The first blacks were brought to the United States in 1619 by Dutch traders. Contrary to popular belief, not all blacks labored as slaves
in the fields of the large Southern plantations. Many worked for smaller land owners, some worked as servants in the cities, and some
were free. By the Civil War period, the descendants of less than 400,000 transplanted Africans numbered over 4 million.
Researching nonplantation blacks or slaves requires great patience and luck as slaves were not considered citizens of the United
States and were not permitted to engage in legal transactions. Marriage contracts between blacks were legally forbidden until 1868.
Since slaves were considered property of their owner, most records (such as deeds, wills, etc.) are interfiled with those of the owner's
family. Sole ownership of all slave children legally resided with the owner of the child's mother, thus research is often limited to the
Blacks were seldom addressed by a surname; instead they were usually listed by a first name, or as a "Black Male" or "Black
Female." Once slavery ended and usage of surnames became legal, exslaves were free to use either their previous name (usually
known to them, but not used in records) or to choose a new one. Obstacles arose when several members of one biological family
adopted different last names.
Due to special problems with lack of records, African-American genealogical and historical research can be a challenge. Locating
records is difficult, but not insurmountable. The following list indicates the variety of primary historical records available at the Missouri
State Archives for African-American research.
Census Schedules (on microfilm):
Federal Census, 1830 & 1840. Lists number of slaves owned within owner's enumeration;
Federal Census 1850 & 1860. Slave schedules list slaves as part of owner's property, gives age & sex;
Federal Census after 1870. Lists African-Americans in the regular census enumeration.
There were black regiments during the Civil War. The Missouri State Archives has some records for African-American troops in the
There are some Territorial Court and Missouri Supreme Court cases pertaining to African-Americans. These are primarily slave freedom
Researchers may also wish to consult county Circuit Court records.
County Records on Microfilm:
A list of counties with separate "Black Marriage Registers" is provided, but the researcher should not ignore other county records,
such as County Clerk records, Probate Court records (for slave sale bills), and the already mentioned Circuit Court records.
Department of Education:
Included in the records from the Department of Education are "Colored School" High School Reports. The information primarily
consists of enrollment figures, curriculum, and teachers' education and salary.
Department of Higher Education:
This record group includes miscellaneous papers from Dalton Vocational High School for black students. It was established in 1907
as the "Bartlett Agricultural and Industrial School," then changed in 1924 to the "Dalton Vocational School." When Brown vs. Board
of Education ordered the desegregation of schools, Dalton students, who had been bussed in from surrounding communities, were able
to attend local high schools. The school's last term was 1955-1956; it was then closed down and the lands sold at auction.
Contents of the collection include some photographs and articles, as well as administrative papers such as payroll, enrollment figures,
Department of Corrections:
Another avenue of research is the Missouri State Penitentiary Inmate Registry records. These indicate name of person, some family
background, and criminal record. These records date from the early 1920s through 1936.
The records for the State Industrial Home for Negro Girls (Tipton) is another collection for consideration. These records, covering 1916-
1941, are the commitment papers of juvenile female offenders and indicate name, age, sentence, physcial description, as well as some
case histories and correspondence.
Secretary of State - Commissions:
This record group contains the Pardon Papers series, which include letters and papers in support of a prisoner receiving the governor's
pardon. These papers often have family background information.
St. Louis Urban League, 1910-1985:
These records on microfilm include administrative papers, correspondence, Board of Directors and Annual meetings, as well as other
information about the Urban League.
Lincoln University Newspaper "Clarion," 1944-1993:
Newspaper from Lincoln University with student activities, notices, and more. On microfilm.
Barbeau, Arthur E. and Florette Henri. The Unknown Soldiers: Black American Troops in World War I.
Black Elected Officials: A National Roster (1987).
Blattner, Teresa. People of Color, Volume I
Claims by Missourians for Compensation of Enlisted Slaves: Records of the U.S. District Court of Kansas, Slave Compensation Records (November 3, 1866 - February 21, 1867).
Cole, Nancy Ellen. Missouri State Industrial School for Negro Girls, Tipton, Missouri (1909 - 1944)
Curtis, Susan. Dancing to a Black Man's Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin.
Greene, Lorenzo, et. al. Missouri's Black Heritage.
Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives.
Hurt, Douglas R. Agriculture and Slavery in Missouri's Little Dixie.
Jones Sneed, Francis M. Bottom of Heaven: A Social and Cultural History of African Americans in Three Creeks, Boone County, Missouri.
Katz, William Loren. The Black West: A Pictorial History.
Kremer, Gary R. James Milton Turner and the Promise of America.
Launius, Roger D. Invisible Saints: A History of Black Americans in the Reorganized Church.
Leckie, William H. The Buffalo Soldier: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West.
MacGregor, Jr., Morris J. Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965.
Moebs, Thomas Truxton. Black Soldiers, Black Sailors, Black Ink: Research Guide to African Americans and American Military History.
Newman, Debra L. Black History: A Guide to Civilian Records in the National Archives.
Slavery in Missouri, 1861 - 1865
The Source: A Guide to American Genealogy
Streets, David H. Slave Genealogy: A Research Guide with Case Studies.
Triplett, Robert J. History of Missouri Black Legislators.
Walton Raji, Angela Y. Black Indian Genealogy Research: African American Ancestors Among the Five Civilized Tribes.
Wright, John A. Discovering African American St. Louis: A Guide to Historic Sites.
1865 - 1890
1865 - 1882
1865 - 1915
1865 - 1881
1867 - 1872
1865 - 1891
1865 - 1866
1865 - 1866
1866 - 1904
1866 - 1875
1865 - 1879
1865 - 1882
1849 - 1871
1865 - 1901
1865 - 1891
1865 - 1881
1865 - 1881
1865 - 1874
St. Francois County
1865 - 1892
1865 - 1875
All information is copied or scanned from the state document as a public courtesy. None
of the photos or graphics are attributed. Persons represented in the graphics are unknown
to the electronic editor. Taylor
For more information, please contact:
Missouri State Archives
Missouri State Information Center
600 W. Main Street - P. O. Box 778
Jefferson City, Missouri 65101
573/751-3280 Rebecca McDowell Cook, Secretary of State