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Information Contained in the Records
The St. Louis Circuit Court records possess exceptional evidential, informational, and intrinsic value. They document the legal basis of the early court system, profile local individuals of national prominence, and illustrate broad themes of American intellectual and social history. There is no other judicial collection of comparable value in the United Sates that documents the westward expansion.
The bulk of the records document the case history of civil suits brought by ordinary men and women pursuing justice in disputes over debts, damages and broken promises. Criminal cases dealing with theft, destruction of property, slander, and murder are also well represented. Chancery cases are less numerous, but deal with the equitable distribution of property such as in divorce and land partition cases.
Historical figures featured in these records include Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Moses and Stephen F. Austin, and others prominent in America's westward expansion. Other cases involve Missouri's most important nineteenth century U.S. Senator, Thomas Hart Benton, St. Louis's founder Auguste Chouteau, and fur-trade entrepreneur Manual Lisa. The original Dred Scott case is just one of over 280 freedom suits.
Case files and Record books contain many thousands of pages related to the early fur trade, steamboats, western travel, territorial militia, Indian relations, divorce, immigration, business, commerce, and the Civil War and Reconstruction.
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The signature of St. Louis founder, Auguste Chouteau, appears frequently in the early court records.
The signature of St. Louis founder, Auguste Chouteau, appears frequently in the early court records.
A researcher works from microfilm at the Courtís Record Center.
A researcher works from microfilm at the Courtís Record Center.