St. Louis opens Civil War era court documents

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White-gloved archivists digging through brittle pages inside metal file drawers at the St. Louis circuit clerk's office have unlocked never-before told stories of looting, betrayal and slavery in the years following the Civil War.

Now these rare documents, unearthed during a 10-year preservation project, will be available to anyone who wants to read about how Missourians attempted to bring law and order after the chaos of war.

"This is a treasure trove of information, most of which has never been seen by historians," said Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, who oversees the state archives. "These cases are attempting to right the wrongs that people saw in those years."

More than 11,200 court cases, from 1866 to 1868, were preserved and archived with the help of a $330,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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