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Center for Dubuque History: Genealogical Resource Materials

Genealogical Resource Materials in the Center for Dubuque History

Compiled by Michael D. Gibson
Center for Dubuque History
Loras College


Obituary File

Obituaries appearing in the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald and its predecessors are available in a 3 x 5 card index in the lobby of the Center for Dubuque History (CDH) and at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library (CSPL).  Early obituaries (often only death notices) were indexed by the WPA staff in the 1930s and include many early settlers.  In the interval between the initial indexing and January 1984 each library indexed certain obituaries, but the indexing was not coordinated and cards were not duplicated.  The Loras College Library also indexed many Catholic newspapers in Dubuque that the CSPL did not.  Since 1984, the local genealogical society and others have performed the indexing and duplicate cards have been placed in each facility.

Newspapers on Microfilm

Microfilm of most of the newspapers published in Dubuque are available in the CDH and also at the CSPL. The first newspaper published in Dubuque was the DuBuque Visitor in 1836 and the collection of newspapers dates from that time.  In addition to English language newspapers, there were a number of German-language newspapers published in Dubuque including the Luxemburger Gazette (1871-1918) for which there is a surname index in a book entitled Luxembourgers in the New World. Unfortunately, translation services are not available. There are also some newspapers from other Dubuque county towns (Cascade, Farley, and Dyersville) but they are not indexed.

WPA Newspaper Index

The Works Progress Administration compiled an index to the local Dubuque newspapers, which is available on 3 x 5 index cards in the CDH.  The index is arranged by subject headings, i.e. banks, business firms, societies, etc. There is also a separate category for towns and cities in the surrounding area. For information after the 1940s, individuals should also consult the newspaper index at the Carnegie-Stout Library which is more up-to-date.

Census Records (Only Dubuque County census records are available)

The federal census for Dubuque County is on microfilm for the decimal years l840-1930—except for 1890, which was lost in a fire.  A surname index was compiled for 1840 and 1850 and is available in paper format in the CDH.  There is also a paper copy of the 1836 census for Des Moines & DuBuque counties.  At the CSPL, there is a paper index for 1860 and 1870. Also microfilm copies of the special State of Iowa Census records for Dubuque County exists for the years 1854,1856,1885,1895,1905,1915 and 1925.  The 1925 has an index for the city only; the other years are not indexed.  The 1915 is in alphabetical order.  There are also “special schedules” (agriculture, industry, mortality, and social statistics) for the years 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880.

Dubuque City Directories

Dubuque City Directories from 1856 to the present [incomplete] are available on microfilm in the Center for Dubuque History and also at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library. In addition to street addresses information also includes occupation. Now all Dubuque City Directories are available online: http://cityofdubuque.advantage-preservation.com/    

Dubuque County Plat Maps

Plat maps for Dubuque County (arranged by township) exist for the years 1874, 1892, and 1906 as well as very recent years beginning in the 1970s. Information regarding property owners’ name, number of acres owned, and location of schools, churches, and roads is included. 

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

These informative maps show outlines of buildings, old and new street addresses, construction materials used, etc. These are available for the city of Dubuque both on microfiche and in hard copy beginning in 1897 including updates through the mid-l950s using the 1909 base map.

Dubuque County Tax Lists

Available on microfilm, arranged by township and property owners’ name, they contain legal description, valuation of property, taxes paid, lot & section numbers, etc. Dating from 1853 to 1906 (incomplete) the more recent years are located at the Dubuque County Court House.

Dubuque County Histories

Biographical and historical information is available in both the 1880 and 1915 Dubuque county history books available in the main library stacks of the Loras library as well as in the CDH.

Bowerman File

More than 17,700 index cards containing surnames from over 27 original primary sources (e.g. Miner’s Compact, Old Settlers’ Association membership list, militia rolls, etc.) between 1830 and 1917 are available only at the CDH.

Militia Rolls

Three rolls of microfilm covering the period 1862-1917 listing male residents of Dubuque County between the ages of 18 and 45 subject to militia duty.

Miscellaneous Resources

Various other resources exist including Intent to Become a Citizen book (1832-1906); list of original land entries (both city lots and rural or “out” lots); township and cemetery books [incomplete]; abstract of information from the City Sexton’s reports regarding burials in the city cemetery (1855-1875); Marriage Records and License records (1835-1861)