History on Elm

History on Elm begins its 2024 season of free programs at noon on the second Tuesday of each month at the State Historical Society of Missouri. Programs are held September through June. Mark your calendar and join us over the lunch hour!

Tue. June 11 – World War II in Pleasant Hill, as Told in Its Newspaper

To mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe during World War II, we’ll look at how a small Missouri railroad town took on the war. The story and its pictures come from the weekly Pleasant Hill Times and from letters it published from men and women serving at home and abroad. In the postwar years, a young Bill Cloud, often tagged along when his father, Tilghman Cloud, who took pictures for the family-owned newspaper.  Now, after 42 years of teaching copy editing at the University of North Carolina and previous professional work at Newsday and The Miami Herald, Bill Cloud returns to his hometown in this presentation on the hardships, tragedies, and anxious townspeople who lived through the war and remember the years leading up to the start of the first peacetime draft in American history.

No Programs Scheduled for July and August

Sept. 10 – Missouri’s French Creole History & Folklore 

Nestled in the foothills of the Saint François mountains, Old Mines, Mo., is a place where the boundary between history and folklore is especially thin. French colonists established the lead mining town in 1723. As the local French dialect was dying over the course of the 20th century, residents faced tough decisions about which aspects of their heritage were essential and how best to carry the culture forward. Beginning in the 1930s, scholars and locals began amassing an archive of oral literature, songs, and customs. Kansas City-based filmmaker Brian Hawkins has been mining these archives and collaborating with the current generation of French Creoles for his multifaceted documentary project, Toujours Icitte (Still Here). Hawkins will share highlight from his project and discuss how this community has been able to retain traditions despite the forces of American assimilation.

Oct. 8 – Orphan Train Mystery in Missouri 

From 1854-1929, orphanages in New York sent an estimated quarter million children westward to live with new families. Most of those children knew nothing about their own origins and how they came to be in an orphanage. In this presentation, Dr. Greg Markway gives a history of the orphan train movement and what it was like for those children coming to Missouri. Markway also tells the story of his grandfather who rode the train in 1901, and how his grandfather longed to know his own history. Modern DNA testing revealed his grandfather's family and the broader story of America at the beginning of the 20th century.

Nov. 12 – Journey into Missouri’s Past through the Art of Bryan Haynes

Artist and Missouri native Bryan Haynes will speak about his 40+ year career journey from commercial artist in Los Angeles, to becoming a fine artist developing his style that has been termed New Regionalism. “Living in the hills that bump up against the south bank of the Missouri River, and spending time in the oak and hickory forests here, how can one not imagine the people that came before,” writes Haynes. As an artist born in Missouri, Haynes’s sketchbook fills with figures, Osage warriors, the first Europeans, and early settlers. Stories emerge as the drawings develop into finished paintings. Join Haynes as he invites the audience to join him in a visual journey, inspired by those early accounts, first encounters, and legends retold. 

Dec. 10 – Civil War Forts and the Prominence of Southeast Missouri in Battles

Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri played a larger role in the Civil War than most Missourians and others appreciate. Responding to the threat of occupation of Cape Girardeau by secessionists, the 20th Illinois Infantry occupied the town on July 10, 1861, and began to plan for four forts to protect against attack from the west and south. This presentation by SHSMO’s Bill Eddleman will discuss why Cape Girardeau was important to the war effort. Eddleman will offer details on the forts and their construction, explain some of the major events in the southeast Missouri region during the war, and the aftermath of the Civil War in the region.


History on Elm series explores a variety of topics each month, ranging from Missouri art and authors to unique SHSMO collections. The public is invited to attend. Registration is not required. The programs begin promptly at 12 p.m. and lasts one hour.

History on Elm series is held inside Cook Hall at the State Historical Society of Missouri Center for Missouri Studies, 605 Elm St., Columbia.