Missouri State Archives
Guide to African American History
Office of the Secretary of State
The Secretary of State is the keeper of the Great Seal of Missouri, authenticating official acts of the Governor. The Secretary affixes the seal to a variety of documents, including commissions, appointments, proclamations and executive orders, extraditions, and communtations. In addition, the Secretary is the state's chief elections officer, administering all statewide elections, including ballot preparation and candidate filings, for candidates and issues, as well as interpreting state election laws. The Secretary of State's office is also one of the most diverse in state government. It provides regulatory services through the Securities Division, literacy programs through the State Library, and manages current and historical records of the state, ensuring access to Missouri citizens.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Executive Orders, 1943 - 1996; arranged chronologically/numerically.
All executive orders relate to the constitutional and statutory powers of the governor as chief executive and commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State of Missouri. Broad powers may be exercised in behalf of the public good or welfare. By executive order, the governor may call out the state guard; declare a state of emergency; bestow military awards; create agencies, boards, and commissions; and generally administer state government. Executive orders create task forces and commissions to address African American issues such as the condition of black males in the state, urban education, early childhood health, public safety, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Commission. Issues of affirmative action, civil rights, and employment discrimination have also been addressed by executive order.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Extraditions (Foreign & Domestic), 1950 - 2000; arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by surname.
Extradition is the delivery of a person, suspected or convicted of a crime, by the state where he has taken refuge to the state that asserts jurisdiction over him. Foreign extraditions are requests made by governors of other states to Missouri for the return of criminals; domestic extraditions are requests made by Missouri's governor for the same. The purpose is to prevent criminals who flee from escaping punishment. Extradition papers are attested by the Secretary of State and maintained by the Missouri State Archives. The files include the official extradition request, criminal history, and miscellaneous correspondence; access to records may be restricted due to personal information, including Social Security numbers. Extradition papers include persons of both sexes and of various races. This series includes the extradition papers for James Earl Ray, an escapee from the Missouri State Penitentiary, after the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Gubernatorial Appointments, 1838 - 2000; arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by name of commission.
The governor is required by statute to make appointments to a variety of state boards and commissions. The Secretary of State attests to these commissions by affixing the Great Seal; copies are then maintained at the Missouri State Archives. Many commissions were created to aid African Americans at various times in Missouri's history. Among those are the Missouri Negro Industrial Commission and the Missouri Human Rights Commission. State institutions often include a board of directors, to which African Americans were appointed, such as for the Industrial Home for Negro Girls in Tipton and the Board of Curators at Lincoln University. Other groups requiring gubernatorial appointments include the Colored Women's Clubs Northwest Federal Convention and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.
Files in the Gubernatorial Appointments series are most often comprised of an official letter, on the governor's stationery, stating appointment to a particular commission. The letter indicates the names of the persons appointed, place of residence, and length of term. On occasion, additional materials, such as resumes or letters of support are included. These items are most often found in an Appointments series within the papers of a particular governor's collection.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Pardon Papers, 1837 - 1909; arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by surname.
This series contains the evidence upon which a governor based his action regarding the request for pardon from a crime or prison term. The evidence in the files varies but typically includes a formal application for pardon, petitions for and arguments against granting pardon, reports from the prosecuting attorney and the presiding judge, and conduct reports from the penitentiary warden. Among these documents are records requesting pardons for imprisoned abolitionists, such as George Thompson, as well as records requesting pardons for various African American prisoners, some who were former slaves. Requests for pardons are often included in the Governors' Papers.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Restoration of Citizenship, 1910 - 1996; arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by surname.
Prior to 1910, all restorations of citizenship rights are included in the Pardon Papers series. Beginning in 1910, all pardons and restorations are filed within one series as Restorations of Citizenship. Each restoration file typically includes an application for restoration giving details of the offense and personal information about the applicant; petitions and correspondence evaluating the applicant's character and health; additional mitigating factors. Trial transcripts, affidavits, and depositions concerning the advisability of clemency may be included. Later files include the recommendation of the Prison Board and other pertinent agencies. Notice of the governor's action is included in the form of a letter directed to the Secretary of State. This series contains restorations of citizenship for male and female persons of various races.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Trademarks Collection, 1893 - Present; arranged numerically by trademark registration number.
Trademarks are registered with the Commissions Division of the Secretary of State's office. Once the registration expires, the documents are transferred to the Missouri State Archives. Expired registration papers dating back to 1893 are available for research at the Archives. Included within the registration is an image of the trademark, often the original label, package, or advertisement. Many of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century trademarks used stereotypical images of African American men and women and black culture to market products, such as the "Aunt Jemima" brand of flours and breakfast cereal. Placed in historical context, researchers can better understand the racial motivations behind these trademarks and the marketing culture. Trademark registrations include name and address of corporation, description and facsimile of trademark, registration number, and filing date.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Elections Division, Political Party Platforms, 1909 - 1986; arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by party.
