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St. Louis History -- Archival Sources

overview of primary and secondary sources available at WashU about local history, with an emphasis on community groups and urban planning
Quick guide to online St. Louis history resources

Finding Aids by Subject: St. Louis History

The links below describe archive materials at Special Collections, WashU Libraries

  • most materials are not online
  • access these materials by contacting Special Collections.

Primary Sources: St. Louis City Directories

What are directories?

  • Prior to print telephone books, companies made and sold listings of where people lived (residences) and worked (businesses)
  • Most are organized by street name and block. Some have alphabetical lists, or businesses by category. 
  • Each is slightly different in contents and layout. 
  • They are a good primary source for tracing changes to the built environment, locating specific people and industries.
  • Note: not all directories are available online.

Print from WashU Libraries

  • Request books from West Campus Storage for use at Special Collections or the Art and Architecture Library.
  • Researchers from outside WashU should contact Special Collections

St. Louis Newspapers (White predominatly)

Online access (providing wide-span of years)

Online, Microfilm and Print Access

Please contact organizations directly for newspapers not from WashU.

Additional Newspaper sources

St. Louis Newspapers (African American predominatly)

Online access (providing wide-span of years)

Full text searching is available for the noted African American newspaper, Chicago Defender, which often covered near-by St. Louis, as well as Midwest and national news.

Online, Microfilm and Print Access

Please contact organizations directly for newspapers not from WashU.

Books: African-American History in St. Louis

Books on St. Louis History

Bookshelf: St. Louis Chinese-American Community

East St. Louis History

More Resources