Missouri’s first entrepreneurs were in frontier occupations such as fur trading, but as the territory grew and became a state, other industries spread across the region, particularly agriculture and mining. Merchants and millworks also played a large role in the lives of Missourians as the state developed. Missouri eventually featured a diverse mix of rural and urban enterprises across a wide range of industries. Some examples within the Society’s collections include the papers of Henry W. Bloch, cofounder of H&R Block; the T.J. Moss Tie Company records, which contain company correspondence pertaining to the manufacture and sale of railroad ties; and the business records of the Aull family, which owned stores in western Missouri in the early nineteenth century that catered to merchants, farmers, and pioneers setting out on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails.
For material specifically concerning agriculture, architecture, engineering, labor, and mining, please see the research guides for those subjects.
- Anderson, Hattie M. “Frontier Economic Problems in Missouri.”
Part I: Missouri Historical Review 34 (October 1939): 38-70.
Part II: Missouri Historical Review 34 (January 1940): 182-203.
“Missouri, A Land of Promise.”
Missouri Historical Review 30 (April 1936): 227-253.
- Atherton, Lewis E. “Business Techniques in the Santa Fe Trade.”
Missouri Historical Review 34 (April 1940): 335-341.
“James and Robert Aull—A Frontier Missouri Mercantile Firm.”
Missouri Historical Review 30 (October 1935): 3-27.
"The Santa Fe Trader as Mercantile Capitalist."
Missouri Historical Review 77 (October 1982): 1-12.
- Benac, David “Whose Forest is This?: Hillfolk, Industrialists, and Government in the Ozarks.”
Missouri Historical Review 101 (October 2006): 17-35.
- Berger, Henry W. “John Francis Cahill's Pursuit of Empire in Post-Civil War St. Louis.”
Missouri Historical Review 110 (April 2016): 181-195.
- Bieber, Ralph P. “Some Aspects of the Santa Fe Trail 1848-1880.”
Missouri Historical Review 18 (January 1924): 158-166.
- Bott, Emily Ann O'Neil “Joseph Murphy's Contribution to the Development of the West.”
Missouri Historical Review 47 (October 1952): 18-28.
- Boutros, David "Confluence of People and Place: The Chouteau Posts on the Missouri and Kansas Rivers."
Missouri Historical Review 97 (October 2002): 1-19.
- Bowen, Elbert R. “The Circus in Early Rural Missouri.”
Missouri Historical Review 47 (October 1952): 1-17.
- Breckenridge, William Clark “Early Gunpowder Making in Missouri.”
Missouri Historical Review 20 (October 1925): 85-95.
- Cable, J. Ray “Some Early Missouri Bankers.”
Missouri Historical Review 26 (January 1932): 117-125.
- Caldwell, Dorothy J. "Missouri's National Historic Landmarks: Watkins Mill."
Missouri Historical Review 63 (April 1969): 364-377.
- Campbell, Stephen “Hickory Wind: The Role of Personality and the Press in Andrew Jackson’s Bank War in Missouri, 1831-1837.”
Missouri Historical Review 101 (April 2007): 146-167.
- Cole, Lela “The Early Tie Industry Along the Niangua River.”
Missouri Historical Review 48 (April 1954): 264-272.
- Crighton, John C. "Robert Beverly Price II: Banker and Philanthropist."
Missouri Historical Review 70 (April 1976): 306-314.
- Davis, Thomas M. and Franz R. Beinke "Franz Schwarzer: Missouri Zither Maker."
Missouri Historical Review 60 (October 1965): 1-30.
- Dolch, Isabel S. “Some Aspects of Early Indian Fur Trade.”
Missouri Historical Review 36 (January 1942): 190-198.
- Dorsey, C.P. “Missourians Abroad—James Cash Penney.”
Missouri Historical Review 21 (July 1927): 545-561.
- Dorsey, Dorothy B. “The Panic and Depression of 1837-43 in Missouri.”
Missouri Historical Review 30 (January 1936): 132-161.
- Dorsey, Dorothy B. “The Panic of 1819 in Missouri.”
Missouri Historical Review 29 (January 1935): 79-91.
- Ehrlich, George and Peggy E. Schrock "The A. B. Cross Lumber Company, 1858-1871."
Missouri Historical Review 80 (October 1985): 14-32.
- Ekberg, Carl J. and Sharon K. Person “Tracking Pierre Laclède, 1763-66: A Trading Career Gone Wrong.”
Missouri Historical Review 108 (April 2014): 153-166.
- Espinosa, J. Manuel “Spanish Louisiana and the West: The Economic Significance of the Ste. Genevieve District.”
