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Shelby County, Iowa
Genealogy, History & Facts

Shelby County, Iowa Facts

When was Shelby County, IA Created?
Shelby County was established on January 15, 1851 (Organized in 1853) from Pottawattamie County. The county was named in honor of Isaac Shelby, a general in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 who served as the first governor of Kentucky

What is the County Seat of Shelby County, IA?
The County Seat is located in Harlan and the county government website is

What counties are adjacent to Shelby County, IA?
Bordering Counties are Crawford CountyAudubon CountyCass CountyPottawattamie CountyHarrison County.

What cities and towns are in Shelby County, IA?
Cities and towns located in the County include Defiance, Earling, Elk Horn, Harlan, Irwin, Kirkman, Panama, Portsmouth, Shelby, Tennant, Westphalia.

Shelby County, IA Vital Records

Where can find Shelby County Birth, marriage, Divorce and Death Records?
Shelby County vital records can be found at the Iowa Office of Vital Records which has copies of birth, marriage and death records from July 1880. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in Iowa for current fees and application process.

You can search online for Shelby County Birth, Marriage, Divorce or Death Records. You can also Order Electronically Online or can download an application for Iowa Birth CertificateMarriage CertificateDeath Certificate Application to mail.

Shelby County, IA Census Records

What Shelby County, IA census records are available?
There are many types of census records for Shelby County guide you in researching your family tree. Federal Population Schedules are available for 186018701880 (free index)1890 (fragment)19001910192019301940.

Shelby Co. Mortality Schedules can be found for 1860, 1870 and 1880. Shelby Co. Industry and Agriculture can be obtained for 1860, 1870 and 1880. Shelby Co. Union Veterans Schedules is available for 1890.

Another Iowa census is the Iowa State Census Collection from 1836-1925. One can find free online and printable census forms to help you with your research. See Also Iowa Census Records Research Guide

Shelby County, IA Courthouse and Government Records

Shelby County Courthouse

What genealogical records can I find in the Shelby County Courthouse?
The below facts shows exactly what death, marriage, birth, property, wills, and court records are typically in Shelby County. The years listed below are the first noted records with this county. See Also Iowa Corthouse Records Research Guide.

  • Shelby County Courthouse (all departments listed below are located here, unless otherwise noted)
    • Address: 612 Court St, Harlan, IA 51537
    • Phone: (712) 755-5543
  • Shelby County Recorder’s Office maintains official records of documents affecting title to real estate. Every real estate transaction that takes place begins in the Recorder’s Office. One of the major duties of the office is the management of public records. As a result, accuracy and preservation of records are a must in the Recorder’s Office. In addition to real estate transactions, the Recorder’s Office issues titles and liens; records veterans discharge papers; processes passport applications; accepts marriage applications and issues the subsequent license; issues certified copies of birth, death and marriage records as well as other numerous duties.
    • Birth / Death Records: 1880
    • Marriage Records: 1853
    • Land Records: 1854
  • Shelby County Clerk of Court manages and maintains all trial court records, including pleadings, evidence and orders. The clerks of court have hundreds of administrative duties. They accept and process fines, fees and court costs owed to the state, child support checks, and civil judgments owed to litigants. They maintain a record of liens on all real estate in the county. Clerks help with involuntary hospitalization cases. They have the authority to dispose of scheduled violations which are not contested and do not require a court hearing. Clerks are also responsible for informing state and local government agencies of court orders.
    • Probate Records: 1869
    • Court Records: 1869
  • BLM Land Records

Shelby County, IA Societies and Family History Resources

What genealogical and historical societies, archives, museums, associations and libraries are available for Shelby County, IA?
A list of Shelby County Historical  and Genealogical Societies, Libraries, Archives. See also list of Statewide Iowa Archives, Historical & Genealogical Societies.

Where can I connect with other Shelby County, IA Researchers through message boards and forums?

What other genealogical resources are available in Shelby County, IA?
The following are web links to Genealogy, Records and Resources pertaining to Shelby County. Many of these genealogy links fall into 3 categories: Business oriented Sites, Private Sites or Organization Sites. Some have free access some have to have a cost. This is simply a list which has been compiled or submitted. I do not endorse or promote one genealogy site over another.

Shelby Co. IA Books, Newspapers & Publications

Shelby Co. IA Cemeteries & Church Records

Shelby Co. IA Family Websites, Pictures & Histories

Shelby Co. IA General and History Websites

Shelby Co. IA Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers

Shelby Co. IA Military Records

Shelby Co. IA Schools & Directories