Show Me Missouri: Conversations about Missouri’s Past, Present, and Future is a speakers bureau program jointly organized and managed by the Missouri Humanities Council and the State Historical Society of Missouri. If your civic organization, museum, historical society, library, or similar institution or group is looking for an expert to give a presentation on a topic related to the history, culture, geography and/or people of Missouri, we hope you will consider what this program has to offer.
This presentation draws from history and folklore to consider ghost stories, sometimes teasing out the truth about a phantom and other times examining the people and land that conjured the tales. Older, forgotten ghost stories in Missouri are explored for the truth or the unexplained in each tale. Audiences are always invited to share their own ghostly experiences. The stories are suitable for ages 10 and older.
Mary Collins Barile has a PhD in theater history and is an avid collector of tales and plays about ghosts and haunting. She lives in Boonville, where she has spent many nights with friends on the hunt for the supernatural. She is the author of The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts, Ghouls, and Monsters of Missouri’s Heartland and other books on Missouri’s history.
Long after the final shots were fired, Missouri continued to suffer the violence and chaos of civil war. Jesse James was once seen as a romantic rebel without a cause, but recent studies have revealed a more human and tragic figure who refused to accept the war's outcome and targeted pro-Union Missourians for death. In contrast, J. O. Shelby, one of the Confederacy's most storied commanders, became a US marshal and embraced reconciliation. Though proud of his Confederate service, Shelby came to disavow the Lost Cause and his own slave-owning past. This lively and surprising presentation shows how two native sons responded to changing times in volatile postwar Missouri.
Every state has its own history, but what sets Missouri's history apart is how frequently it became a borderland between competing powers. Time and time again, the fate of the entire nation turned on key events in Missouri, especially in the years preceding the Civil War. In this fast-paced tour, the author of a popular guide to historic sites in the Missouri-Kansas border region discusses 10 "hinges of history" as well as the outstanding public sites where Missourians can discover these events for themselves.
Aaron Barnhart is the former television and media critic for the Kansas City Star. He is the coauthor of The Big Divide: A Travel Guide to Historic and Civil War Sites in the Missouri-Kansas Border Region.
J. B. "Pomp" Charbonneau was the child of Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau, translators and guides for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Born during the Corps of Discovery's epic journey, Pomp was educated by William Clark and later became an influential trapper, trader, and trailblazer. A participant in many significant events across the American West, Charbonneau served as a scout during the Mexican War, took part in the California Gold Rush, and befriended many important Missourians. This presentation is a story-based lecture with accompanying illustrations of the life and times of a Missouri-based hero.
Larry Brown is a retired University of Missouri−Columbia professor of human geography. He has taught many geography courses since 1990, including the Geography of Missouri. Brown is also a regionally known storyteller, having been a featured teller at both the St. Louis and Kansas City Storytelling Festivals. He is currently president of Missouri Storytelling, Inc.
The story of Adeline, a slave in Savannah, Missouri, will be performed. Adeline was present to hear Abraham Lincoln debate political opponent Stephen Douglas; with the North’s victory in the Civil War she became free, but chose to stay on with the family to which she had been sold.
This presentation provides the story of Martha Jane Chisley, a slave in Missouri, and her son Augustine Tolton, who became the first black priest in America.
Gladys Caines-Coggswell has been named a master storyteller by the Missouri Folk Arts Program. Her other awards include honorary life membership from the National Association of Black Storytellers, the 2005 Missouri Arts Council’s Individual Artist of the Year award, and the 2005 Griot Award from the St. Louis Black Museum. Her book Stories from the Heart: Missouri’s African American Heritage received the Missouri Humanities Council’s Outstanding Achievement in Literacy award in 2010.
During the Civil War, hundreds of Confederate–sympathizing women passed through the hands of the military justice system as prisoners of war in and around St. Louis. Those deemed guilty of the most serious infractions were confined to the nearby Alton prison, the former Illinois state penitentiary, for their part in assisting the Confederate war effort. The women imprisoned in Alton came from states primarily along the Mississippi River, especially Missouri, and each spent many months in custody. This presentation focuses on those women and their experiences.
Thomas F. Curran is the author of Soldiers of Peace: Civil War Pacifism and the Postwar Radical Peace Movement. He is currently completing a history of Confederate women arrested and imprisoned in the St. Louis region during the Civil War.
This slide presentation combines facts and archival photographs to illustrate “St. Louis’s most shining hour,” its hosting of the monumental World’s Fair marking the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase and thrusting St. Louis onto the early twentieth-century world stage.
