The mission of the State Historical Society of Missouri is to collect, preserve, publish, exhibit, and make available material related to all aspects and periods of Missouri history. SHSMO also seeks to generate interest in and appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of the state and its people through education and outreach.
Founded in May 1898 by the Missouri Press Association and established as a trustee of the state a year later, the State Historical Society of Missouri is the premier research center for the study of Missouri state and local history. Guided by its bylaws, the Society collects, preserves, and publishes materials that enhance research and support learning opportunities in the study of the Midwest.
Research centers in Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla, Saint Louis, and Springfield provide access to an ever-growing number of reference materials and historical collections. The Center for Missouri Studies in Columbia also houses the nation's best collection of Missouri regional and westward expansion art. The Center serves as the administrative headquarters for the Society and has flexible public spaces available for hosting a wide range of events.
The State Historical Society of Missouri collects stories from the past and the present to ensure Missouri's history is preserved and shared. Holdings currently boast:
- unique manuscript collections
- an extensive newspaper collection dating from 1808 with newspapers from all 114 Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis
- thousands of editorial cartoons that are national in scope
- rare and specialized books
- thousands of maps and photographic images
- oral histories
- an extensive art collection that includes major works by George Caleb Bingham and Thomas Hart Benton.
Publications, Public Programs, and Scholarship
In addition to caring for collections and working to provide easier access to records, SHSMO offers programs, lectures, and workshops as well as tours for school and community groups and in-depth orientation for secondary and university students conducting research.
In 2013 SHSMO was designated by the Missouri General Assembly as the state's planning agent for the Missouri 2021 Bicentennial commemorating 200 years of statehood in 2021.
Through its education initiative at the Center for Missouri Studies, the State Historical Society of Missouri, administers National History Day in Missouri. Over 5,000 students in grades 6–12 participate in local and regional competitions each year, with nearly 600 advancing to the state contest in the spring.
The Center also publishes the Missouri Historical Review. The cornerstone of SHSMO's publications program since 1906, this quarterly journal offers scholarly articles on diverse topics in Missouri history. An active book publisher, SHSMO's featured projects have covered everything from editorial cartoons to German settlement.
The Center for Missouri Studies competitive fellowship program and other initiatives extend SHSMO's mission to promote and disseminate the study of the state's history and culture. The fellowships specifically encourage scholarship in new or underexplored areas.
Each year the State Historical Society of Missouri holds its membership meeting on a Saturday in late fall. A celebration of the past year, the event typically features a presentation on the year's accomplishments, a luncheon, and a special program featuring a guest speaker.
SHSMO's mission relies on partnerships. Support the State Historical Society of Missouri's effort to collect and preserve Missouri's historical record and to provide programs that reach thousands of students, scholars, genealogists, and other patrons in Missouri and beyond.