Local History & Genealogy Research Guides
Indiana counties began recording births in 1882. However, record keeping was sporadic until 1907 when stricter laws were enacted. The State of Indiana began keeping birth records in October 1907.
The Local History & Genealogy collection includes the WPA Index to Births for Delaware County 1882-1920. We also have birth indexes for 67 of Indiana's 92 counties, 1882-1920, on CD-ROM and access to birth records via AncestryLibrary.com.
If a birth record cannot be located, you could use other sources, such as federal census records to narrow down a birth date. For example, the 1900 federal census includes the month and the year a person was born. All available federal census records for the entire country, are available online via AncestryLibrary.com. You can access this database at any Muncie Public Library computer lab.
If a person was born before birth records were kept, you could possibly verify a birth date by a death record, a cemetery or funeral home record, an obituary, or a marriage application.
Copies of original birth records for Delaware County may be obtained from the Health Department's Vital Records Division.
Birth records can also be obtained from the Indiana State Department of Health.
Quite often, a family history researcher will come to Carnegie Library and ask if we have death records. Although 'original' death records are only available at the Delaware County Health Department, we have several resources that will help you find a death date.
Carnegie Library has a one-of-a-kind obituary card index that contains entries from 1943-2001. Most of these indexes are now available via our Muncie/Delaware County Digital Resource Library, and new entries are added to the online database daily. There is an earlier card index for newspapers 1837-1942, but please note that obituaries are rarely found in newspapers prior to the early 1900s. Early obituaries are spread throughout the newpaper. "Obituary Sections" do not appear in Muncie newspapers until the late 1950s. Muncie newspapers are available on microfilm at the Carnegie Library. If an obituary does not appear in our index, you can find death dates via the Social Security Death Index, funeral home records, burial records, etc. You can also find more recent death dates on the Muncie Star Press online article archives. We add "missed" obituaries to our index as they are found.
Funeral Home Records
Carnegie Library has records from local funeral homes online via the Muncie/Delaware County Digital Resource Library. The bulk of the records in this database are from the Meeks, Parson, and Faulkner mortuaries in Muncie.
Funeral home records may contain the cause of death, the cemetery in which the person was buried, parents' names, an obituary, and perhaps even the death certificate.
Our collection includes cemetery indexes for most Delaware County cemeteries.
The Beech Grove Cemetery index contains over 42,000 entries. The cemetery opened in 1841, but records date back to 1828 as some remains from older cemeteries were re-interred at Beech Grove. New records are added to the database as they become available to the library.
Social Security Death Index
The Social Security Death Index contains death dates for persons of which a death benefit was claimed. The database contains deaths from the mid 1960's to present. This resource is available online via AncestryLibrary.com.
Please note that the release of the Master Death File by the Social Security Administration is designed to prevent fraud and identity theft. For further information go to: http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/consumer/a/deathmaster.htm
Carnegie Library is unique in that we house the original marriage books from the Delaware County Clerk's Office from 1827-1996.
We also have indexes to Delaware County Marriages from 1827-1996. Marriage applications, which began in 1905 in Delaware County, contain the most information of genealogical value. Some of the items listed on the record are parents' names, birth dates, addresses, and occupations of the bride and groom.
Marriage records prior to 1905 contain only the names of the bride and groom and the date.
Marriage records from 1827-1957 are available on microfilm.
Outside of genealogy, one of the most frequent research requests we receive at the library involves learning the history of one’s house, especially if it is a historic home in Muncie’s oldest neighborhoods. This is a research guide to help you get started investigating the history of your house. Let us know what you find out by calling Carnegie Library at 747-8208 or emailing [email protected].
BeaconGIS is an online public access tool that provides information on public records, county and city information, and Geographic Information Systems. This tool gives a legal description of the property, names of the current and other previous owners, and the date of construction (although be sure to fact check that as it can be inaccurate). Another source for this type of information would be the Delaware County Assessor’s office in downtown Muncie at 100 W. Main St.
