Public Records Search: Idaho State Archives
The Idaho State Historical Society can be reached by visiting history.idaho.gov. From here, Idaho's Public Archives and Research Library may be accessed along with Idaho Historical Museum, the State Historic Preservation Office, The Idaho Penitentiary, and other historic sites. Idaho has created this agency to preserve, house and make available archival documents to the public. The following text explains how to access, search and request these public records and information.
Archive and Research Requests
The main page of this site is very brief. Most importantly, researchers will see links to the aforementioned agencies. Scroll down and click on the link for the Public Archives and Research Library. Once directed to the main page, you will see the Archive address should you care to visit in person:
Also, importantly, there are several telephone numbers you may require for your search:
- 208-334-3356 (History & Genealogy)
- 208-334-3863 (Oral History)
- 208-334-2620 (Archives)
- 208-334-3198 (Fax)
The site also contains a listing for research staff along with their contact and email information for added convenience.
The main page represents Idaho's great simplicity of information which works wonderfully for researchers, because it contains all the basic and necessary information. Hours, contact information, collections, etc. can all be reached by a simple click. As the site states, their holdings are extremely varied and not only pertain to the state, but to the northwest region as well. The site contains historical and genealogical records in various mediums such as documents, books, and microfilm.
Some of the collection includes state records, oral histories, census records, maps, manuscripts, newspapers, cemetery records, family histories, military records, emigration records, church records, city directories, county directories, state directories, etc. Their book holdings range around the twenty-five thousand mark.
Public Information Requests
Requesting information from the Idaho Public Archives is a very streamlined process. From the main page, click on the link for historical or genealogical reference queries. From here, the site explains that it accepts queries by fax, email, telephone and regular mail. Requests that may be answered in less than thirty minutes are few except for the cost of photocopies. Requests that take longer will be charged a service fee of $15.00. Staff may not perform research any longer than ninety minutes. All queries are answered by staff in the order they are received. Plan to wait between two and four weeks for any forthcoming information. Some useful information to include in your query:
INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS, so they can send photocopies, brochures, and other information. Your phone number or e-mail address is also helpful, in case there are questions about your query. MAKE YOUR REQUEST AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE and include dates, places, and individual's full names. Don't ask for "all the information you have on John Smith." Tell them exactly what information you need.
The site explains other factors to keep in mind that may be viewed from this page as well.
Local Library Delivery
It may also be worthwhile to know that this agency participates in nationwide ALA-accredited libraries, so a considerable portion of items may be sent to your own local public library. To receive these items it will be necessary to obtain a valid library card and follow the procedures for state and out-of-state interlibrary loans.
Of course, many researchers will prefer to search the OCLC WorldCat where the agency collection is cataloged. This is an excellent resource and other archival sites would do well to climb aboard. In this way, anybody can search and locate materials easily right from the home computer. Idaho's site may be simple, but it is, indeed, very sophisticated making it a superior tool for any researcher. There is a link to take searchers to the catalog.
Photocopies cost $.20 for regular size and $.40 cents for oversized. When requesting copies via mail, there is a minimum charge of $5.00 for photocopying service. Click on the appropriate link to see view other costs for materials like photo reproduction. Because the site explains its procedures quite well, visiting and searching the site should pose little problems and generate few questions for most researchers who go to use it.