Each political party adopts a party platform, the statement of the party's most important goals, policies, and specific programs. These platforms are not binding on candidates or officeholders, but oftentimes laws are created from certain "planks." It is informative, therefore, to look at how platforms adopted by political parties in Missouri addressed the issues and needs of African Americans during various campaign years. Coupled with a comparative analysis of subsequently passed legislation, party platforms are a useful tool to understanding the political environment of the early- to mid-twentieth century.
This series consists of documents describing the various issues political parties endorsed. Parties include the Republican, Democratic, Progressive, Socialist Labor, Liberal, Prohibition, and Communist. These platforms were filed with the Office of the Secretary of State. Included among some of the platforms are lists of party members and candidates elected.
Issues relating to African Americans include statements from the 1912 Progressive Party for political equality, that the "door of opportunity should open equally to black and white." At the same time, the Democratic Party favored appropriations to build an industrial home for Negro girls as well as active promotion of Lincoln Institute; the Republican Party endorsed this, as well as the establishment of a sanitarium for "tubercular negro patients."
By the 1920s, education was added to the list, and in 1924, the Liberal Party stated it would "indorse [sic] and ratify the position taken by Senator LaFollette in opposition to the Ku Klux Klan." Parties battled for the African American vote in this decade, with the Democratic Party accusing the Republicans of "political betrayal" of black Missourians. The push for anti-lynching laws was prevalent during the decade. By the 1950s, "civil rights" was a popular plank in most parties, followed by calls for fair employment practices and affirmative action.
There are a number of other collections within the Elections series that include information about African Americans as political candidates. The Declarations of Candidacy (1890 - Present) series contains formal declarations by black candidates for state and federal legislative seats, including those of Missouri's first African American state representative, Walthall Moore (1920), first African American state senator, Theodore McNeal(1960), first African American woman in the General Assembly, DeVerne Calloway (1962), and first African American Congressman, William L. Clay (1968). The Election Returns (1836 - Present) series, including Primary, General, and Special elections, contains official returns for all candidates. Because these series do not specifically identify race, they are not listed separately. If, however, researchers are aware of particular black candidates, elections, issues, or legislative districts, the records offer information about the role of African American citizens and candidates in Missouri politics.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Special Collections, Constitutions and Constitutional Conventions, 1845 - 1945; arranged chronologically.
Missouri's first state constitution was written in 1820. In subsequent years, the constitution was revised to reflect a growing state population, state government organization, and public attitudes. Extant versions of these documents are available for 1845 (proposed, never adopted), 1865 (adopted, known as "Drake Constitution), 1875 (adopted), and 1945 (adopted; still in effect with amendments). In addition, this series contains additional information from the constitutional conventions. Included are original and printed daily journals, expense accounts, committee rosters and reports, and more.
The 1845 papers contain petitions presented to the convention regarding the abolition of slavery in Missouri; this constitution was never adopted. In 1865, convention members discussed U.S. Colored infantries; the 1865 constitution was also the first to address African American suffrage and segregated schools. The 1875 constitution mandated separate schools; amendments, committee reports, and resolutions may be researched. Published versions of the debates and journals for this convention are available, as well. Delegates to the 1943-1944 constitutional convention opted to continue the practice of segregated schools in Missouri; the collection includes petitions, resolutions, original daily journals, and a published version of the debates and journals.
Every proposed constitution or constitutional amendment must be put to a vote of the people. Researchers may also wish to consult Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Elections Division, Election Returns (1836 - Present) to identify how particular districts and areas in the state voted on various measures or amendments.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Special Collections, Missouri-Kansas Border War, 1858 - 1860; arranged chronologically.
Slavery expansion dominated the political atmosphere of the 1850s and attempts to implement popular sovereignty in Kansas led to over a decade of turmoil on the Missouri-Kansas border. Conflict arose between citizens on both sides of the issue and the border, escalating into violent raids. Searching for a solution, Missouri's Governor Robert M. Stewart corresponded with the governor of the Kansas Territory about introducing state troops to patrol the border. The Kansas leader agreed to the proposal and established a similar patrol in Kansas; working together, the governors calmed rising tensions. This collection consists of the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Governor Stewart during the border difficulties. Most of the letters are between Stewart and Missouri's adjutant general. A variety of topics are addressed, including the Missouri Militia, Jayhawkers, slavery, John Brown, and bushwhackers.