Post-Civil War court archives tell of nation struggling to endure

St. Louis – Today the term "red tape" is shorthand for bureaucracy. But in the days before paperclips and staplers, red cloth ribbon was used to bind government documents. Archivists in St. Louis have been cutting through a lot of it lately.

Recently they finished preserving more than 11,000 legal documents from two years after the Civil War.

The papers include vivid details about sunken marriages and steamboats, runaway slaves and Confederate raids. And they provide a fascinating snapshot of everyday life in a nation recovering from war.

KWMU's Matt Sepic reports for NPR's All Things Considered.