Guide to Civil War Resources at the Missouri State Archives
State Government Documents Collection
The Missouri State Archives is a full and permanent repository in the State Documents Repository Program administered by the Missouri State Library. State documents designated as "core" documents are distributed to all full and partial depository libraries. The purpose of the core collection is to provide a group of basic state publications that answer many questions about state government, state agencies, and Missouri. Documents are chosen for their value in providing statistics, directory information, or news on important issues. Additional publications not on the core list are distributed to full depositories; these include items from divisions within state agencies. The State Government Documents collection at the Archives consists of printed materials produced by various state agencies. This could include biennial/annual reports, brochures, newsletters, fact sheets, monthly or quarterly journals, audits, special reports, etc.
Many documents date from the antebellum, Civil War, and post-war Reconstruction eras. Much of the information is collected from specific organizations or institutions required by statute to report to the state. A great deal of the information in the various document collections is statistical in nature, and it can be helpful when researching trends in issues of immigration, social interactions, health, education, employment, and more. Placing these trends in context can provide some understanding about the lives of Missouri's citizens from the 1840s through 1875.
Record Group 000: State Auditor Documents Collection, Biennial Reports, 1871/72-1875/76; arranged chronologically.
Complying with state statutes, the auditor submitted a biennial report of the treasury operations for two fiscal years. These reports detail receipts and expenditures, and include tables for appropriations and disbursements. The statute required that a full and detailed statement of the public debt and the auditor's plans for decreasing the public expenses and promoting economy in government operations.
The biennial reports are only available for the Reconstruction era; there are no earlier reports extant at the Missouri State Archives. The reports indicate, however, that disbursements for the Southwest Expedition - sent to southwest Missouri during the Kansas border troubles in the 1850s - continued to be drawn from the state treasury; over $14,000 was disbursed during 1872. In addition, balance sheets are available for a number of funds, including the Soldiers' Orphans' Home, Lincoln Institute, the Board of Immigration, and Union Military Bonds. These funds deal with the aftermath of civil war in the state.
Record Group 000: General Assembly Documents Collection, Journal of the House of Representatives and Journal of the Senate, 1821-1875 (incomplete); arranged chronologically.
Many pieces of legislation relate to life in antebellum Missouri, as well as during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. This legislation encompasses slavery, civil rights, wartime provisions, and more. The course of this legislation can be traced through the journals, from the introduction of bills to committee assignments to final disposition. This collection contains the printed journals published by the General Assembly at the conclusion of each legislative session. The journals do not contain verbatim transcripts of each day, but rather are brief minutes detailing the roll call, action on various bills, and messages from the governor or between the House and Senate. Roll call votes are included. The journals also indicate when legislators, or private citizens and groups presented reports, resolutions, and petitions to the General Assembly. These materials, however, are not printed in their entirety. Most session journals include a printed appendix containing the annual reports, statistics, charts, special petitions, and more (See Record Group 000: General Assembly Documents Collection, Appendixes of the House and Senate Journals). The journals are indexed. Once specific legislation has been identified, researchers should consult the General Assembly collection for original bill packets (See Record Group 550: General Assembly).
Record Group 000: General Assembly Documents Collection, Appendixes of the House and Senate Journals, 1850 -1875; arranged chronologically.
The journals containing session minutes of the House of Representatives and the Senate include discussion and legislation regarding a variety of antebellum, Civil War, and post-war issues, and often refer to reports, memorials, petitions, etc. Some of these materials are found in the appendixes to the journals and include reports and statistics from various state boards, commissions, and departments. The comments and opinions contemporary to the era regarding the issues of the day are inferred in these materials; some of these reports can not be found in other archival collections.
Several reports are concerned with slavery in Missouri. There are petitions regarding African colonization, resolutions about the rights of slaveholders, penitentiary statistics reflecting the number of prisoners convicted for attempts to decoy or steal slaves, reports on emancipation efforts, and more.
The antebellum and wartime political turmoil of the state are evident in various reports, including pages regarding the Drake Committee of Seventy (Radical Unionists) trip to Washington, D.C. to address President Abraham Lincoln. Reports on federal relations, the Southwest Expedition and Kansas border troubles, as well as the minutes from the 1861 Rebel Legislature in Neosho, are available. Adjutant General reports are included, as well as individual military reports offering information about bushwhackers, guerrillas, isolated skirmishes, and troop movements. State institutions comment about the war and its effect on their mission in various annual reports submitted during the war years. For instance, State Lunatic Asylum No. 1 (today's Fulton State Hospital) closed its doors in 1861, when the state legislature diverted its fiscal support to the State Guard. The asylum reopened in 1863, but limited resources allowed admittance of only a minimum number of patients.
Postwar reconstruction reports deal with African American education, railroads, immigration, and agricultural rebuilding. The Board of Immigration submitted reports, as did local agricultural officers and school officials. These reports give a contemporary view of politics and society immediately following the war. Each county provided details regarding acceptance of and plans for black education, school integration, condition of former slaves, ravages of war on crops and livestock, labor issues, and loyalty concerns.
