Great Plains Region: Resources
We are happy that you are considering becoming accredited in the Great Plains region. The Great Plains states consist of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas. This resource page contains a list of important record types that you should be familiar with before applying for accreditation. It also contains links to important record collections, resources, and repositories that will be helpful to you as you prepare for the Great Plains exam.
Although this list is not comprehensive, it will provide a starting point for you as you learn what is available to Great Plains researchers. If you would like to contribute additional resources to this page, please contact the moderator: Charlene Pipkin, AG.
IMPORTANT RECORD TYPES
Great Plains researchers should have a good working knowledge of many important record types, including (but not limited to) those listed below. Gain experience using these records. Learn to recognize them by sight, become familiar with their content, and know how to use them in genealogical research. Understand the unique aspects and differences of these records in the Great Plains region from other regions of the United States.
Record Types You Must Know Very Well
Census records (federal, state, and special censuses)
History (state, county, and local)
Land and property records
Vital records (birth, marriage, death)
Record Types with Which You Should Have a Good Working Knowledge
Church records (baptism or christening, marriage, burial, membership)
Ethnic, minority, and native races records
Family histories and biographies
Immigration and migration records
Maps, gazetteers, and historical geography
Newspapers and obituaries
Record Types with Which You Should Have Some Familiarity
Funeral home records
ONLINE RECORDS AND RESOURCES: ALL U.S. REGIONS
- Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet
- Family History Archives Brigham Young University’s online family histories, local histories, and how-to books on genealogy
- Family Search Historical records, research guidance, the Family History Library catalog, and collaborative tools
- Google Books Browse or preview books online
- Internet Archive Browse books online or use the “Wayback Machine” to view archived web pages
- Library of Congress, American Memory History, maps, photographs, and more
- Rootsweb Places, surnames, obituary projects, mailing lists, Social Security Death Index
- US Gen Web State and county pages include histories, links, queries, lookups
- Family Group Sheet Project
- USGenWeb Archives
- Historical Map Archive Sponsored by Alabama maps
- CastleGarden.org Free immigration records
- Ellis Island Record Free immigration records
The following websites provide major records important to U.S. research:
- General Land Office Records Index to patents (original title from the government) issued for homesteads, land grants, pre-emption claims, and cash sales for the federal land states
- Public Records Search maps, photos and documents by property description or address within each county
- Find a Grave Search by surname or place
- Names in Stone Search interactive cemetery maps and records
- US Gen Web’s Tombstone Transcription Project
Maps and Gazetteers
- The FamilySearch Research Wiki, “United States Military Records” page has articles and links for research strategies and records for each war
- Ancestry.com $ Has indexes and images, including the complete Revolutionary War Pension Files
- Fold3.com $ Has a large collection of U.S. military indexes and images, including the complete Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records and Pension files
Native American/American Indian
Newspapers and obituaries
- Chronicling America Library of Congress’ expanding digital newspaper project
- GenDisasters: Events that Touched our Ancestors’ Lives Prairie fires, train wrecks, plagues, explosions, tornadoes, freezing, etc.
- Obituary Search Links to resources in each state, many requiring subscriptions
- Genealogy Bank $ Search newspapers, obituaries, and historical books and documents
- Newspaper Archive $ Search historical newspapers of the world
- Periodical Source Index (PERSI)indexes many historical and genealogical magazines
USEFUL PRINTED AND CD/ROM REFERENCES:
ALL U.S. REGIONS
Andriot, Jay. Township Atlas of the United States. McLean, Virginia: Documents Index, 1991.
Eichholz, Alice, Editor. Redbook: American State, County, and Town Sources. Third Edition. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004.
Freedman’s Bank Records. CD/ROM. Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Dept., 2001. (Note that this is a more complete index than what’s available under the same title at a variety of online sites.)
Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000.
Hait, Michael, compiler. Online State Resources for Genealogy. 2011. This e-book, available as a paid download from www.lulu.com, is a directory for a variety of online records by government agencies, societies, and libraries.
The Handy Book for Genealogists: United States of America. Tenth edition. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishing, 2006.
Hone, E. Wade. Land and Property Research in the United States. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, 1997.
Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub. Co., 2009.
Neagles, James C. U.S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources, Colonial America to the Present. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1994.
Rose, Christine. Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures. San Jose, Calif.: CR Publications, 2004.
Szucs, Loretto Dennis and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, editors. The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy. Third edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, Inc., 2006.
REPOSITORIES AND LIBRARIES: ALL U.S. REGIONS
- National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Its Regional Centers house collections specific to that region
- Family History Library has an expanding collection of microfilms, images, printed material, and (in-house only) online database subscriptions for researching your ancestors in the U.S. and other localities around the world
- Allen County Public Library, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, has a large collection of periodicals as well as census records and local histories
- National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library has biographies, histories, genealogies, directories, periodicals, and manuscripts
- The Library of Congress’ digital offerings include newspapers, maps, photographs, histories, and documents
- New England Historic Genealogical Society $ has a wide online collection, including regions outside of New England
- Godfrey Memorial Library $ Membership provides access to a variety of indexes, local and family histories, military databases, newspapers, and other genealogical collections
CONFERENCES AND INSTITUTES
- ICAPGen frequently offers instruction on regional research and methodologies at its annual conference, normally held in Utah in November. The syllabus materials for the 2010 ICAPGen conference can be ordered from the ICAPGen Store.
