Idaho Genealogy and History Guide

Idaho Genealogy Resources:



General Resources:

Idaho quick facts:

  • Idaho Statehood:
    July 3, 1890
  • Idaho State Capital:
  • Idaho Counties:
    44 Counties   County Map
  • Idaho State Nickname:
    Gem State
  • Idaho State Flower:
  • Idaho State Bird:
    Mountain Bluebird
  • Idaho State Song:
    Our Idaho"
  • Idaho Motto:
    "Esto perpetua" (It is forever)


Idaho Genealogy Research Guide:

Idaho Census Records:

  • 1850 - Included in the Oregon Territorial Census.
  • 1860 - Included in the Oregon Territorial Census. The southwestern part of what is now the Bear Lake area is included in the Cache County, Utah Territorial Census.
  • 1870 - Population Schedules, and Mortality Schedules. Kootenai was enumerated with Nez Perce County. A portion of what is now the Bear Lake area and the Franklin County area are included in the Cache County, Utah Territorial Census.
  • 1880 - Population Schedules, and Mortality Schedules. The population of Yellowstone National Park may be found in the Wyoming Census.
  • 1890 - The 1890 Federal Census Records were lost in a warehouse fire, but the Idaho State Historical Society has re-constructed a population schedule from various types of records. See the links below.
  • 1900
  • 1910
  • 1920
  • 1930

The Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS) has indexed agricultural, industrial, mortality and other census schedules not kept by the National Archives. These schedules are in pdf format. Free Adobe Acrobat Reader

Free Census Extraction Forms - Extraction forms allow you to record information in the same format as the year it was taken.

Idaho Military Records:

Idaho State Historical Society has put together these databases, along with a bit of history and descriptions:

Idaho Vital Records:

Birth and death records registration in Idaho wasn't mandatory until 1907. Although some counties started keeping these records a few years earlier (and some a few years later) most early vital records can only be found in church records, cemetery records, and records kept by doctors and midwives.

From 1907 to 1911 the county recorder registered birth and death records. (The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah has most of these records on microfilm.) After 1911 all birth and death records were registered by the state.

There are several online sources for indexes to Idaho birth and death records:

Marriage records statewide registration began in 1947. Copies of these records can be ordered from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. For copies of pre-1947 marriage records, contact the clerk/recorder in the county where the marriage took place.

The Western States Marriage Index from BYU-Idaho has many marriage records and is a good place to start your search. Also available are these Idaho county marriage records on microfilm.

Divorce and Annulment records were filed with the district courts starting in 1864.

Order Vital Records Online

Idaho Genealogy Subscriptions Online:

Many websites with genealogy resources for Connecticut are available on the Internet. Some offer free databases and other information for the online researcher, but the subscription websites hold a more consistent amount of quality data and offer free trials to that data.

Condensed History of Idaho

Understanding time and events that shaped our ancestors lives.

The name "Idaho" is an Indian term meaning "Shining or Sunrise Mountains". To the Shoshone Indians, I-dah-ho was a mystic, spiritual place, and this was applied to the Rocky Mountains where the sun rose.

There were two two distinct cultural groups of Native Indians living in Oregon Country, of which Idaho was then part of:

  • The Plateau group-Nez Perce, Coeur D’Alene, Flathead, Kutenai, Palus, Cayuse, and Kalispel
  • The Great Basin group-Shoshone-Bannock and Northern Paiute

This 1814 map shows the location and name of various Indian tribes found by Lewis & Clark.
Both Groups of tribes interacted with the Plains Indians and adopted some of their customs, including buffalo hunts and the use of horses for transportation and hunting.

Eventually the native Indians were routed and moved to reservations to make room for the settlers. The Bannock, Modocs, Shoshone or Snake, Sheepeater, and Utes didn't go without a fight.  The most memorable was the Nez Perce Indian War. The tribe was to be moved to the Lapwai Reservation in present day Idaho.  Some of the Nez Perce moved peaceably, but Chief Joseph didn't want to move his off the ancestral land. After leading the army on a 1,300 mile chase around the country, his band had taken heavy casualties. When he surrendered on October 5, 1877, Chief Joseph declared,  "Hear me, my Chiefs, my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever."

Lewis & Clark may have been the first white explorers to visit Idaho with the purpose of mapping the land and studying the natives, traveling along the Snake and Salmon Rivers in 1805. They met with various Indians who knew a few words of English from other adventurers hunting or trading in the area. In the few records that still exist from Lewis & Clark's route through this territory, they indicate the others were, "either English or Americans. The Indians inform us that they speak the same language that we do and, indeed, the few words which the Indians have learned from the sailors, such as musket, powder, shot, knife, file, heave the lead, d---- the rascal, and other phrases of that description, evidently show that the visitors speak the English language." Read more on Lewis & Clark as the writer Charles Stuart Moody follows their footsteps in Idaho, 1897.

Idaho has been part of three different territorial boundaries. In 1848 it became part of the Oregon Territory, which was split up so that it became part of the Washington Territory in 1859. This area was also split up on March 4, 1863 and Idaho becomes a territory with Lewiston as its capital. A year later Montana was cut away from Idaho Territory and in 1868, a small part of Idaho Territory was moved to Wyoming Territory.

The population of Idaho in 1870 was around 17,804. By 1880 the population had almost doubled to 32,610. The Indians had been moved to reservations, and more settlers were moving into the area. In the 1800's railroads were being built across Idaho, and mining operations were becoming more efficient. A second mining boom brought more settlers when some of the richest silver mines were discovered along the Coeur d’Alene River.

In 1890 Idaho population is 88,548. Population had reached the point where statehood was applied for and granted. Idaho became a state on July 3, 1890.

By 1900 Idaho's population has almost doubled again, reaching 161,772. In 1903 Ira Burton Perrine, a local rancher started work on Milner Dam, diverting water from the Snake River into canals that will eventually irrigate half a million acres of arid desert. The Milner Dam was completed in 1905, bringing another wave of settlement to farm the now fertile land. The Decennial (Federal) Census of 1910 lists the population Idaho as 325,594.

Further Resources:

Syringa graphics courtesy of Santa Lady