Regional Geography: Iowa
Spring 2008

Cartographic Resources

Climate Data

Census Materials Reference Resources
Additional Resources

Cartographic Resources

A.T. Andreas' Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa
UNI Special Collections G1431.S1 A6 1875 and Map Ref G1430.S1 A6 1970
Has maps of all the counties, plans of most cities and towns, brief histories of the counties and the state, and views of buildings and farms. The copies in the Map Collection are the 1970 reprint which is two-thirds the size of the original and contains information about the making of the original.

David Rumsey Map Colletion
The David Rumsey collection is a digitized collection of maps owned by a noted map collector. It focuses primarily on cartography of the Americas from the 18th and 19th centuries and has digitized the Andreas atlas.

Fire Insurance Maps From the Sanborn Map Company Archives, Late 19th Century to 1990
UNI Microfilm G4151.G475 S3 1993
Provides Sanborn maps for selected towns and cities in Iowa. Sanborn maps provide information on what (business, church, etc.) or who (resident) occupied a specific site or structure at various dates in history.

Illustrated Review Showing Development of the State of Iowa
UNI Map Reference and Special Collections G1430 .R6 1915
Has a brief history of the state and descriptions of the cities and towns in Iowa.

Iowa Geographic Map Server
The Iowa Geographic Map Server allows current information to be overlayed onto a orthophotoquad map. Works best with newer versions of most web browsers.

Plat Books
UNI Map Reference G1433 - most recent editions
UNI Special Collections - older editions
The library receives the platt book for every county in Iowa. Platt books map out the county and provide information on who owns specific pieces of land within the county. Special Collections has these dating back to the 1970s.

Topographic Maps
UNI Map (no call number, arranged alphabetically)
Topographic information can also be located through a website called Topozone at

Iowa Maps
This is a collection of historic atlases and plat books of the state and some counties digitized by the University of Iowa and available through the Iowa Digital Heritage Collection. The collection is arranged in alphabetical order by title.

Climate Data

Climates of the States
UNI Reference QC983 .C55
Published in 1978, it contains weather data from 1941-1970.

Climates of the States
UNI Reference QC983 .U58 1974
Contains much the same data as the 1978 title.

National Climate Data Center
The National Climatic Data Center is the nation's active archive of weather data. The site is searchable by location, though not all locations have data available online.

Weather America
UNI Reference QC983 .W385 2000
Contains data from 1970-1999.

Weather America
UNI Reference QC983 .W385 1996
Contains data from 1965-1994.

Census Materials

Historical Census Browser
Allows you to electronically produce customized data tables on a variety of topics down to the county level.

Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970

Statistical Abstract of the United States (1878-current year)

Federal Decennial Censuses
UNI Documents C3.
Federal censuses have been conducted every 10 years since 1790. Their purpose is to provide aggregated population and housing data for communities around the country. The scope and quantity of the data has grown and varied greatly over the years.

Census of Iowa
UNI Reference and Stacks HA371 .I8
The state of Iowa collected and published its own state census periodically between the years 1836-1925. This provides aggregated rather than individual level data, but provides an interesting variety of information about counties and/or places.

Iowa State Data Center
This center, an affiliate of the U.S. Census Bureau, provides statistical data tables for Iowa communities derived from federal Census data. Generally, the tables from the State Data Center are easier to retrieve, manipulate, and print than tables from the U.S. Census Bureau. Also, if you can't locate the statistics you need, you can contact the center and they will produce customized data tables for you.

Iowa's Counties: Selected Population Trends, Vital Statistics, and Socioeconomic Data
UNI Stacks HA375 .I69
This print publication contains statistical data for Iowa counties covering the years 1989-2001 and includes some unique data about child welfare and social problems. It was recently replaced by a CD-Rom product titled Iowa by the Numbers available in the Reference Desk Cabinet at HA375 .I68 2004 CD-ROM.

Decennial Census Rolls for Iowa
UNI Microfilm HA371.5 1930
Includes individual level data (names/households) collected through the decennial censuses for the state of Iowa. The library has these for 1840-1880 and 1900-1930. To access the census rolls for 1870 or 1910 see the indexes below, and for 1930 see the NARA web page For all other years use the title Using the Soundex Indexes to Iowa Census Materials & Index to Soundex Microfilm Reel Numbers located at UNI Reserve ZZ 23.

Iowa 1870 Census Index
UNI Reference HA371.5 1870 Index
Helps pinpoint where individual level census data can be found on the 1870 microfilm.

Iowa 1910 Census Index
UNI Reference HA371.5 1910 Index
Helps pinpoint where individual level census data can be found on the 1910 microfilm.

Reference Resources

A variety of books such as Abandoned Towns, Villages and Post Offices of Iowa and From Ackley to Zwingle, which focus on Iowa’s history and towns, are available in the Reference Collection in the F619 call number range.

Iowa History and Culture: A Bibliography of Materials Published Between 1952 and 1986
UNI Reference Desk and Reference Z1283 .D38 1989
Indexes articles and other resources that discuss topics relating to Iowa's history and culture.

Iowa History Reference Guide
UNI Stacks, Reference Desk, and Reference Z1283 .P46 1952
This guide also indexes articles and other resources that discuss topics relating to Iowa's history and culture.

Iowa Official Register
UNI Reference JK6330 .I68
This resource can be used to locate contact information for the county recorder's office of each county. This is where information such as deeds are filed and stored.

Index to the Waterloo Courier
UNI Index/Abstract AI21 .W37
Indexes stories from the Waterloo Courier from 1974-1991.

Des Moines Register Index/Newsbanks America's Newspapers
Indexes are available since 1965 in varying formats. Ask at the reference desk for assistance. Full text stories from recent years of the Register, Cedar Rapids Gazette, East Dubuque Register, Burlington Hawk Eye, Iowa City Press-Citizen, and Dubuque Telegraph Herald are searchable through Newsbank's America's Newspapers database. Many newspapers also offer free electronic access to some recent news stories through their web sites. Some of these are listed at For other newspapers in Iowa you may need to contact the local public library, local historical society, or the newspaper itself for assistance.

Additional Resources

Iowa Digital Heritage Collection

Iowa Digital Library

Iowa History Project

State Historical Society of Iowa

Iowa History Guide

Historical and Genealogical Societies in Iowa
State and county historical societies often have documents and information that can not be obtained elsewhere.

Histories of Counties in Iowa
UNI Special Collections F627 (some copies may also be available in the Stacks collection)
Coverage varies by county, but most counties have histories published between 1880-1915. These provide first facts, such as the first church in the county, as well as information about local organizations, descriptions of the landscape when the area was settled, etc. Another group of histories for various Iowa counties was published in the 1970s.

Iowa County Soil Surveys
UNI Documents A 57.38/15:
Compiled by the USDA, these provide information on soil properties, crop yields, windbreaks, water management, etc. For instructions on how to use a soil survey, consult the Natural Resource Conservation Service's How to Use a Soil Survey website.

Polk City Directories
UNI Stacks F629.C25 A18 ( Cedar Falls)
UNI Stacks F629.W3 A18 ( Waterloo)
Created as a marketing tool for businesses, these directories provide residential and business listings with “reverse directory” features. For example, you can look up an address and find out who lives (or lived) at that location. You may need to consult the local historical society or public library in the area you are examining for other cities.

State and Local Government on the Net - Iowa State and Local Government
Provides links to the official web pages for towns and counties.

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