Find Your Family's History

20, October 2016
Photo of Ray Northcott and groomsmenRay Northcott on his wedding day in 1929, pictured with friends Joe Zamberlan and Frank Digiovanni. Union Electric News, May 26, 1964. Missouri History Museum.

If I've learned anything throughout my years with the Missouri History Museum, it's that you can find family in all kinds of unexpected places. Case in point: While presenting at the St. Louis Genealogy Conference in Chesterfield earlier this month, I showed a photo of my grandfather, Ray Northcott, on his wedding day, pictured with friends Joe Zamberlan and Frank Digiovanni. The photo appeared in an issue of the Union Electric News, an employee magazine of the Union Electric Company (now Ameren), where all three men worked. The next day I received an email from Tony Zamberlan, a grandson of Joe Zamberlan whose friend had attended my presentation and mentioned the photo to him. Tony was hoping to find more information about his grandfather. After receiving Tony's email, I did a name search in the Museum’s Genealogy and Local History Index, which turned up 18 references to Joe Zamberlan in various issues of the Union Electric News, a publication one of my volunteers had indexed a few years before. (This dedicated volunteer laboriously read through our Library’s collection of Union Electric employee magazines from 1913 to 1969 and keyed in all the names that appeared—more than 60,000 entries in all!)

Scan of article from American Car and Foundry newsletterAmusing article about Clifford Frost Jr. in Wheels, the employee magazine of American Car and Foundry Company, May 1945. Missouri History Museum.

Recently the Missouri History Museum’s ever-growing Genealogy and Local History Index surpassed the 1 million records mark. Since its debut in 2008, the index has been one of the most frequently visited pages on the Museum’s website, and it has helped countless genealogists make new discoveries about the lives of their St. Louis–area ancestors. My team of volunteers and I continue to upload new records to the index. Among the items we’re currently indexing are the Police Journal, a weekly newsletter of the St. Louis Police Department dating back to 1914; the Associate (1952–1957), an employee magazine of Stix, Baer & Fuller department store; and a collection of Civil War transportation passes documenting the travel of soldiers, prisoners, and refugees via steamboat.

Scan of Civil War transportation passCivil War transportation pass of Private Samuel T. Beddoes, 11th Illinois Infantry, from Paducah, Kentucky, to Cairo, Illinois, on the steamboat Glendale. Missouri History Museum.

If your family has St. Louis roots, try some searches in the Genealogy and Local History Index. You can search by name, address, business, or even a particular type of source. Take a quick look at the search tips on each of these pages to make sure your search will be as effective as possible. Perhaps you’ll find a reference to a photo of your grandmother in a St. Louis high school yearbook. Or you might find your ancestor’s military service documented in a questionnaire filled out by a World War I serviceman. Or, like Tony Zamberlan, you might find a photo of your grandpa in an employee magazine from Anheuser-Busch, McDonnell Douglas, Union Electric, or one of many other St. Louis company employee magazines. These are just a few examples of the many sources that are part of our Genealogy and Local History Index.

Scan of WWI soldier's bio and service questionnaireThe Genealogy and Local History Index contains info from thousands of World War I biography and service record questionnaires like this one. Missouri History Museum.

If a search of your ancestors in the index turns up any results, click the Details link to learn more about the reference. Then click the Request Photocopy button to have a photocopy of the item sent to you in the mail, or visit the Museum’s Library and Research Center in person to get a photocopy for just 25 cents.

For links to valuable genealogy indices and databases at other area locations, visit our Genealogy Links page. One of the most popular links you’ll find here is the Missouri Death Certificates database, where you can view Missouri death certificates from 1910 through 1965. Also check out the digitized St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1874–2016), an invaluable new resource.

To receive monthly updates on new data uploaded to the Genealogy and Local History Index, and other tips for researching your family history, sign up to receive our Genealogy and House History eNews. Happy researching!

—Dennis Northcott, Associate Archivist, Reference

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