Amanda Honigfort

During World War II, thousands of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers took to the skies daily. The planes were a crucial part of campaigns, from the bombing of Dresden to D-Day, and were flown by the likes of Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and Lt. Col. Basil Hackleman.

Hackleman, who now lives in Springfield, Mo., was the original pilot of the Nine-o-Nine, a celebrated B-17 that is said to have never lost a crew member or abort a mission because of mechanical failure. The plane was scrapped after the war.

A turret lathe operator machines parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft Corp. plant, Fort Worth, Texas, in October 1942.
Library of Congress

Iconic Rosie the Riveter got a lot of attention during, and after, World War II, but women have always worked.

Before the war, women made up approximately 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce, said Alice Kessler-Harris, an American history professor at Columbia University. Except for the poorest, women often left the workforce when they got married or had children. That’s what the war changed.

Fred Fausz
University of Missouri–St. Louis

St. Louis founder Auguste Chouteau set out with a simple goal: he wanted to build one of the nation’s finest cities.

Historian Fred Fausz believes St. Louis is living up to that goal.

“I think the vibrancy of the city, the spirit of the city is still here, even if you have to include 90 other communities because we’ve created a metro area,” said Fausz, a University of Missouri–St. Louis associate history professor whose new book explores the area’s history, “Historic St. Louis: 250 Years Exploring New Frontiers.” “It is a truly vibrant city as the founders envisioned.”

The Ville book and Silvia and John Wright. The Wrights have written some books together.
Amazon and provided by the Wrights

Events in Ferguson may have started with the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black man, at the hands of a Ferguson police officer, a white man, but John Wright believes there’s more to it.

“You never know what spark is going to ignite the incident,” he said. “I think Ferguson is a wake-up call to all of us. We can’t just keep going, business as usual in some areas, without having another explosion.”

Wright, who has written several books about African-Americans in St. Louis, said this was one of only a few racially charged events in the region’s history.

Wikipedia Commons

St. Louis played a key role in the Civil War. Not only was it a significant naval base, but a riot at the edge of town led to the creation of Missouri’s militia and the effects of the war can still be felt today.

Romiyus Gause, right, plays troubled teenager Bobby, in St. Louis Now.
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Updated with St. Louis on the Air interview.

The "Teens Make History" Players and are getting paid to act — but first they have to work through very serious issues and distill their findings into a play. Since 2007, this work-based program of the Missouri History Museum, brings together students to research, design and mount exhibits at the museum or to bring St. Louis history to life through their plays.

“It feels like I’m on Broadway,” said Romiyus Gause, who has been with the program for six years.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

That old Nike missile launch site that’s been in the news lately could have been yours for $227,000, but since you missed that real estate gem, perhaps broker Wayne Keller could interest you in a Show-Me State version of Stonehenge.

Keller, whose buy-a-farm.com usually sells farms with silos that hold grain not Hercules missiles, says he’s marketed some unique properties in the past -- including a kitty litter plant. But selling a Cold War relic has been a blast.

“It’s certainly been the highlight so far,’’ he said.

Courtesy Missouri History Museum

Holiday encore broadcast.

On Friday, February 14, 2014, The Missouri History Museum hosted “A Great City from the Start,” a one-day symposium commemorating the founding of St. Louis. The foremost experts on early St. Louis history spoke before an audience that included representatives from Quebec, France, Spain and the Osage Nation.

Oscar C. Kuehn / Missouri History Museum

To mark the 100th anniversary of St. Louis’ incorporation as a city, an imposing array of “gasbags” assembled at the edge of Forest Park in 1909 for the St. Louis Centennial balloon race.

(A bunch of politicians were there, too.)

How would Theodore Roosevelt govern if he were president today? Who better to ask than Doris Kearns Goodwin - a Pulitzer-Prize winning historian who has studied and written about Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and now Theodore Roosevelt.

In The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism she documents the friendship between Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, as well as their relationship with the journalists who covered them.  

via Wikimedia Commons

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are most famous for leading the expedition that began in St. Louis in 1804, took them up the Missouri River, over the Rocky Mountains to the west coast and back.

But their connection with St. Louis didn’t end there. In 1807, Thomas Jefferson appointed Lewis and Clark to leadership positions in the Louisiana Territory, with a home base in the St. Louis region.


Beginning this fall, St. Louisans will be able to see the actual document that made what is now Missouri part of the United States.

In 1803, the United States bought more 828,000 square miles of land from France for $15 million – roughly four cents an acre – in a deal known as the Louisiana Purchase.

The parcel immediately doubled the size of the country and eventually became part or all of 14 states from Louisiana to Montana, including Missouri, Iowa and Arkansas.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is unusual among American cities in having so many streets and places with French names.  Over centuries, its residents have also adopted some unusual ways of pronouncing them.

While these interpretations could make many modern French speakers cringe, some echo the original dialect of the city when it was still a part of New France. In other words – maybe we shouldn’t feel so bad about how we pronounce “Chouteau” these days.



(via Flickr/digitizedchaos)

So, you think you know St. Louis?

Take our highly unscientific quiz to see just how deep your St. Louis Soul is.  Be sure to share your results with your friends.  We highly recommend listening to Maria Altman's radio Valentine celebrating St. Louis' contributions to society, and read her web story about some particularly prominent St. Louisians.  

It just might help your test score.

Reflection: What Is The Allure Of Richard III?

Feb 4, 2014
The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III

It was one of those rare occasions where the careful, dry, scholarly, world of academic inquiry and the more raucous world of instant global celebrity came together.

From "The Second Decommissioning," a history provided by Tim Raines.

On January 29, 1944, the USS Missouri (BB-63) launched into the sea for the first time, the last battleship of her kind ever built. Harry S. Truman was a senator at the time, and his daughter Margaret christened the ship.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Missouri, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh spoke with Michael Carr, president and COO of the USS Missouri Memorial Association and two St. Louis area residents who served aboard the ship. He also spoke with former U.S. Senator and First Lady of Missouri Jean Carnahan about the historic ship's silver.

(Courtesy History Press)

William Stage first noticed faded ads painted on brick walls back in the 1970s, when he pounded the St. Louis pavement as a public health officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Once you do begin to notice them, it’s contagious, you find more and more,” Stage said.

He began carrying around a camera to document the ads, and in 1989 published a book on the topic, “Ghost Signs: Brick Wall Signs in America.”

(Missouri History Museum)

In the age of emails, texts and tweets, we take a look back to a time when the handwritten letter was the primary way people communicated across long distances.

In his book To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing, author Simon Garfield examines the role of letters throughout history – a role that now must adapt to current technology.


From transporting Native Americans to the founding of the United States and beyond, the Mississippi River is an integral part of American history.

In his new book, Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History, author Paul Schneider weaves together all of these stories and more to tell the greater story of a continent formed and transformed by a river which both divides and unites.

(Courtesy Bath & North East Somerset Council, UK)

Bestselling author Bill Bryson has covered a range of topics over the years. He wrote about science in  A Short History of Just About Everything. He detailed his travel through the Appalachian Trail in A Walk in the Woods. And he outlined the idiosyncrasies of the English language in Made in America.

In his latest offering, One Summer: America, 1927, Bryson maintains his signature humorous tone as he offers historical tidbits covering a four-month time span in American history.