Nebraska Genealogy and Ancestry Research

This page will provide you with information that will help you in your genealogy and ancestry research for the state of Nebraska. 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 link to page showing when counties were formed, and links to a variety of genealogy and ancestry resources for the state of Nebraska.

Nebraska was part of the Louisiana Purchase acquired from France in 1803. Before the 1860s, most pioneers passed through Nebraska along the Platte River Valley on their way to Oregon and California. The first serious attempts to form Nebraska Territory were begun in 1851, but territorial status was not achieved until three years later. Nebraska Territory was created in 1854 as a result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a political compromise regarding the expansion of slavery. Although this act officially opened the area for white settlement, the real impetus to organizing the territory was the building of a Pacific railroad, not colonization.

Nebraska State History Timeline

1803 – Nebraska was part of the Louisiana Territory when it was purchased by the United States from France.

1804 – 1804 to 1824 United States government explorers visited the region and described it as a vast wasteland. The resulting myth of the Great American Desert delayed significant white settlement in Nebraska.

1813 – 1813 to 1827 Trading posts and forts were established near present-day Omaha.

1823 – First settlement at Bellevue.

1830 – 1830 to 1854 Nebraska was part of an area designated as Indian Territory.

1833 – Between 1833 and 1876, Indian tribes ceded all Nebraska claims to the United States government.

1840s-1860s – Pioneer wagons heading west passed through the Platte Valley over the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails.

1854 – March 16 – The Omaha Indians ceded to U.S. government.

1854 – March 30 – The Kansas-Nebraska Act established the Nebraska Territory. The creation of the Colorado and Dakota territories in 1861 and the Idaho Territory in 1863 reduced Nebraska to nearly its present size. Lands in Boyd and Thurston counties were received from South Dakota in 1890.

1863 – The first claim under the Homestead Act was staked near Beatrice.

1864 –  7 August 1864 Plumb Creek Massacre. The massacre was a concerted attack by the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe

1865 – The first railroad to the Pacific Coast was begun at Omaha. It was completed in 1869.

1867 – March 1 – Nebraska became the 37th state on March 1, 1867.

1868 – Sioux Indian land cession.

1868 – Lincoln replaces Omaha as the state capital.

1877 – May 6 – Chief Crazy Horse and 900 warriors surrendered at Camp Robinson, Nebraska. The Sioux had been on the warpath since 1875.

1877 – Sioux Indian Black Hill land cession.

1870 – 1870 to 1890 Nebraska’s greatest population growth occurred in the post-Civil War boom as settlers arrived from the eastern United States and northern Europe.

1898 – Over 300,000 men were involved in the Spanish-American War which was fought mainly in Cuba and the Philippines. 1904 The Kinkaid Homestead Act opened the last range land in northwestern Nebraska to settlement.

1917 – 1917 to 1918 More than 26 million men from the United States ages 18 through 45 registered with the Selective Service. World War I over 4.7 million American men and women served during the war.

1930 – 1930’s The Great Depression closed many factories and mills. Many small farms were abandoned, and many families moved to cities.

Nebraska Vital Records

The statewide requirement for registration of births and deaths began in late 1904 and for marriages and divorces in 1909. However, compliance was not complete for several years.

With the exception of some delayed birth registrations located in the office of the county clerk, Nebraska did not record births and deaths at the county level. The Nebraska State Historical Society has both the Omaha birth registry (1869-1907) and the Omaha death registry (1873-1915). These as well as most of the early vital records are incomplete for the beginning years of registration. Divorce records before 1909 are at the county clerk of the district court. and have many collections, some of which I’ve included in the links below.

Nebraska Census Records


Population Schedules

  • Indexed’1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
  • Soundex’1880, 1900, 1920

Industry and Agriculture Schedules

  • 1860, 1870, 1880

Mortality Schedules

  • 1860, 1870, 1880

Union Veterans Schedules

  • 1890 (indexed)

The Nebraska State Historical Society has copies of the federal schedules and the 1860 to 1880 agriculture, industry, and mortality schedules.

Territorial and State

The Nebraska State Historical Society has the original enumerations for the territorial censuses. Territorial censuses are available for 1854, 1855, and 1856 and are indexed in Nebraska and Midwest Genealogical Records and at subscription databases. A few counties were recorded in censuses taken in 1867, 1874, 1875, 1878’79. Lancaster County was indexed and published in the Historical Records of Lancaster County Nebraska, Series 3, vols. 1’13 (Lincoln, Nebr.: Genealogical Records Committee of the Deborah Avery Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution [DAR], under sponsorship of the Nebraska State Historical Society, 1939).

Nebraska Counties

Nebraska Counties Map
Nebraska Counties Map

At Nebraska County Resources you will find the location of each county on the map, address, date formed, parent county(ies), and date first recorded for Marriage, Land, Probate and Court.

Nebraska Genealogy and Ancestry Links has a variety of Nebraska online collections. Membership may be required. has a variety of Nebraska Free Online Collections

I Dream of Genealogy – Nebraska Marriages

USGenWeb – Archives – Nebraska Marriage Records

Genealogy Trails – Nebraska

NEGenWeb Project – Nebraska

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

GenealogySpot – Nebraska – Nebraska Genealogy Data

LDS Genealogy – Nebraska

Nebraska State Genealogical Society

Nebraska State History Timelines