Archives :: Research :: Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


Can I request information via telephone?

The Archives staff answers telephone requests from state and local officials, or from members of the general public with an immediate financial, medical or legal need. The staff will also answer by phone ready reference questions (requests that do not require research). Genealogical requests will not be answered by phone and should be submitted via e-mail or on the Genealogical Request Form pdf file.

Our phone number is:

(573) 751-3280

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Can I request information via e-mail?

The Missouri State Archives is pleased to offer submission of Research Request by Email as part of its genealogical and historical research services. In order to offer the best and most equitable services to all patrons, an Email policy has been adopted for the receipt and response to such queries.

Research Request

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Can I request information via postal mail?

Genealogical requests should be submitted on the Genealogical Request Form. Historical research questions should be clearly written with a specific question. All postal mail should be accompanied by a #10 business size self-addressed stamped envelope.

Missouri State Archives 
P. O. Box 1747
Jefferson City, MO 65102

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Does the Missouri State Archives charge a search fee?

NO. The Archives does charge copy fees for any located information.

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Can archival holdings be checked out from the Missouri State Archives?


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Does the Missouri State Archives offer inter-library loan?


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Can I obtain birth and death records from the Missouri State Archives?

The Missouri State Archives holds a limited amount of birth and death records for the state of Missouri. The first provision for state-wide registration of births and deaths was enacted July 1, 1883, when the State Board of Health was created for the supervision of such registrations. The act concerning birth and death registration was repealed in 1893 and registration ceased until 1910.

The Archives has available for research over 250 rolls of microfilm of birth and death records from this period. Researchers should be aware that counties that kept records during this brief period vary in the number of years the records were maintained because there was no requirement that parents or professional attendants send in information for recording. For example, Bates County birth records are only available for 1883 to 1886.

Go to Missouri Birth and Death Database, pre-1910
Go to List of Available Birth and Death Records

The present law for registering births and deaths statewide took effect August 16, 1909 as a function of the State Board of Health. It was the duty of the board to prepare the necessary methods and forms for obtaining and preserving such records to insure the faithful registration of the same in the central bureau of vital statistics. Birth  records from 1910 to the present are held at the  Bureau of Vital Statistics, which is a part of the Missouri Department of Health. Death records for the most current 50 years are held at the Bureau of Vital Statistics.  Death records that are over 50 years old are located in the Missouri State Archives and can be searched using this link - Missouri Death Certificates.

You may obtain a certified copy from:

( In Person )
Bureau of Vital Statistics
930 Wildwood Drive
Jefferson City, MO 65109

( By Mail )
Bureau of Vital Statistics
PO Box 570
Jefferson City, MO 65102

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Can any of the early birth and death records be obtained on the web?

The Missouri Birth and Death Records Database is an abstract of the birth, stillbirth, and death records recorded before 1909 and that are available on microfilm at the Missouri State Archives.  While the majority of the pre-1910 birth and death records at the Missouri State Archives are indexed in this database, there are still some records that are not available through this index.  Contact [email protected] with any questions. 

Missouri Birth and Death Records Database, Pre-1910 

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Does the Missouri State Archives hold current or historical adoption records?

NO. Adoption records in the state of Missouri are closed to the public.

For more information, the State Historical Society of Missouri has a thorough description of sources for seeking historical adoption records

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Where do I go to locate Missouri newspapers?

The Missouri State Archives does not have a newspaper collection. The most comprehensive collection of newspapers in the state is held at the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Go to State Historical Society of Missouri's Newspaper Library

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Does the Missouri State Archives have a surname index for the entire state?

The Missouri State Archives does not collect or compile family surname files or indexes.

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How can I find information on a missing person?

The Missouri State Archives receives dozens of requests each year asking us to search our files for someone. The State of Missouri does not keep files on its citizens; thus there are none in the Archives.

We suggest that you try one of the "person finders" available on the Internet such as Who Where.

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Where can I find military records?

The Missouri State Archives holds many military records of Missourians who served between 1812 and World War II. The records are incomplete.

Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) and Service Medical Records (SMRs) of veterans who were discharged, retired, or died in service during the time periods specified here may be requested by contacting the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri at the address below. Find information pertaining to submission of requests for copies of military records. More information regarding records destroyed or damaged in the 1973 fire at NPRC.

National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138

National Archives at St. Louis website

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Where do I find land records?

Missouri earliest land records are those from the French and Spanish governments. At various times between the 1680s and 1803, French and Spanish governments controlled the land of the Upper Mississippi from which the state of Missouri would later be created. During that time, land grants were issued to settlers in the area. This collection contains the actual grants of land from the French and Spanish governments, as well as records from various U. S. Land offices which determined ownership of the land after the Louisiana Purchase.

Many settlers who came to Missouri purchased land from the United State Government. This conveyance was through the issuance of a land patent by the Federal government. These records for Missouri date from 1818 to 1922. The Missouri State Archives holds 26 volumes of legal land descriptions indexed by name. Many of the patents issued between 1820 and 1908 are available in digitized format from the Bureau of Land Management website.

The Missouri State Archives holds the records of the public domain land given to the state by the Federal government upon statehood. The grants from the United States government included Township School lands, Swamp and Overflowed lands, Internal Improvement lands (500,000 Acre Grant), Seminary and Saline lands, and Agricultural College lands. The land embraces some 6.5 million acres. The State of Missouri in turn patented the land to individuals according to state law. Only the Township School land has a name index. All other records can only be accessed by legal land description.

Many of these territorial, federal or state land sale records are available through the Land Records Database

The conveyance of land between two or more individuals is documented by the recording of a deed. Most land records in the State of Missouri are recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of each county. A detailed list of county records on microfilm is available.

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Does the Missouri State Archives have census records?

Yes, the Missouri State Archives does have census records, both federal and state but only for Missouri. The Missouri State Archives has the federal census records for Missouri for 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 Special, 1900, 1910, and 1920, and 1930. Some state census records are available for some counties. State census records were taken every four years beginning in 1824 and ending in 1876. Very few of these state census records have survived. Please see the Missouri Census Records and Tax Lists page for for a listing of known census records.  We do not have census records from other states.

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Does the Missouri State Archives have family histories?

Yes, the Missouri State Archives have over 1,000 family histories. All family histories are donations. The Missouri State Archives does not purchase family histories.

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