The State Historical Society of Missouri Digital Collections provide online access to photographs, art, maps, diaries, letters, newspapers, books, articles, and oral histories telling the story of Missouri’s history, people, and culture.
Please note that historical materials are products of their time, and some of these materials may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes. The State Historical Society of Missouri does not endorse any views expressed in these collections.
Note: Digital newspapers are found online here.
Missouri Digital Newspaper Project
The State Historical Society of Missouri is pleased to present a growing collection of digitized historic newspapers. These images are freely available to the public and are keyword-searchable. Over 2 million pages of Missouri newspapers have been digitized so far.
SHSMO has assembled thousands of original prints, negatives, postcards, and glass plates of Missouri’s people, urban and rural communities, transportation, and industry. The collection includes over 40,000 images and is an outstanding research source for students, scholars, writers, local historians, genealogists and others interested in images of the people and the events that shaped the development of Missouri and the West.
Over 400 items from the SHSMO art collection have been digitized and made available online. Of special note are works by George Caleb Bingham, Thomas Hart Benton, and Fred Geary.
The Society’s collection of editorial cartoons was started in 1946 with an important donation of works by Pulitzer-prize-winning artist Daniel R. Fitzpatrick. The works graphically and often poignantly reflect the attitudes and opinions of the artists and the citizens of Missouri from the early days of the twentieth century through World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and later events that saw the United States develop into a world leader. Over 17,000 works from Daniel Fitzpatrick, Bill Mauldin, and Tom Engelhardt have been digitized and are available to view online.
The State Historical Society of Missouri is home to thousands of unique Missouri maps chronicling our state and territorial history, our exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, and the complexities of westward expansion. Over 250 of these maps have been digitized for online viewing.
Aerial Photograph Collection
The Aerial Photograph Collection is a special collection of "maps" taken from the late 1930s to the 1960s as part of the USDA's Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. Most of the counties in Missouri are represented in these aerial photographs.
Plat Maps of Missouri
County plat books or atlases contain descriptions of landowners and landmarks. Utilizing the Public Land Survey System each map is divided into township, range, and sections. Identified on the maps are the owners of these divisions of land and sometimes include landmarks such as churches, cemeteries, and schools. Many plat books contain a brief county history and a directory of county residents. The online collection contains plat maps of Missouri counties published between 1875 and 1921.
Missouri Historical Review
The Missouri Historical Review, an award-winning scholarly quarterly, has served as the cornerstone of the Society’s publication program since 1906. This richly illustrated journal features recent scholarship on all facets of the state’s history. The Missouri Historical Review also contains reviews of and notes on recently published books about the history of the state and local areas and the lives of Missourians. Issues from 1906-2019 are available online.
Oral History Collection
The Digital Oral History Collection includes two sets of oral histories: the Politics in Missouri Oral History Project and the Marshall Dial Oral History Collection.
African American Experience in Missouri
The African American Experience in Missouri digital collection includes digitized manuscripts by or about African Americans, including personal papers, records of Black organizations and churches, and collections with significant information on African Americans, civil rights, and daily life. Additional digitized manuscripts pertaining to the African American Experience can be found in the Missouri Slavery Documents collection and in the American Civil War in Missouri collection.
American Civil War Collection
The American Civil War in Missouri collection contains letters, diaries, maps, and military records. Manuscript collections for the Civil War era are often personal accounts of events and actions of Missourians during the conflict and offer valuable insights into how Missourians experienced the Civil War. These collections also shed light on the events leading up to the war and how Missouri moved forward after the war.
Genealogy and Family History
This collection includes Missouri genealogy records collected by the State Historical Society of Missouri, including compilations of births, deaths, marriages, and other vital statistics; and funeral home and cemetery records. Records may pertain to a particular lineage or geographical area.
Jewish Community Archives of Greater Kansas City
The Jewish Community Archives of Greater Kansas City (JCA) digital collection features photographs of Jewish community life in Kansas City. These photographs include local and national leaders, civic organizations such as B’nai B’rith, the Jewish Community Center, the National Council of Jewish Women, and Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, social organizations like Kansas City’s Irari Club, family portraits, and photographs of significant events, including the annual Man of the Year award ceremony. The photographs also include synagogues and religious leaders, including Rabbis Maurice Solomon, Morris Margolies, and Gershon Hadas. Several photographs in the collection highlight the relationship between President Harry S. Truman and the Kansas City Jewish community.
