Genealogical Resources

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Genealogical Resources

Genealogical Resources

 

 

General Information

Genealogical research can extend far beyond the basics of birth, marriage and death. Digging deeper into the historical record can provide a more complete picture of the life and times of your ancestors. It can be a lot of work - but it can also be very rewarding!

Below is a very cursory list, for novices and experienced researchers alike, of material available at the Wyoming State Archives that can help you find out more about your relatives. It is by no means a complete list, but we hope it will help you to break through some of your “brick walls.” If you have questions about specific records, please contact us.

 

Birth, Death and Marriage records - Vital Records

All the information on these records is on our Vital Records Page.  Keep in mind that birth records are closed for 100 years and Death, Marriage, and Divorce records for 50 years.  So, for more recent records, you will want to contact the Wyoming Department of Health’s Vital Statistics Records Office.

Birth

  • Biographical sketches in books or the newspaper
     
  • Newspapers
    • Birth announcements were often published in the newspaper, and birth dates are sometimes included in obituaries or featured biographical articles.
       
  • Territorial and Federal Census Records.  
    • Only the 1869, 1875 and 1885 census (the territorial census) records contain names of individuals. The later state censuses only contain statistical information. 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 Federal census records are available in the Reading Room. Federal census records are also available by logging in with your public library card. The 1890 Wyoming census was lost in a fire, though the Civil War veterans and widows schedules did survive. The 1940 census is available for free through the National Archives.

 

Death and Burial

  • Cemetery Records
    • Sometimes listings of the interments, often with their dates of interment. Some records include the owner of the plot, amount paid, etc.
       
  • Cemetery Survey
    • In the 1980s, a statewide survey was done of all of the cemeteries and individual gravesites known to exist in Wyoming. While some of the smaller family cemeteries and individual gravesites may contain the names of those buried at the locations, inventories are not usually included for large cemeteries.
       
  • Coroner’s Inquests
    • A coroner’s record should exist for any death under “suspicious” circumstances. This often includes murders, suicides, accidents and later home deaths. The records may include the findings of the coroner as to time and cause of death, and the verdict of the Coroner’s Jury, if applicable.
       
  • Death certificates
  • Funeral Home Records
    • Local funeral homes often keep very complete records of burials and funerals. These often include the deceased’s name, date of death, burial location and who paid for their services. They can also include details about the funeral service.
       
  • Newspapers
     
  • Probate Records
    • These are court cases that include the settlement of estates. A probate file may include a person’s will, date of death, heirs, list of property and assets, and information about the settlement and distribution of the estate. As with other court records, many courts regularly transfer their inactive files to us but retain their indexes. Please contact the Clerk of District Court in the county the person lived in at the time of their death for a docket number. Contact information for the courts can be found on the Wyoming Supreme Court’s website.
       
  • State Mine Inspector Reports
    • Nearly every death of a coal miner is detailed in the State Mine Inspector Annual Reports. This includes their name, date and place of death, the details surrounding their and often a brief biographical sketch of the individual. See the Wyoming State Library for reports published after 1956.

 

Divorce

  • Chancery Court
    • Very early (1860s-1870s) territorial divorces were usually handled by the Chancery Court. These records usually include basic information about the parties involved, the date the divorce was granted, and who received custody of any children.
  • Civil Case Files
    • If a divorce was filed, they would have gone through their county’s District Court. The divorce proceedings include date and place of marriage, date and place of divorce, grounds for divorce, children involved, and property settlement and child custody agreements. They are open records. In most cases, you will need to contact the county’s Clerk of District Court for a case number as they retain the indexes. (see also court records)
       
  • Divorce certificates from Vital Records (see our Vital Records Page)

 

Marriage

  • County marriage records
    • ca 1869-mid 1960s. County marriage record books pre-date the state’s record keeping and usually begin with the organization of the county. In addition to the standard names of both bride and groom, date, location, officiant, and witnesses, some also include the ages of the bride and groom. There may also be parental consent affidavits if either are under age.
  • Church records
  • Newspaper announcements
    • These newspaper write-ups can often corroborate dates, places and names. Sometimes they will also include details about the ceremony, dress, decorations and even the gifts.
       
