Iowa is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States, a region sometimes called the "American Heartland". Iowa is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River on the west; it is the only US state whose eastern and western borders are formed entirely by rivers. Iowa is bordered by Wisconsin and Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska and South Dakota to the west, and Minnesota to the north.
In colonial times, Iowa was a part of French Louisiana; its current state flag is patterned after the flag of France. After the Louisiana Purchase, settlers laid the foundation for an agriculture-based economy in the heart of the Corn Belt.
In the latter half of the 20th century, Iowa's agricultural economy made the transition to a diversified economy of advanced manufacturing, processing, financial services, information technology, biotechnology, and green energy production. Iowa is the 26th most extensive in land area and the 30th most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Des Moines. Iowa has been listed as one of the safest states in which to live.
When American Indians first arrived in what is now Iowa more than 13,000 years ago, they were hunters and gatherers living in a Pleistocene glacial landscape. By the time European explorers visited Iowa, American Indians were largely settled farmers with complex economic, social, and political systems. This transformation happened gradually. During the Archaic period (10,500–2,800 years ago), American Indians adapted to local environments and ecosystems, slowly becoming more sedentary as populations increased.
More than 3,000 years ago, during the Late Archaic period, American Indians in Iowa began utilizing domesticated plants. The subsequent Woodland period saw an increased reliance on agriculture and social complexity, with increased use of mounds, ceramics, and specialized subsistence. During the Late Prehistoric period (beginning about AD 900) increased use of maize and social changes led to social flourishing and nucleated settlements.
The arrival of European trade goods and diseases in the Protohistoric period led to dramatic population shifts and economic and social upheaval, with the arrival of new tribes and early European explorers and traders. There were numerous Indian tribes living in Iowa at the time of early European exploration. Tribes which were probably descendants of the prehistoric Oneota include the Dakota, Ho-Chunk, Ioway, and Otoe. Tribes which arrived in Iowa in the late prehistoric or protohistoric periods include the Illiniwek, Meskwaki, Omaha, and Sauk.
Note: Iowa was acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and formed part of Louisiana Territory, renamed Missouri Territory in 1812. Iowa became a territory in 1838 and included present-day Minnesota and the Dakotas from the Mississippi River west to the Missouri River. Iowa was admitted as a State on December 28, 1846 with substantially its present boundaries. Census coverage began in 1840, when it was limited to eastern Iowa, except for two settlements in present-day Minnesota that were included in Clayton County. The northwestern part of the State was not fully covered in the census until 1860. County Notes Note 1: The 1840 total and Clayton County populations include two settlements in present-day Minnesota. Note 2: Tama: Total for 1890 includes population (401) of Sac and Fox Indian Reservation, reported separately.
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
Ancestry.com has the following Iowa vital records collections:
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
Outstanding guide to Iowa family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.