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Digital resources from Missouri

So on Tuesday The Legal Genealogist showcased some digital resources from the Land of Opportunity: historic land records from Arkansas that have been digitized and put online by the Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands in a fabulous set of digitized records called “Historical Documents, Maps & More.”

And that blog post1 resulted in a thoroughly predictable plaintive wail: “But what about…”

Now you can fill in the ellipsis at the end with the name of just about any state — and many readers did just that earlier this week. But only one of those reader requests is going to result in a look-see today.

A request for information about Missouri.

The Show Me State.

Why Missouri?

Two reasons:

moFirst, because I’m going to get to play in the records of Missouri very soon, when I head off on March 4th to the annual Spring Seminar of the Midwest Genealogy Center. It’s being held this year at the Adam’s Point Conference Center in Blue Springs, and you can register online by credit card at Event brite or use that website to reserve a “Free Ticket” and pay in person by Cash, Check, or Credit Card at MGC by March 1st.

And, second, because Missouri has got some thoroughly neat digitized records.

The Midwest Genealogy Center itself has an archival collection with a focus on Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties in Missouri, and is working to have its holdings digitized and made available through cooperative projects with Familysearch and the Missouri State Archives. Right now you can check out the Jackson County and Kansas City Plat Books 1886-1925

That collection and so much more is now available through the collective website called Missouri Digital Heritage — and if you have kin or ancestors who passed through Missouri, this is a website where you’re going to want to spend some time.

This wouldn’t be The Legal Genealogist if I didn’t begin by highlighting my two favorite collections on Missouri Digital Heritage:

Missouri Session Laws, 1824-Present: “Volumes entitled Laws of Missouri comprise the collection. Published today by the Committee on Legislative Research of the Missouri General Assembly, the Session Laws of Missouri provide the text of bills passed in each session and include vetoed bills; proposed, rejected and ratified amendments to the Missouri Constitution; and a subject index.”2 From the first laws of the session of 1824 and before — where you can learn how every able-bodied free white male inhabitant of the Louisiana Territory between the ages of 18 and 45 had to serve in the militia3 — through to the session laws of 2013, this is one-stop shopping for Missouri statutory law.

Supreme Court of Missouri Historical Records: “The Supreme Court of Missouri Historical Database provides an index and abstract of the criminal and civil court cases that were appealed to the territorial Superior Court and state Supreme Court of Missouri up to 1868, and a partial listing of cases to 1889. This database is made possible by a partnership between the Missouri State Archives, the Supreme Court of Missouri, and the Supreme Court of Missouri Historical Society. Digital images are available for some case files dating from 1821 through 1865.”4 Now I’ve written about this database before 5 as well as the circuit court records in the Judicial Records database — but that won’t stop me from mentioning it again and again.

And there’s so much more that can be accessed through that Missouri Digital Heritage website.

There’s a really top-notch index to Missouri land patents — a work-in-progress but already amazing — with more than 280,000 entries covering records from French and Spanish land concessions, federal land sales and state issued patents. The entries may include names of purchasers, claimants and assignees, county, date of purchase, and legal land description (township, section, range and number of acres sold).

There’s an entire set of collections for Civil War resources, including two of my favorites (Frank and Jesse James Circuit Court Documents and Guerrillas and Outlaws), plus institutional collections and resources focusing on the military, newspapers, politics, popular culture, slavery and more.

For genealogists, check out the collections on the 35th and 89th Division World War I Unit Histories, or the Index to Selected Missouri Newspapers, or the Missouri Birth & Death Records Database Pre-1910 and the Missouri Death Certificates collection (with digital images of originals once they become public), or the Missouri Coroner’s Inquest Database, or the Missouri State Penitentiary Records.

And that just begins to touch on the vast scope of records and digitized images available.

Many state archives and records repositories are working to get records available online so they’re more readily accessible by researchers. Missouri is doing a fine job of showing just how it can be done.


  1. See Judy G. Russell, “Landing the records,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 6 Feb 2017 ( : accessed 7 Feb 2017).
  2. Missouri Session Laws, 1824-Present,” Missouri Digital Heritage ( : accessed 7 Feb 2017), citing Missouri State Archives.
  3. §1, Louisiana Territory Laws of 1807, in Laws … of the State of Missouri, … 1824, 2 vols. (Jefferson City: W. Lusk & Son, printer, 1842), I: 152; digital images, “Missouri Session Laws, 1824-Present,” Missouri Digital Heritage ( : accessed 7 Feb 2017).
  4. Supreme Court of Missouri Historical Records,” Missouri Digital Heritage ( : accessed 7 Feb 2017).
  5. See Judy G. Russell, “Missouri shows us,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 8 July 2015 ( : accessed 7 Feb 2017).
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