African-American Family History Research-Missouri
MO Info Ctr. Logo


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 maternal lines.

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.


Primary Sources of Information at the Missouri State Archives
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. African American History at the Missouri State Archives
Missouri Black Marriage Registers
(on Microfilm)
Audrain County1865 - 1890Indexed
Boone County1865 - 1882Indexed
Callaway County1865 - 1915Indexed
Carroll County1865 - 1881Indexed
Cedar County1867 - 1872Not Indexed
Clay County1865 - 1891Indexed
Cooper County1865 - 1866Indexed
Crawford County1865 - 1866Indexed
Daviess County1866 - 1904Not Indexed
Franklin County1866 - 1875Indexed
Howard County1865 - 1879Not Indexed
Jackson County1865 - 1882Indexed
Jefferson County1849 - 1871Indexed
Lincoln County1865 - 1901Indexed
Moniteau County1865 - 1891Indexed
Monroe County1865 - 1881Indexed
Montgomery County1865 - 1881Indexed
Pettis County1865 - 1874Not Indexed
St. Francois County1865 - 1892Indexed
Washington County1865 - 1875Not Indexed

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 


Return to African Missouri Home Page.