records, wills or land deeds.
If you’ve visited the Indiana State Library, please share your own discoveries in a comment on this post. If you need research at the library but can’t make the trip, you can tap into indianagenealogy’s expertise by sending him a project request.
Indiana State Library
Main Website: http://www.in.gov/library/
Genealogy Page: http://www.in.gov/library/genealogy.htm
Indiana Collection: http://www.in.gov/library/indiana.htm
Online research tools: http://www.in.gov/library/5100.htm
Location: 315 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis, IN, 46202
Phone: (866) 683-0008