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Collections: Where to Find Other Record Types

This page describes records that are usually not found in the collections of the Indiana State Archives, with some pointers towards where to locate the information from other sources

Local records

Because of Indiana's strong tradition of home rule, local government records are primarily found in the appropriate county courthouse.

Although the records regarding the first purchaser of land from the state can be found at the State Archives, all subsequent private transactions are maintained by the county recorder. The vast majority of court records are maintained by the county clerk. Duplicates of county records are not available in the State Archives, except for those records that have been microfilmed for specific purposes. Certain court records are scheduled for transfer to the State Archives, but this process is contingent on a number of factors, so patrons cannot assume that the transfer has, in fact, taken place or even that the records have survived. In sum, it is usually safer first to look for local records locally.

Private Records

For private records, patrons should understand that Indiana is blessed with some exceptionally active organizations devoted to local history and family history. As a great number of government and private records are locally preserved, these organizations are important sources of information and researchers should not hesitate to contact them for assistance. The State Archives maintains a list of local history resources, and the Indiana Historical Society also maintains a collection of Local History Services.

Municipal Records

Municipal records very often represent a problem for researchers, as very few Indiana cities and towns have developed archives and records management programs. The great exception is South Bend, Indiana. For the most part, however, municipal records can be difficult to locate; patrons should contact directly the agency that created the documents in question for the best advice

Personal and family papers

The records of private individuals or families are scattered throughout the state. The two primary collections, though, are in Indianapolis, at the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Division of the State Library. Both of these organizations have exceptionally informative websites of their own; patrons are encouraged to explore what is available on them.

The other sources for the history of Indiana are too numerous to cover here, but they are described in the Society of Indiana Archivists publication Indiana Archival and Historical Repositories.

Private companies, agencies and organizations

Because preserving the history of private companies, agencies and organizations is left to the decision of the individual concern, it is very difficult to generalize where the pertinent records might be located. Some businesses, such as Indianapolis' Eli Lilly, have an extensive and professional corporate archives. Others do not. For more information, researchers should contact the company directly . If the company is out of business, then it is unlikely that any detailed records will be available. Certain basic records for corporations, such as the articles of incorporation, may be available from the State Archives.

Very often, family historians ask about records for private hospitals, orphanages and other charitable organizations. The best way to locate such records is by contacting the organization itself. If, however, it is no longer in existence, then researchers can ordinarily assume that the records are no longer extant either. There are certain exceptions: for example, the Charity Organization Society of Indianapolis left detailed records which its successors passed on to the care of the Indiana Historical Society. For other organizations, which were under the regulatory oversight of the State Board of Charities, certain general records are available from the State Archives. Beyond that, however, one should not expect to find information on specific individuals or projects.