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St. Louis court records preservation projects are opening a new gateway to history.
Another window on life—and strife—in the American West during the Civil War years is opening with a Missouri State Archives project. Facilitated by a $330,619 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) last year, the project makes St. Louis court cases dating from 1861 to 1868 accessible to the public—just in time for the Civil War sesquicentennial in 2011.
The 230,000-plus Civil War-era court documents include divorces, lawsuits, civil filings and minor squabbles among neighbors, providing researchers with valuable insight into daily life as the country navigated the treacherous ground of Civil War and Reconstruction. They offer a unique view into the lives of women and African-Americans, who are under-represented in many historical records but may appear as witnesses or parties to court cases.