Performing and Visual Arts Research Guide

One of the Society’s most notable collections features artist George Caleb Bingham’s work. Bingham produced many remarkable drawings, portraits, landscapes, and scenes of social and political life on the frontier, painting his most significant pieces between 1845 and 1860. The Society also holds significant works by Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton, including his World War II-era Year of Peril series of paintings. Numerous other artists such as Jean Babcock Coover, a ballerina and dance instructor in Kansas City, and Jane Froman, a popular singer and entertainer during the 1930s through the 1950s, are included in the collections as well.

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 numerous books on the history of performance and visual art in Missouri, the Midwest, and the United States. Use the term “arts.” For a more specific search, simply add the subject term “Missouri” to your search (use the Advanced Search mode).

Digital Collections

The Art Digital Collection consists of over 12,000 works of art in a variety of media ranging from paintings and drawings to editorial cartoons and lithographs. The collection focuses on images of Missouri, works by Missouri artists, and works related to westward expansion. Of particular importance are over fifty paintings, drawings, and prints by George Caleb Bingham and over 300 paintings and drawings by Thomas Hart Benton. Works by John James Audubon, Karl Bodmer, Frank Nuderscher, and Fred Shane are also well represented. Digital images for a small portion of the art collection may be viewed online.

View Art Digital Collection

Editorial Cartoons

The Society’s collection of editorial cartoons was started in 1946 with an important donation of works by Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Daniel F. Fitzpatrick. The collection continues to grow, with over 8,000 works from Bill Mauldin, Tom Engelhardt, and many others.

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 up to the present.

View Digitized Editorial Cartoons

Historic Missourian Biographies

The State Historical Society’s Historic Missourians website provides biographies of artists and entertainers in Missouri. Each biography includes images, primary resources, and other references for further study.


The State Historical Society of Missouri’s manuscript collections contain primary source materials related to art and artists. 

View All Performing and Visual Arts Manuscript Collections