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Indiana Records: Finding Your Hoosier Ancestors

The 19th state to join the Union, Indiana has a rich history and numerous websites can help the family historian learn more about their Hoosier family.

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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Gena Philibert-Ortega
Word Count: 1121 (approx.)
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I recently had the opportunity to work on some Indiana ancestors for a client of mine. I soon grew envious of all the great web sites that can help those with Indiana roots find their ancestors. The 19th state to join the Union, Indiana has a rich history and numerous web sites can help the family historian learn more about their Hoosier family.

In the Beginning

In beginning Indiana research, the first web sites you should look at are the US Genweb (www.usgenweb.com); Family Search (www.familysearch.org); and Cyndi's List (www.cyndislist.com). Cyndi's List, under the subject heading for Indiana will provide you a list of web sites dealing with Indiana genealogy. This will provide you a sense of what is available for researching Indiana ancestors.

In looking at Family Search, there are two different sections you want to peruse for Indiana information. First, check out the Research Guides link on the home page. You may then choose Indiana. This will then provide you information on researching Indiana records. On the Forms, Maps, and Guide link, you will find the guide for Indiana that will provide you with information on researching Indiana roots and what the Family History Library has available for that state.

Under the Library tab, do a place search under the Family History Library Catalogue link. From this search engine, type in the word "Indiana." You can then search for the Library holdings for the state of Indiana. You can then click on the button located in the upper right corner "related place." From this search you will be provided with a list of Indiana Counties and the Library's holdings for those counties. From the county page listing you can click on "related places" again to see what cities or towns in that county are included in the Library's holdings.

The USGenWeb includes web sites on each of the states. You can look through the Indiana site and then choose the county site that you are interested in. Volunteers associated with the USGenWeb have transcribed and uploaded various documents, including census indexes, birth and death indexes, marriage lists, cemetery lists. You might also find volunteers willing to look information up in local history books or local resources.

Books to help you in learning more about researching regional Indiana records include the 11th Edition of the Handybook for Genealogists (Everton Publishers) and The Family Tree Guide Book (Family Tree Magazine). Family Tree Magazine has been publishing regional directories in their magazine that provide information about researching in a particular state. Also, if you conduct a search of articles on their web site, www.familytreemagazine.com, you will find Internet resources for Indiana and the Midwest. For additional books on Indiana ancestors, check out what is available from Barnes and Noble (www.bn.com). By doing a search with the words ‘Indiana Genealogy" you can find books including, Who's Your Hoosier Ancestor by Mona Robinson that can help guide you as you conduct research in Indiana records and provide your some research strategies.

Dying in Indiana

Joe Beine's, Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records is a great resource for finding death records online. While some of the links are fee based sites like Ancestry.com, there are a number of indexes that are free of charge. One of the links for Indiana is for the Friends of Allen County, which not only includes death indexes but also vital records, school, military and court records.

For those with Evansville,Vanderburgh, Indiana ancestors, the Evansville Indiana City Cemeteries site at Cemeteries of Evansville Indiana has databases for the two Evansville cemeteries: Oak Hill and Locust Hill. This site includes pictures, cemetery maps, and even a collection of medical terminology

Descendents of Evansville ancestors have even more to be grateful for. The Browning Genealogy: Evansville Indiana Area Obituary Search is the life's work of Charles Browning who collected obituaries from local newspapers and compiled them so they may be searched. The obituary index is complete for Evansville deaths from 1900 to the present. You can search this database at Browning Genealogy: Evansville Area Obituary Search. You can search by the name of the deceased or by the name of the funeral home. A more advanced search engine allows you to search by such parameters as occupation, activities in which the deceased was involved and what minister conducted the funeral service. Browning also compiled a local history database that may also help you find your ancestor. This database is also based on local newspaper articles.

Library's, Archives and Databases

Genealogy Today, (www.genealogytoday.com) currently has 64 records pertaining to Indiana, searchable by surname. Included in this research tool are school and Masonic records. These records, not found in other traditional genealogical sites, are invaluable for providing you with information about your ancestor's life.

The Indiana State Archives, http://www.in.gov/icpr/archives/databases/, has online indexes that can assist you in your research. Although these records are compiled indexes, not linked to the actual records, they can still provide information you need to request the actual document. And just in case you have a black sheep in the family, one of the indexes is the "Index to Life Prisoner's Statements," an index of names of prisoners serving life sentences who, during the turn of the last century, were asked questions including the story of the crime they committed. This would be valuable for researching not only that black sheep ancestor but also for the family of the prisoner's victim.

No review of Indiana resources would be complete without a mention of the genealogical collection at the Allen County Public Library. The library's holdings include over 300,000 printed volumes and 314,000 records on microfilm and microfiche. The web page for the genealogical collection, found at http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/genealogy/index.html, includes an outline of the collection's holdings. The left side of the web page screen contains links for searchable databases and information on getting started in genealogy. Under the title Publications are the library's Pathfinders, a series of research guides on researching specific regional areas and subjects. The Pathfinders series includes guides on, French-Canadian, English and Welsh, Scottish, Irish, newspaper research, German ancestors, the census, adoption, modern research, Swiss, Heraldry, Church records and Eastern European ancestors.

One of the most important resources provided by the Allen County Public Library is PERSI (Periodical Source Index). This index, complied by the library staff, is an index to genealogical publications. If you are at the library you can access PERSI there; if not, you can access PERSI through Heritage Quest and Ancestry.com. Once you have found an article with the surname or place you are researching, there is a form located on the web site that you can use to request photocopies of the article for a fee (http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/genealogy/persi.html).

The previous is by no means an exhaustive treatment of this topic. But these web sites and resources might just help you begin that Indiana research you've been putting off.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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