When most people think of local museums, they generally expect to find displays, artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs of the people who helped shaped the community. In St. Louis, the Missouri History Museum preserves history for the people of St. Louis.
You can expect to find any number of interesting facts about the area. St. Louis played a significant role in the westward expansion of America. It was the host city for the 1904 World’s Fair at Forest Park. It was also the home of many famous Americans, including Chuck Berry, Daniel Boone, Tennessee Williams, and Charles Lindbergh.
But nowadays, these aren’t the only names that people will want to discover. The museum recently launched a genealogy and local history index that provides access to an extensive database of records, including many St. Louis residents and businesses that have appeared in select library, archive, and photograph collections.
The material on file can be searched online by name, address, or business. If historians or genealogists are able to find the name, address, or business, the Missouri History Museum invites you to request a photocopy of the item (the online index does not contain digital images). The museum has done an amazing job of indexing biographies, businesses, community records, military records, portraits, and an abundance of other documents.
“What really struck me about this find is that most people would never think to contact a local museum to ask if they have preserved those rare books,” said Randy Sutton, president of Celebrating Legacy. “But what more and more people are finding is that Americans often recorded their associations and community organizations by publishing directories and yearbooks for their members.”
According to the museum, the index comprises hundreds of distinct sources, many of which have never been indexed online before. Even if you don’t have family members in St. Louis, it might be worthwhile to look over the various sources, which will no doubt spark some ideas of where to look for ancestors in your locale.
Books that have been indexed include Greek Letter Men of St. Louis (1898), The Engineer’s Club of St. Louis Year Book (1932), and St. Louisans You Want To Know (1921). Many of the books have photographs or even woodcut caricatures.