The Idaho State Archives is run by the Idaho State Historical Society and they have online collections for genealogy and family history, onsite collections, historic sites and artifacts, and more. The Idaho State Archives are free to all and membership in the Idaho State Historical Society includes benefits such as free admission to historic sites and store discounts.

[su_heading size=”24″]Online Collections[/su_heading]

Idaho State Archives Searchable Indexes

  • Biographical Index – The Idaho Biographical Index (IBI) is an index of persons named in state, county and community histories, regional periodicals, and selected newspaper articles from around the state and throughout its history
  • Census 1890: Reconstructed Idaho Information – Most of the 1890 US Federal Census was destroyed by fire in 1921. The Idaho State Historical Society created the Reconstructed 1890 Idaho Census with the goal to fill that gap for researchers. We have attempted to identify as many persons as possible who resided in Idaho from 1885-1894 using federal, state and local government records, local newspapers and nationally distributed genealogical publications.Records from Ada, Alturas, Bannock, Bear Lake, Boise, Cassia, Custer, Elmore, Idaho, Latah, Logan, Nez Perce, Oneida, Owyhee, Shoshone and Washington counties have been indexed using births, marriages, deaths, wills, land and tax records, court records, mining and water rights, naturalizations and citizenship. Also includes information from Boise city directories, Boise County money orders and our Century Farms records. Persons residing in Idaho between the years 1885 and 1894 are listed by last and first names. A name listed more than once indicate more than one type of record exists. When the first names of men, women, or children are not provided, the unknown names are indicated by bracketed question marks, “[–?–].”
  • Census Schedules: 1870 and 1880 Agricultural, Industrial, Mortality, Civil War Veterans – The Idaho State Historical Society Public Archives and Research Library (PARL) holds both the one-and-only, original hard-copies and one of only a handful of microfilm copies of the 1870 and 1880 Agricultural, Industrial, Mortality, Prison, Social Statistical and Supplemental Schedules for Idaho. Not only that, but Steve Barrett, PARL staff member, and Bonnie Fuller, PARL volunteer, have created indexes to these schedules.
  • Civil War Veterans – After the War, thousands of Civil War veterans of the Confederate and Union Armies and their families migrated westward. Veterans’ organizations like the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) created posts throughout Idaho with hundreds of members.Over two thousand Civil War veterans who lived or died in Idaho have been identified from a variety of records. Records are indexed alphabetically by surname and wherever possible dates of births and deaths, the states from which they served, and the Idaho counties where they resided are included. For many veterans more than one record has been uncovered. We invite you to contact us with any additional information you may have about a discovered or undiscovered Idaho veteran of the Civil War. Search the index!
  • WWI Idaho Adjutant General Discharge Cards – After a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files, the Idaho State Archives is happy to provide the public with an index of the WWI Idaho Adjutant General Records that are held in our collection.The following types of records included in this index are Discharge Cards, Applications for Victory Medal, Nurses and Those Who Lost Their Lives, as well as a few others. The following information (if available) has been included in this index: Name, Age or Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Residence, Service Dates, Race (if other than white), Awards, Date of Death, Cause of Death, Person Notified of Death, as well as other information. Not all of the information contained in these records are found on this index.
  • WWII Idaho Guard Enlistment & Service Records Index – The Idaho State Archives services the Idaho Adjutant General records of the Idaho National Guard. There are numerous record types under the office of the Adjutant General and these records are useful for historical, genealogical, and other research needs. Part of the Adjutant General’s Collection (AR11) contains the WWII Idaho Guard Enlistment & Service Records. Information that may be found in these records include: name; rank; age; organization (to company level); physical description, biographical information; date of enrollment; length of service, campaigns; length of service; mustering out date, and discharge data. The personnel listings and service records cover men who served between 1940 and 1946.
  • Inmate Catalog – The inmate catalog is chronological and the indexed catalog provides a comprehensive list of Idaho territorial and state penitentiary prisoners- men, women, and children- between the years 1864 and 1947. The catalog provides access to inmate files in the custody of the Idaho State Historical Society by names, aliases, register number, crime, county or jurisdiction, age, year of birth, and year of incarceration. The catalog also provides cross-references to establish the identities of inmates for whom individual case files do not survive.
  • Naturalization Records – Naturalization records are a rich source of immigration and family history information. They can provide names of family members, indicate where a family came from, and give important dates and locations. In Idaho, beginning in 1863, the process of naturalization generally began when the applicant filed a declaration of intention with the local court of record (federal, state, or local), followed by a naturalization petition, and ended when a certificate or record of naturalization was issued. Each step required a period of residency, although that residency didn’t have to take place in the same location throughout. The Basic Naturalization Act of 1906 imposed standardization on the process and, happily for researchers, also provided for the gathering of more biographical information about applicants. Selected records from Ada, Alturas, Bingham, Boise, Canyon, Clearwater, Elmore, Idaho, Nez Perce, Oneida, Teton, and Twin Falls counties, and the Idaho Supreme Court have been indexed where the Idaho State Archives holds the original record.
  • Pension Records: Mothers’ – In 1913, the State of Idaho approved a program to provide a small monthly payment to mothers and orphans under certain circumstances. The Mothers’ Pension Records includes material transferred from Ada, Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Blaine, Caribou, Clearwater, Minidoka, Oneida, Power, Teton, and Twin Falls counties. The majority of these records date to the 1920s.
  • Pension Records: Old Age – The Old Age Pension Act of the State of Idaho was first introduced by the House of Representatives in 1929. It became official in the legislative session of February 12, 1931. The bill provided a monthly payment of up to $25 to qualified residents of Idaho. Recipients were required to be over 65 years of age, a county resident for the three years immediately prior to the date of application, and a resident of the state for fifteen years, five of which had to be immediately preceding the application. Old Age Pension Records includes information on over 1,400 program applications from Ada, Kootenai, Twin Falls, Jerome, Clearwater, Bannock, Boundary, and Teton counties, ranging from 1931 to 1936.
  • Historical Photographs
    • Search Digital Image Collections
      View all digitized collections and search by keyword to search on specific places, subjects or people. Our digital collections represent only a fraction of the over 500,000 images in Idaho State Archives collections. Access to additional images is available at the Merle W. Wells Research Center. Still can’t find what you are looking for? Not able to visit us? Submit a research request to ask for assistance from archives staff (research fees may apply).Search Photograph Indexes
      Search the indexes below by clicking on the highlighted inventory link; then use Ctrl+F to bring up a search window and type in your keyword. The collections below are also represented in our digital collections but may not have been digitized in their entirety.Idaho Biographical Photograph Index
      This index can be searched by name for photographs of people from Idaho.


