Starting Your Research

Research is an important aspect of preservation and those new to National Register of Historic Places listings and other preservation projects often aren’t aware of the resources available to them. Below is a compilation of links and information that Missourians may find useful in their research efforts.

Section IV of the National Register Bulletin #39 Researching a Historic Property details the various types of sources you should look for, areas where they might be found, and the information you can pull from them.

The State Historical Society of Missouri

“The State Historical Society of Missouri is home to more than 9,000 manuscript collections, more than 8,000 maps, over 56,000 rolls of newspapers on microfilm, over 4,800 oral history interviews, and over 100,000 original photographs, postcards, and other graphic materials. The reference collection of books, pamphlets, and official state publications total more than 165,000 items. SHSMO also boasts the nation’s best collection of Missouri regional and westward expansion art.”

The State Historical Society of Missouri has 7 locations across the state, including the new Center for Missouri Studies campus in Columbia. A large portion of their collection has been digitized and is available to view online for free. They will assist you in your research both on-site at one of their regional locations or remotely.

Missouri Historical Society

“The Library & Research Center houses the premier regional history collection documenting St. Louis, the state of Missouri, the Mississippi and Missouri Valleys, the Louisiana Purchase Territory, and the American West. In addition to tens of thousands of books, periodicals, photographs, artifacts, and documents, the Library & Research Center also contains one of the largest media collections in the Midwest.

The Library & Research Center is free to the public, and staff can assist you with your research during your visit. In recent years the Missouri Historical Society has also launched a digitization initiative to increase online access to the collections. Whether you’re interested in researching online or in person, there are a variety of resources to meet your needs.”

The Missouri Historical Society has both on-line and in-person research capabilities.

County Recorder of Deeds & Assessors Office

Deeds and tax records will help you determine who owned a property at any given time. Tax records can also help determine when homes were built or additions were made. Each county handles these records and their access a little differently so it is recommended to call and speak with them.

County or Local Historical Societies & Archives

Not all counties have a historical society or archives, but it is worth checking into. These places are the most likely to have unique primary resources such as diaries, hardware store logs, etc. as well as city directories and plat maps.

The State Historical Society of Missouri has a Directory of historical societies on their website here.

Do you have a good resource we should add to this list? Let us know!