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Business records are a great source of information and come in many forms. Vital statistics are the backbone of genealogy, but learning about your ancestors’ daily life provides in-depth information about the time in which they lived.
A business man who was a peddler died on the street while pushing his cart. The coroner’s record itemized the goods on the cart, thus explaining his daily business, a walking variety or notions store.
Businesses registered their trademarks at City Hall and the archive maintains a file dating from 1865 to 1930. The reproductions are available in color. If your ancestor owned a hardware store, saloon, brewery, or dry goods store, his logo may be available. The file also includes the logos for many organizations.
Non-profit organizations also recorded their incorporation papers at the Recorder of Deeds office. These records are available from 1875 to 1920. These records include political, social, and fraternal organizations, churches, charities, and athletic clubs. A card file holds the index.
Other business records include registrations for various trades, including nurses, 1921–1954; Power of Attorney, 1764–1920; and Notary Public. Many of the early nurse registrations were women from Catholic religious orders.
Campaign finance records are available from 1896 to 1972 at City Hall. The information for each candidate is the political party, donors, and expenses. The index covers 1901 to 1945.
Some business, private organizations, and local and state governments produce annual reports.
In 2007 and 2008, the Society reproduced two out-of-print books on St. Louis businesses and business people on CD-ROM. The City of St. Louis and its Resources was originally published in 1893 by a now-defunct newspaper called the St. Louis Star-Sayings. The book described many St. Louis businesses and had pages of illustrated advertisements and biographies of prominent business leaders. Who’s Who in North St. Louis, 1895–1925, was published by the North St. Louis Business Men’s Association in 1925. This book, filled with photos and biographies, highlights the businesses and people in the area of north St. Louis that was home to many German and other immigrant groups at the turn of the twentieth century. For more information on these CDs or to purchase them, click here.
St. Louis Genealogical Society · #4 Sunnen Drive, Suite 140 · St. Louis, MO 63143 · 314-647-8547