Digital Collections from the Idaho State Historical Society

  • Bob Lorimer Photographs – Bob Lorimer was a writer, columnist and photographer in the Boise Valley during the 1960s and 1970s. Photographs include various subject of daily life in Boise Valley. Lorimer PDF Inventory
  • Boise Territorial Images 1863-1890
  • Charles D. Warner Nez Perce Collection
  • E. Jane Gay Photograph Collection
  • Elmer Pyne’s Collection of Hazelton, ID Photographs
  • Everett L. ‘Shorty’ Fuller Photographs – Everett “Shorty” Fuller was a freelance photographer in the Boise Valley during the 1930s and 1940s. Photos depict candid shots, and major events of the 30s and 40s in rural and urban areas of Boise Valley. Fuller PDF Inventory
  • George E. Tonkin Photographs
  • Harry Shellworth Album (MS 269)
  • Idaho Courthouse Buildings
  • Idaho Government Records
  • Idaho Governor Collection Inventories
  • Idaho History Catalog and Repository Project
  • Idaho Railroad Visual History
  • Idaho Statehouse Construction Photographs
  • Image Catalog for Idaho Statehouse
  • Ivan Fitzwater
  • J.A. Hanson Photographs – J. A. Hanson was a professional photographer with studios in Moscow (in partnership with Henry Erichson), 1890-1892, and Grangeville, 1892-1910. His images capture rarely seen early images of Idaho. Hanson PDF Inventory
  • Legislative Composite Portraits
  • Leo J. Scoop Leeburn – Leo J. “Scoop” Leeburn was a famous Boise area photographer that captured many iconic Boise images . Leeburn, started his photo journalism career in 1943, took pictures up until his death in 2002 at the age of 81. His photos appeared in The Idaho Statesman and Leeburn has been labeled Boise’s, “Unofficial photographer-at-large,” and “A Boise institution.“ His photographs show Boiseans’ life at work and thier activities. The Boise Urban Renewal Project was also documented by Leeburn. His work has been featured in many exhibits. Leeburn PDF Inventory
  • Leonard J Howard – Leonard J Howard documented the important period between 1899 and 1939. Howard traveled throughout Idaho and created a visual history of the roads, construction, and what life was like in Idaho during this time period. Howard PDF Inventory
  • Lewiston State Normal Zimmerly Air Transport Photograph Album
  • Lora Kulow -Idaho Pioneer Collection
  • Manuscript Finding Aids (collection descriptions)
  • Mapping Mount Borah
  • Mining In Idaho Collection – Photographs, maps, oral history interviews, documents and more, all pertaining to the history of mining in Idaho.
  • Old Idaho Penitentiary
  • Onffroy – Roland Onffroy photographed all of Idaho in the 1940s. Onffroy PDF Inventory
  • Oral History Collection – The Idaho State Historical Society holds over 2,600 oral history interviews, conducted from the 1960s through the present with people all over Idaho. Both detailed summaries and word-for-word transcriptions of selected projects are available here.
  • Patrick Collins-Idaho Civil War Collection
  • R. Harold Sigler Photograph Collection – 
  • Swan Falls Dam
  • Territorial Record Indexes
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Vogel Estate Collection