  • Obituaries


 

Business and Occupation

  • City Directories and State Business Directories
     
  • County Tax Assessment Records
    • These records record how much tax each individual or business was assessed for a given year. This can tell you when they built a house (tax increase), or how successful their year had been.
       
  • Newspapers
     
  • Non-Government Records
    • In some cases, business records have been donated to our collection by private individuals. Correspondence, ledgers and advertising may be included.
       
  • Professional Licensing Boards
     
  • Certified Public Accountants directories
     
  • Licensed Architects directories
     
  • Licensed Dentist directories
     
  • Licensed Physicians directories
     
  • Secretary of State Corporation Records

 

Clubs & Fraternal Organizations

  • Club Records
    • We have an extensive collection of local and state club records, especially women’s clubs. Scrapbooks, minutes, membership lists, event programs, photographs, and by-laws can often be found in the records.
       
  • Fraternal Organizations
    • The records of several Wyoming chapters of national fraternal organizations are a part of our collection, including the Sons of the American Revolution and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. These records contain minutes, membership lists and event programs. Chapter directories and by-laws for fraternal organizations can be found in non-government collections.

 

Crime & Criminals

  • Court Records
    • Many city and county courts as well as the Wyoming Supreme Court regularly transfer their inactive case files to us. Unfortunately, they usually retain their indexes. Please contact the courts to obtain docket numbers and to be sure the cases have been transferred to us. You can find up to date contact information for Wyoming courts on the Wyoming Supreme Court’s website.
  • Governor’s Records
    • Petitions for Pardons - includes pardons granted as well as rejected petitions.
       
  • Requisition and Extradition Records
     
  • Newspapers
    • Crime make for good reading, at least that is what most newspaper editors believed, so crimes are usually well documented in the newspapers.
  • State Penitentiary Records
    • While the full inmate files and medical files are restricted, mugshot card and the Board of Charities & Reform’s basic inmate files are open records. They contain the inmate’s name, description, date and location of crime, sentence and date of release.
       

Note:  Juvenile Criminal cases are restricted by the courts. Please contact the court in question about access. Information about incarceration at the Wyoming Boys School, Wyoming Girls School and Wyoming Training School are also restricted and we can neither confirm nor deny an individual’s incarceration at any of these facilities. Please contact the Department of Corrections for access to the records.

 

Government Office/Legislators

  • Governor’s Appointment records
    • These files often tell who was appointed to various positions in state government and sometimes include petitions for or against certain choices.
       
  • Legislator Directories
    • These directories are published every session and include the names and short biographies of each legislator in both the House and Senate.
       
  • Secretary of State Records
     
  • Election Returns
     
  • Bonds and Oaths of Office
    • These include both the five statewide elected officials (Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor and Superintendent of Public Instruction) as well as Notary Publics, and Commissioners.
       
  • State government department correspondence
    • Correspondence files tell you what topics were hot during a person’s time in a particular office. It will also give you an idea of the scope of their responsibilities, how they felt about topics, what decisions they made, etc.

 

Location/Real Estate

  • City Directories and phone books
    • We have a large collection of city directories and phone books from around the state, click here for listings. City directories are similar to phone books but they have additional information like spouse and occupation and are available before the widespread installation of telephones. Directories and phone books can provide addresses and help you to determine dates of residence.
       
  • County Clerk Land Abstracts and Deeds
    • Land abstracts function like indexes for transactions on a particular piece of land. You can see when, from whom and for how much your ancestor purchased land, if they mortgaged it, to whom and for how much, and when they sold it and to whom. There is a general index for most individual counties, but as there is not an all-encompassing index, you will need to know which county to search. Legal Descriptions of land can also be helpful.
       
  • County Tax Assessment Records
    • These records record how much tax each individual or business was assessed for a given year. This can tell you when they built a house (tax increase), or how successful their year had been. If the person did not own real estate or a business, they may not show up in these records.
       
  • Immigration Department Publications
    • The state Immigration Department was in charge of enticing and recruiting settlers and investors for Wyoming during the first part of the 20th century. Their publications often include generalizations about the land and resources and may give clues about why individuals settled in an area.
       
  • Poll Books
    • These records may be helpful in proving a person lived in a particular area. But be forewarned, these records are not usually indexed and can be tedious to search and not everyone registered to vote.
       
