African Americans of Missouri

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This entry was originally written by Marsha Hoffman Rising CG, FUGA, FASG, and Pamela Boyer Porter, CGRS, CGL for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Missouri Family History Research series.
History of Missouri
Missouri Vital Records
Census Records for Missouri
Background Sources for Missouri
Missouri Maps
Missouri Land Records
Missouri Probate Records
Missouri Court Records
Missouri Tax Records
Missouri Cemetery Records
Missouri Church Records
Missouri Military Records
Missouri Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Missouri Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Missouri Territorial Records
African Americans of Missouri
Missouri County Resources
Map of Missouri


Although Missouri was a slave-holding state, the geography determined where slaves were present in significant numbers. The slave population was distributed along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The greatest concentration was in the area called “Little Dixie” because it was settled by Southerners before the Civil War. The core area of “Little Dixie” includes the present-day counties of Howard, Cooper, Boone, Callaway, Audrain, Randolph, Monroe, Ralls, and Pike. The best general history for Missouri’s African-American population is Lorenzo J. Greene, Gary R. Kremer, and Anthony F. Holland, Missouri’s Black Heritage (1980; reprint, Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 1993). The slave schedules for 1850 and 1860 for Missouri are extant and available on microfilm through the National Archives (see pages 11-12).

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