Explore Missouri's past and prepare for the future through the African American Experience in Missouri lecture series. A collaboration of the State Historical Society of Missouri's Center for Missouri Studies and the University of Missouri's Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, it is designed to offer the community opportunities to reach a new understanding of present-day Missouri by learning about the history of African Americans within the state. A selection of featured lectures is below or you can view all of them here.
Walter Johnson, a professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, uses Dred Scott's personal struggle for freedom and the controversial outcome of his US Supreme Court case as a lens to help illuminate the central role of St. Louis in the imperialist and racial capitalist history of the United States.
Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau professor at the University of Michigan, shares the deeply powerful and very tragic story of Celia, who was purchased by a local man in Callaway County and suffered tremendously for years before she eventually stood up for her basic human right to decide her own fate.
St. Louis native Miller W. Boyd III shares insights from his groundbreaking research into the African American experience in Missouri during the Civil War. In unraveling the traditional motives for service—fighting to destroy slavery in America, securing black citizenship, and preserving the Union—Boyd shows that personal freedom and a chance to financially provide for families were often stronger motivations to enlist.
In his path-breaking book Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City, Colin Gordon combined GIS digital mapping techniques with extensive archival research to reach new perspectives on St. Louis’s decades-long struggles with depopulation, segregation, economic disparity, and urban decay. Gordon's current research continues to probe for deeper understanding of the underlying issues and failed policies behind urban crises such as the turmoil in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot and killed by local police on August 9, 2014.
Gary R. Kremer explores the history of Lincoln University from its founding by former Missouri slaves in 1866 through its emergence as a state-funded normal and vocational school to its establishment as the state’s only public institution of higher education for African Americans in 1921. Special attention is given to Lincoln University’s “golden years,” from 1921 through the mid-1950s, when it was often referred to as the “Black Harvard of the Midwest.”
Lea Vandervelde discusses her most recent book, Redemption Songs: Suing for Freedom before Dred Scott, a groundbreaking study of more than 300 freedom suits in St. Louis. Through the careful evaluation of 12 cases, the book offers insights into the practice of slavery and the lives of those enslaved in Missouri.
SHSMO-Cape Girardeau Associate Director Bill Eddleman shares advice and strategies for researching family histories in this free multipart series.
Missouri 2021 Presents is a free virtual series, held on the first Tuesday of the month, highlighting bicentennial commemorations around the state.
A benefit of SHSMO membership, the Missouri Historical Review has been in continuous publication since 1906. These talks with current authors highlight featured articles and scholarship from recent issues of the Review.
Watch as Greg Olson, independent researcher, writer, and 2020 Center for Missouri Studies Fellow, discusses his article, “White Man’s Paper Trail: Extinguishing Indigenous Land Claims in Missouri.”
Our Missouri is a podcast about the people, places, culture, and history of the 114 counties and the independent city of St. Louis that comprise the great state of Missouri. Each episode focuses on a topic related to the state ranging from publications about Missouri’s history to current projects undertaken by organizations to preserve and promote local institutions. A selection of featured episodes is below or you can view all of them here.
SHSMO Art Curator Joan Stack, PhD, presents a virtual tour of the Ellis Library 2021 exhibition, Historic Images of Black Families. Focusing on artworks and photos from SHSMO collections, the show explores the various ways African American families have been depicted in 19th and 20th-century art. Included are lithographs by Thomas Hart Benton, editorial cartoons by Tom Engelhardt, and vernacular photographs by anonymous photographers.
Learn techniques for researching and personal archiving with these free on demand workshops from SHSMO staff.