The main reference that a researcher of St. Louis genealogy needs is Steele, Ted. A Guide to Genealogical Research in St. Louis, published by the St. Louis Genealogical Society. Because change is endless, use the current edition of the Guide.
This file is intended to cover the somewhat greater area needed for St. Louis research, including Columbia, Jefferson City and Rolla, MO, and Carbondale, IL.
First, here are a few comments about items that this writer considers to be important.
The US Censuses for St. Louis have been indexed. For 1850 and 1860, one is advsied to use the indexes prepared by the St. Louis Genealogical Society. By using both of the two commercial indexes for 1870, one can usually find an entry. The Soundex for 1880 includes only families with children under age 10. The LDS (Mormons) now offer the complete nation-wide 1880 census on CDs for a very modest price; let your computer do the searching!. For 1900 to 1920, there are full Soundexes.
City Directories for St. Louis are available for each year from 1864 to recent times, and for several earlier years, including, but not limited to, 1822, 1839, 1859 and 1860.
The foregoing items are on microfilm available at the St. Louis Public Library at 1310 Olive and at the St. Louis County Public Library, 1640 S. Lindbergh, St. Louis, MO 63131, one stoplight south of Clayton Road, two stoplights south of I-64.
The St. Louis probate files have been microfilmed recently by the State Archives. Some may still be in process; most are available for review on line. As I understand, the original documents will be retained at the Missouri Historical Society.
The three-volume report, Newspapers in Missouri, is essential for determining what library has copies of which issues of any particular Missouri newspaper. Copies of the report are at the St. Louis Public Library and the Mercantile Library. No newspapers at the St. Louis University Library are included in the report. Microfilms of the major St. Louis newspapers are at the St. Louis and County libraries, but it is at times necessary to visit the collections of the Mercantile Library, the State Historical Society, 1020 Lowry, Columbia, MO, and the Missouri Historical Society at 225 S. Skinker.
LDS microfilms of the records of Catholic churches in the St. Louis Archdiocese are available at the St. Louis County Public Library. So far, the film boxes do not bear ID as to the contents, so it is mandatory first to check in the index volumes at the desk. LDS microfilms of a few Evangelical parishes are available at the library of Eden Seminary, 475 East Lockwood, Webster Groves. LDS microfilms, some of them poor to illegible, of the early books of St. Louis marriage records are in the St. Louis Genealogical Society collection, presumably at the County Library. Also in that collection are microfiche of burial records (to 1988) in the major St. Louis Catholic cemeteries. These fiche are from the computerized files; not all of the early records were computerized, but the paper records are retained at the pertinent cemetery offices, 5239 West Florissant and 6901 McKenzie.
Indexes to lots and burials in the Catholic Cemeteries of the St. Louis area, up to 1988, are on line, and on fiche at St. Louis County Public Library.
Most records of naturalizations in St. Louis are at the Civil Courts building. However, until 1906, any court of record was authorized to naturalize qualified immigrants. Thus, some naturalizations are recorded in police court, criminal court, federal court (pre-1906 St. Louis records at National Archives, Kansas City; microfilm at St. Louis County Public Library), or supreme court files.
The early (pre-1910) St. Louis birth and death records, starting in the 1860s and up to 1909, are available on film at the State Archives in Jefferson City and at St. Louis County Library. The death records are in chronological order and are in good condition. The birth records are in semi-alphabetic order in the fiche, for example, the "A" names for Jan 1893 are together. I mention the State Archives because they have the latest filmings and good finding aids.
Early (pre-1910) St. Louis death records have been indexed. Reportedly, at least the death records index card at the Vital Records office file can be reviewed by lawyers or professional genealogists, but not by the public. This is significant because, although the staff rarely finds an item listed in the index (This should have changed recently, for the State Archives funded re-alphabetization of the cards, and filming.), when one reviews the microfilms of the actual records, sometimes the data can be found. Therefore, it may be advisable to hire a genealogist to search thru the cards. A new index was very carefully prepared and is on Ancestry.com, and so is available on line and on a computer at St. Louis County Library and to anyone who is a subscriber to Ancestry.com.
Early (pre-1910) St. Louis birth records are in semi-alphabetic order, by month. Still, I think there are instances in which one would need check newspapers or other sources to be certain of the year for some pages.
Another genealogical resource is the collection of references, mainly to St. Louis and Germany, at St. Louis Genealogical Society's office, 4 Sunnen Drive - Suite 140, St. Louis MO; it is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, from 9 to noon, and possibly at other times; phone (314) 647-8547.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis Library houses a branch of the Western Historical Manuscript Collection and the Mercantile Library, with the St. Louis Globe-Democrat 'morgue'.
There is a German Catholic Library "Central Bureau" at 3835 Westminster. Alles da ist auf Deutsch.
The St. Louis City Board of Education archive at 1615 Hampton allows release of data on pre-1920 students under certain conditions. In most cases, one must present a death certificate and $5 fee, plus the student's name, date of birth, and list of all public schools attended.
The major facility in Columbia is the State Historical Society, which houses the State DAR Library. SHS has many relevant books, and a huge every-name card index to those books. SHS has also the premier Missouri newspaper collection, mostly on microfilm, a very good collection of census indexes and many census microfilms from outside Missouri. Also in Columbia are the University Library and a branch of the Western Historical Manuscript Collection.
