Missouri History Museum

Updated 1:24, Nov. 11 with agreement  -

This Veteran’s Day, the Missouri History Museum takes over as official custodian of Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. The city and history museum formalized the agreement outside Soldier’s Memorial.

Courtesy of the Hands On Black History Museum

The recent $5 million gift tech company Emerson made to the Missouri History Museum will fund the museum’s first exhibit from its initiative to improve the representation of African-American history in museum programing. The exhibit will attempt to show St. Louis' position as a leading city of the civil rights movement.

During a 2010 interview, Norman Seay shared this photo of Jefferson Bank protesters being led to jail. A young William Clay, before he was elected to Congress, is second from left. Seay is the man wearing a hat and is behind the man with a pocket handkerc
Provided by Mr. Seay

A major gift is helping the Missouri History Museum contradict the notion that the civil rights movement was a quiet affair in St. Louis.

“The lunch-counter sit-ins happened in St. Louis before they happened in North Carolina, but people don’t know that story,” said Melanie Adams, managing director for community education and events. “People don’t realize that there were slaves suing for their freedom before Dred Scott. Those stories just are not out there being told.”

Mother Jones leading a Colorado march.
United Mine Workers of America (Courtesy Rosemary Feurer)

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, the “grandmother of all agitators,” emerged as an activist in the late 19th century during the country’s rash of mine and railway strikes.

Fighting for organizations such as the United Mine Workers of America during strikes, Jones organized a transnational, multi-ethnic movement in support of a living wage, restrictions on child labor and public ownership of resources. She came to be nationally known as a dissident, a “dangerous citizen,” and an unapologetic Bolshevik—later in life, she owned up to all three.

Rebecca Now (left) and Yvette Joy Liebesman (right) joined "St. Louis on the Air" in studio to discuss the history of women's suffrage.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

August 26, 2015 marks the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. It also marks the victory of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States: a seventy-year fight for the right to self-govern that encouraged women to continue struggling for equal rights in the following decades.

Cary Horton (Courtesy of Missouri History Museum)


Children learn differently than adults—there’s no studying, no note-taking, and not a lot of deep reasoning. There’s mostly just play.

With that in mind, the Missouri History Museum’s History Clubhouse, its first permanent exhibit specifically designed for children, opened in June. History Clubhouse is an explorative space in which kids can discover St. Louis-area places of note: Downtown, Cahokia Mounds, Forest Park, and the Mississippi River.

Rinker Buck joined "St. Louis on the Air" to talk about chronicling his journey westward on the Oregon Trail, the traditional way: in a covered wagon.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

It took four months, three mules, and a resourceful brother to get Rinker Buck from Missouri to Oregon.

He and Nick traveled, as many before them did, westward across the Oregon Trail, that exemplar of early computer games and pioneering American spirit. They followed the visible ruts left by the hundreds of thousands of pioneers whose wheels cut them into the dirt over the 19th century.

Their method of transportation—also like the pioneers—was a mule-drawn, covered wagon.

Confederate battle flag beside the Confederate Monument in front of the South Carolina Statehouse
J. Stephen Conn | Flickr | 2006

In the aftermath of the church shooting on June 17 that claimed the lives of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, much debate has been sparked around the country’s ties to the Confederacy. Since the attack, officials discovered that Dylan Storm Roof, the shooter in this case, had ties to white supremacist groups. The Confederate Flag, often noted as a representation of racism and segregation, serves as a symbol for many of those groups.

Missouri Gov. Alexander McNair's residence was at the northwest corner of Main and Spruce Streets. Daguerreotype by Thomas M. Easterly, 1850.
Courtesy of the Missouri History Museum

Many of St. Louis’ buildings have been lost to time, disaster, or destruction. It may seem like an inevitable byproduct of progress, but what do we lose when we lose a historic building? 

“Sometimes what we lose is so much more than the physical structure, it’s our collective, shared memory,” said Andrew Wanko, public historian at the Missouri History Museum, in a conversation with “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Tuesday.

"Lost Buildings of St. Louis" is a new exhibit at the museum that shares the stories behind many of St. Louis’ lost buildings.   

