Missouri History

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Beginning Research
Record Types
Missouri Background
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Local Research Resources

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Timeline[edit | edit source]

The following important events in the history of Missouri affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.

  • 1735: French lead miners established the first permanent white settlement at Sainte Genevieve.
  • 1763: France ceded the Missouri area to Spain. French fur traders founded St. Louis in 1764.
  • 1800: Spain returned the region to France.
  • 1803: France sold Missouri to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Missouri was part of the Louisiana Territory after 1805.
  • 1812: (June 4,) Congress created the Missouri Territory. Many families left after earthquakes and other disasters.
  • 1820: (May 6) President James Monroe signed the Missouri Compromise. The Missouri Compromise was an effort to maintain a balance of power in Congress. It allowed Missouri to be admitted as a slave state and Maine as a free state.
  • 1821: (August 10,) Missouri became a state.
  • 1837: The Osage Indians ceded land
  • 1837: The Platte Purchase added six northwestern counties to the state.
  • Oregon Trail and Santa Fe Trail start at Independence, Missouri
  • 23 April 1860 - 24 October 1861: Pony Express
  • 1861-1865: During the Civil War most of the citizens supported the Union, although several counties seceded. Troops from Missouri served in both the Confederate and the Union forces.
  • 1898: Over 300,000 men were involved in the Spanish-American War which was fought mainly in Cuba and the Philippines.
  • 1917–1918: More than 26 million men from the United States ages 18 through 45 registered with the Selective Service. World War I over 4.7 million American men and women served during the war.
  • 1930's: The Great Depression closed many factories and mills. Many small farms were abandoned, and many families moved to cities.
  • 1940–1945: Over 50.6 million men ages 18 to 65 registered with the Selective Service. Over 16.3 million American men and women served in the armed forces during World War II.
  • 1950–1953: Over 5.7 million American men and women served in the Korean War.
  • 1950's–1960's The building of interstate highways made it easier for people to move long distances.
  • 1964–1972: Over 8.7 million American men and women served in the Vietnam War.

Historical Content[edit | edit source]

Histories are great sources of genealogical information. Many contain biographical information about individuals who lived in the area, including:

  • Parents' names
  • Maiden names of women
  • Place of birth, death, or marriage
  • Occupation
  • Migration
  • Military service
  • Descendants

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. Published histories of towns, counties, and states usually contain accounts of families. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of pioneers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. Local histories are extensively collected by the Family History Library, public and university libraries, and state and local historical societies. The United States Research "History" page cites nationwide bibliographies of local histories which include histories of Missouri.

The Springfield-Greene County Library District has local history articles for Greene County as well as other Missouri counties online.

Biographies from numerous Missouri County History volumes are available free online on My Genealogy Hound

State Histories Useful to Genealogists[edit | edit source]

Good genealogists strive to understand the life and times of their ancestors. In this sense, any history is useful. But certain kinds of state, county, and local histories, especially older histories published between 1845 and 1945, often include biographical sketches of prominent individuals. The sketches usually tend toward the laudatory, but may include some genealogical details. If these histories are indexed or alphabetical, check for an ancestor's name. Some examples for the State of Missouri:

United States History[edit | edit source]

The following are only a few of the many sources that are available:

  • Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. (Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983.) At various libraries (WorldCat), (FHL book 973 H2alm
    This provides brief historical essays and chronological descriptions of thousands of key events in United States history.
  • Ketz, Louise Bilebof, Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976.) At various libraries (WorldCat), FHL book 973 H2ad
    This includes historical sketches on various topics in U.S. history, such as wars, people, laws, and organizations.
  • The Pony Express
    Pony Express riders carried the U.S. Mail on horseback. There were approximately 80 of them. There were support personnel as well that numbered over 400. The Pony Express Route Covered Parts of: California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.
    Pony Express Riders Biographies
    By Name Include Some Photos
  • Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. (Springfield, Mass.: G and C Merriam, 1971.) At various libraries (WorldCat), FHL book 973 H2v
    This includes a history, some maps, tables, and other historical information.

Draper Manuscript Collection. Look for Missouri ancestors 1740-1830 in the Draper Manuscript Collection. These manuscripts cover the history of the "trans-Allegheny West," a region including the west Carolinas and Virginia, all the Ohio River Valley, and part of the upper Mississippi Valley. There are 491 volumes of partially-indexed manuscripts, papers, and books.

  • To find more books and articles about Missouri 's history use the Internet Google search for phases like "Missouri history."
  • Many more histories may be accessed by using the Place-names search in The FamilySearch Catalog for:

Websites[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]