Your Guide to Researching Idaho Ancestors

Postal Code: ID

1848-1853 part of Oregon Territory
1853 Northern Idaho joins Washington Territory (rest remains part of Oregon Territory) Between 1859 and 1863 the southern part of Oregon is also made part of the Washington Territory

IdahoTerritory created 1863; includes Montana until 1864; Wyoming until 1868

Admitted as the 43rd state July 3, 1890.

The state of Idaho did not require records of births or deaths prior to 1907 and began keeping them at the state level in 1911. Records prior to 1911 are at the county; some death records were kept before 1907. It began keeping marriage and divorce records in 1947. For earlier records look in the county where the event occurred

Books, Articles,Tapes,CD's etc.
On The Web

There is nothing more helpful that a handy reference book with information specific to the area you are researching. I've listed below those that I know about.

(find in a library) will give you a link to help you find the book in the library closest to you. Most will show libraries near Ann Arbor... to change the location, type in your zip code and you can find libraries near you.

All of the three books listed below have a small section covering each state that includes maps, historical information, vital records coverage and a bibliography of resources for that state.

  1. Handybook for Genealogists ( 11th edition) (find in a library) (note: some libraries may have earleir editions; those are perfectly usable)
  2. Ancestry's Redbook (you'll want the 3rd edition) (find in a library)
  3. The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogical Research (find in a library)

Ancesty's Idaho Fact Sheet will serve as a quick guide to resources available.

I know of no basic handbook on Idaho research, but would be glad to learn of one I can add.

Idaho Genealogical Society. Quarterly.

Audio tapes of talks given at genealogy conferences with the word Idaho in title.


First bookmark and print out these FHL documents : Idaho Research Outline and Idaho Historical Background . You will also want to look at their guide to Idaho Statewide Indexes

Use the catalog at the FHL to find out what has been filmed covering the state of Idaho ; Click View Related Places in the upper right to find sources that have been filmed for the county you are researching and from there click View Related Places in the upper right to find sources that have been filmed for the township or city. You will want to check for resources in all three jurisdictions, although most people check the county holdings first, township next and state last.

Bookmark or print out this map of Idaho Counties. Use the 1895 Atlas map of Idaho to for a view of the full state or individual counties.

See what is available at county pages of the Idaho Gen Web. The ALHN Idaho page seems to be inactive and merged with the AHGP Idaho page.

Look at the websites of these libraries, archives and societies.

The Idaho State Historical Society maintains the state's Library and Archives., which has a strong genealogy collection.

Review the web pages of Idaho public libraries in cities in or near the area you are researching... some may offer valuable information on line.

Visit the website of the Idaho Genealogy Society (although they don't seem to keep it up or fix problems). Once you know where in Idaho your ancestors resided, check for a local genealogical society in Idaho


The Idaho Historical Society is the home base of the Idaho Newspaper Project and owns a number of newspapers on microfilm. Many of these can be borrowed through your local public library on interlibrary loan.


The 1880 can be searched for free at . There is a "reconstructed 1890" census index available online; it indexes Idaho residents of about that time period as identified in other sources. Find other online census records and more census information at's Idaho links.

Vital Records

To get informaiton about vital records, check the Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare vital records page or

The Idaho Death Index 1911-1951 is available online. Scroll down for information on how to obtain a certificate. The Western States Historical Marriage Index includes marriages from most Idaho counties. Eastern Idaho Deaths identifies deaths in that half of the state as found in obituaries, cemetery and funeral home records.


The Ohio Historical Society website has a helpful page on Idaho naturalizations, including a downloadable index to the naturalizations of some counties.


The Idaho Historical Society has gathered a number of cemetery records and provide a listing of those records they own for each county. You can then send an information request; if it takes less than 1/2 hour, they charge only for photocopies.

Finally, check out Idaho Black Sheep Ancestors

If your ancestor was a "guest" of the Old Ohio Penitentiary, you can request a search of their records.

More links

GenealogyToday's State Gen Site: Idaho
Genealink's Idaho page
Access Genealogy List of Idaho Links
Cyndi's List Idaho Page
Rootsweb Idaho links
Linkpendium's Idaho Page