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Genealogy Research Guide

This guide is intended to assist genealogists in knowing what resources are available in the ISU Library and through the Internet. It also includes some information on genealogy resources at Ames Public Library and the Iowa Genealogical Society Library.

Iowa Death Records now ONLINE!

Iowa Death Records (1921-1940) have been digitized and are now online through FamilySearch and accessible at the Iowa State Historical Society's Research Centers in Des Moines and Iowa City.

Iowa Genealogy

City directories are published annually. Newer directories are in order by street address while older ones are in alphabetical order by business or personal name. For example, in commercial areas it gives the name of each business, in residential areas it lists the head of the household and their occupation.

To locate directories for a specific city, use Quick Search on the library homepage and use the city name and "city director*" - e.g., Des Moines AND "city director*"

Ames City Directory
This publication has changed names several times. The ISU Library has sporadic volumes available from 1922 to the present. Story County towns are included in the Ames city directories. Ames Public Library has 1917, 1919, 1921 and some other years that the ISU Library does not own.

Des Moines City Directories
The ISU Library has sporadic holdings from 1914-1999.


In the late 1800's, there was a national effort to document U.S. county histories, including brief biographical sketches of prominent families. These histories can be located using the Quick Search box on the library homepage. The most effective search is to use Advanced Search and change "Any Field" to "Title" and then search for:

"history" AND "[fill in county name here] County" AND "Biographical Sketches"

In addition, the ISU Library owns many Iowa county histories or maps which contain genealogical information. The most effective search is to use Advanced Search and change "Any Field" to "Subject" and then search for:

"[fill in county name here] County" AND iowa AND history

Ames Public Library is home to the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive. This archive containsimages"from Farwell T. Brown’s lifetime collection of original photographs, postcards, advertisements, and news articles which chronicle the history of Ames, Iowa. The dates of the photographs range from the 1860s through the 1990s, with the majority from the 1900s through the 1930s."

The full print collection and catalog can be viewed by making an appointment through the Ames Public Library information desk (239-5656). You can browse the collection by subject at the link below.

In Iowa, official registration of births, deaths, and marriages began July 1, 1880. All original records that have been registered are on file with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. Iowa counties were not required to send in and “register” these events with the State until 1880: however, they do still exist in county offices and/or at the State Historical Society of Iowa. Local registrars are located in county recorders offices for records of birth, death and marriages that have occurred in that county, many of which pre-date 1880.

Your Librarian

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Lorrie Pellack
Head, Research & Instruction Services Dept.
150c Parks Library
Ames, IA 50011-2140
Phone: 515-294-5569