  • State Engineer Water Rights Applications and Permits
     
  • Territorial Census Records
    • Only the 1869, 1875 and 1885 territorial census records contain the names of individuals.
       
  • US Federal Census Records
    • 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 census records are available in the Reading Room. The 1890 Wyoming census was lost in a fire, though the Civil War veterans and widows schedules did survive. The 1940 census is available for free through the National Archives.

 

Medical/Hospitalization

Nearly all information about a person’s health or hospitalization is restricted by HIPAA privacy regulations. In the case of State Hospital patients, we can neither confirm nor deny their hospitalization. Please contact the State Hospital with any requests for information about patients of the hospital. That being said, there may be mentions of medical conditions or hospitalization in open records.

 

Military

  • Adjutant General’s Office
     
  • Wyoming casualty lists (KIA) for WWI, WWII, and Vietnam
     
  • Spanish American War Regiment Rosters
     
  • 1890 Federal Census veterans & widows schedule
     
  • Wyoming Territorial military post returns (microfilm purchased from the National Archives)

 

Mining and Industry

  • Company Records
    • Company towns were ubiquitous to many industries and often provided or sold all the necessities, including food, housing, and medical and spiritual assistance. Some companies, especially in the Casper area in the 1910s-1930s, published company newsletters that included information about the company and local work as well as “human interest” stories about their employees. There is not an index to these publications.
       
  • County Clerk Records
     
  • County Clerk Land Abstracts and Deeds
    • Land abstracts function like indexes for transactions on a particular piece of land. You can see when, from whom and for how much your ancestor purchased land, if they mortgaged it, to whom and for how much, and when they sold it and to whom. There is a general index for most individual counties, but as there is not an all-encompassing index, you will need to know which county to search. Legal Descriptions of land can also be helpful.
       
  • Immigration Department Publications
    • The state Immigration Department was in charge of enticing and recruiting settlers and investors for Wyoming during the first part of the 20th century. Their publications often include generalizations about the land and resources.
       
  • Newspapers
    • Newspaper editors were often the biggest cheerleaders of their areas, and worked hard to promote interest in local resources. Often mineral discoveries and the health of the local economy was well covered in the papers.
       
  • Oil and Gas leases
     
  • Placer Claim Records
    • These record the location of mining and mineral claims.
       
  • Secretary of State Corporation Records
    • All corporations must file their articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State’s Office. Starting in the 1920s, they also had to file annual reports.
       
  • State Geologist Records/State Geological Survey
    • The State Geologist initially oversaw all of the non-coal minerals found in Wyoming, including gold, silver, asbestos, uranium, trona, bentonite, etc. The current State Geological Survey oversees coal production.
       
  • State Mine Inspector Annual Reports
    • Early State Mine Inspectors oversaw Wyoming’s coal industry and their annual reports can provide many details about the mines operated in the state and their production.

 

School Life

  • Annual/Yearbooks Newspapers
    • Articles, especially in the society section, may talk about who was in a play or concert, who was on the honor roll, who graduated, etc.
       
  • School District Census Records
    • These are a listing of all of the children in each school district of school age, usually 6-20 years old. They will not tell you which school they went to, since there may have been multiple schools in a district, but it may give you clues to help narrow your search. If they were in a rural district, it may help identify close neighbors and verify family members. Generally, the census records list the student’s name, age, gender, home address (street or just town/area), parent/guardian, whether they were disabled or attended school out of the district, and sometimes it will give date and place of birth.
       
  • School District Superintendent Records
    • These records often include minutes taken at board meetings, mention when buildings were constructed or abandoned, the names of teachers and board members, how funding was raised, and statistics about students.
       
  • School histories
    • Very few individual schools have been studied in depth and their histories published.
       
  • Transcripts and School Records
    • Transcripts and school records that contain grades or test scores are restricted to the student of record. Only the student of record and the school district of origin may request these records.

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Voting

  • Newspapers
    • Newspapers often cover elections and will tell you what was on the ballot for each election.
       
  • Poll books
    • Because we vote using secret ballots, there is no record of how an individual votes, but poll books may tell you where they voted and whether they registered to vote in an election.

 

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