St. Louis Circuit Court Legal Encoding Project
Digital Library Services

This is the home of the St. Louis Freedom Suits / Legal Encoding Project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through a National Leadership Grant. A project of the Washington University Libraries and the Missouri History Museum, it is the result of contributions from many partners. The present project builds on prior projects of the St. Louis Circuit Court, the Missouri State Archives and Washington University in St. Louis by transcribing selected cases, and encoding them with a schema developed for the project to represent the legal function of the documents. At the center of the collection are the “freedom suits” where enslaved African Americans challenged the legality of their captivity long before the Emancipation Proclamation. The project aims to give greater voice to the petitioners and invites your help to this end.