Digging, finding, writing about hidden genealogy resources in Iowa.
Research Center, Sioux City Public Museum
607 4th Street
Sioux City, IA 51101
I prefer to make appointments before I visit; sometimes it just doesn’t happen. This was one of those times. While hunting, at the last minute, for some materials to take on this trip, I happened across a newspaper clipping I saved from the July 9, 2014 Des Moines Register “History Digitized at Research Center.” (Metro Edition, p. 8a)
Thus, I walked into the Research Center cold. Once I explained my project Tom Munson (whose photo appeared in the newspaper article) was ready to help.
The museum and research center are located in the heart of downtown Sioux City and are obviously part of a downtown revitalization project. The building was formerly a J.C. Penney’s department store. In 2005 the city selected the building for the museum, in 2010 the moving began, and the museum and research center opened in April 2011. The commitment of the city and the abundant space for the museum and research center are enviable. The building offers excellent climate control for the collections.
Tom explained that the Research Center does NOT have vital records; these can be accessed at the court house. And, the center does NOT have the newspaper microfilm as this can be accessed at the public library.
Still, the holdings of the Research Center are amazing. And the detailed list of the holdings is even more amazing! More than 60,000 items are included on the Subject List which can be found on their website. The list also functions as a finding aid for the staff with subject/title, collection #, and location. The online version is updated about once a year.
With over 30,000 black & white photos in the collection, Tom said that many people use the resources here for creating house and business histories. The center also has all of the Sioux City directories that were ever printed (1871-2009), tax registers (1857-1880) and original Sanborn maps (1902-1919, 1924-1948-1968) all of which are also helpful in creating house and business histories.
Topical newspaper clipping collections include quality of life topics, i.e., business, churches, and clubs, as well as the people. One collection has more than 600 oral histories that were recorded 1978-1981 and nearly a hundred more that were recorded more recently.
Original records include the naturalization records for Woodbury County (1860s-1940s). A resource that I have not seen elsewhere is a collection of Sioux City jail registers (1899-1940s).
The Daily Commercial Reporter was a publication that included everything legal that happened in town. Some volumes (probably 1924, 1925, and 1926) are missing, otherwise the center’s holdings cover 1915-1998; however, this is not indexed yet. Another project waiting to be indexed is a collection of obituaries from the Sioux City Tribune (1893-1907).
The center has all of the Central High School yearbooks 1905-1972, about half of the East High School yearbooks, Bishop Heelan High School yearbooks for 1951-2011, and about 70% of the Morningside College yearbooks.
While this is not considered a genealogy center Tom said, “If you have family here or family that was ever here, we will have something for you.” I believe it!