In Jefferson City are the State Archives and the Adjutant General's office, which hold very many personnel records.
In Rolla, one finds in the University Library a limited genealogical collection, but occasionally in another area something relevant to one's family; it is only there that I have found a certain reference to my St. Louis great-grandfather. There is also a very good branch of the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, but it does not retain materials pertinent to St. Louis.
In times past, St. Louis and St. Clair County, IL, were much more closely connected than at present. There is much of value in the genealogy department of the Belleville Public Library. Belleville is also the county seat.
In Carbondale is the Southern Illinois branch of the Illinois Regional Archives Depository, which covers St. Clair and Monroe Counties, but not Madison County.
My goals for the St. Louis Genealogical Society remain:
To return the Society to fiscal responsibility. Far, far too great a part of the Society's income is spent on rent for their playpen (office) at #4 Sunnen and for purchase of the tools therein. Roughly, the entire basic dues income from the 2600 plus members is spent on rent for the playpen. I contend that these funds should be used for needed genealogy projects. Another impact is that the Board is forced to focus on fund-raising, rather than on genealogy.
To facilitate volunteers' efforts to transcribe, index and extract, for publication, data of genealogical value. Please see below.
To increase substantially the number of pages in the St. Louis Genealogical Society Quarterly. Please see below.
I have in mind the following:
Help volunteers work efficiently on worth-while projects. Guide them away from time-wasters. To the extent possible, help them avoid doing un-necessary work that has already been adequately performed.
When more than one volunteer is involved, be sure that all are working compatibly. That is, for example, if they are working on data that is to be merged, be sure that they are collecting the same data elements, in the same format and the same sequence.
Provide the support needed by volunteers:
For one example, a society might provide microfilms from which volunteers can extract data. The Society, but not an individual, may purchase LDS microfilms. Having a film that one can take to whatever microfilm reader s/he desires can be a huge time-saver. Volunteers remote from St. Louis can thus be enabled to contribute transcriptions, extractions and indexes.
For another, lend the volunteer a laptop computer to take to the film reader, rather than have to follow the mistake-prone procedure of taking paper notes and transcribe later. (The Missouri State Genealogical Association had a 'loaner' lap-top computer.)
For yet another, lend the volunteer a good portable microfilm reader. It is truly amazing how productive one can be when the material and the computer are together in one's home. There, one can use odd half-hours to do productive work, without having to dress, drive, park, find film, load film, find the needed spot on the film; at home, it is in the reader, ready to switch on.
Or, the Society could fund travel to the National Archives to 'mine data' about the St. Louis region for publication.
I have in mind the following:
Restore the quality of content of the Quarterly. Keep newsletter items out of the Quarterly, which is part of the permanent family-history literature. Continue to use the inside covers for information.
Increase the number of pages per issue to 64, plus covers.
Here, I have offer nothing new. That is exactly how the Missouri State Genealogical Association Journal has been done for at least the past 13 years.
After the St. Louis Genealogical Society's library had for a long time been allowed space in the University City Public Library, that library's staff found need for the space so occupied. Just about then, the St. Louis County Library system completed a building program and commenced a major improvement in the collection. Not only was the St. Louis Genealogical Society's Library incorporated into that of the County library, but also the County has greatly expanded the special collections, especially of genealogical materials.
Under the direction of Joyce Loving, who manages special collections, the collection of genealogical materials, particularly of microfilms, at St. Louis County Public Library has been superbely improved! Keep up the great work!
Great news: The circulating library of the National Genealogical Society is now housed at the St. Louis County Library - and available by inter-library loan to all. Thus, two major genealogical circulating collections are housed in Missouri - the Genealogy from the Heartland circulating collection is at the Independence Branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library.
The old St. Louis land records are in typical courthouse books, many such books. Each book includes the usual direct and indirect indexes.
A collected index, spanning some decades, was prepared. Both the record books and the collected index volumes are handwritten. This collected index filled several large volumes. The LDS microfilmed the record books and the collected index vlumes.
Not filmed was the collected index volume for W-X-Y-Z surnames. A search of the record books and the remaining index volumes revealed no W-X-Y-Z collected index volume; apparently, it had disappeared before the filming.
Reconstruction of the W-X-Y-Z collected index volume would be fairly straightforward. Photocopies of the W-X-Y-Z pages of the indexes in the individual record books could be distributed to volunteers, who would enter the data. When all of the data had been entered, the computer could be used to create the collected index. Only two copies of the index need be printed. One would be lent to the Genealogical Society of Utah for filming, and then sent to the St. Louis City Hall.
As this is a step toward complete computerization of all of the indexes, the computer-readable index should be archived.
Some comments on my opinion page, which please see, pertain to St. Louis.
Please e-mail Bob Doerr
St. Louis Petitioners, 1879
St Louis County Public Library - Genealogy Collection
St. Louis Public Library Catalog
Dave Lossos' excellent St. Louis page
State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia
Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis
Missouri State Archives
St Louis Genealogical Society Library
Genealogy Library, Mid-Continent Public Library
Western Historical Manuscript Collection - St. Louis
Concordia Historical Institute, Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod
United Church of Christ Archives
Washington U's Annotated List of St. Louis Area Archives
Return to Bob Doerr's Genealogy Page
Page modified: 05 Apr 2008