Transcription Content/Record Set Ideas
Courtesies, Laws, Rules, & Suggestions

Give credit: Be sure to credit the site you use as a source for your information

Complete Record Set:
a transcribed record that covers a defined period of time OR is a given scope of data.

Incomplete Record Set: something you have transcribed that is part of a larger complete set.

Note: Both types of record sets need to be searchable and on-site.

Transcribing a huge record such as a census, vital stats, etc can seem discouraging and unachievable.   Try chunking out your records by a time period, location or alphabetically which allows your work to be considered a complete record set.

Timing for Record Sets: New complete record-sets or incomplete record-sets are to be added to a project no less than once every six (6) months, with at least one complete record-set added yearly (Based on review dates). Both record sets may be complete record-sets, but both may not be incomplete record-sets.

Copyright: Use the Digital Copyright slider to see if you can use works without the author's permission: 

State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI) records are open records.  HOWEVER, if the record was transcribed by someone at Family Search, Ancestry, etc, 
their permission is required. Images are not copyrighted. (effective July 2018 per C McDaniel)
Content Sources
Cemeteries are normally an ongoing project, but a very helpful incomplete data record.
A cemetery index is considered a complete record set when the cemetery:
  • is retired.
  • has been completely recorded as of a certain date.
Transcribe headstones/burial info to create a cemetery index.  IGPP or Find-a-Grave
Cemetery Contact Information -
Township trustees are typically the contact people for the rural cemeteries in their township. City government is normally responsible for city owned cemeteries.
Rural cemeteries: Find township trustee contact info from your county government site.
Census Records
Ancestry.com (may require a subscription)

Transcribing a census can seem daunting, but if you chunk the records out by township, your work is considered a complete record set.
Iowa State Census for 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1925 Familysearch.org has images for these Iowa State censuses.
Iowa Mortality Schedules. Available for years 1850 – 1880 Family Search site for the year 1880  (Begins at film #007311075)
Poor Farms and/or County Homes for a specific census year Census records
Federal Census Archive.org has downloadable Federal Census images through 1930. You might consider transcribing or placing links on your site. Check out Cheryl Siebrass Cass County for an example:   http://iagenweb.org/cass/census/index.htm

1940 U.S. Census Images at National Archives  
Iowa Non Population Census Schedule  Family Search site
County Population Reports    IA State Gazetteer - Population Census Returns for the Year 1865

Lynn McCleary transcribed all counties for the years 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880
Church Records
Church records on Familysearch

U.S. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records (1761 – 1969)

Ancestry.com (requires a subscription): https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/60722/
"Iowa, Consecutive Registers of Convicts, 1867-1970" Ancestry.com (requires a subscription)  https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/60384/
County History

Biographical sketches, county histories, plat maps, farm directories, city directories and more

Local libraries offer free resources. Many provide free access to historical records either remotely or on-site.  Resources may include Ancestry Library  Edition, American Ancestors, HeritageQuest online, Newspapers.com. Check the libraries website to see what is available. 

Iowa County History Books - Images offered by Google Books

The Iowa Digital Library - Sponsored by U of Iowa - has lots of digital images which could be transcribed. The collection includes the county plat maps from the 1875 Andreas Atlas, and transcribing resident names from your county's plat map is certainly worthwhile.  There are also diaries, journals, letters, etc.

Iowa State Gazetteer & Business Directory 1918 - 1919  Provided by Hathi Trust Digital Library    

The Annals of Iowa (1863-1884) (1893 – at least 2014) on line and searchable publications offered by State Historical Society of Iowa

Iowa Historical Maps & Atlases - the images may be copyrighted but there are directories and landowners you can transcribe  

Iowa Counties Historic Atlases - hosted by U of IA digital library  

Library of Congress  -  provides access to a massive digital collection
Iowa Inventors & Their Patents (1843 – 2009)

Transcribe or Link to Davenport public library:  https://www.davenportlibrary.com/research-tools/patents

Iowa Daughters of the American Revolution 1891 - 1911 Provided by Internet Archive
 The Blue Book of Optometrists & Opticianshttps://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/010660960