Missouri Historical Review 32 (April 1938): 287-297.
- Evans, Priscilla Ann "Merchant Gristmills and Communities, 1820-1880: An Economic Relationship."
Missouri Historical Review 68 (April 1974): 317-326.
- Firkus, Angel. “Joplin Threatened with Silence: The Telephone Operators’ Strike of 1902-03.”
Missouri Historical Review 106 (January 2012): 75-90.
- Fisher, Robert L. “The Western Prologue to the War of 1812.”
Missouri Historical Review 30, (April 1936): 267-281.
- Franklin, Lillie “Rocheport, Missouri, An Illustration of Economic Adjustment to Environment.”
Missouri Historical Review 19, (October 1924): 3-11.
- Gleick, Harry S. "Banking in Early Missouri."
Part I: Missouri Historical Review 61, no. 4 (July 1967): 427-443.
Part II: Missouri Historical Review 62, no. 1 (October 1967): 30-44.
- Goodall, Leonard E. "The Rotary Power Mower and Its Inventor: Leonard B. Goodall."
Missouri Historical Review 86, (April 1992): 248-264.
- Goodrich, James W. "Richard Campbell: The Missouri Years."
Missouri Historical Review 92 (April 1998): 297-309.
- Gregg, Kate L. “Boonslickers in the Gold Rush to California.”
Missouri Historical Review 41 (July 1947): 345-360.
“A Man Named Johnson.”
Missouri Historical Review 37 (January 1943): 150-161.
- Grinder, Robert Dale "The War Against St. Louis's Smoke: 1891-1924."
Missouri Historical Review 69 (January 1975): 191-205.
- Gross, Juliet "Missouri and the War. Part IV-V."
Part IV: Missouri Historical Review 37 (July 1943): 416-429.
Part V: Missouri Historical Review 38 (October 1943): 44-62.
- Hagen, Olaf T. "The Pony Express Starts from St. Joseph."
Missouri Historical Review 54 (April 1960): 231-236.
- Heath, Jim F. "Frustrations of a Missouri Small Businessman: Lou E. Holland in Wartime Washington."
Missouri Historical Review 68 (April 1974): 229-316.
- Holt, Glen E. "St. Louis's Transition Decade, 1819-1830."
Missouri Historical Review 76 (July 1982): 365-381.
- Jones, Breckinridge “One Hundred Years of Banking in Missouri.”
Missouri Historical Review 15 (January 1921): 345-392.
- Kantor, Harvey A. "The Barth Family: A Case Study of Pioneer Immigrant Merchants."
Missouri Historical Review 62 (July 1968): 410-430.
- Keller, Kenneth W. "Merchandising Nature: The H.J. Weber and Sons Nursery."
Missouri Historical Review 89 (April 1995): 307-326.
- Klein, Ada Paris “The Missouri Reader: The Fur Trade. Part I-III.”
Part I: Missouri Historical Review 43 (July 1949): 360-380.
Part II: Missouri Historical Review 44 (October 1949): 48-65.
Part III: Missouri Historical Review 44 (January 1950): 168-178.
- Knipmeyer, James H. "Denis Julien: Midwestern Fur Trader."
Missouri Historical Review 95 (April 2001): 245-263.
- Ledbetter, William M. "Isaac A. Hedges' Vision of a Sorghum-Sugar Indsutry in Missouri."
Missouri Historical Review 21 (April 1927): 361-369.
- Long, Hazel Tutt “Attorney General Herbert S. Hadley Versus the Standard Oil Trust.”
Missouri Historical Review 35 (January 1941): 171-187.
- Luckingham, Brad "A Note on the Significance of the Merchant in the Development of St. Louis Society as Expressed in the Philosophy of the Mercantile Library Association, 1846-1854."
Missouri Historical Review 57 (January 1963): 184-198.
- McCune, Sarah Lirley. “Death of a Prostitute: Suicide and Respectability in St. Louis, 1875 to 1900.”
Missouri Historical Review 109 (January 2015): 108-127.
- McDermott, John Frances “The Exclusive Trade Privilege of Maxent, Laclède and Company.”
Missouri Historical Review 29 (July 1935): 272-278.
- Morrow, Lynn "Dr. John Sappington: Southern Patriarch in the New West."
Missouri Historical Review 90 (October 1995): 38-60.
"Joseph Washington McClure: Entrepreneur, Politician, Citizen."
Missouri Historical Review 78, no. 2 (January 1984): 168-202.
- Mrozek, Donald J. "Organizing Small Business During World War II: The Experience of the Kansas City Region."
