The Idaho State Archives (ISA) and Research Center provides public access to records of fiscal, administrative, legal, vital and long-term research value to the citizens and government of Idaho. ISA preserves a large and unique collection of materials that relate to the history of Idaho and the Pacific Northwest, including photographs, books, maps, manuscripts, oral histories, and government records.
The Merle Wells Research Center will be open by appointment only from 11 am – 12 pm on Friday, December 3 for a staff training.
During the Covid19 pandemic, ISA will apply the following procedures:
- Virtual reference service will meet the need for most researchers and many requests can be fulfilled by email.
- Researchers should email their research questions to email@example.com.
- How to schedule appointments? Advanced appointments are encouraged when inquiries extend beyond virtual reference service and will require access to archival records in the Lincoln Reading Room.
- These appointments are generally scheduled 48 hours in advance during regularly scheduled hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am-4 pm.
- Appointments are incrementally scheduled to provide a healthy and secure space for researchers to access archival material.
The following recommendations apply for onsite access to the Merle W. Wells Research Center at the Idaho State Archives:
- It is requested that researchers wash hands before entering the Idaho State Archives.
- Face coverings required for researchers in the Idaho State Archives’ Lincoln Reading Room and Merle Wells Research Center.
- All COVID-related restrictions are contingent upon the Governor’s “Idaho Rebounds” stages of reopening plan and local mandates.
- Please also review the guidelines for researchers in preparation for your visit as outlined in the right-hand column.
Tuesday-Saturday | 11 am-4 pm
Closed state holidays.
2205 Old Penitentiary Road
Boise, ID 83712
Idaho State Archives welcomes patrons to conduct their research on site. Because collections may be fragile, highly specialized and unique, special handling and access provisions are necessary.
Patrons are asked to help preserve ISA’s historic items by following these basic rules:
BRING flash drive, wallet (to pay for copies), citations, or collection information (if applicable).
CHECK personal belongings such as coats, briefcases, packages, and purses in the complimentary lockers provided at the Research Center entry.
SILENCE cell phones and take necessary calls in the hallway.
WRITE only with pencils and laptop computers.
ASK staff for assistance if you have any questions of concerns regarding the handling of materials.
NO food or drink in the Research Center.
The Idaho State Archives has a variety of resources to help you learn about your family’s history. Whether you are accessing our collections on-site or off-site, you are sure to find materials that will help.
Former State Historian Merle Wells originated the Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series in the 1960s. Merle sought to have a handy series providing people with quick snapshots of different topics in Idaho history.
Here you’ll find stories of famous Idahoans; of trappers and miners; of towns and counties; legends and battles; trails and historic sites. There are more than 1,000 topics to choose from.
The Idaho Digital Newspaper Project makes more than 80 historic newspapers from across the Gem State available to anyone with internet access. Researchers can browse or keyword search articles spanning the period of 1863 to 1925, more than 60 years of Idaho’s history.
The Idaho Digital Newspaper Project was a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Library of Congress (LC) and the Idaho State Archives, with technical assistance from the Montana Historical Society.
Search Chronicling America by Topic
Tips for Searching Chronicling America
All NDNP Award Recipients
Additional Information about Chronicling America
Koha is an open-source integrated library system used by the Idaho State Archives to index resources available within the Dr. Merle W. Wells Research Center. Users can research online to see what is available in the library.
ArchivesSpace is a way the public can access information on the donated collections held at the Idaho State Archives through keyword searches. It contains information about how large the collection is, biographical information, if there are other related materials, inventories etc. The Idaho State Archives currently has three repositories: manuscripts, photos, and oral histories. Not all collections are available and records are continuously added, but you can also visit the Idaho State Archives to see the collections in person!
The Idaho State Historical Society preserves and provides access to a wide number of resources and materials related to Idaho History.
The Government Records Program preserves and provides access to a large volume of city, county, state and territorial historic government records. It also operates a State Record Center, which provides centralized storage and services to state agencies. Per Idaho Code 64-4126, the state archives is responsible for records management services.
The Idaho State Archives seeks original material with enduring historical value and strong ties to Idaho. In addition to our role as the official repository for the State of Idaho, we also accept private donations of a wide variety of materials including documents, letters, diaries, maps, photographs, and more. Each prospective donation is reviewed by the Idaho State Archives Collections Committee to evaluate its relevance and potential inclusion to the permanent collection.
Records Management for State and Local Government
Idaho State Archives provides access to government records for state, county and city governments including, state agencies, municipal police and county sheriff offices, and the majority of county courts. Services include records management, shelving, retrieval and delivery of records through fax, scan, or certified copies.
Historical Reference and Research
ISA assists the general public, family historians, students, educators, organizations, and researchers in accessing historical information about Idaho and the Northwest and the varied and complex collections held by the archives. Fees for services directly support the preservation of and access to Idaho’s historical archives. You can submit online requests through the Research Request Online Form.
Reproductions of Historic Images
Reproductions from the Idaho State Archives are used in books, corporate reports and business calendars, educational exhibitions, office decor, and interior design. Prints of maps, photos, and documents are available for purchase for personal, professional, and commercial use.
Microfilming and Document Certification
ISA microfilmed newspapers provides the public with one of the most comprehensive collections of historic information. Microfilm is available in our Research Center, inter-library loan or for purchase.
Preservation of Idaho’s Records and Documents
ISA preserves the state’s collections through a management system that includes cataloging, proper storage, security, environmental monitoring, protecting records against deterioration, theft, and fire.
Education and Training
Public programs in family history are offered throughout the year. A records management training program for state, county, and city governments is provided through the State Historical Records Advisory Board.
A. Lincoln: His Legacy in Idaho
The Abraham Lincoln: His Legacy in Idaho exhibition at the Idaho State Archives features over 200 artifacts and documents that reveal the intriguing and significant connections between the 16th president and the 43rd state.
Idaho State Archives and Research Center staff are happy to help with questions. Researchers are offered 30 minutes of complimentary reference time per request. If your request requires additional research, staff can assist up to two hours of research at $38 per hour.