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Nevada’s records essentially begin with the 1860 census, in which the counties of Carson, Humboldt and St. Mary’s were enumerated with Utah Territory. There were partial territorial censuses in 1862 and 1863. Note that post-statehood, in 1866, Arizona Territory ceded lands to Nevada that, along with land from Utah Territory, became Lincoln County. In addition to the regular federal census in 1870, Nevada took a state census in 1875. Nevada census researchers are unusually fortunate: The Nevada State Historic Preservation Office has put 310,000 entries, the state’s entire 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1900 censuses, online at http://nvshpo.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1278&Itemid=382.
Keep in mind that because Nevadans moved so often, they can be found in various locations. Always check the history and formation of a county when you are looking for an ancestor. Your ancestor may live in the same spot, but it will now be a different county. In a state like Nevada, 10 years between censuses is a long time.
Nevada didn’t begin statewide records of births and deaths until 1911 and marriages until 1968. Some Nevada counties have birth and death records beginning in 1887 in their county recorder’s office. Nevada is a tough state to research in, warns genealogist and author Patricia A. Hall Scott, in part because death records are not open to the public. Obituary files are being posted online; see the Nevada Obituary Project at http://usgwarchives.net/obits/nv/obitsnv.htm.
If your ancestors went to Nevada for a “quickie divorce,” you can obtain those records from the clerk of the district court in the county.
With the transient nature of mining work and out-of-the-way desert locales, Scott adds, your ancestors’ final resting place may be equally tricky to find. Volunteers are also working to put data on “lost” Nevada cemeteries online, she says. Extant cemetery records from almost every county can be accessed on microfilm from the Family History Library.
On the bright side, miners left records because of the nature of their work. They traveled from boom to boom, each of which lasted from a few months to decades, but most only a few years, explains David A. Davis, newsletter editor of the Nevada State Genealogical Society. After the Comstock Lode, more than 200 mining districts were established to record deeds and claims. These records, along with mining corporation papers and state mine inspection records, are at the state archives. Your ancestor also might be mentioned in lists of mine supervisors, hoist operators or accident victims.
Records of the massive irrigation projects began in 1902, and though scattered among several archives they can also prove useful, according to professional researcher, Barbara L. Hodges, CGRS.
And don’t forget military records. Nevada joined the Union during the Civil War — hence its motto, “Battle Born” — and a dozen Army companies were raised there even before statehood, though they served only locally.
- 1910 Nevada Census Index: Heads of Households and Other Surnames in Households Index by Bryan Lee Dilts (Index Publishing, 1984)
- Card Index of Persons Buried in Nevada Cemeteries by Reno, Nev., Family History Center (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1990)
- Guide To Public Vital Statistics Records in Nevada by Historical Records Survey (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1941)
- Index to Marriage Licenses and Marriage Notices in Miscellaneous Nevada Newspapers, 1906-1968 by Edna E. Ostrander (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1986)
- Nevada Cemeteries: Tombstone Inscriptions of Nevada Cemeteries Collected by Local DAR Chapters Throughout Nevada by Verna S. Paterson (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1995)
- Nevada State Cemeteries by Jean Winters Ferral and Roger Ferrel (ca. 1997)
- The Nevada Tombstone Record Book by Richard B. Taylor (Nevada Families Project, ca. 1986)
- The Basques in the Northwest: A Dissertation by Flavina Maria McCullough (R and E Research Associates, 1974)
- The Mormons in Nevada by Leonard J. Arrington (Las Vegas Sun, 1979)
- Annual Reports, 1865-1930 Compiled by the Nevada State Library and Archives (filmed by Nevada Printing and Micrographics Division, 1991)
- Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Nevada by US Adjutant General’s Office (National Archives, 1964)
- Nevada’s Golden Stars by Maurice J. Sullivan (W.C. Cox, 1974)
- Nevada, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 by US Selective Service System (National Archives, 1987-1988)
- Records of Early Nevada Military Units and Personnel by J.S. Thompson (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1995)
- Revised and Complete Roster of Nevada Veterans, Civil War, Spanish American War, Nevada National Guards to 1914, State Militia, Home Guards by the Nevada Historical Society (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1994)
- Directory of Southern Nevada Place Names by Walter R. Averett (W.R. Averett, ca. 1962)
- Nevada Atlas & Gazetteer (DeLorme, ca. 1996)
- Nevada Ghost Towns & Mining Camps by Stanley W. Paher (Nevada Publications, ca. 1970)
- Nevada Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary by Helen S. Carlson (University of Nevada Press, 1974)
- Nevada Place Names: Their Origin and Significance by Rufus Wood Leigh (Deseret News Press, ca. 1964)
- Nevada Post Offices: An Illustrated History by James Gamett (Nevada Publications, ca. 1983)
- Nevada Postal History, 1861 to 1972 by Robert P. Harris (Bonanza Press, 1973)
Return to the main Nevada page
From the Family Tree Sourcebook
Also available: the State Research Guide Book, State Research Guides CD and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.