Missouri Historical Review 71 (January 1977): 174-192.
- Olson, Greg “Slave, Trader, Interpreter, and World Traveler: The Remarkable Story of Jeffrey Deroine.”
Missouri Historical Review 107 (July 2013): 222-230.
- Penn, Dorothy “The Missouri Reader. The French in the Valley. Part VII-VIII.”
Part VII: Missouri Historical Review 41 (April 1947): 305-314.
Part VIII: Missouri Historical Review 41 (July 1947): 391-405.
- Perkins, J. Blake “Growing the Hills: The Ozarks Regional Commission and the Politics of Economic Development in the Mid-American Highlands.”
Missouri Historical Review 107 (April 2013): 144-167.
- Pfening, Fred, III "William P. Hall."
Missouri Historical Review 62 (April 1968): 286-313.
- Piehl, Charles K. "The Race of Improvement: Springfield Society, 1865-1881."
Missouri Historical Review 67 (July 1973): 484-521.
- Piott, Steven L. "Missouri and Monopoly: The 1890s as an Experiment in Law Enforcement."
Missouri Historical Review 74 (October 1979): 21-49.
- Primm, James Neal "Yankee Merchants in a Border City: A Look at St. Louis Businessmen in the 1850s."
Missouri Historical Review 78 (July 1984): 375-386.
- Quirk, Paula McNeill "The ‘Missouri Meerschaum’ Pipe."
Missouri Historical Review 78 (October 1983): 14-22.
- Rebbing, Virginia L. “Some Aspects of the Southern Overland Mail, 1857-1861.”
Missouri Historical Review 40 (July 1946): 481-502.
- Renner, G. K. "The Kansas City Meat Packing Industry Before 1900."
Missouri Historical Review 55 (October 1960): 18-29.
- Roberts, Clarence N. "Developments in the Missouri Pottery Industry, 1800-1950."
Missouri Historical Review 58 (July 1964): 464-473.
“History of the Structural Brick Industry in Missouri.”
Missouri Historical Review 47 (July 1953): 318-328.
- Sampson, F.A. “Washington Irving. Travels in Missouri and the South.”
Missouri Historical Review 5 (October 1910): 15-33.
- Schultz, Steven L. "The Monroe Drug Company 1876-1976: A Century of Chemical Enterprise."
Missouri Historical Review 76 (October 1981): 1-21.
- Sculle, Keith A. “‘Our Company Feels that the Ozarks are a Good Investment…’: The Pierce Pennant Tavern System.”
Missouri Historical Review 93 (April 1999): 293-307.
- Seale, Kathleen. “‘From the Stacks: A Missouri Legacy: The S. Claude Null Family Papers.”
Missouri Historical Review 113 (July 2019): 284-287.
- Smith, George Winston. “New England Business Interests in Missouri During the Civil War.”
Missouri Historical Review 41 (October 1946): 1-18.
- Snodgrass, William M. “Leaving Every Man to Work Out His Own Way': The Panic of 1819 in Missouri.”
Missouri Historical Review 110 (October 2015): 1-21.
- Stephens, F.F. “Major Alphonso Wetmore's Diary of a Journey to Santa Fe, 1828.”
Missouri Historical Review 8 (July 1914): 177-197.
"Missouri and the Santa Fe Trade.”
First Article: Missouri Historical Review 10 (July 1916): 233-262.
Second Article: Missouri Historical Review 11 (April-July 1917): 289-312.
- Stevens, Walter B. “The Missouri Tavern.”
Missouri Historical Review 15 (January 1921): 241-276.
- Sunder, John E. "St. Louis and the Early Telegraph, 1847-1857."
Missouri Historical Review 50 (April 1956): 248-258.
- Taft, William H. "Bernarr MacFadden."
Missouri Historical Review63 (October 1968): 71-89.
- Thurman, Joseph C. “James H. Lucas: Eminent St. Louis Entrepreneur and Philanthropist.”
Missouri Historical Review 101 (April 2007): 129-145.
- Trexler, H.A. “Missouri-Montana Highways. The Missouri River Route.”
Missouri Historical Review 12 (January 1918): 67-80.
"Missouri-Montana Highways. II. The Overland Route.”
Missouri Historical Review 12 (April 1918): 145-162.
- Tyler, Robert Llewellyn “Occupational Change, Culture Maintenance, and Social Status: The Welsh in a Missouri Coal Town, 1870-1930.”
Missouri Historical Review 109 (October 2014): 18-40.
- Wallace, Agnes “The Wiggins Ferry Monopoly.”
