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Family History and Genealogy Room

The Family History and Genealogy Room houses a variety of primary and secondary resources useful to family historians. Primary materials are regional in scope and emphasize North and South Dakota, as well as Minnesota.

The Family History Room also contains over 5,600 volumes of published material. These secondary sources document the state's three major ethnic groups: Scandinavians (in particular the Norwegians), Canadians of English, Irish and Scottish descent, and Germans from Russia.

An extensive set of over 1,000 Norwegian local history books known as Bygdebøker contain a wealth of genealogical and historical information for over 520 communities and parishes in Norway.

In addition, the Department contains other items of interest to family history researchers, such as church, county and city anniversary books; histories of North Dakota, some of which contain biographical sketches; city and telephone directories; published family histories and genealogies; and various bibliographies.


Family History Guide

This guide samples and highlights many resources; however, it is by no means exhaustive. In addition to nearly 5900 volumes in the Family History Room, the Department contains other helpful materials, such as church, county, and city anniversary books; histories of North Dakota which contain brief biographical sketches; city directories for Grand Forks and Fargo; telephone directories; published family histories and genealogies; various bibliographies; plus access to AncestryPlus.com.

  • Biography--The North Dakota Biography Index database is an ongoing project of the NDSU Institute for Regional Studies to provide access to biographical sketches found in a wide variety of North Dakota publications. It currently contains some 250,000 names to published biographical sketches of North Dakotans found in over 800 publications. Additional names continue to be added on a regular basis.
  • Cemetery Records --Cemetery indexes compiled primarily by local genealogical societies provide burial information from existing cemetery stones for cemeteries for four counties in Minnesota and forty-two counties in North Dakota.
  • Census Records--Census schedules are available on microfilm for a three state area, North and South Dakota and Minnesota. Territorial and state census schedules also available are: 1849 Minnesota Territorial Census, no index; 1885 Dakotal Territorial Census; 1895 Minnesota State Census, no index; and 1925 North Dakota State Census, no index.
  • Church Records--The American Lutheran Church Records include congregational and council minutes as well as ministerial records for 333 congregations in 209 cities and towns in North Dakota affiliated with the American Lutheran Church. The material dates from approximately 1872 to 1979. The ministerial records register baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials.

The American Lutheran Church Records were deposited in the Orin G. Libby Manuscript Collection on June 17, 1983 (Acc.#83-1134). The originals are held by the American Lutheran Church Archives in Dubuque, Iowa.

  • Foreign Records--Guide to Norwegian Bygdeboker farm and family history books, total over 1023 volumes which chronicle the history of more than 550 communities in Norway. A typical set of books describes the history of a community, its geography and geological features, economical base, social and political culture, outlines genealogical and family history information, and frequently indicates those individuals who emigrated to America.

The library also has the five volume set by Gerhard B. Naeseth entitled Norwegian Immigrants to the United States: A Biographical Directory, 1825-1850. It was published in Madison, Wisconsin as follows: G.B. Naeseth, 1993. v.1 1825-1843; v.2 1844-1846; v.3 1847-1848; v.4 1849.

  • Land Records--North Dakota Tract Books record the microfilmed original public domain land transactions dating from the 1870's to approximately 1920. Access is by township and range numbers. Information includes the name of the buyer, date of sale and purchase price, size and legal description of the land, and final certificate number if an entry person proved up under provisions of the law and is entitled to a patent. It is this number that is necessary to locate a case file at the regional Bureau of Land Management Office in Billings, Montana.

Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin Tract Books are also available for selected counties. Records include the original land transactions for the western counties of Minnesota bordering on North Dakota, and scattered counties of South Dakota and Wisconsin.

  • Maps--County Plat Books and Atlases are available for selected counties in North Dakota and Minnesota dating from 1884 to 1938 and 1951 to 1993. They indicate land ownership at a specific date in time and often include biographical information.
  • Naturalization Records--Minnesota and North Dakota Naturalization Records are on microfilm and arranged by Declaration of Intention/Petition number, chronologically, or alphabetically by individual surname. Only records after October 1906 contain extensive personal information, the port of embarkation, and passenger ship information.
  • Naturaliztion Records Index--North Dakota Naturazliation Records Indexwas compiled at the State Historical Society of North Dakota, where all original county naturalization records are preserved and have been microfilmed. In cooperation with the NDSU Institute for Regional Studies, the index is made available as a searchable database. The database contains over 212,000 names, giving the county where the declaration of intention (1st papers) was filed and the naturalization occurred (2nd papers), the date of both events, and from what country the person emigrated.
  • Obituary Index--The indexing of Fargo Forum newspaper obituaries is an ongoing project of the North Dakota State University Institute for Regional Studies. The time period completed includes from October 1892 to 1909 and from November 1982 to 1995. In addition partial indexing has been done for other years. The database currently contains over 70,000 names. Additional obituaries continue to be added on a regular basis.

Grand Forks County Coroner Certificates Search. The certificates date from 1882-1989. The collection consists of 3255 certificates, along with two index books.


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  • This page was last modified on 17 March 2010, at 17:34.
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