Iowa Court Records

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This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Iowa Family History Research series.
History of Iowa
Iowa Vital Records
Census Records for Iowa
Background Sources for Iowa
Iowa Maps
Iowa Land Records
Iowa Probate Records
Iowa Court Records
Iowa Tax Records
Iowa Cemetery Records
Iowa Church Records
Iowa Military Records
Iowa Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Iowa Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Ethnic Groups of Iowa
Iowa County Resources
Map of Iowa


The first instrument of government formulated in Iowa country is said to be the Miners’ Compact, drawn up by the lead miners in 1830. When the Iowa Territory was established in 1838, three district courts were created that continued until statehood in 1846 when the three districts became one. In 1849 this district was divided into northern, middle, and southern divisions.

Considerable reorganization took place through 1907. Holdings at the National Archives—Central Plains Region include files from the District of Iowa (1845–82); Northern District (1850–1959); and Southern District (1842–1959).

At the county level, criminal and civil court records are filed with the county clerks. A few Iowa court records have been, and are being, transferred to the State Archives in Des Moines. A recent acquisition of interest to genealogists is the Supreme Court of Iowa Order Books, beginning with the formation of the Iowa Territory in 1838, in four volumes through 1858. Order Book A contains twenty-one naturalizations between 1840 and 1851.

Naturalizations that are part of the District Court Records at the county level are being microfilmed. Naturalizations for most counties have been filmed and are available at the State Historical Society of Iowa research libraries and through The Family History Library (FHL).

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