Missouri Historical Review 42 (October 1947): 1-19.
- Welsh, Donald H. "The Pony Express on Retrospect."
Missouri Historical Review 54 (April 1960): 237-244.
- White, John Barber “The Missouri Merchant One Hundred Years Ago.”
Missouri Historical Review 13 (January 1919): 91-111.
- Windell, Marie George “The Missouri Reader: The French in the Valley. Part V-VI.”
Part V: Missouri Historical Review 41 (October 1946): 77-106.
Part VI: Missouri Historical Review 41 (January 1947): 192-216.
- Young, Otis E. “Military Protection of the Santa Fe Trail and Trade.”
Missouri Historical Review 49 (October 1954): 19-32.
"Views from the Past: Early Missouri Industries."
Missouri Historical Review 62 (April 1968): 322-323.
Many of the State Historical Society’s holdings are included in Merlin, the shared library catalog of the four University of Missouri campuses. The State Historical Society holds numerous books and periodicals on the history of business and industry in Missouri. The broadest subject terms to search under are "Business" and "Industries." For a more specific search, simply add the town or county you are interested in to the search, such as "Columbia."
The Society’s Historic Missourians website contains biographies of a number of significant entrepreneurs and business owners who lived in or grew up in Missouri.
- Austin, Moses – merchant and lead miner
- Busch, Adolphus – businessman who co-founded the Anheueser-Busch brewing company
- Charless, Joseph – printer who founded the St. Louis Missouri Gazette, the first newspaper published west of the Mississippi River
- Chouteau, Auguste and Pierre – fur traders and prominent businessmen in early St. Louis
- Disney, Walt – animator and entrepreneur in entertainment industry
- Fisher, Annie – caterer and cook known for her biscuits
- Green, A. P. – owner of a refractory business in Mexico, Missouri
- Kirklin, Henry – prize-winning gardener and horticulturist
- LaBarge, Joseph – steamboat captain
- Lisa, Manuel – merchant and fur trader
- Litton, Jerry L. – rancher
- Malone, Annie Turnbo – chemist and entrepreneur who developed hair products for African American women
- Penney, J.C. – retailor who founded the J.C. Penney Company
- Reed, Nell Donnelly – women’s clothing designer and manufacturer
- Stark, John Stillwell – music publisher
- Turpin, Tom – owner of a bar popular among early ragtime musicians in St. Louis
- Walton, Sam and Bud – founders of Wal-Mart
The State Historical Society of Missouri's manuscript collections include the papers of business and corporate leaders; records of business organizations; and records of institutions, stores, and companies.
Business newspaper publications throughout Missouri’s history have helped to share and spread the word of important news for a variety of industries including farming, agriculture, mining, and more.
The Kansas City Daily Journal of Commerce, for example, was known for advocating growth and improvements in the city, including building railroads. Another publication, The Farmers’ Union, a weekly newspaper published in Memphis, Scotland County, Missouri, was a Populist journal that supported the Farmers' and Laborers' Union in northeast Missouri. The first edition of the Farmers’ Union appeared on February 5, 1891.
For a list of all digitized newspapers, visit the Missouri Digital Newspaper Project.
For a list of newspapers on microfilm at The State Historical Society of Missouri, visit the newspaper catalog.
