New Research on African American Heritage of St. Louis

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Date: October 29, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    
Contact(s):  Bob Moore (314) 655-1600


National Park Service Presents New Research on the African-American Heritage of St. Louis


ST. LOUIS, Mo.– Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Superintendent Tom Bradley has announced the creation of a variety of databases now accessible on the park’s website that will be of interest to historians and genealogists nationwide.  For the last several years National Park Service historians and interns have assembled research from St. Louis court documents and newspapers into an on-line exhibit entitled “African-American Life in St. Louis, 1804-1865,” which will be available at beginning Monday, October 27, 2008. 

The comprehensive exhibit contains databases culled from original documents in the archives of the St. Louis Circuit Court, the City of St. Louis, the National Archives, the Missouri Historical Society, and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.  “In addition to including such well-known historical figures as Dred Scott, the exhibit also has lists of the names of long-forgotten African Americans who purchased their freedom, obtained a license to remain in the State of Missouri as a free person of color, or were auctioned on the steps of the Old Courthouse,” commented Bradley. 

The incredible surviving collections of court documents, combined with the ongoing work of preservation by the State of Missouri, and the time and talents of National Park Service, State of Missouri, and other dedicated researchers made this project possible.  Superintendent Bradley added, “This unique insight into urban slavery would not have been possible without a special program of Cultural Diversity Internships administered by the National Park Service and the Student Conservation Association which allowed two college interns to create crucial databases for this collection.” 

To view the on-line exhibit, access the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial website,, and follow the links "History and Culture," then "People," then "African-American Life in St. Louis, 1804-1865."  The site is organized into "Freedom Suits," "Emancipations," "Slave Sales," and "Freedom Licenses," and there is also a section on “Running Away” which is linked to the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom project.  The site includes several links to other related sites, particularly one maintained by Washington University in St. Louis, which provides many scans of the original court documents.


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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