The NDSU Institute for Regional Studies“collects, preserves and makes accessible unique and rare historical materials that provide resources for the study of North Dakota and the region.” Click on the Databases & Indexes link in the contents list to access a number of useful resources, some of which are described below. Many of the databases are related to Cass County, located in the southeastern part of the state.
Databases and Indexes
Cass County, N.D. Divorce & Civil Cases Records
This database indexes civil and divorce case files for Cass County for the period from the 1870s through 1942. It includes more than 3,300 records. You can search the index by plaintiffs and defendants, attorneys only, or attorneys, plaintiffs and defendants. Searches can be limited by type (divorce or all cases) and by year. The data fields include the plaintiff’s name and attorney’s name, defendant’s name and attorney’s name, dates of proceedings, case number and case notes.
Cass County, N.D. Marriage Licenses
This index can be searched by last name and first name of the bride or groom. While it covers the period from the early 1870s through July 1944, you should note that marriage licenses were not required until 1887. The data fields in the results returned include groom’s full name, bride’s full name, marriage date, license number, and note.
Cass County, N.D. Probate Records (1876-1949)
This index can be searched by last name and first name. It covers the period from 1876 through 1949. The data fields in the results returned include name, case number, and notes. The notes field may contain information such as death date, place of death, place of residence, and types of documents in the file.
Dakota Territory 1885 Census
The census database project, under the leadership of the Institute, indexed all of the original Dakota Territory 1885 Census schedules for the counties that make up the state of North Dakota. The database contains more than 150,000 names. You can search it by last name, first name, nativity, and county and browse by occupation. The data fields include name, age, relation, occupation, nativity, address, city, enumeration district, and county. The name field is an active link. Click on it to view a transcription of the page on which the individual appeared.
Fargo Forum Obituary Index
This database covers the following periods: October 1892 to 1909 and from November 1982 to 1995, with partial indexing for other years. The index currently contains more than 70,000 names, with records being added on a regular basis. The database can be searched by last name, first name, city, and publication date. The data fields in the search results include last name, first name, age, city, state, publication date, page, paper, and comments.
North Dakota Naturalization Records Index
This index was compiled at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. It has been made available as a searchable database on the Institute for Regional Studies and University Archives website. The index contains more than 200,000 names. The database can be searched by last name, first name, country of origin, and county. The data fields include last name, first name, country, papers (1st or 2nd), date, county, volume, page, and comments.
For many of the databases described above, you can click on the link to the information page to learn more about the resource and how to order copies of records.
Click on the Digital Collections link in the contents list to access the digital resources. The digital collections at the Institute for Regional Studies and University Archives include the Cal Olson Photograph Collection, H.L. Bolley Photograph Collection, and Fargo Public Library Photograph Collection, among many others. In addition, there is an oral history collection that might be of interest to family history researchers, North Dakota Voices from the Past. You can browse through the collection or search for a particular individual or topic. All of the digital collections can be accessed from this page, as well.