Guides for Missouri Research
Vital Records Statewide vital records are available generally beginning after 16 August 1909, and they can be obtained from Vital Records; PO Box 570; Jefferson City, MO 65102.
At the city level, deaths were recorded in St. Louis from 1850 - 1910, and births from 12 July 1870 - 1910. Although the recording was quite sporadic. These records can be obtained from St. Louis City Vital Records; PO Box 14702; St. Louis, MO 63178. Marriage records from St. Louis County are kept from 1876 to present day. These are in an archival card file, with entries for brides and grooms.
In Kansas City, the birth and death records date from 1874, but recording at this time was sparse. These records can be obtained from Kansas City Vital Records, City Hall, 414 E. 12th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106.
In 1863, a non-compulsory birth registration law was put into effect. It stated that county recorders could upon request record births in the regular deed books, sometimes they were recorded in the marriage books. These records are not indexed and there was very little compliance.
A state law was passed in 1883 requiring the registration of all births and deaths at a county level. In 1893, this law was inadvertently repealed, and never reenacted. Some counties had high rates of compliance, while other records are no where to be found. The records that remain have been microfilmed and are available at the Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, MO 65102
Marriage records are generally available from the date of county inception, although there was no law that required licensing until 26 June 1881. Prior to this date, the marriage could be recorded at any convenient courthouse, there was no requirement to be married in the county of residence. Most of these records are kept by the Recorder of Deeds, and are consistently complete and indexed. These records have also been filmed by the Missouri State Archives.
Many books have been published with compiled vital records for various counties in Missouri. The Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, MO, has many of these books in the genealogy reference collection. Some of them are available for inter-library loan in the AFRA Genealogy circulating collection. A catalog lists the titles available called "Genealogy from the Heartland".
Guide to Public Vital Statistic Records in Missouri, Missouri Historical Records Survey, WPA, (St. Louis, MO, 1941) lists Birth, Death, Marriage and Divorce records available by county and at the state level.
Robert E. Parkin's Guide to Tracing Your Family Tree in Missouri, Robert E. Parkin, Genealogical Research & Productions, (St. Louis, MO, 1979), is an excellent reference work. It lists the records available at the county level. It also gives the titles of compiled books by county for birth, death, and marriage records.
A Guide to County Records on Microfilm, Missouri State Archives, (Jefferson City, MO, 1998
Federal Census Schedules Federal census schedules for Missouri are available on microfilm for census years 1830 through 1920. The exception is the 1890 census, which was destroyed by fire. Census records are closed for 72 years after they are created; the 1930 census will be opened for public use after 2002.
Statewide printed indexes are available for 1830 through 1870, and the Soundex index on microfilm is available for 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920. A Special Veterans Census for 1890 is available on microfilm, with a printed index.
The 1830 and 1840 census reports only list the head of household, and then indicate the number of people in the household by age and gender. Beginning in 1850, census reports contain the name of each person in the household, age, occupation, and place of birth. After 1880, the relationship to the head of the household is shown, as well as the place of birth for the parents. A variety of other information is available on individual census reports, such as education level, occupation, immigration dates, and more.
Source: Missouri Secretary of State
Microfilm Records Records for all 114 Missouri counties are available on microfilm. These records vary from county to county. Many begin with the formation of
the county and continue into the 20th century. Some counties have more extensive records than others. Many of Missouri's courthouses were destroyed by fire, resulting in numerous records being lost.
The information available on microfilm comes from the records of a number of county offices. These offices include the following:
The records contained within these offices are as follows:
- Recorder of Deeds
- County Clerk
- Circuit Court
- Probate Court
- County Assessor
- Court of Common Pleas
- County Superintendent of Schools
Marriages, deeds, plat books - Recorder of Deeds
Birth and death records, tax books, county
court records - County Clerk
Naturalization records, civil and criminal
court case records, divorces-Circuit Court
Wills, settlements, inventories, probate records - Probate Court
A more detailed look at what is available from each county office can be found in the Guide to County Records on Microfilm, a publication of the Missouri State Archives. The Guide also indicates what records are available on microfilm for each county.
Source: Secretary of State of Missouri
Research in Missouri:
Links to Online Guides
Beginner's Guide to Family History Research - If you can't even spell the word g-e-n-e-a-l-o-g-y, this is the place for you to start - a great place to learn how to begin your search FamilyTree Maker - online guide to research in MO-mainly addresses and how to obtain vital records Everton's Guide to Sources for Missouri - includes a county map, links to Library of Congress for MO books, list of Family History Centers, and list of their CD's about MO Missouri State Historical Society - collection of Missouri newspapers, dating from 1808 to the present, is the largest repository of state newspapers in the nation - includes a "how-to" on what to look for in a newspaper when researching Missouri State Historical Society - general guide to resources useful in historical and genealogical research, such as county histories and atlases, city directories, cemetery inscriptions, and compiled family histories Genealogical Dictionary - look here for the definitions of unfamiliar terms and words 20 Ways to Avoid Genealogical Grief - some suggestions to help researchers prevent misfortune when learning how to do genealogical research Hints for Researching Your Family History - getting started, beginning and continuing your research, many references to Missouri sources St. Louis Mo Resources for Family History - many sources listed to be used for research in St. Louis including microfilm, directories, and major repositories for other reference material Missouri Department of Health Certified Copies of Birth or Death Certificates -
how to obtain death and birth certificates from the state
The Genealogist's Internet Guide - Genealogy Seminar for Southeast Missouri's Online Community includes many links Deciphering Old Handwriting - on-line tutorial will help you understand these old records better and how to read them Genealogy Helplist for Missouri - If you need a lookup, check here for a list of volunteers who own or have access to a variety of material for Missouri counties Ancestry.Com - lists types of records available for Missouri including census, court, vital, land, and military Sources for Military Records Missouri and Freedom of Information Act - Vital Records - Documents such as birth and death records are not, per se, open records in Missouri. A court ruling and a subsequent rule by the Department of Health does give journalists and other persons involved in "legitimate research," the right to inspect and copy birth and death certificates of third-person parties. Certified Copies of Birth & Death Certificates Suggestions For Establishing Fact Of Birth & Death In Missouri