Decorah Genealogy Association
Lower Level, Decorah Public Library
202 Winnebago Street
Decorah, Iowa 52101-1812
563-382-8559, ext. 107
Research Center Hours: M-F, 10-4, staffed entirely by volunteers
Jennifer at the Vesterheim Museum archives, directed us to this hidden gem. Somehow I had not found this group online as I prepared for our visit to this corner of the state. Jennifer stated that she sends people here all the time, so once again we were visiting a repository without contacting them ahead!
LaVonne Sharp was the volunteer working on the day of our visit. She was very pleased to show off the hard work of their group. Their wealth of valuable records is well-organized and carefully arranged in limited space. Some examples of their collection include:
* Decorah Hospital records dating back to 1914
* copies of naturalizations, births, deaths, marriages and probates
* large plat map collection
* telephone books
* farm directories
* deed books
* jail records
* court records
* school records
* township notebooks with various information
* Decorah newspaper index thru 1981 (inc. supplements)
* family histories
* Burdick Abstract Company records
* funeral home records
* some poor farm records
* cemetery survey
However, the hidden gems include two significant items:
1) 300 applications for admittance to the Aase Haugen Home for the Aged. This home was originally under the control of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church and these applications include genealogically significant information about many people who were born in Norway as early as the 1840s. Information includes: date and place of birth; name and birthplace of each parent and spouse, when, where and by whom applicant was baptized, name of church where member, physical health status of applicant, an financial status of applicant.
2) vertical file system for tracking the research done. The group keeps a photocopy of all materials found by visitors and for answering queries. They frequently refer to these files when helping others and it helps to eliminate duplicate work.
LaVonne also explained to us that several small towns and ethnic groups in northeast Iowa are developing heritage or family research centers. She specifically referred to groups in Protovin, Spillville and West Union. We had not planned to visit these places on this trip, but may have to travel this way again.
We could not believe we almost missed this collection in Decorah! Thank you, Jennifer, for sending us this way.