Information and Membership Form
Frequently Asked Questions
Specialized Research
Pioneer Certificates
Newsletter Queries
RRVGS Funeral Home Indexes
RRVGS Publications for Sale
Genealogical Links
ND & SD Census Search
Naturalization Records Search
Cemetery Headstone Transcription Search
Norwegian Collection
Library Holdings
Obituary Research
Red River Valley Genealogical Society

The Red River Valley Genealogical Society
Pioneer Certificate Program

Pioneer Certificate Application (will open new window)

What is the Pioneer Certificate Program and Why Was it Started?

Because many of the earliest residents of North Dakota have gone unheralded, the Red River Valley Genealogical Society began this program as a way to gather information and to preserve documentation about them. Following the successful completion of the application process, the Society issues a pioneer certificate.

Who Qualifies for a Pioneer Certificate?

A qualified pioneer ancestor is a person who could be proven to have resided in any part of the territory which comprises the present day state of North Dakota before 2 November 1889, the date North Dakota attained statehood.

A qualified applicant must be a direct descendant of a qualified pioneer ancestor. Applicant need not be a resident of North Dakota nor have ever lived in the state. All are encouraged to apply.

How to Apply for a Pioneer Certificate:

First, fill out the Pioneer Certificate Application found on this site or write to the society at the address below for a copy. Complete the form with information about the applicant, the pioneer ancestor and the names of the intervening generations between the applicant and the pioneer ancestor. The application allows for one applicant and one pioneer ancestor. A separate application is required for additional applicants or additional pioneer ancestors.

Second, copy and cite the records which prove your ancestor was a resident prior to 2 November 1889. A complete citation of a record would include such things as book title, author, publication date, page number; microfilm number, county name, township name, supervisor's and enumeration district numbers, basically every piece of information which allows the record to be verified. In the case of a group of certificates being ordered based on a single pioneer ancestor, only one copy of the proof is necessary.

Third, submit your completed application together with the copies of proofs and the $8 fee/application to the Society at the address below.

What Records may be used to Prove Residency?

Any record, copied and properly cited, which establishes residency before 2 November 1889 may be used. Following are some suggestions:

  • 1880 Federal Census schedules; 1885 Dakota Territorial Census schedules
  • Homestead records
  • Naturalization records: declaration of intention and the citizenship paper
  • Church records: membership, baptism, confirmation
  • Marriage records
  • Bible records
  • Newspaper articles and or obituaries
  • Published county, community or family histories
  • Will/probate records
  • City directories/ Plat maps

What are the Benefits of the Pioneer Certificate Program?

The Pioneer Certificate is made of parchment paper, individually hand lettered and numbered, and affixed with an official seal. They make great holiday and birthday gifts. Your proofs and application are maintained by the Society for other researchers and will be used in upcoming Society sponsored publications.

Pioneer Certificate Application (will open new window)

Send completed application, copies of proofs, $8/application fee to:

Red River Valley Genealogical Society
PO Box 9284
Fargo ND 58106-9284

COPYRIGHT NOTICE.© 2005 Red River Valley Genealogical Society.
All Rights Reserved.