[su_heading size=”24″]Onsite Collections[/su_heading]

Photographs and Motion Pictures

Over 500,000 photographic images (prints, negatives, slides and transparencies), includes:

  • Images taken by Jane E. Gay during the allotment of lands for the Nez Perce Indians
  • The life work of Boise photographer R. Harold Sigler
  • Images from the Sherwood family, pioneer settlers of the Henry’s Lake area of Idaho
  • Inmate ‘mug shots’ from the Idaho Territorial/State Prison
  • Photographs are also available for purchase

5,000 motion picture films and videos, includes:

  • 16mm copy of a 1916 film celebrating the 10th anniversary of the town of Buhl
  • Footage of a 1935 National Geographic Society expedition on the Salmon River
  • Promotional films produced by the Idaho Department of Commerce (1960’s-1990’s)

65-26-7. Idaho State Archives.

Newspapers and Records

40,000 rolls of microfilm, includes:

  • Idaho newspapers dating from 1863 to present (Juliaetta Sun)
  • County-level records (land and property, citizenship, court, vital and tax) dating from 1863
  • Sanborn fire insurance maps for many Idaho cities
  • Idaho death certificates (1911-1937), federal census schedules (1790-1930), and a variety of materials related to Idaho history and purchased from the National Archives
  • Idaho’s Digital Newspapers


3,007 maps, includes:

  • Hand-drawn and hand-colored maps prepared by Lafayette Cartee, Idaho’s first Surveyor General
  • State highway maps
  • Fire insurance maps for a variety of towns and businesses
  • Blueprints and architectural plans from the state’s premier architectural firms including Tourtellotte and Hummel, Sundberg and Sundberg and Edgar Jensen

Manuscripts and Archival Materials

123,000 cubic feet of manuscript (non-governmental records) and state government material, includes:

  • Personal papers of Senator William E. Borah
  • Records of the Territorial government
  • Gubernatorial papers from George Shoup through James E. Risch
  • Records of the Idaho Soldiers’ Home
  • Carey Act materials dealing with water rights and irrigation

Oral Histories

3,100 individual interviews (audio and video formats), documenting topics such as:

  • African-Americans in Southeast Idaho
  • Czechoslovakian culture in the Buhl-Castleford area
  • Women and political activism in Idaho 1945-1980
  • Bureau of Land Management in Idaho
  • Basque and Hispanic communities in Idaho
  • Veterans History Project
  • Idaho yearbooks from 1909-2006
  • Open-stack reference collection of book and periodical titles for the study of regional, state, community and family history
  • Comprehensive list of Idaho Territorial and State Penitentiary inmates including men, women and children between 1864-1947.
  • Genealogy research

[su_heading size=”24″]Hours of Operation[/su_heading]

Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday: 11 am – 4 pm

Closed on Sundays, Mondays, and on State Holidays. [/su_heading]


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