Explore our Collective Past

More than 9 million records can be accessed through Missouri Digital Heritage, including the collections of the Missouri State Archives, the Missouri State Library and other institutions from across the state.

We’re always working to help local organizations digitize their collections and share them online. If you have ideas or suggestions, please send them to mdh@sos.mo.gov.

In 1846, Dred and Harriet Scott initiated a freedom suit in the St. Louis Circuit Court. Under Missouri statutes, the suit was allowed based on the Scotts’ previous residence in free territory. From the website Missouri's Dred Scott Case, 1846-1857, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In its 1824 decision in the slave freedom suit Winny vs. Whitesides, the Missouri Supreme Court established the judicial precedent of "once free, always free" to determine the outcome of such freedom suits. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In 1839, James Milton Turner was born a slave in St. Louis County. He became Missouri's most prominent African American leader after the Civil War. He also served as U.S. Minister to Liberia. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In 1854, Augustus Tolton was born in Ralls County. Tolton became the first recognized African American Catholic priest in the United States. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In 1859, Tom Bass was born a slave in Boone County. He later became a nationally known equestrian. From the website Historic Missourians, created by the State Historical Society of Missouri and partners.

In 1863, recruiting began at Schofield Barracks in St. Louis. Over 300 enlisted in the 1st Regiment of Missouri Colored Infantry, which became the 62nd U.S. Regiment of Colored Infantry. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In 1864, John William "Blind" Boone, an accomplished ragtime musician, was born in Miami, Missouri. From the website Historic Missourians, created by the State Historical Society of Missouri and partners.

In 1865, Delegates to the 1865 constitutional convention in St. Louis passed an ordinance abolishing slavery in Missouri. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In 1865, George Washington Carver was born on a Newton County farm; he later became a nationally recognized scientist. From the website Historic Missourians, created by the State Historical Society of Missouri and partners.

In 1866, Lincoln Institute (later Lincoln University), founded by African American soldiers, was incorporated as an institution for black students in Missouri. Image shows first building on campus. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In 1920, Walthall Moore was elected as a representative from St. Louis. Moore was the first African American to serve in the Missouri legislature. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In 1948, President Harry S. Truman abolished segregation in the armed forces with Executive Order 9981. Image shows African-American and white soldiers during World War II. From the collection Truman Library Photographs, created by the The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.

In 1962, DeVerne Calloway was elected the first African American woman representative in Missouri's state legislature. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In 1965, the Missouri legislature passed the Missouri Public Accommodations Act, ending racial discrimination in public facilities. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.

In 1990, Miss Missouri Debbye Turner became Miss America. From the Timeline of Missouri's African American History, created by the Missouri State Archives.




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Missouri Death Certificates
1910 - 1961

Listen to the audio tour from our Civil War exhibit, or watch a video
preview.

This video explores the history of Lincoln University and its Civil War connection.