Birth and death records in Nebraska were not mandated until 1904; marriages and divorces followed in 1909. Recording errors and a lack of compliance characterize the first decades after civil registration. Copies are available from the state Bureau of Vital Records. Marriages and divorces before and after 1909 are on file with individual counties.
You can fill in the vital records gaps with church records, but completeness varies depending on the denomination. Most church records are still at the church, but you’ll need to track down registers of churches that moved, merged or disbanded. Check first with the church, then contact the denominational headquarters on the state or regional level. The Nebraska State Historical Society (NSHS) lists its church record holdings by county at http://www.nebraskahistory.org/lib-arch/research/manuscripts/church.
Newspaper obituaries and marriages also may fill in gaps left by missing vital records. Since the 1890s, the Nebraska Press Association has sent copies of papers to NSHS. Newspapers from the territorial period to the present are on microfilm at the society, and most can be borrowed via interlibrary loan through public libraries.
All existing state and federal Nebraska census records also are available at the NSHS. Territorial census originals and transcriptions (1854, 1855, and 1856) are there as well. County census records exist for some counties during the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s, as well as a special census of Germans from Russia living in Lincoln in 1913 to 1914. School censuses, taken annually from the 1870s to the present, can supply data for families prior to the recording of vital records. Surviving records are either at the county level or at NSHS.
County clerks’ offices have a variety of helpful documents, including motor vehicle registrations, military discharges, voter registrations and school registers. Also on the county level are probate documents, including wills and guardianships. District court proceedings cover civil and criminal cases, divorces and naturalizations. In some cases, certain county records have been transferred to NSHS.
Between 1854 and 1863, the most common type of land entry in Nebraska was the pre-emption claim under the Act of 1841, which was followed by the Homestead Act of 1862. NSHS has General Land Office (GLO) tract books for Nebraska on microfilm, as well as indexes for some counties. Search land patents on the GLO website http://www.glorecords.blm.gov. Homestead records from Nebraska’s Broken Bow Land Office are on subscription genealogy site Footnote http://www.footnote.com. See http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/land for details on requesting land entry case files from the National Archives and Records Administration.
After the initial sale from the federal government, land records are with the county registers of deeds. County boundaries have changed over the years, so be sure to verify county borders at the time of the land transaction.
You probably won’t find much published material about Nebraska’s many small cemeteries. For volunteer transcriptions of cemeteries, visit Nebraska GenWeb http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/cemeteries and websites such as Interment.net http://interment.net.
- 1854, 1855, 1856 Nebraska Territory Censuses compiled by E. Evelyn Cox (1977)
- 111 days to Zion by Hal Knight and Dr. Stanley B. Kimball (Deseret News, 1978)
- Czech Immigrant Passenger List (for Nebraska) 1879 compiled by Margie Sobotka (Eastern Nebraska Genealogical Society, 1982)
- Homestead Guide of Kansas and Nebraska (University Microfilms International, 1970)
- Maps Showing County Boundaries of Nebraska, 1854-1925 by Sylvia L. Nimmo (1978)
- Nebraska Atlas by N.D. Searcy and A.R. Longwell (Nebraska Atlas Publishing Co., 1964)
- Nebraska Atlas and Gazetteer (DeLorme, 1996)
- Nebraska Place-Names by Lilian L. Fitzpatrick (University of Nebraska Press, 1960)
- The Official State Atlas of Nebraska: Compiled From Government Surveys, County Records and Personal Investigations (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978)
- Perkey’s Nebraska Place-Names by Elton Perkey (Nebraska State Historical Society, 1982)
- The Post Offices of Nebraska: Part 1, Territorial Post Offices by William F. Rapp and Janet L. C. Rapp (J-B Pub., 1992)
- Nebraska Born Veterans Buried in Colorado, 1862-1949 by Gerald E. Sherard (G.E. Sherard, 1997)
- A Nebraska Civil War Ancestor by Gerald E. Sherard (G.M.E. Sherard, 1994)
- Nebraska’s Militia: the History of the Army and Air National Guard, 1854-1991 by Douglas R. Hartman (Donning, 1994)
- Nebraska, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 by the US Selective Service System (National Archives, 1987-1988)
- Roster and Indexes of Soldiers, 1911 by Grand Army of the Republic (Nebraska State Historical Society, 1974)
- Roster of Nebraska Soldiers (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1958)
- Roster of Nebraska Volunteers from 1861 to 1869 compiled by Edgar S. Dudley (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1963)
- Roster of Soldiers, Sailors and Marines of the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the War of the Rebellion, Residing in Nebraska as of June 1, 1891, Who Enlisted from the State of Illinois by John C. Allen (Nebraska State Genealogical Society, 2000)
- Roster of Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who Served in the War of the Rebellion, Spanish-American War and World War: Nebraska (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1995)
- Preliminary Inventory Records of the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska: Record Group 21 compiled by Fred W. Hons and Delbert A. Bishop (Federal Records Center, 1967)
- Eighth Census of the United States 1860 Nebraska Territory Mortality Schedules by Jane Emerson James (Century Enterprises, 1972)
- Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Nebraska by the Historical Records Survey (Historical Records Survey, 1941)
- Nebraska 1870 Mortality Schedule by Ronald Vern Jackson (Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1980)
- Nebraska 1880 Mortality Schedule by Ronald Vern Jackson, et al. (Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1981)
- Nebraska Cemeteries and Burial Sites: in Two Parts by Georgene Morris Sones, et al. (Nebraska State Genealogical Society, 1996)