St. Louis Circuit Court Legal Encoding Project
Digital Library Services
About the Project

The Washington University Libraries, in partnership with the Missouri History Museum and other contributors within and outside Washington University, have digitized, transcribed, and encoded the St. Louis Circuit Court Historical Records Project and supplementary materials. Additionally, they have developed extensions to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) for encoding legal documents to reflect legal function, genres, and roles, and employ these extensions in this collection. The resulting extensions and guidelines serve as the basis for a new standard for encoding legal documents, and will receive further development as part of the TEI. The cases in the St. Louis Circuit Court Historic Records Project, especially the suits enslaved persons brought against their tacit "owners," are important historical documents. The remediation and expansion of the collection will make these documents significantly more accessible to a wider range of audiences. Creating a full-text searchable collection of these documents and enhancing their use will provide new means of understanding the roles of slaves, lawyers, abolitionists, the state of Missouri, and others involved in these cases. We hope to gather additional genealogical and historical data about case participants by providing a form for visitors to the site to contribute information. The project will not only make these materials available for historical research but will also contribute to the development of new standards for the larger digital library community.

Project Partners
The following organizations contributed to the Legal Encoding Project:
    Digital Library Services (Washington University Libraries)
    Humanities Digital Workshop (Washington University School of Arts & Sciences)
    Washington University Law Library
    Missouri History Museum

Special acknowledgement for the assistance of Missouri State Archives

About Copyright and Reproduction

This digital collection was created for noncommercial, educational, and research purposes. Since the St. Louis Historic Circuit Court Records fall within the public domain, users may make use of these materials free of charge.

Researchers are encouraged to use this site for their work. All references to the materials on this Website should be cited as follows:

Plaintiff v. Defendant
Term of Court, Year
Case File Number
(Cite specific document if required)
Circuit Court Case Files
Office of the Circuit Clerk-St. Louis
Missouri State Archives-St. Louis
Office of the Secretary of State
[(Date Accessed),]

For example, somebody viewing the November 1809 case no. 5 on January 17, 2012 would include the following:

William Clark (to the use of Missouri Fur Company) v. Francois St. Michel
November 1809
Case No. 5
Circuit Court Case Files
Office of the Circuit Clerk-St. Louis
Missouri State Archives-St. Louis
Office of the Secretary of State
[January 17, 2012,]