United States Identifying Institutions through County Histories, State Manuals (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course United States: Institutional Records  by Amy Johnson Crow, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

County Histories

One way to use a county history is to find the name of the institutions in the area. If you already know the name, look at county histories for information about the institution. The information is good for historical context and can give those all-important clues for further research.

‘Deaf and Dumb, Illinois Institution for Education of, located at Jacksonville, established by act of the Legislature, Feb. 23, 1839, and the oldest of the State charitable institutions. Work was not begun until 1842, but one building was ready for partial occupancy in 1846 and was completed in 1849. (In 1871 this building, then known as the south wing, was declared unsafe, and was razed and rebuilt.) The center building was completed in 1852 and the north wing in 1857. Other additions and new buildings have been added from time to time, such as new dining halls, workshops, barns, bakery, refrigerator house, kitchens, gymnasium, separate cottages for the sexes, etc. at present (1895) the institution is probably the largest, as it is unquestionably one of the best conducted, of its class in the world. The number of pupils in 1894 was 716. Among its employe´s [sic] are men and women of ripe culture and experience, who have been connected with it for more than a quarter of a century.’[1]

The image below shows pictures of the Illinois Institution for the Deaf and Dumb from the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Morgan County.

Figure: Illinois Institution for the Deaf and Dumb


State Manuals

Like county histories, state manuals are excellent sources for institutional histories. Do not limit your search to manuals from the time period your ancestor was in a state institution or state school. Current manuals may contain histories. The Figurebelow shows the Missouri manual for 1957-1958 and its listing for Lincoln University in Jefferson City, complete with history.

Figure: Missouri State School Manual 1957-1958

State Manuals25V.jpg

Figure: Page
Lincoln Univ23V.jpg


  1. Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Morgan County (Chicago: Munsell Publishing Co., 1906), 129.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course US: Institutional Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.