Bonus: Cheryl Siebrass transcribed the Blue Book abbreviations key you may use.
Medical & Surgical Directories of the State of Iowa 1876



History of Iowa Medical Society
1850 - 1950
Underground Railroad in Iowa https://iowaculture.gov/history/research/collections/places-people/underground-railroad-iowa
Iowa Communities Past & Present  http://iagenweb.org/state/places.php
Historical Post Office Information Ancestry.com (requires a subscription)

In 1816, Congress authorized the publication of a list of all federal  employees every two years. It appeared in book form under the title /Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States./ The Oregon State Library, Salem, Oregon, has in its collection 77 volumes of registers for years ranging from 1863 to 1959 (noninclusive).(See the browse table for years available).

Registers include the name of each government employee, office held,  where employed, where born, whence appointed, and pay received, as well
as information regarding the Navy, such as names and conditions of all ships and vessels belonging to the United States and when and where they
were built.


Upper right side of this page in Ancestry, see a Box titled "Browse this collection"
> Choose the year and then select Volume 2.
> For 1905 the Iowa the pages are:
> Post-Offices and Postmasters pg 103
> Clerks in Post Officepg 451
> Free-Delivery System pg 795
> Rural Free Delivery pg 1072
> Substitute Rural Free Delivery pg 1378
> Railway Mail Service RR Postal Clerkspg 11 & pg 1587
> Mail Messenger Servicepg pg 1715
> Mail Contractorspg pg 1751
> Electric & Cable Car Service pg 1766
> Regulation, Screen, or Other Wagon Service pg 1772
> Star Servicepg 1808
> Special Mail Service pg 1921
Century Farms https://centuryfarms.iowaagriculture.gov/
Land Records Bureau of Land Management has more than 500 million federal land title records dating back to 1810.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps https://www.loc.gov/collections/sanborn-maps/?fa=location:iowa
Iowa Official Register aka "Redbook" Contains historical and biographical information about Iowa's governmental institutions and leaders as well as other information and statistics of a general nature.
National Register of Historic Places https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/database-research.htm
History of HomesResearch the history of a home
An example of how to present this information:  
Iowa Ancestry, Genealogy, & Family History Family Search offers  an abuncance of information and records.  Scroll down to access it by clicking on Iowa in the  map at the following site:
Use this link and change the county in the url to your county name:
Community or Church Cookbooks A good way to find and publish additional surnames from the county.  Add recipes to count as incomplete records.
Court Records

The above site has case types that are particularly important for genealogy research like marriage, divorces, probate/estates, name changes, and adoption records.
•    marriage – 4,369,504 cases
•    divorce – 6,979,501 cases
•    estate – 4,968,717 cases
•    probate – 5,580,719 cases
•    name change – 2,900,354 cases
•    adoption – 77,157 cases
About 10 to 15 million new court cases are being added every month.
Bios of Iowa Lawyers The Courts and Legal Profession of Iowa, vol.2, by Chester C. Cole, 1907     
1935 Divorce RecordsFamily Search link: https://www.familysearch.org/records/images/image-details?page=3&place=394000&rmsId=TH-1951-35895-19858-77&imageIndex=316
Funeral Homes
List area Funeral Homes

Funeral Home Records
Include addresses & links to their web sites. Some sites have links to obituaries.

Family Search link:  Do a search for your county.  Example: funeral records for Dallas County were found at  
IAGenWeb Sites
Our CC team has amazing content on their sites
Visit other IAGenWeb sites to get ideas

The Iowa Digital Library has lots of digital images which could be transcribed. The collection includes the county plat maps from the 1875 Andreas Atlas, and transcribing resident names from your county's plat map is certainly worthwhile.  There are also diaries, journals, letters, etc.


Iowa Historical Maps & Atlases - the images may be copyrighted but there are directories and landowners you can transcribe

Iowa Counties Historic Atlases - hosted by U of IA digital library

Huebinger's Map for the River to River Road (1910)  Wonderful maps that even mark locations of schools and cemeteries near the road, vintage ads, some short historical articles, vintage photos, descriptions and plat maps of the various towns,  garages, hotels, etc.  NOTE:  Lynn McCleary & Conni McDaniel Hall have downloaded all of the images and are happy to share with you.

