Dakota Territory 1885 Census Database

Dakota Territory 1885 Census search page

The Dakota Territory 1885 Census database was developed by the Institute for Regional Studies Archives. It contains over 151,500 names for the northern half of Dakota Territory at that time. Extracting the census data has been a cooperative project involving Jane Skjei of the Institute; George Barron of Jamestown, N.D.; Donald Smith of Mandan, N.D.; and Carol Norsby.

Schedules have survived for fifty of the fifty-six counties that existed in the northern half of Dakota Territory. All fifty counties are now indexed and contained in this database. The missing county schedules include Boreham, De Smet, Flannery, Hettinger, Sheridan and Stevens.

Each entry includes: name, age, nativity, occupation, county of residence, and exact location of the entry in the census schedule. The census is available on microfilm at the Institute (Microfilm HA631 1885 .D34). The Mortality and Civil War veterans schedules were also extracted, but are not presently included in this database. The original census is preserved at the State Historical Society of North Dakota in Bismarck.

Also available on microfilm at the Institute are the county schedules which survived for sourthern Dakota Territory, now South Dakota. They include Beadle, Butte, Charles Mix, Edmunds, Fall River, Faulk, Hand, Hutchinson, Hyde, Lake, Lincoln, Marshall, McPherson, Moody, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink, Stanley, and Turner counties. (Microfilm HA631 1885.D34 1971). An index for the southern counties, South Dakota 1885, was published in 1981 by Accelerated Indexing Systems International. The Institute does not have a copy of this index; please contact a library in South Dakota.

Printed indexes were published by the Institute of the 1885 census for the City of Fargo and the following North Dakota counties: Barnes, Cass, Griggs & Steele, Nelson & Ramsey, Richland, and Traill. Copies are available for use at the Institute Research Room.

Ordering copies

The Institute does offer a fee-based copy service of the original census pages from the microfilm. The cost is $5.00 per family group appearing on the census, which includes mailing and handling. You can obtain copies of the census found through the index by contacting the Institute via e-mail ndsu.library.archives@ndsu.edu or regular mail. If a request is sent via e-mail be sure to include your postal address. Also include the citation information as listed on the index results (Name, ED number, and County).

To place an order, please consult our ordering information page.

Update history

Mounted February 1998
Cass County records enhanced 2003
Grand Forks County records added October 2004 (151,588 total records)
Traill County records enhanced September 2005
Richland County records enhanced March 2007