The following websites may help you locate information on your St. Louis ancestors.
The Missouri State Archives (located in Jefferson City, with a branch in St. Louis) has many valuable online databases, most notably the Missouri Death Certificates database, 1910-1962. The following databases are also available:
- The St. Louis Probate Court Digitization Project (now part of the Missouri Judicial Records database) contains indexed and digitized probate decedent files for St. Louis City/St. Louis County, 1802-1900. Search this database for ancestors who died in the 19th century.
- The Soldiers' Records: War of 1812--World War I database includes abstracts of individual service cards listing Missourians who served in the military.
- The Naturalizations database includes naturalization records filed in the St. Louis court system, 1816-1906.
- Search for your Civil War-era military and civilian ancestors in the Missouri's Union Provost Marshal Papers, 1861-1866 database.
- The Coroner's Inquest Database contains abstracts of inquests in St. Louis dated 1845-1900. Search this database if you are looking for an ancestor who may have died in this period.
- See the Online Resources section of the Missouri State Archives website for a complete list of online databases.
The Central Branch of the St. Louis Public Library (located at 13th & Olive in downtown St. Louis) serves the city of St. Louis. The St. Louis Public Library has many valuable online genealogy indexes to St. Louis publications, most notably the St. Louis Obituary Index. This index includes death notices, burial permits, and obituaries from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for the years 1880-1930, 1942-1945, 1960-1969, and 1992-2011.
- The St. Louis Public Library subscribes to Ancestry and Heritage Quest. These two subscription databases include the federal census records. St. Louis Public Library cardholders can access Heritage Quest from home. (Click on the Heritage Quest link, and log in with your card number and pin number. Contact webmaster [at] slpl [dot] org if you have trouble accessing the database.) Please note, however, that the indexing of the census on Heritage Quest is not complete.
- The St. Louis Public Library subscribes to "ProQuest Historical Newspapers: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1874-1922)" database, which includes the digitized, keyword-searchable St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1874-1922. St. Louis Public Library cardholders can access this database from home. (Click on the Historical Newspapers link, and log in with your card number and pin number. Contact webmaster [at] slpl [dot] org if you have trouble accessing the database.) Please note: If you're not a cardholder and you cannot visit the library, check to see if your local public library or nearby university library subscribes to this database.
- The microfilm collection also includes passenger records and indexes for all major East and Gulf Coast ports in the U.S., city directories for most larger Missouri cities, and 19th-century St. Louis City and County vital records and naturalization records.
The Headquarters Branch of the St. Louis County Library (located at 1640 South Lindbergh Blvd.) serves St. Louis County. This library has several online genealogy indexes and databases including the following:
- "19th-Century U.S. Newspapers" subscription database includes the digitized, keyword-searchable St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 1875-1888. St. Louis County Library cardholders can access this database from home. Please note: If you're not a cardholder and you cannot visit the library, check to see if your local public library or nearby university library subscribes to this database.
- "ProQuest Historical Newspapers: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1874-1922)" subscription database includes the digitized, keyword-searchable St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1874-1922. St. Louis County Library cardholders can access this database from home. Please note: If you're not a cardholder and you cannot visit the library, check to see if your local public library or nearby university library subscribes to this database.
- Index to the St. Louis County Watchman-Advocate, 1881-1886, 1888. This newspaper was published in Clayton and focuses on St. Louis County rather than the city of St. Louis.
- Index to obituaries in the German-language Westliche Post, 1878-1892.
- See the Indexes page of the St. Louis County Library website for a complete list of online indexes.
- The St. Louis County Library subscribes to Ancestry and Heritage Quest. These two subscription databases include the federal census records. St. Louis County Library cardholders can access Heritage Quest from home. Please note, however, that the indexing of the census on Heritage Quest is incomplete.
- The St. Louis County Library subscribes to Fold3.com (formlery known as Footnote.com), which includes digitized St. Louis city directories (1863-1923, excepting a few years). St. Louis County Library cardholders can access Fold3 from home.