Portraits of Purpose Ken Cooper
Courtesy of Ken Cooper

Former Post-Dispatch and St. Louis American reporter Ken Cooper just published his first book, "Portraits of Purpose: A Tribute to Leadership."  The book is a collaboration with the photographer Don West and chronicles the lives of influential Bostonian African Americans. Yet, nestled within the book’s 116 profiles are the stories of five St. Louisans.

Professor Lerone Martin holds recording of Rev. J.M. Gates
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The term "televangelist” was coined in a 1975 TIME magazine article to describe a practice now familiar to many Americans. Lerone Martin said that practice may stem from sermons recorded in the mid 1920s. Martin wants people to imagine a recording session with Louis Armstrong and his musicians in New York’s Columbia Records studios as one of the first bridges established between religion and mass media.

Ulysses S. Grant
(via Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Library of Congress)

Four presidents have ties to the St. Louis area, and each has left his mark on it.

Ulysses S. Grant came to St. Louis in 1843 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and farmed in the St. Louis area for six years. He met his future wife here; Julia Dent was the sister of one of Grant’s classmates at West Point. The two were married in St. Louis in 1848. Grant led the Union armies to victory in the Civil War, and was elected the 18th president of the United States, taking office in 1869.

The city of Quincy, Ill., is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, which will include concerts at its riverfront park on the east bank of the Mississippi River.
Lpangelrob, via Wikipedia

After holding a kick-off event Tuesday evening, Quincy, Ill., is launching a yearlong series of events to celebrate its 175th anniversary.

Quincy's Mayor Kyle Moore said various community events and concerts will round out the festivities throughout the year. An anniversary bash in May during the city's dogwood celebration will feature a parade with a #Quincy175 theme and a Saturday night street concert. Four regional acts will perform. 

If walls could talk, then those of the U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri would have a lot to say.

Historian Burton Boxerman worked with a group of prominent attorneys and district court judges to capture some of the court’s tales in “And Justice for All: A History of the Federal District Court of Eastern Missouri.”

The court got its start in 1822, less than a year after Missouri became a state. Many of the court’s early cases were related to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

Missouri History Museum employees dig through ash and scrap metal for artifacts on Jan. 29, 2015, at the burned-out Fashions R Boutique in Ferguson.
Emanuele Berry / St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri History Museum and Washington University are making sure artifacts from Ferguson are preserved.

Evelynn Johnson, second from left, and her family meet with genealogist Kenyatta Berry, second from right, at Union Station in St. Louis during filming for PBS' 'Genealogy Roadshow.' Johnson's story will be shared in the show's Feb. 10, 2015, episode.
Courtesy of Jason Winkeler / PBS

When PBS’ “Genealogy Roadshow” asked for queries from St. Louis residents last year, Evelynn Johnson gave them her great-grandfather's name.

“I was asking my mom if were kin to another family that shared our last name,” Johnson told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday. “She said ‘Well, this is your great-grandfather’s name. See if they know him.’”

Thomas Jefferson Statue in lobby of New Masonic Temple
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Owners of the New Masonic Temple on Lindell Boulevard in Midtown St. Louis hope the New Year brings renewed interest in the building, which is for sale. Building manager John Vollman has spent years volunteering at the space.

“It’s a pleasure to come in here most days. You just feel the history,” said Vollman.

First use of fingerprinting. First drive-up bank teller. First cocktail party. First nighttime Major League Baseball season opener.

As St. Louis celebrates 250 years, several books have explored the city’s history. Add one more to the list, but this one tells the tales through timelines.

“St. Louis: An Illustrated Timeline” offers a tour through St. Louis’ past (and future, as the book ends in 2016) with vignettes for noteworthy years. It also has what author Carol Ferring Shepley calls a “wide-angle view” of the city.

For almost 100 years, Famous-Barr was a St. Louis shopping destination. Its holiday window displays in particular drew shoppers from throughout the St. Louis area to Famous-Barr’s downtown location. Many of those displays, and other well-known Famous-Barr events, were directed by Helen Weiss, the store’s public relations maven.