Pension Rolls of 1883  
Wars Iowans were involved in

GAR registers

IA Dept of the GAR

Family Search site - Don’t freak out when you see the number of images as they are duplicated.  See a layout idea on the Jasper county site:  http://iagenweb.org/jasper/military/lynnville.htm

Contains biographies. The book is only 200 pgs. Search page by page to find ones that are connected to your county. 
Casualty Lists

Civil War Soldiers & Sailors

Spanish American War


51st Iowa Volunteers:
with link to roster listing

51st Co. M

51st Iowa Volunteers:

49th Iowa Volunteers:

49th Roster:

52nd Iowa Volunteers:

Vietnam War
The Virtual Wall - Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Click on a soldier's bio, to see birth date, home town, date entered the service, casualty and incident information  and if the
body was recovered, etc.

WWI Google Docs Spreadsheet
National WWII Memorial Registry  
WWII Casualties: Iowa | National Archives
Korean War https://www.archives.gov/files/research/military/korean-war/casualty-lists/ia-alpha.pdf
Iowa’s M.I.A. & P.O.W. site for Vietnam, Korean, Persian Gulf & Cold Wars
War of 1812
Naturalization Records

The National Archives  -There are multiple Iowa holdings; be sure to scroll down the entire page.

National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri
Newspaper Articles

A “Year in Review” section in old newspapers. Provides historical information.

County History – (Per Bill Waters, he finds digitized newspapers contain enough information about his county to keep busy for the rest of his life.)

Early Settlers Associations

List of graduates from public, private schools and colleges.

Engagement, marriage,
anniversary & birth announcements
Library of Congress Chronicling America collection

Advantage Preservation   Access to Iowa community newspapers and documents

Wikipedia: List of Iowa Online Newspaper Archives 

Iowa Newspapers & Obituaries sponsored by LDS Genealogy
Godfrey Memorial Library (Requires a subscription)   

Newspapers.com (Requires a subscription)

Transcribe obits to add to your county’s obituary board.

Create an index to place as an on-site record set.  (Depending how on you choose to organize the data, it could be considered either a complete or incomplete record set.)

David Shedlock’s Post card collection https://www.ebay.com/str/refriedjeans/Iowa/_i.html?_storecat=700355619
High School graduates Look at old newspapers in late May and early June for a list of graduating seniors from area high schools.
Local town Facebook sites. Ask if someone could provide a list of graduates.
High School reunions Search old newspapers
Rural Schools
Yearbooks Most local libraries have school annuals.
Social Security Death Index

Ancestry.com (requires subscription)
Family Search:
Vital Records
Births Familysearch.org

Iowa birth records 1904 - 1906 and 1909 -  June 1921:
State Historical Society of Iowa
Scroll down to “State Birth Record Indexes”


Familysearch.org has digitized death records on line. https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2531337

The Iowa Historical Society has digitized death records on line

Add complete record sets by arranging and adding your data by year.   

Other Helpful On-line Sites 
These sites also offer a variety of items for Iowa CountiesFamilysearch.org

Ancestry.com  (Subscription Required for Most Information)

Hathi Trust Digital Library  - This link is for 'State of Iowa  (change search term for a specific county)

State Historical Society of Iowa   Various digital resources & links to other resources. (Lincoln letters, children's diaries, etc.)

Library of Congress, Chronicling America 1777 to 1925

Library of Congress - IOWA 1800-1899 Wide variety of items available for Iowa online

Iowa Digital Library   - Maps & Images, use tools along the left side to select a time period or other option.

American Memory from the Library of Congress  Search Page for
House & Senate Documents (can view original docs, change 'return' qty to 10000 or more to view all.)

Need Access to a subscription only website?  Mary Schwanke recommends the following: "I tell people to check with their local library and see if they offer free access to resources like HeritageQuest, Ancestry, etc. I can access many from the comfort of my home using my library card, some you need to access from the library, and not all libraries offer this but it is worth a check!"
updated 4/20/2022 cbm