Welcome to Marion County, Missouri: Part of MoGenWeb

U.S. Work Projects Administration, Historical Records Survey, Missouri, 1935-1942


Correspondence, essays, forms, instructions, lists, publications, reports, research material, and notes of the Historical Records Survey, a division of the Work Projects Administration.


The WPA Historical Records Survey was donated to the University of Missouri by the WPA through E.M. Basye on 24 September 1942 (Accession No. 1).


The Historical Records Survey was created to inventory all county government records of each county in the United States. It was started in January 1936 as a part of the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration, one of the many government sponsored projects created to provide employment during the Depression.

The survey had two purposes: to list manuscripts, church records, and public records in county offices in a reference volume for the use of county officials and the general public, and to locate, classify, and catalog all extant county and city records to make them more easily accessible to county officials, historians, and research workers.

There were field workers in each county and the City of St. Louis who inventoried the records on prescribed forms and forwarded them to the state office. County court records up to 1879 were transcribed for use in the state office.

The survey in Missouri became a separate unit of Federal Project No. 1 on 15 October 1936 and continued to operate as a part of the national project. By an act of Congress Federal Project No. 1 was abolished on 31 August 1939 and the Missouri project was converted into a state-wide, locally sponsored project under the administrative authority of B.M. Casteel, State Administrator, and the Director of the Professional and Service Division of the WPA.

In time the survey broadened to include inventories of church records, manuscript collections, women's organizations, vital statistics, American Imprints, federal archives, Civil Works Administration, defense, Negro education, and a space survey. The completed inventory of each county was to be published, one volume for each county. Due to the outbreak of World War II, volumes for only about one third of the counties in the United States were published.

County office records are arranged by office. These records use either volume forms or the unbound records forms or both. There may be essays describing the individual offices.

The general information category contains general descriptions of the county, bibliographies, lists of county newspapers, answers to county history questions, essays on topography, climate, geography, county government and offices, paleontology, geology, archaeology, early settlement, population, growth, development, ethnology, particular things in the counties such as parks and statues, relation of the county to national and state political systems; county government, folklore, clubs, highways, cities, points of interest, manufactures, public utilities, union labor and labor conditions, history of the courthouse, county history, railroads, banks, county organization, schools, county participation in the Civil War, and lists of early county officials.

The laws category contains lists of Missouri laws affecting each office of county government. The date the law was approved and the date from which it became effective are given, as well as page and section numbers. The laws refer to towns and cities, boundaries, territory attached, congressional apportionment, roads and bridges, academies, schools, agriculture, trespass, internal improvement fund, and the seat of justice.

The lists consists of lists of records, each entry giving type, name, date of record, and whether the record is in file boxes or in volumes. Ordinarily there is a list of the records for each of the county offices. At the beginning of the list the location of the records is given.

The manuscripts, newspapers, and painting and statuary categories consist of manuscript collection forms, individual manuscript forms, newspaper forms, paintings and statuary forms, volume forms, printed records forms, and newspapers and newspaper clippings.

The maps, photographs, and floor plans consists of map and photograph forms, floor plan drawings, maps, photographs and measurements of the offices. There is frequently material on housing and care of records.

The publications subcategory usually consists of one volume, Inventory of the County Archives, ---- County, Missouri. Occasionally such publications as city directories are included.

The township records category is found in very few counties. When it is found, it consists of volume forms and unbound record forms covering the records of clerk and ex-officio assessor.

The transcription of county court records consists of a verbatim copy of the county court record from the first volume down through 1878. Many county transcriptions stopped before 1879 because WPA funding had ended. There are some gaps in the records either because the original was destroyed or the transcription is missing. These gaps are noted in the folder lists.

Marion County, organized in 1826.  The county seat is Palmyra
and there is a second courthouse in Hannibal.






City Records


County Offices


Board of Equalization


Circuit Clerk and Court




Common Pleas Court. Includes court record from 1845-1847


County Clerk and Court


Deputy State Commissioner of Health


Highway Commission


Probate Court


Public Works Board




Social Security


Superintendent of Schools






General Information






Manuscripts, Newspapers, Paintings and Statuary


Maps, Photographs and Floor Plans. Folder 13330 is OVERSIZE.

f 13331

Publications: Inventory of the County Archives of Missouri, No. 64, Marion County.

f 13332-13613

Transcription of County Court Record, 1827-1870. The transcription from November 1864 to January 1868 is missing.