The St. Louis Mercantile Library (located on the campus of the University of Missouri--St. Louis) has an online index to the "morgue" of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat newspaper, which was a massive clippings file that covers the period 1920s-1980s. Researchers can search by name or St. Louis subject. This is a great resource to consult if you're looking for information regarding an individual, business, institution, or topic in this time period. To search the name index most effectively, key in the surname only. Please note that the online index is not complete; indexing of personal names currently is only completed through "Ta." Contact the Mercantile Library to look up a name after "Ta."
The State Historical Society of Missouri (located in Columbia) has an online index to selected Missouri newspapers, including a few St. Louis newspapers for the years 1808-1828, 1835-1840. In addition, the reference library's Missouri Surname Index is a valuable card catalog that is not searchable online
- Most past issues of the Missouri Historical Review (1906-2001) are now available on the State Historical Society of Missouri website. The Missouri Historical Review includes articles on state and regional history, book reviews, and short pieces on local culture and Missouri life.
- The State Historical Society of Missouri's Manuscript Collection (formerly known as the Western Historical Manuscript Collection) is located at the four University of Missouri campuses in Columbia, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Rolla. Highlights include collections relating to the Civil War and records of the St. Louis Protestant Orphans' Asylum, 1834-1940.
The St. Louis Genealogical Society has several online indexes, many of which were published in issues of the St. Louis Genealogical Society Quarterly. The St. Louis Genealogical Society has also published several valuable CDs of local records including the following:
- "St. Louis Death Registers: An Index to Deaths Recorded in the City and County of St. Louis, 1850-1908"
- Four CDs of St. Louis burials that include records of more than 1 million burials in hundreds of St. Louis City and County cemeteries.
Search for burials in Catholic cemeteries in St. Louis on the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of St. Louis website.
Records of burials at Gatewood Gardens Cemetery can be searched online. Burials in this database date from 1832 to 2007. This cemetery was formerly known as Holy Ghost Evangelical and Reformed Cemetery, Independent Evangelical Protestant Cemetery, Old Picker's Cemetery, New Picker's Cemetery, and Memorial Gardens. Important search tips: For most effective searching, key in only the surname. Also, if you key a surname into the "Name of Buried Person" search box, click the "Go" button rather than hitting the "Enter" key on your keyboard.
The Library of Congress' Chronicling America website includes the digitized, keyword-searchable St. Louis Republic, 1900-1905. Click on the "Advanced Search" tab. Then, under the "OR select newspaper(s)" heading, select "St. Louis Republic," then try some searches in the "Enter search" section. Please note: These digitized newspapers were rendered searchable by optical character recognition (OCR) software, which translates scanned printed text into machine-readable (i.e., searchable) text. Oftentimes, the OCR software misinterprets the typeset letters.
Missouri Digital Heritage provides digital images of selected publications, documents, and photographs from many Missouri libraries and archives. The following are a couple highlights:
- Digitized and keyword-searchable Savitar (University of Missouri yearbook), 1891-2004.
- Index to the death rolls of the Department of Missouri, Grand Army of the Republic, 1882-1940. The G.A.R. was the largest association of Union veterans of the Civil War.
The St. Louis Circuit Court Historical Records Project is an ongoing effort of the Missouri State Archives--St. Louis to process and index the pre-1876 records of the St. Louis Circuit Court. (The city of St. Louis and St. Louis County split in 1876.) The staff is currently working on Civil War--era records. Please note that only selected records are currently searchable online.
An index to St. Louis County probate closed estates (circa 1876-2004) can be searched on the St. Louis County Circuit Court website. (Please note that this is an index to probates in St. Louis County, not St. Louis City.) This index often provides the date of death. If you find a record in this index, you can visit the St. Louis County Probate Court (in Clayton, Missouri) to view the probate case.
