Genealogical Research in Indiana

This page was created to help those doing genealogical research in Indiana to find some the resources unique to Indiana research.

Vital Records
Census Records
Index to Names of Persons and Firms
Email Links
Indiana divisions - counties and townships

Vital Records

In Indiana, birth and death records were kept beginning in 1882 (by law) in about 95% of the counties. A few areas kept these records starting in the mid 1870's (usually urban areas). Even though it was the law, many people (doctors, undertakers, and midwives) did not comply. So just because they are not in the records, doesn't mean they weren't born or didn't die in a particular county. These records are kept by the COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT.

The general rule with marriage records is that they were kept from the creation of each individual county. Of course there are courthouse fires that destroyed various records in some counties. Marriage records are obtained from the COUNTY CLERK. There is an online Indiana marriage index (1850 and earlier) at:

WPA Vital Records Indexes are available for about 2/3 of the Indiana counties. They have marriages (usually 1850-1920) and sometimes application info for a few of the included years; deaths and births (both generally 1882-1920). Look for these in both book form and microfilm. The following counties are NOT included: Blackford, Brown, Crawford, Dearborn, Decatur, DuBois, Fayette, Grant, Jefferson, Jennings, Lawrence, Marshall, Noble, Ohio, Porter, Randolph, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Steuben, Switzerland, Tipton, Union, Wabash, and Whitley. The following counties have only partial indexes: Fulton, Kosciusko and Pulaski.
Check here to see exactly what is available for the counties you are researching.

Census Records

Indiana became a state in 1816, so there is no Indiana Federal Census until 1820. There is a territorial tax list of 1807 in a published book. See notes on state census that follows. Censuses 1820-1850 are indexed in book form. The 1860 federal census for Indiana is indexed and available on microfiche. It lists every name in the households of Indiana with age, place of birth, county, twp and page number. (Of course there are mistakes and ommissions; it was done by humans.) The 1860 census extraction is now available on CD and also includes occupation and more. It is available from Family Tree Maker/Broderbund. The 1870 census now has a statewide index available for Indiana. The Indiana Genealogical Society (headquarters (Fort Wayne) Allen Co. Public Library) is in the process of compiling an index to the 1870 federal population census of Indiana. Information included: Name, age, birthplace, township, county, microfilm page. Included are all persons over age 18. The IGS does not have a projected completion date. It has not been decided the format of the completed index; i.e., fiche, book, CDROM, or some other form. The 1880 census is soundexed, but only the households with children 10 and under are included. The 1890 census burned in the early 1920's as was 99.9% of that U.S. census. The 1900 census is soundexed. The 1910 is not (There are scattered indexes done by individuals and groups for a few individual counties). The 1920 is soundexed. The 1930 Indiana federal census has no index or soundex.

The Indiana constitution of 1851 stipulated that an enumeration, of white males over age 21, be done every 6 years. The first was done in 1853 with modifications in 1865 and again in 1877 [to include a listing of negro males over age 21]. These state censuses are NOT complete for every county and except for Hendricks and Jennings counties in 1853, they are not available at the FHL. Some original censuses are located at the Indiana State Library as follows:

1857: Hartford City, Blackford County
1871: Scattered Twp, Blackford County
1877: Scattered Twp, Blackford County
1877: Five Twp., Fayette County
1883: Scattered Twp., Blackford County
1889: Scattered Twp., Blackford County
1901:Jackson twp., Washington County
1913: Henry County
1919: Jackson Twp., Ripley County
1919: Center Twp., Starke County
1931: Henry County

There may be some scattered counties that have copies of the old state census data: You could check the various volumes titled Inventory of The County Archives of __________ County, Indiana This series was done in 1940 for most counties by the WPA. One for every county in Indiana is available at the Allen Co. Public Library

Index to Names of Persons and of Firms

compiled by various indexers; supervised by Ruth Dorrel, Project Director. Dorrel, Ruth, 1936- County History Indexing Project (Ind.) Indiana Historical Society.
Publication information: Indianapolis, Ind.: County History Indexing Project, Family History Section, Indiana Historical Society, 1980's.
These indexes were done for every Indiana county and index the names in the county histories (usually 6 or more per county). They were available in book form and microfiche.

Directory of Churches and Religious Organizations in Indiana Available at Ft. Wayne in 4 volumes. Appears to include the northern half of Indiana. WPA.

Work Projects Administration

- During the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s and into the early years of World War II, the Federal government created and financed the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to relieve unemployment as part of the Roosevelt's "New Deal"; later called Work Projects Administration. Each county and/or state chose unique ways to spend the WPA money allotted to them.

Indiana Locations

In my research and in my experience helping others, I have discovered that not everyone understands the system of Counties and Townships. There is an order to the way Indiana and many midwestern states are laid out. Apparently, in western states that are not as populated, this is not the same. There are 92 counties in Indiana and each has a different name. Within each of those counties there are townships - anywhere from 4 to 15 or so of them in each county. In the 92 counties, I count 15 Liberty townships, for example. Liberty is a fairly popular name, but not as popular as Center, Jackson or Jefferson. So when you are researching, it is much more important to record the County than the Township. However, the township name will help you to pinpoint further the location of your family's homestead.

For a more detailed explanation of Land Record Research in Indiana, Gene Andert has prepared an excellent page for his Kosciusko Co., INGenWeb Site.

Links to Indiana Genealogical Research Sources
Indiana WPA Vital Records Microfilm Index
Society of Indiana Archivists Guide to Manuscript and Archival Repositories in Indiana
Indiana Vital Records Information
USGenWeb - Indiana
Indiana USGenWeb Archives
Indiana Genealogical Links

This page created November 1997.
Send corrections and additions to:Debra L. Beheler

Last Update 10 September 2004