There are several postwar election contests, challenging the votes of southern/rebel sympathizers who had not taken the loyalty oath, as well as the votes of newly-arrived immigrants. During the Reconstruction era women petitioned for suffrage, and freedmen requested economic privileges, but not necessarily social equality.
Record Group 000: Department of Agriculture Documents Collection, State Board of Agriculture Annual Reports, 1867-1871 (incomplete); arranged chronologically.
Beginning in 1865, the State Board of Agriculture made annual reports to the General Assembly. These reports examined the state of agriculture in Missouri; the 1865 report is particularly informative about land use and the ravages of war in various communities (See General Assembly Documents Collection, House and Senate Journal Appendixes).
The reports discuss the variety of crops, including traditional row crops as well as vineyards, orchards, and horticultural experiments; and the diversity in livestock across the state, ranging from cattle to hogs and sheep. The reports also indicate advances in farming equipment. Most counties submit an individual report that is collated into the annual report. Some counties include political and social information as it relates to agriculture, referring to divided loyalties during the war and the necessity of immigration for the full development of Missouri's rich resources.
Record Group 000: Department of Elementary & Secondary Education Documents Collection, Various Series, 1845-1876; arranged topically and chronologically.
This documents collection includes a number of series consisting primarily of published reports, surveys, directories, and various statistics. Annual Reports of Common Schools, later Annual Reports of Public Schools, are available from 1845 to the present. In addition, the Report of the Board of Public Schools for St. Louis is available for 1874 through 1876.
The 1867 report of Missouri's public schools is the first to address schools for African American children in Missouri (a result of the 1865 Constitution). Other nineteenth century reports include statistical information for both white and "colored" schools; aggregate statistics from county reports; condensed reports from county commissioners about local schools, including the number of black schools, number of pupils, etc. In most cases, fiscal information is in the aggregate and does not reflect spending differences between white and black schools that may have existed.
The department also maintained information about Missouri's institutions for the blind and deaf, located in St. Louis and Fulton, respectively. Biennial reports from the Missouri School for the Blind, dating from 1852-1892, discuss the practicality of educating Missouri's blind children, preparing them for work and life outside the institution. The number of students decreased during the Civil War; the 1862-1863 report specifically mentions the difficulty in traveling war-torn Missouri; agents were unable to recruit students due to the "distress and calamities of a civil war." Few, if any, students attended the school from southern, southwestern, or western Missouri counties, areas where fighting was heavy in the early war years. The director stated, however, that the institution might receive some persons blinded by war service who would need to be educated and/or fitted for a trade. The Missouri School for the Deaf (Biennial Reports, 1855-1875) also struggled with wartime decreases in number of students. Lack of appropriation from the General Assembly forced the school to close in July 1861; it remained closed until April 1863. The Board of Commissioners failed to take the required oath of loyalty to Missouri's wartime government and ceased to act in an official capacity. Soldiers occupied the institution, which sustained damage during the two years it was closed to deaf students. When it reopened in 1863, reports indicate that it employed those whose loyalty was well-established.
Record Group 000: Department of Higher Education Documents Collection, Various Series, 1875; arranged topically.
The Coordinating Board of Higher Education, established in 1974, heads the Department of Higher Education. Records that date before the Board's establishment and concern higher education institutions in Missouri are part of this collection.
Enlisted men and officers of the 62nd and 65th United States Colored infantries founded Lincoln Institute, later Lincoln University, in 1866. It was designed to meet the educational needs of African Americans in Missouri after the Civil War. In September 1954, the university expanded its historical mission to embrace the needs of a broader population, included varied social, economic, and cultural backgrounds. This series contains various annual reports for Lincoln Institute, as well as miscellaneous bulletins and directories.
In addition, the State Historical Society of Missouri publishes a quarterly journal, Missouri Historical Review . The Review receives and publishes many manuscripts regarding antebellum, Civil War, and the reconstruction eras in Missouri, discussing various aspects including politics, slavery, military engagements, etc.
RG 000: Department of Public Safety Documents Collection, Office of the Adjutant General, Annual Reports, 1863-1865; arranged chronologically.
The Adjutant General reported the condition and operations of Missouri troops, both volunteers in the service of the United States and those in the state militia, in or out of active service. The reports include tables enumerating regiments, battalions, and independent companies, denoting arm of service, name of commander, strength of group, and remarks (mustered out, disbanded, transferred, etc.). Other tabular information includes rosters and histories of various military groups, indicating date, name, rank, remarks (promoted, resigned, etc.). The remainder of the report is comprised of printed memoranda, describing activities, engagements, troop movements, casualty numbers, and more.
See RG 133: Office of the Adjutant General of Missouri for more complete records regarding military actions in Missouri during the Civil War.