- Brigham Young University (BYU) Genealogy and Family History Conference, Provo, Utah, normally held in July or August.
- Family History Expos offers events in a variety of locations throughout the year
- Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference, locations vary, normally held in August or September
- Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), Samford University, Birmigham, Alabama, normally held in June
- National Genealogical Society (NGS):
- National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), National Archives in Washington, D.C. and College Park, Maryland, normally held in July
- RootsTech, Salt Lake City, Utah, normally held in February
- Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, Burbank, California, normally held in June
- Utah Genealogical Society’sSalt Lake Institute of Genealogy, Salt Lake City, Utah, normally held in January
ICAPGen’s Mentoring Classes
Clifford, Karen. Becoming an Accredited Genealogist. Revised edition. Provo, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1998.
FamilySearch.org’s “Learn” tab offers:
Brigham Young University’s Online Genealogy Tutorial
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter
In order to pass a U.S. regional exam, you will be expected to accurately transcribe documents of genealogical significance. The FamilySearch Wiki “United States Handwriting” page provides a list of resources and other online links for understanding early American handwriting
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)and its Regional Centers have several collections pertinent to Native American/American Indian research and the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Ancestry.com $ “U.S. Native American Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914”
Ancestry.com $ “U.S. Native American Applications for Enrollment in Five Civilized Tribes, 1896”
Websites of the individual tribes
GREAT PLAINS MIGRATION RECORDS
The FamilySearch Research Wiki "United States Migration Internal" page has articles and links for U.S. waterways, railroads, roads, and trails.
Ancestry.com $ “Immigration and Travel” $ Search indexes and images for North Dakota and Texas as border crossings as well as Texas seaports
Santa Fe Trail From Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico
Overland Trail (includes the Oregon Trail , the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail. Also see Paper Trail $ for diaries, letters, and remembrances of the trail experience.
Pony Express Trail Passed through eight states from Missouri to California
Cherokee Trail (also known as the Trappers’ Trail) From Oklahoma to Montana
Cattle Trails (includes the Chisholm Trail, the Shawnee Trail, and the Great Western Trail)
Railroads Historical railroad maps for each state are available from the Library of Congress “Railroad Maps Collection 1828-1900”
- Kansas Memory Kansas Historical Society's collections of scanned document images and original records
- National Orphan Train Complex Preserves the stories and artifacts of those who were part of the Orphan Train Movement from 1854-1929
- Oklahoma Historical Maps Excellent historical maps and timeline for Oklahoma
- Indian-Pioneer Papers Collection Interviews of early settlers of Oklahoma and the Indian Territory who were still alive in the 1930’s—about 30,000 indexed and digitized records of the University of Oklahoma Western History Collections
- Common Place A collaboration of several institutions and organizations (including the University of OK) for discovering everyday life in early America
GREAT PLAINS PRINTED REFERENCES
Arphax Heritage Books (e.g. Boyd, Gregory A. Family Maps of Kidder County, North Dakota. Norman, Oklahoma: Arphax Pub. Co., 2010.), available for all Great Plains states, except Kansas, but not all counties are yet represented.
Billington, Ray Allen and Martin Ridge. Westward Expansion. Fifth edition. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 1982. This book provides maps and histories that include the development of the Great Plains.
Great Plains Quarterly. Lincoln, Neb.: Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1981 – current. This historical journal is indexed by PERSI and available at university and large libraries (not at the Family History Library).
Riemers, Shirley. The German Research Companion. Sacramento, Calif.: Lorelei Press, 2000. This guide book addresses finding the origins of German ancestors and the best methodologies for using and accessing German records.
Wishart, David J., editor. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. Lincoln, Nebr. and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. This book is presented in alphabetical topical chapters about agriculture, education, ethnic groups, occupations, religion, etc.
GREAT PLAINS REPOSITORIES AND LIBRARIES
- The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Its Regional Centers that house collections specific to the Great Plains:
- Southwest Region (mostly Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas)
- 501 West Felix Street, Building 1, Dock 1, Fort Worth, TX 76115-3405 (research center)
- 1400 John Burgess Drive, Fort Worth, Texas 76140 (textual research)
- Central Plains Region (mostly Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska; some Ohio, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota records), 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108 (research center)
- Rocky Mountain Region (mostly Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah; some Nebraska records)
- Denver Federal Center, Building 46, Fifth Street and Center Avenue, Denver, CO 80225 (research center)
- Denver Federal Center, Building 48, Fifth Street and North Avenue, Denver, CO 80225 (textual research)
- The Library of Congress’ digital offerings include newspapers, maps, photographs, histories, and documents
- The Family History Library has an expanding collection of microfilms, images, printed material, and (in-house only) online database subscriptions for researching your Great Plains’ ancestors and other localities around the world
- The Balch Institute of Ethnic Studies collections are now included in the Ethnic and Immigrant Experience collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Germans from Russia Heritage Society Library , 1125 West Turnpike Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58501 offers microfilms, collections and services useful for researching Germans from Russia
Regional and Local
Regional, university, specialty and local libraries have great genealogical resources such as interviews and biographies of early settlers, directories, maps, homestead records, census records, Native American/American Indian records, ethnic newspapers, military records, and so much more.
Note: Texas is divided into several State University regions which serves as the record repository for that region.
Contributors to this web page: Charlene M. Pipkin, AG, Tristan L. Tolman, AG