Heritage Center and Genealogy

  • Email us: heritage@mphpl.org

    Mon, Wed, Fri: Closed
    Tues & Sat: 10am to 2pm
    Thurs: 12am to 8pm
    Sun: 1pm to 5pm

The Heritage Center’s special collection consists of nonfiction materials designed for the local historian or genealogist doing research. There are local newspapers and newspapers from every Indiana county on microfilm. The 1790 federal census and the complete set of the Indiana census are on microfilm with readers and reader-printers available.

While the growing collection focuses primarily on Indiana, there are subscriptions to online services to search other state’s census records and for additional sources. Yearbooks from the Mishawaka area high schools, Bethel College, and area city directories are available for use in the Heritage Center. Materials may not be borrowed from the Heritage Center.

The Jernegan Room is available for small groups when scheduled in advance. The actual jail cells from the former police station have been converted to study rooms.


The purpose of this site is to provide a brief overview of the genealogical and local history resources in the library's Heritage Center. It is very important to ask the librarian if you do not find what you need. Many items are kept in storage areas which are not open to the public. In addition, some of the rarer or more expensive items are kept in a locked case. Ask the librarian for access to those items. None of the materials in the Heritage Center may be checked out. A copy machine is available.

"How to Begin" Books:

If you are a beginner, you may want to borrow some of the books from the circulating collection (in the nonfiction part of the library) to get information on beginning your genealogy. Most of those titles are shelved around the call number 929.1.  Sample titles are:

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Bibliographies and Indexes:

Once you know how to begin your genealogical search, you will need to learn how to find references to your ancestors in other parts of our collection.  Bibliographies and indexes provide access to other sources of information. Sample bibliographies include the following:

Sample indexes for genealogical and local historical materials include:

WPA Indexes to Vital Statistics:

  • St. Joseph County Birth Records 1850-1920 (R 929.1 I38bi)
  • St. Joseph County Birth Records 1882-1920 (R 929.1 I38br)
  • St. Joseph County Birth Records - Mishawaka (R 929.1 I38)
  • St. Joseph County Marriages 1850-1920 (R 929.1 I38m)
  • St. Joseph County Death Records (R 929.1 I38dc)

Other Indexes Include:

  • Biographical Index to St. Joseph County, Indiana, by David Eisen
    (R 977.289 E36)
  • The Mishawaka Enterprise Vital Statistics Index 1858-1981, by David Eisen (R 977.289 E36v)
  • Vital Statistics Index to St. Joseph County, Indiana, Newspapers 1831-1912, by David Eisen (977.289 E36n) 2 vols.
  • Index to Indiana Wills, Phase 1 and 2, to 1880, by Charles Franklin (R 977.2 F831)
  • Index to Estates from the Probate Records - St. Joseph County, Indiana 1830-1849, (R 977.2 I38 1990)
  • Abstract of Deeds - St. Joseph County (Locked Case R 977.289 A164)
  • Indiana Source Book (929.3 I39is) (multi-volumed)

The library also has a microfilm set of WPA indexes for all available Indiana counties.

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The Library has a collection of genealogical periodicals, including such local titles as:

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Local Histories:

There are many state, county, and local histories shelved in the 977.2 section of the collection. Some of these include:

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City Directories:

The Library also has many of the South Bend and Mishawaka City Directories (R 917.7 P76).  The oldest ones, from 1867 on, are available only on microfilm.  More recent directories are shelved in the Heritage Center.  Ask the reference librarian to assist you.

Other directories include:

  • Elkhart: 1984-
  • Evansville: 1861-1901
  • Fort Wayne: 1861-1881
  • Indianapolis: 1861-1901

Copies of directories from other cities are shelved with materials from that area.

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The Library has the federal census for 1790 as well as the Indiana census from 1820-1930 on microfilm.  The Library has only the 1880 Soundex for Indiana.  In the R 317 section, we have print indexes for the Census of Indiana Territory for 1807 and the 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1860 Federal Population Census for Indiana.  Also shelved there are indexes for St. Joseph County for 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1910, and numerous other geographical areas.


The Library has only a partial set of the CRIMP Records on microfilm.  The index is in a red notebook shelved at the Heritage Center desk.

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Ethnic Groups:

In addition to area histories, there are also books about the immigration of various ethnic groups to St. Joseph County.

Sample titles include:


Most of us have immigrants as our ancestors.  There are various tools to find out when and where they landed in America.  For this information there are indexes to various passenger lists. 
Some of these indexes include:

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Family Histories:

The Library has a small collection of family histories.  Some are shelved in the Locked Case; others are shelved in the regular collection.  Consult the online catalog for titles and locations.  A more complete collection can be found in the St. Joseph County Public Library.  

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County Histories:

In addition to a substantial collection of county histories in print form, mostly shelved in the  977 section, the Library has several compiled sets of county histories on microfilm.  In the "County Histories of the Old Northwest" series, the Library owns Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  In the "Cox's County Histories" series, the Library owns Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan.  Indexes for both series are available at the Heritage Center desk.

Another interesting "county history" covering Indiana is the 42-reel microfilm set Indiana Internal Revenue Lists for the years 1862-1866.  This set provides an amazing amount of detail about individuals living during this period.

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Newspapers on Microfilm:

One of the growing areas of the Library's genealogical and historical collection is its newspapers on microfilm collection.  A selection of titles available include the following.  It should be noted that many titles have numerous missing or scattered issues.  Those titles with major gaps are marked with an *.

  • Countryman's Press (1957-1973)
  • Daily Bazaar (1879-1880)*
  • Elkhart Weekly Review (1859-1865)
  • Mishawaka Daily Journal (1908-1909)
  • Mishawaka Democrat (1897-1898, 1907-1908)
  • Mishawaka Enterprise (1858-1865, 1872-1920, 1924-)
  • Mishawaka Monitor (1993-1995)
  • Mishawaka Times (1961-1966)
  • National Union (1866-1871)
  • North Liberty News (1912-1913, 1918-1933, 1938-1962)*
  • Osceola Owl (1950-1956)*
  • St. Joseph County Independent (1886-1897)
  • St. Joseph County Forum (1853-1863)
  • St. Joseph County Register (1845-1885)*
  • South Bend Courier (1879-1901)
  • South Bend Daily Times (1881-18884, 1893-1896, 1901-1913)*
  • South Bend Evening Register (1879-1885)
  • South Bend Journal (1947-1950)
  • South Bend Mirror (1924-1950)*
  • South Bend Morning Reporter (1896-1897)
  • South Bend News (1908-1913)*
  • South Bend Sunday News (1878-1879)
  • South Bend Times (1882-1890, 1894-1898, 1900-1912)*
  • South Bend Tribune (1873-)
  • South Bend Weekly Tribune (1887-1909)*
  • Walkerton Independent (1897-1940)
The Library also has a growing collection of newspapers from other Indiana counties.  These reels are filed by county in the microfilm storage unit.

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