The digitization of these invaluable materials documenting local Jewish history was made possible through a Jewish Leadership Education Action and Development (J-LEAD) grant and matching funds from the Jewish Community Foundation’s Community Legacy Fund, as well as other foundation donors.
Local Historical Societies Newsletters
Local historical and genealogical societies in Missouri are homes to a wealth of information about the history and culture of the people in their communities. Prior to the use of online social media many local historic societies used newsletters to share information with their members and communities.
Missouri Bicentennial and Centennial Collection
This collection contains materials generated during the celebration of the bicentennial of Missouri's statehood in 2021. The My Missouri 2021 Photograph project is represented, along with 120 quilt blocks created for the Missouri Bicentennial Quilt. Also included are a few items from the celebration of the Missouri Centennial Exposition and State Fair in Sedalia, August 8-20, 1921.
Missouri Government and Politics
Records of Missouri government all levels of government (town, county, city, state, federal) and official records of government officers. Papers and records of politicians, political parties and organizations, political movements, and campaigns at the local, state, and national levels.
Missouri Slavery Documents
Materials documenting slavery in Missouri include bills of sale, manumission papers, letters, ledgers, and wills. Items like bills of sale usually include names, dates, locations, and ages of enslaved individuals, providing invaluable information for historians and genealogists alike. Also see our African American Experience in Missouri collection for twentieth century documents, and the American Civil War in Missouri collection for more slavery documents.
Content Warning: The materials in this collection contain racist and harmful language and document historical traumas associated with slavery and racism.
National Women and Media Collection
Established in 1987, the National Women and Media Collection held by the State Historical Society of Missouri at the University of Missouri documents the roles women have played in media fields, both as media employees and as objects of coverage, how those roles have altered over time, and how attitudes of and towards women have changed. The NWMC includes records of women’s organizations and professional and personal papers of women journalists, editors, newspaper and magazine publishers, journalism and mass communication educators, press secretaries, and public relations personnel, as well as radio, television, and film producers and personalities.
Performing and Visual Arts Manuscript Collections
Primary source materials related to art and artists held by the State Historical Society of Missouri. The Rose O'Neill Manuscript Collection (SP0026) is the first major set of material to be included in this digital collection.
Digitized materials concerning roads, railroads, waterways, airways, and other modes of travel; papers of individuals in the transportation industry; records of freighting and other types of transportation companies; professional and trade organization records; public transportation; and tourism.
The single document that knits the TWA story together is the in-house company publication, the TWA Skyliner—published from 1929-2002—which reported on the events of the airline and its staff but also the company’s role in Missouri and the national and international changes within the airline industry. This TWA Skyliner Magazine collection offers issues from 1929 to 1989.
Westward Expansion of the United States
A collection of letters, diaries, and other papers associated with exploration, the westward movement, overland travel, the gold rush, homesteading and settlement, and daily life on the frontier in the U.S.
World War I
World War One affected the lives of millions of people. Many Americans who experienced the conflict firsthand as enlisted servicemen, military officers, or civilian workers with the Red Cross and YMCA kept diaries and wrote letters home with accounts of battles, bombing raids, and boredom. Civilians at home, eager to support the war effort, participated in federal and state government efforts to conserve resources, produced war material, and sold thousands of war bonds. The Society's manuscript collection contains diaries, letters, memoirs, scrapbooks, and papers of men and women who served stateside and overseas during World War One. The collection features firsthand accounts of battles, descriptions of bombing raids, and portraits of life on the home front from men and women from all walks of life, providing a snapshot of the war's impact on Americans.
World War II
The State Historical Society of Missouri's World War II digital collection includes photographs and letters from servicemen and servicewomen during the war. Of particular note is the Society's recently completed project to digitize and transcribe over 3000 WWII letters from collection C0068.