As genealogists we’ve become spoiled with the plethora of online resources. It is good to get “out in the field” and do research. I spent some time this week at a local gem, the NDSU Archives. Let’s explore the resources available there.
The NDSU Archives includes the Institute for Regional Studies Archives and the NDSU University Archives. The Institute for Regional Studies focuses on preserving historical resources of the region and is geared toward the North Dakota State University community, scholars and the public.” The NDSU University Archives is focused on preserving and making available an array of documents related to the university including historical, legal, fiscal etc.
The collection is robust with resources focused on North Dakota. Within their vast collection you can find county histories, town histories, biographies, Polk Directories, and regional histories. All readily available in a comfortable library setting. If you’re interested in their microfilm collection which includes newspapers, pioneer biographies, census and other historical collections, you have access to state-of-the-art microfilm readers that allow you to easily save and print pages that apply to your research.
In addition to the onsite records that you can research, you can do a bit of homework online before your visit to help you identify and find the records that apply to your family. Of interest to family historians is their Genealogy and Biography area. In their own words:
“The Institute for Regional Studies Archives has developed a number of searchable databases that will aid those doing biographical, family history, and genealogical research within North Dakota. They include the North Dakota Biography Index, Dakota Territory 1885 Census, and Fargo Forum obituaries. For Cass County the Institute has developed searchable databases for marriage licenses, probate records, divorce records and civil cases. In cooperation with the State Historical Society of North Dakota we are pleased to provide access to its North Dakota Naturalizations database.
The Institute collects published North Dakota community, county, church, and family histories, as well as microform collections, all of which are cataloged in the NDSU Libraries online catalog.”
The searchable database results provide a list of the names, titles, call numbers and format (book, microfilm, etc.) I found this particularly helpful to make the best use of time for the archivist and myself when looking for the information. It’s also an easy way to have your source citations at hand. Here’s a quick link to Genealogy and Biography including the online databases.
If you’re not able to come to Fargo to do the research yourself, you can do the online searches and print out the results that interest you. The staff will look up those records for a fee plus copy fees. Both are reasonable.
Beyond the genealogy side, there are many records related to NDSU history and special collections. A fun find was the Pioneer Biography Files, 1936-1940. Bismarck, N.D.: North Dakota Work Projects Administration. I discovered a relative in those records who provided details about homesteading, his and his wife’s siblings and parents, schooling and other tidbits which painted a picture of life in 1880s. Perhaps there will be similar treasures waiting for you!
I hope I’ve piqued your interest in learning more about this great archive and how it might help you as you research your Dakota roots. Happy researching!
“What we find changes who we become.”
― Peter Morville
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.