In order to establish a line of property transfer, you will need to consult the transfer records at the Delaware County Auditor’s office also located at 100 W. Main St. These records tell us the names of the owners (current and new), the date the property was transferred, and the value of the land as well as that of the buildings or improvements. Working from the earliest owner/date you know, you will go backwards in time until you find the date of construction for your house. The Carnegie Branch of Muncie Public Library has the county transfer records from 1851-1903.
Once you have names and dates, you should be able to obtain the original deed records for the property (i.e. the proof of ownership) either at the County Auditor’s office for the more recent records or Carnegie Library, which holds the deed books from 1827-1961. We are in the process of digitizing and indexing the deed records, so many records are available through our Digital Resource Library. The deed records will give you information such as who owned the plot of land, how much the land was worth, the size of the plot, and how it was transferred.
When researching your house history, maps and atlases can provide you with some information on what your home and the surrounding neighborhood looked like at the time as well as the outbuildings that may or may not have existed on your property. Ball State’s Digital Media Repository has an online collection called Muncie and Delaware County Historical Maps and Atlases. Another good resource at Ball State University is the GIS Research and Map Collection within Bracken Library. Muncie Public Library also has a collection of historical maps at Carnegie Library that will show you how the city grew and the streets changed over time, which may have affected the history of your home. Last, the Office of Information and GIS Services has searchable, historic maps on their website.
Atlases and plat maps, especially useful for rural areas, can reveal land ownership and could include drawings and photographs of prominent farm houses. Plat maps will also tell you the original property description. Muncie Public Library has a collection of plat books in the catalog but you can also find digital scans of historical survey maps through the Muncie Neighborhoods organization.
Another map resource you should consult in your research is the Sanborn Map collection. These are detailed maps of U.S. cities and towns in the 19th and 20th centuries that were created to allow fire insurance companies to assess their total liability in urbanized areas of the U.S. The Sanborn Maps will give you a range for date of construction, show the evolution of the property through additions as well as the changes in the neighborhood, street names/addresses, a physical description of the home (i.e. building materials, number of stories, rooflines, etc.), its use, and the outbuildings on the property. When using the Sanborn Maps, start with the earliest one and work through them chronologically. At Carnegie Library, we have the Sanborn Maps on microfilm and CD-Rom, but an easier resource to use is the digitized collection of early Sanborn Maps found on Ball State University’s Digital Media Repository which includes an interactive Muncie Sanborn Map Locator. The highest quality scans of the original copies of Sanborn Maps from Indiana can be found online through Indiana University’s Indiana Sanborn Maps collection.
If you want to research the historical landscape, i.e. the physical features, of your house’s location, consult the U.S. Geological Survey Library. You can explore historical topographic maps at this link.
If you would like to know more about the Architectural History of your home, the Andrew Seager Archives of the Built Environment (formerly the Drawings + Documents Archive) in the Architecture Building at Ball State University is a good community resource to consult. They have a great house history guide geared more towards the architectural history of a house for those beginning their research. You can contact them by either calling 765-285-8441 or emailing [email protected].
If you know the date of construction of your house and want to learn more about its building history, you can also consult the city directories from that time period to obtain a list of builders and developers listed in that area. One of them may have been involved in building your house. When consulting the city directories, be sure to pay attention to the owner’s occupation as that may give you some clues to who may have built the house in terms of associations with businesses and other similar instances you may find in your research. For example, if a previous owner worked for A business and it was known that A business liked working with B builder, then possibly B builder could have been involved with your house somehow. As another example, the previous owner could have worked for one of those builders/developers, so it’s a good chance that the association may have extended to the building of the house.
Other sources of information that may be helpful are newspaper articles, court cases, and mechanic’s liens. All Muncie newspapers are available via microfilm at Carnegie Library. The Delaware County court records from around 1827-1960 are also available. Some records may be found online through the Digital Resource Library. Court records after 1960 are available at the Delaware County Clerk’s office.