Business Newspapers in SHSMO Holdings
|County||City||Title||Also Available On||Date Range|
|Adair||Kirksville||Adair County Farmer||Microfilm||1891-1894|
|Boone||Columbia||Columbia Business Times||Microfilm||1994-2011|
|Buchanan||St. Joseph||Journal of Livestock & Agriculture||Microfilm||1969-1978|
|Buchanan||St. Joseph||Journal of Livestock and Agriculture||Microfilm||1963-1966|
|Buchanan||St. Joseph||St. Joseph Journal of Livestock & Agriculture||Microfilm||1973-1974|
|Buchanan||St. Joseph||St. Joseph Journal of Livestock and Agriculture||Microfilm||1978-1986|
|Buchanan||St. Joseph||St. Joseph Stock Yards Journal||Microfilm||1950-1954|
|Buchanan||St. Joseph||Stock Yards Daily Journal||Microfilm||1904-1906|
|Buchanan||St. Joseph||Stock Yards Journal||Microfilm||1940-1949|
|Caldwell||Hamilton||Hamilton Farmer’s Advocate||Microfilm||1890-1893; 1901-1919|
|Cape Girardeau||Jackson||Jackson, Mercury, and Cape Girardeau Farmer||Microfilm||December 31, 1831|
|Carroll||Dewitt||Carroll Farmer’s Herald||Microfilm||1901-1934|
|Greene||Springfield||Greater Springfield Business Journal||Microfilm||1990-1993|
|Greene||Springfield||Springfield Labor Record||Microfilm||1979-1985|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Daily Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1861; 1867-1878|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Daily Kansas City Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1859-1860|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Daily Kansas City Western [sic] Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1860-1861|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Daily Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1862-1863|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Daily Western Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1861|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1864-1865|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Kansas City Daily Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1863-1867|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Kansas City Daily Western Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1858-1859|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Kansas City Labor||Microfilm||1895|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Kansas City Labor News||Microfilm||1924-1938|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Kansas City Weekly Journal and Missouri and Kansas Farmer||Microfilm||1920-1923|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Labor Herald||Microfilm||1904-1940|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Labor Journal||Microfilm||1942-1962|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Missouri & Arkansas Farmer and Fruitman||Microfilm||1896-1906|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Missouri and Kansas Farmer||Microfilm||1884-1919|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Weekly Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1868-1878|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Weekly Star Farmer||Microfilm||1952-1961|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Weekly Western Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1861; 1865-1867|
|Jackson||Kansas City||Western Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||1857-1861; 1863-1865|
|Jasper||Joplin||Missouri Trades Unionist||Microfilm||1908-1921|
|Madison||Fredericktown||Farmer and Miner||Microfilm||March 18, 1876|
|Marion||Hannibal||Hannibal Labor Press||Microfilm||1915-1972|
|Perry||Perryville||Mid America Farmer Grower||Microfilm||1988-2014|
|Perry||Perryville||MidAmerica Regional Farmer||Microfilm||1987|
|St. Charles||St. Charles||St. Charles County Business Record||Microfilm||2007-Present|
|Taney||Forsyth||Forsyth Branson Business Journal||Microfilm||1994-1998|
|Taney||Forsyth||Pioneer Farmer||Microfilm||June 2, 1876|
|Wright||Mountain Grove||Mountain Grove South Central Ozarks Farmer||Microfilm||1974-1979|
|St. Louis||Bulletin of Commerce||Microfilm||August 22, 1908|
|St. Louis||Farmers’ & Mechanics’ Advocate||Microfilm||1834-1835|
|St. Louis||Industrial Advocate||Microfilm||1866-1867|
|St. Louis||Industrial Times||Microfilm||March 23, 1901|
|St. Louis||Interstate Manufacturer||Microfilm||1901|
|St. Louis||Journal of Agriculture and Farmer||Microfilm||1876-1886|
|St. Louis||Labor Campaign||Microfilm||October 1894|
|St. Louis||Labor Compendium||Microfilm||1901-1905; 1907-1911|
|St. Louis||Labor Tribune||Microfilm||2012-2014|
|St. Louis||Labor’s Call||Microfilm||1977-1979|
|St. Louis||Midwest Labor World||Microfilm||1943-1963|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Business Journal||Microfilm||1987-2002|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Commercial News and Labor Gazette||Microfilm||January 28, 1911|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||February 19, 1863|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Labor||Microfilm||1895-1896; 1903-1930|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Labor Tribune||Microfilm||1937-1985|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Merchant’s Journal||Microfilm||1901-1902|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Midland Farmer||Microfilm||July 1876|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Mill Boy||Microfilm||1844-1845|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Mining News||Microfilm||May 7, 1887|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Union Labor Advocate||Microfilm||1934-1958|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Union Stockyard Journal||Microfilm||1901|
|St. Louis||St. Louis Weekly Market Reporter||Microfilm||1875-1904|
|St. Louis||St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune||Microfilm||1985-2012|
|St. Louis||Troy Labor||Microfilm||1894|
|St. Louis||Weekly Mississippi Valley Review and St. Louis Journal of Commerce||Microfilm||March 19, 1870|
As part of its ongoing mission, SHSMO's photograph collection has gathered original photographs, postcards, and other graphic materials, which document the development of various local and corporate businesses. Search the Columbia and St. Louis Digital Collections through keywords such as "business" or specific names of businesses.
View a selection of business photographs from the Columbia Digital Collection here.
The Society’s vertical files are part of the Reference Collection and contain magazine and newspaper clippings, handwritten information donated by patrons, bibliographies, programs, brochures, flyers, and other materials that, by reason of their physical formats, cannot be placed on the shelves with books. SHSMO's Columbia Research Center has a number of vertical files pertaining to Missouri businesses in particular towns and cities, such as "Moberly (MO) - Business" or "Saint Charles (MO) - Business."