Indiana Genealogy and Ancestry Resources

This page will provide you with information that will help you in your genealogy and ancestry research for the state of Indiana. It includes a timeline for the state, when the state began recording vital records, what US and State census records are available, a map of the counties in the state and links to genealogy and ancestry resources for the state of Indiana.

Nickname: The Hoosier State

Indiana History Timeline

1679 – French explorer Robert de La Salle visits Indiana.

1702 – The first trading post is established.

1715 – The French build Fort Miami which later becomes Fort Wayne.

1732 – The first permanent settlement is established by missionaries at Fort Vincennes.

1754 – The start of the French and Indian War. The Indians ally with the french, but lose the war in 1763 and the British take over.

1780 – October 10 – Continental Congress passes “Resolution on Public Lands,” which resolves to settle lands west of Appalachian Mountains and create future states.

1783 – September 3 – Treaty of Paris signed, officially ends American Revolution, recognizes American independence from great Britain.

1787 – July 13 – The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 establishes, and provides a system of government for, Northwest Territory. The Northwest Territory includes future states of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.

1800 – Ohio becomes a state and the Indiana Territory is formed.

1804 – December 5 – Harrison proclaims Indiana Territory advancement to 2nd stage of government, allowing general assembly.

1805 – January 11 – Act by Congress divides Indiana Territory, creating Michigan Territory.

1809 – February 3 – Congress passes act dividing Indiana Territory, creating Illinois Territory.

1811 – William Henry Harrison defeats the Shawnee at the Battle of Tippencanoe.

1811 – December 11 – By a 4 to 3 vote, Indiana General Assembly petitions Congress for statehood; representatives Peter Jones of Knox, James Dill of Dearborn, and Richard Rue of Wayne oppose the petitions sending with it their written objections-territory too small, population too scattered, and cost of a state government too expensive; petition denied but congressional committee would allow statehood when population reached 35,000; due to lack of money, territory did not pursue statehood.

1813 – March 11 – Indiana General Assembly passes State Capital Act, moving territorial capital from Vincennes to Corydon.

1815 – December 11 – Indiana’s General Assembly petitions Congress for statehood.

1816 – Indiana becomes the 19th state.

1825 – Indianapolis becomes the state capital.

1846 – The last Native Americans are ordered out of Indiana.

1911 – The first Indianapolis 500 auto race takes place.

Indiana Vital Records

The first law regulating marriages in. Indiana occurred in 1788, but marriage licenses became mandatory in 1800. The statues of the Northwest Territory required:

  1. the banns be read fifteen days before the marriage
  2. the male be seventeen years of age
  3. the female be fourteen years of age

Marriage licenses and certificates have been issued by and kept at the county clerk’s office, generally beginning with the formation of each respective county to the present.

Marriage applications, beginning 1906 (with additional family information) and marriage transcripts (1882) may have both been used in various counties. Prior to 1940 it was necessary for a couple to obtain a license from the county in which the female resided.  If an Indiana ancestor’s marriage record cannot be located in that state, check the Cincinnati marriage records; this area was a “Gretna Green” (no-questions-asked marriage locale) for Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.

Birth and death records were recorded by the county health office beginning in 1882, where they remained before mandatory recording with the state board of health began in October 1907 for births and in January 1900 for deaths. There are no indexes  to the state death certificates from 1900 to 1918. Some cities have earlier birth registrations:

  • Ft. Wayne (1870)
  • Indianapolis (1872)
  • Kokomo (1875)
  • Logansport (1874).

For pre-1882 you can view the books Pre-1882 Indiana Births from Secondary Sources, volumes 1 and 2 at under their “books” tab. (included in the links below). Note: you must have an account with, but it is free.

Interesting Facts:

  • Between 1915 and 1940, an estimated 175,000 couples were married in Crown Point, Indiana. The Lake County Courthouse–open 24/7–was a well-known “marriage mill” in the area, drawing couples from Chicago and beyond, where they could get a quick hassle-free marriage. Rudolph Valentino was among those married at the courthouse.
  • The city of Gary, Indiana, sprung up in 1909 around the newly-opened U.S. Steel mill. Chosen for its proximity to Great Lakes and railroad shipping routes, the mill drew more than 16,000 inhabitants and attracted other industries to the area. The city is named after Elbert H. Gary, the then-chairman of U.S. Steel.
  • Only one Civil War battle was fought in Indiana at Corydon. In the brief battle, Confederate troops overcame the Harrison County Home Guard and plundered the shops and local businesses before moving on.

Indiana Census Records

The first Federal Population Census was taken in 1790, and a census has been taken every ten years since. However, data from recent censuses are not available after 1940 because of a 72-year restriction on access to the census. 

The censuses prior to 1850 only list the head of household. Other household members are merely counted in selected age groups.

From 1850 forward are provided for all individuals in each household. 

The 1890 Census was mostly destroyed by fire.

Tip: Begin with the most current census year available and work backwards.

Indian Federal Population Schedules

  • Indexed––1820 (Daviess County missing), 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
  • Soundex––1880, 1900, 1920

Indiana Industry and Agriculture Schedules

  • 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Indiana Mortality Schedules

  • 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Indiana Counties Map

Indiana Counties Map
Indiana Counties Map

Indiana Genealogy and Ancestry Links