St. Louis University yearbooks (1913-2005) have been digitized and are available online. St. Louis University course catalogs (1829-1902) are also available. (These catalogs often include lists of students.) To globally search all the St. Louis University Libraries digital collections, go to the advanced search page. Please note: These yearbooks and catalogs were rendered searchable by optical character recognition (OCR) software, which translates scanned printed text into machine-readable (i.e., searchable) text. Sometimes the OCR software misinterprets the typeset letters. The photograph collection includes many St. Louis University Medical School graduating class photographs; however, it appears that the names of the students in these photographs have not been indexed.
Genealogybank.com is a subscription database that contains several digitized St. Louis newspapers. To search these historic St. Louis newspapers, visit the St. Louis Newspaper Archives page. (Read the search tips to make sure you are searching these newspapers most effectively.)
Successul searches show the headline of the article, the name and date of the newpaper, and a snippet view of the article. (You must be a subscriber to see the entire article.)
With this citation, you may be able to locate the article on microfilm. Since the citation does not include the page number, locating the article may take some time. The Missouri History Museum Library holds the microfilm of some, but not all, of the St. Louis newspapers that are digitized on Genealogybank.com.
St. Louis city directories for the years 1863-1923 (excepting a couple of years) have been digitized and are accessible on Fold3.com (formerly Footnote.com), a subscription (i.e., fee-based) service that provides digital access to a variety of publications and documents of value to genealogists.
The St. Louis County Library and the St. Charles City-County Library subscribe to Fold3. (Please note that St. Louis County Library carholders can access Fold3 from home.) If you are not in the St. Louis area, check to see if your local library is a subscriber.
Although Fold3 is a subscription service, some valuable searching can be done for free. To search the St. Louis city directories, go to Fold3.com and click on "See all titles," then scroll down to the "City Directories" link and click "City Directories," then click "Missouri," then click "City Directories--St. Louis, MO." Then key in a name in the "Search City Directories - St. Louis" box (for example, "Northcott, Samuel"). The results usually show the page number on which that name appears in each directory. To view the actual digital image of the page requires the payment of a fee, or you can visit one of the aforementioned libraries to view the image.
Please note: These digitized city directories were rendered searchable by optical character recognition (OCR) software, which translates scanned printed text into machine-readable (i.e., searchable) text. Oftentimes, the OCR software misinterprets the typeset letters.
Browse or search the 1860 and 1890 St. Louis city directories on the Washington University Unreal City website.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial website includes several databases of records relating to African Americans recorded in St. Louis courts, 1804-1865.
Pictorial St. Louis, the Great Metropolis of the Mississippi Valley, published in 1875, contains bird's-eye views of the city of St. Louis in 1875. Many residential and commercial buildings are identified by name.
The University of Missouri has digitized their collection of Sanborn fire insurance maps, 1880-1922.
Search the archives of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1988 to present on stltoday.com. Please note that the default search is set to search 1998 to present. To search all the years available (1988 to present), change the "search years" parameter to "all years." Successful searches provide the date of the issue, section name, an excerpt from the beginning of the article, and usually the page number. With this citation, you can then visit the Missouri History Museum Library, which holds the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on microfilm. Our library receives the microfilm approximately five months after the date of issue.
Search and view digital images of issues of the Country Day News (1917-1992), the student newspaper of St. Louis Country Day School, on the Country Day News Archives website.
Search and view digital images of the employee magazines of the St. Louis--San Francisco Railway (The Frisco) (1902-1935) on the Springfield--Greene County Library website. Please note that the search option has some limitations; in some cases browsing the issues of the magazines may be helpful.
Search for records of death circa 1962-present in the Social Security Death Index.
The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System provides an index to the compiled military service records held at the National Archives. Please note: If you locate an ancestor in this online index who served in a Missouri Union or Confederate unit, the microfilm of the service records for these units is available at the Central Branch of the St. Louis Public Library (located at 13th & Olive in downtown St. Louis).
The National Graves Registration Project compiled by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War contains burial records of many Civil War veterans.
For a guide to genealogical research in St. Louis, consult Ann Fleming's St. Louis Family History Research Guide (published in 2008). This book is available at the Missouri History Museum Library. It's also available for purchase in the Missouri History Museum shop.