Once you have the names of people who owned or were associated with the home, you can start learning about aspects of their lives and how that influenced the building and evolution of the house by using genealogy research methods. A great place to start would be the Muncie city directories available at Carnegie Library. The city directories will provide the name of the resident, their spouse if married, their occupation, and addresses for both their residential home and place of business if applicable. From 1925 on, you can also search by address in the city directories if you don’t know the name of the home’s owner. Early city directories can be found on Ball State University’s Digital Media Repository.
Another great place to start would be the Muncie newspapers, which are all available here at Carnegie Library on microfilm. One of the biggest sources of information that you can find through the newspapers is obituaries, which contains a lot of biographical information about the person. Check the Digital Resource Library to see if we have the name and obituary source information online, or consult the card catalog in the microfilm room at Carnegie Library. The newspapers may also contain other biographical information like marriages and engagements, awards and big accomplishments, and societies that the person may have belonged to. You may even find information about or historic photographs of the house.
Another good resource is Ancestry.com or AncestryLibrary.com, which is available onsite at Muncie Public Library. Through these sites, you can also access the city directories as well as vital information such as birth, marriage, death dates and places, funeral/burial place, family members, and so much more. Further, Ancestry Library includes the U.S. Federal Census up to 1940 with the 1950 census currently in the process of being uploaded to the site. You can search the full 1950 census on the official National Archives site. Census records will give you information on who lived in the household including their ages, relationships to the head of the household, marital status, place of birth, level of education, and occupation. Another source of vital information for people are funeral and burial records. These can often be found on FindaGrave.com, which may also include photographs and obituaries. Muncie Public Library also has a collection of Delaware County funeral and cemetery resources available in house at Carnegie Library and online through the Digital Resource Library.
Wills and probates will not only provide death information and names of relatives but also tell you how a person lived and the things, goods, and services they used. This can paint a picture of what life was like when that person lived in your house. Court records may also prove useful in learning more about the family that resided in your home. You can find these records for Delaware County up to 1960 at Carnegie Library or some may also be available through our Digital Resource Library. You can also find a probate index on our website. The County Histories in our collection found via the Muncie Public Library catalog and online are good for finding biographical information about pioneers and early residents that may have lived in your home.
One of the biggest things asked with regard to house history is if we have any historical photographs of the house in question. This may require some deep digging on the part of the researcher, especially if the house didn’t belong to someone of repute or has a lot of historicity attached to it. Some of the resources already mentioned like city directories, newspapers, and county histories may have an image of the house.
Muncie Public Library has a historic postcard collection at Carnegie Library that does include some residences, street scenes, and aerial views of Muncie, Indiana. However, your best bet probably would be in a private collection. The Facebook group Lost Muncie is dedicated to the discussion of Muncie’s past and may be a place to reach out to others in order to find a historic photo of your house, especially if you share what you have already learned about the house with the group.
If you are looking for photographs of past residents, a good resource for this is school yearbooks available here at Carnegie Library and online through Biblioboard. Ancestry.com as well as AncestryLibrary.com may also have a collection of school yearbooks online. Depending on how influential or respected that family/person was, you may find a sketched portrait of the person or an image of the home in the County histories available at Carnegie Library or online.
Three great resources for photographs of both houses and people are Ball State University’s Digital Media Repository, Minnetrista Heritage Collection, and the Delaware County Historical Society’s collection.
We have a couple of tutorials that may help you in your house history research. For the Digital Resource Library, we have created a tutorial to help you use and navigate this resource. Also, we have a Genealogy Basics at Home tutorial that will help you learn more about the families that lived in your home using genealogy research methods. Last, the Sanborn Maps can be rather difficult to navigate, so check out this instructional video on how to use them for your research.
