Architecture Research Guide

The State Historical Society of Missouri is home to numerous collections concerning the built environment. These collections include the records of architectural firms, the papers of local architects, and nearly seventeen thousand sets of architectural drawings documenting residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional structures. The materials preserved within these collections document the state’s rich architectural history and heritage while providing insights into the design and development processes of its architects.

Articles from Missouri Historical Review and Missouri Times


Many of the State Historical Society’s holdings are included in the SHSMO online catalog. The State Historical Society holds several books on the history of Missouri’s architecture. A keyword search can be done for general information using “Missouri Architecture.” For a more specific search on Missouri, you can use the Library of Congress subject terms “Architecture, Domestic—Missouri,” and/or “Architecture—Missouri—History.”

Historic Missourian Biographies

The State Historical Society of Missouri’s Historic Missourians website has an entire category dedicated to architects featuring four biographies.

  • Morris Frederick Bell - Morris Frederick Bell was a prolific architect whose work can be found throughout Missouri and the Midwest. His most notable surviving accomplishment is Francis Quadrangle, which includes Jesse Hall, on the University of Missouri campus. Bell was largely an institutional architect—he built structures related to organizations or institutions such as hospitals, school buildings, correctional facilities, and monuments.

  • The Boller Brothers - Carl and Robert Boller were architects who specialized in designing movie palaces during the first half of the twentieth century. Early on, the architecture of movie theater buildings aided in the illusion of stepping into a fantasy world.

  • Louis S. Curtiss - Louis S. Curtiss was a prominent Kansas City architect known for his innovative buildings. During the course of his career, he designed over two hundred structures for clients across the country.

  • Nelle E. Peters - Nelle E. Peters was one of Kansas City’s most productive architects. She designed numerous buildings during the 1920s when she was one of the few women architects to have an independent practice. She specialized in designing apartment buildings and hotels. During her sixty year career as an architect Peters designed almost one thousand buildings, mostly in the Kansas City area.


Records, including designs and plans, of architects and architectural firms, and records of construction companies. Records of engineers and engineering companies directly related to the construction of buildings. Records of architectural organizations and architectural preservation groups.

View All Architecture Manuscript Collections

Outside Resources

These links will take you outside the Society's website. The Society is not responsible for the content of the following sites:

State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) under the Missouri Department of National Resources (DNR)

The State Historic Preservation Office is the agency authorized to carry out the responsibilities of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. These activities include: reviewing nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, overseeing the states architectural and archaeological survey programs, enforcing section 106 review and compliance, managing Missouri’s Certified Local Government Program, reviewing state and federal historic tax credit applications, and administering Historic Preservation Grant programs.

National Register of Historic Places

These nominations provide in-depth research on specific structures still standing in Missouri, along with supportive data that document why those buildings are deemed eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

Architectural Surveys

These surveys provide an overview of the history and significance of a potential historic district. These surveys also provide supportive information for why those building listed should be included within the district.

Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscape Survey

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) collections are among the largest and most heavily used in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. In addition, documentation from the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) has been added to the Library of Congress’s holdings since the early 2000s. These collections help to document the vast achievements in architecture, engineering, and landscape design both in the United States and in its territories.