North Dakota Resource

The North Dakota State University Libraries Institute for Regional Studies and Archives offers a number of free genealogy resources online. These include Cass County Civil Cases and Divorces 1870s-1942, Cass County Marriage Licenses 1870s-1944, Cass County Probate Records 1876-1949, the 1885 Dakota Territory Census, the Fargo Forum Newspaper Index 1879-1995, the Fargo Forum Obituary Index, the North Dakota Biography Index and the North Dakota Naturalization Records Index. There are a few other miscellaneous records as well.

The Civil Cases and Divorce database can be searched by the name of the plaintiff, defendant or attorney. You can filter by year or select to search only the divorces. The results screen will list, when available, the plaintiff and his attorney, the defendant and his attorney, date, type, case number and case notes. It appears that the divorce results offer more information than the civil cases.

Marriage licenses can be searched by bride or groom's name. If you're not sure of the spelling, you can choose the begins with or contains options for the name. The result screen gives you the name of bride and groom, marriage date, license number, and, in some entries, notes.

Probate records are searchable by name. Like marriage licenses, you have the begins with or contains options for the name. Once all matches to your search load, you can look at the individual's name, case number and notes. In most cases, it appears the notes column offers death date and location.

The 1885 Dakota Territory Census can be searched by name, nativity or county. Just below the search box is the option to browse by occupation, a nice feature to this free genealogy resource. If you're not sure how your ancestor is listed in the census, but know his occupation, this can be helpful in locating them. When available, the results page will give you name, age, relation to head, occupation, nativity, address, city, enumeration district and county.

You can search the Fargo Forum Newspaper Index by keyword, including names. Results can be narrowed by giving a specific year to look in. You can also choose a year range. This index will give the title, author (sometimes), newspaper, date, page, index terms and notes. Be sure to take a close look at the index terms. They can be clicked on to find more articles with the same terms, which can be helpful in finding all articles associated with your ancestor.

The Obituary Index is searchable by name, city and publication date. If you're not sure of the exact publication date, you can opt to search before only those appearing before or after a specific date. When your search is complete, you will have a list with the name, age, city, state, publication date, page, paper and comments. The comments column appears to indicate where on the page you can find the obituary. Currently the index covers October 1892 to 1909 and November 1982 to 1995, but it is an ongoing project so if you don't find your ancestor initially, keep checking back.

The Biography Index can be searched by name or publication. When available, it gives the individual's name, title, birth year, death year, publication name, call number, page number and illustration. Clicking on the publication will return an alphabetical list of all biographies included in it.

The last free genealogy resource is the Naturalization Records Index. It includes over 212,000 names. You can search by name, country of origin or county. On the results screen, you will find the individual's name, country of origin, papers, date, county, volume, page and comments. In the papers column, 1st refers to a declaration of intent while 2nd refers to the actual naturalization.

If you would like to order the actual record found in any of these databases, go back to the original search screen and scroll to the bottom of the page to find the information page hyperlink. It will let you know the cost and what you need to do to order a copy for yourself. From what I can tell, it appears that the copies are fairly inexpensive.

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