Your Guide to Researching Missouri Ancestors

State Capital: Jefferson City
First Settledca 1735.
Originally purchased from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
Admitted as the 24th state in 1821
First mostly extant federal census: 1830
Statewide birth and death registration: 1910
Statewide marriage records from 1948
Public land state


Books, Articles, Audio Tapes etc.
On the Web

There is nothing more helpful that a handy reference book with information specific to the area you are researching. I've listed below those that I know about.

(find in a library) will give you a link to help you find the book in the library closest to you. Most will show libraries near Ann Arbor... to change the location, type in your zip code and you can find libraries near you.

All of the three books listed below have a small section covering each state that includes maps, historical information, vital records coverage and a bibliography of resources for that state.

  1. Handybook for Genealogists ( 11th edition) (find in a library) (note: some libraries may have earleir editions; those are perfectly usable)
  2. Ancestry's Redbook (you'll want the 3rd edition) (find in a library)
  3. The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogical Research (find in a library)

Here are some books specific to Missouri research:

Eddelmon. The Show Me Guide to Missouri : Sources for Genealogical and Historical Research (find in a library)

The Missouri State Genealogical Society Journal has a table of contents 1981-2007 online, as well as an index of surnames for thatsame time frame.

First, bookmark or print out these FHL documents:

Use the catalog at the FHL to find out what has been filmed covering the state Missouri ; Click View Related Places in the upper right to find sources that have been filmed for the county you are researching and once there click View Related Places in the upper right to find sources that have been filmed for the township or city. You will want to check for resources in all three jurisdictions, although most people check the county holdings first, township next and state last.


Next, see what is available for your counties of interest at at these state/county data sites:

Missouri Gen Web (use the county selection list to find what's available for each of the counties) You can select a county from a map or from an alphabetical list. The ALHN Missouri page is not very active, but there is some helpful information there. And also check for data on the AHGP Missouri page. And try Missouri Trails, which is a relative newcomer to the multi-county data sites that are popping up for each state.

Visit the websites of these libraries. archives and societies.

In 2007 Family Tree Magazine named the Missouri State Archives one of the 101 Best Sites on the web. The MSA Online Databases -- some collections offer digital images of the original document; others provide an index only.

The Western Historical Manuscript collection (WHMC) is a joint collection of the University of Missouri and the State Historical Society of Missouri. It is open to researchers on the University of Missouri campuses in Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis; each of these sites has a web page that describes the holdings specific to that location.

If you are doing a lot of Missouri research, you may want to join the Missouri State Genealogical Association -- notice at the bottom of the page is a search engine to search 105 Missouri History and Genealogy sites.

Missouri is served by the National Archives Central Plains Region, which is housed in Kansas City Missouri

The State Historical Society of Missouri page includes several topical guides to Missouri genealogical and historical research.

Visit the webpage of the public library in the area of Missouri you are researching to see what is offered locally. Check also nearby large libraries for genealogy and local history collections. .

Cemetery Records



The University of Missouri Digital Library has created a searchable archives of some Missouri histories.

Land Records


The Missouri State Archives website includes a searchable database of Missouri naturalization papers . If you find a record, you can order a photocopy of the original for $1.00.


The newspaper section of the Missouri State Historical Society site offers many excellent aids to researching Missouri Newspapers. Below are a few... but you will want to review the whole section for even more information!

Check out the Historic Missouri Newspaper Project, where you can browse newspapers by title and date or search invidual papers (or check the box to search all at one time)


If you need an obituary, see if a volunteer is available for your area of interest at the Obit LookUp List of volunteers for Missouri.

Vital Records

To get information about vital records, check the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Resources Vital Records (official page) or the Vitalrec Missouri Page

But before you do that! Check the Missouri Digital Archives which offers a searchable index to pre 1910 birth and death records (not all have been indexed yet ) and a searchable database of Missouri death certificates 1910-1957 -- this database contains an image of the actual death certificates and they contain a great deal of helpful information.

To find more online, see Online Missouri Death Records and Indexes. -

Black Sheep

Finally, look for any Missouri Black Sheep Ancestors

Help! Queries and Lookups

See if there is a volunteer who is offering the very help you need at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness: Missouri.

Submit queries at these two message board sites: message boards for Missouri counties's Gen Forum for Missouri (Gen Forum doesn't break the state down into counties)

More links

Return to Bobbie's Genealogy Classroom
This page last updated March 13, 2008