Research in Arizona

Cover of Research in ArizonaArizona has a rich history of ethnic diversity. The earliest ancestors of Arizona’s Indian tribes date back many thousands of years. Spanish settlers arrived in the second half of the sixteenth century and later (1821-1850) were followed by Mexican citizens who came from south of the Rio Grande. People whose ancestors came from Europe—including a substantial number of German and Jewish descent—and African Americans arrived during Arizona’s territorial days. Chinese settlers also migrated to the state in the mid-nineteenth century. From 1942 to 1946, more than thirty-one thousand Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans from throughout the West were interned in two camps in Arizona, the Poston and Gila River camps. Research in Arizona, a new addition to the Research in the States series, illuminates sources of research for these ancestors.

The guide book discusses a wealth of resources, including:

  • Archives, Libraries, and Societies
  • Atlas, Gazetteers, and Maps
  • Bible, Business, Cemetery, Institutional, Land, Military, and Naturalization and Immigration Records
  • Ethnic Records, Fraternal Organizations, and Newspapers
  • Probate, Religious, School, State, Tax, and Vital Records
  • Railroads, Voter Rolls, and more

The author includes the website address, physical address, and telephone number for each resource.

Research in Arizona also covers Arizona’s various censuses. They include

  • Pre-territorial censuses, the first of which was conduct in 1797
  • Territorial censuses by county (1862-1882), both when Arizona was part of the New Mexico territory (1850-1862) and while the Arizona Territory (1863-1912)
  • Federal Census from 1860
  • Indian Census Rolls beginning 1884

Detailed information is provided for those researching Native American ancestors, which include Apache, Hopi, Navaho, and Pueblo of Zuni tribes. The book includes both local resources as well as out-of-state repositories such as the National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center in Suitland, Maryland, and the Raynor Memorial Libraries in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The author also discusses researching Indian allotment records. Tribal land of some of the more than twenty tribes in Arizona were subject to the General Allotment Act (1887-1934). The act divided reservation land into tracts for individual Indians. Most of these records along with the records from the Bureau of Indian Affairs now reside at the National Archives in Riverside, California.

For those researching Spanish and Mexican ancestors, Research in Arizona offers helpful information on finding records from the state’s pre-territorial periods when it was ruled by Spain (1562-1821) and Mexico (1821 – 1853). In addition to local resources, the author covers out-of-state repositories for Arizona related records and valuable reference books.

All this and more is covered in Research in Arizona.

Published by NGS, Research in Arizona is one volume in the Research in the States series edited by Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FUGA, FVGS. It is available for purchase in the NGS online store in both PDF and print versions.


Author-David-E-Rencher David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS, is the director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, the chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch, and a member of the NGS Board of Directors. He is the Irish course coordinator and instructor for several prestigious genealogical institutes. He also is the past chair of the joint committee for Record Preservation and Access and a Fellow of Utah Genealogical Association.