Ancestry.com is an online database of historical records to help people research their genealogy. It includes records like birth and death certificates, census, immigration, tax, wills, military, etc. Muncie Public Library has a subscription to Ancestry Library Edition, which does slightly differ from Ancestry.com. Proquest, who partnered with Ancestry.com to create the Library edition, has put together a helpful guide. Library cardholders can access the site from home through their account until December 2021. Those who do not have a library card will have to visit one of the libraries in the Muncie Public Library system to access AncestryLibrary.com.
Fold3 is a database that researchers can use to search the original military records as well as stories, photos, and personal documents of those who have served in the armed forces. Records included in the database originate from the U.S. National Archives, the National Archives of the U.K., and other international records. Although Muncie Public Library does not have a subscription to Fold3 currently, the Delaware County Historical Society does. You can call the organization at 765-282-1550 to inquire about this service.
Indiana Archives and Records Administration (IARA) holds military records from the territorial period in Indiana’s history up to 1988. Early records can be useful for genealogical purposes and can include biographical information on the soldier while later records show proof of benefits or military funerals. The records at IARA also have information on general military history within the state of Indiana.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the organization that holds all military records on behalf of the federal government. Indexed military records can be found on the National Archives’ Access to Archival Databases or the National Archives’ Online Public Access site. Declassified, non-digital records can be ordered online from NARA or the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO.
Note: Military records for conflicts after World War II may still be classified and unavailable to researchers.
An important part of understanding your ancestor’s service within the armed forces is also learning some history about our involvement in warfare whether it began prior to the establishment of the United States with the Native Americans or more recently with the Vietnam War. We have a number of histories within our catalog at www.munciepubliclibrary.org.Try an advanced subject search using the name of the war that you want to research encompassed in quotes.
You can also find a publication containing an alphabetical list of battles from 1754-1900 on the Internet Archive.
If you are a complete newcomer to genealogy research and want to find military records for ancestors, a good place to start would be general handbooks explaining the types of records, where they are held, and how to find and obtain them. Here are some suggestions from the Carnegie collection.
Gathered in this volume is source information for the National Archives and its adjuncts; historical institutions and archives of the armed forces; the Department of Veterans Affairs (Veterans Administration); state archives, libraries and historical organizations; and such patriotic organizations as the Daughters of the American Revolution. Extensive bibliographic listings of published sources for the United States in general and published sources for each state are also included.
Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States, 3rd ed. edited by Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka
Military Service Records at the National Archives compiled by Trevor K. Plante
Both of the above books are publications from the National Archives detailing how Military Service Records can be obtained. They would be very helpful for new genealogists or even for more experienced genealogists who aren’t sure how to find and request military records.
Searching American Military Records by Fran Carter
This is another good resource for military records that includes holding organizations beyond the National Archives as well as lists and small summaries of wars fought, indexes and registers, veterans homes, and much more! We also have resources for specific wars in United States history like the American Revolution or the Civil War. Be sure to check out our catalog and search for “military records.” Change the library location to Carnegie Library to see what we have in our local history and genealogy collection.
The annotated bibliographies compiled on this page contain selected resources on specific research topics. While these are not an exhaustive list of all available materials at Muncie Public Library, they are great places to begin your research.
All listed materials are accessible in MPL’s Local History & Genealogy collections at Carnegie Library (301 E. Jackson Street, Muncie, IN 47305).
This annotated bibliography includes books compiling interviews, essays, biographies, photographs, recipes, genealogy, and special collections related to the history and experiences of African Americans in and around Muncie, Indiana.
This annotated bibliography includes books and special collections compiling histories, photographs, newspapers, essays, and more related to learning about Delaware County’s past development and the people who have settled and shaped its heritage.
This annotated bibliography includes books, websites, and audio-visual resources on the topic of using DNA testing as a tool that can be combined with traditional genealogy research to further explore your family tree. Topics include the science behind genetic ancestry testing, DNA testing services and tools, how to interpret and organize test results, ethics and standards, privacy, the latest news and developments, and how genetic testing can help with genealogy research goals.