Missouri’s caves, shelters, and rock outcrops still display traces of the beliefs and stories of prehistoric American Indians. The presenter has documented over 100 prehistoric carvings (petroglyphs) and paintings (pictographs) left by Missouri’s earliest American Indian populations. She will share her interpretations of these enigmatic designs, which include human figures, animals, geometric and abstract designs, as well as records of celestial phenomena.
Carol Diaz-Granádos, a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University, is a past president of the Missouri Association of Professional Archaeologists and a former board member on the Missouri Humanities Council. She has done excavations in Missouri and Illinois, as well as archaeological research on the northern coast of South America. She is the coauthor of The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri and The Rock-Art of Eastern North America.
The Kansas City Monarchs secured their place in history by seizing the inaugural Negro League world title in 1924, defeating Hilldale five games to four. Yet the public knows little of the goodwill the league and its players generated. This presentation explores the important role that the Kansas City Monarchs played in baseball history.
Author Phil S. Dixon has researched and written about African American topics for more than 30 years. Widely regarded for his expertise on baseball history, he has written nine books and won the prestigious Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of 1992. He has also received a Society for American Baseball Research MacMillan Award. Dixon is a cofounder of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City and formerly worked in the public relations office of the Kansas City Royals. He is completing his 10 book, Tommy Campbell, A Boxing Bout with the Mobsters, which is his first on boxing.
This presentation discusses the early migration of the Osage people and how the structure of their clan system reflects their view of the cosmos. Their fascinating origin myths are explored in relationship to the environment, subsistence, procreation, and the artifact record. Audience members will learn how these proud, independent people, forced to move from their homeland beginning in the 1820s, have managed to surmount the hardships of forced acculturation to retain their identity.
The presenter covers Missouri’s archaeological record and how it reflects the populations from the state’s prehistoric past. Missouri’s incredible archaeological resources are in large part due to two of the largest river confluences in North America. This confluence region and the natural resources of Missouri drew populations going back at least 13,000 years. Through slides, the presenter will show examples of American Indian artifacts found in the state and discuss their significance and what they reveal about Missouri’s American Indian populations.
Jim Duncan is the former director of the Missouri State Museum and was information officer for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He directed the statewide Lewis and Clark programming during the Discovery Corps bicentennial from 2003 to 2006. A former president of the Missouri Association of Professional Archaeologists, he is the coauthor of The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri and coeditor of The Rock Art of Eastern North America.
A resident of St. Louis, Virginia Minor (1824–94) cofounded Missouri's first organization dedicated to woman suffrage, the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri. In 1872 she marched to the polls and demanded the right to vote, but the registrar turned her away. Undaunted, Minor and her lawyer husband sued. They argued that the recently passed Fourteenth Amendment had actually granted women the right to vote. Her case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and though it failed to persuade the justices, Minor continued to fight for women's rights until the end of her life. In 2013 she was inducted into the Missouri Hall of Fame in Jefferson City. Learn her inspiring story and hear dramatic excerpts from the trial.
During the American Civil War, hundreds of women cut their hair, bound their breasts, donned men's clothing, and reported for duty to Union or Confederate army recruiters. Others served as scouts, spies, or rode with their husbands and brothers in contested areas. All of this occurred at a time when there was a great emphasis on women's and men's separate "spheres." This presentation explores how and why a fascinating group of women defied cultural norms to participate in America's largest domestic military conflict.
Diane Eickhoff is a former textbook editor turned historian, Chatauquan, and humanities scholar. She is the author of Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols and the Pioneering Crusade for Women's Rights and coauthor of The Big Divide: A Travel Guide to Historic and Civil War Sites in the Missouri-Kansas Border Region.
When the "Hello Girls" went on strike because of poor treatment, timing played a crucial role in the results: a new state board of arbitration was in place to settle the dispute; telephone operations had become more automated, allowing less autonomy for workers; and the New Woman image was becoming more widely accepted. These developments come together to make an interesting story that gives insight into the lives of working women of southwest Missouri in the early twentieth century.
Angela Firkus, a professor of history at Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri, since 1999, is interested in sharing the story of working women in Missouri. She has given numerous presentations at conferences and for local groups such as the Powers Museum in Carthage, Missouri, and the Nevada Chapter of the American Association of University Women.
The presentation looks at the lives of Kansas City train porters Ollie Ollison and George Mayfield as well as the significance of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters founded by A. Phillip Randolph, examining their impact on the black professional class and the modern civil rights movement.
The presentation focuses on the civil rights movement in greater Kansas City with an emphasis on the photographs of the black professional and business classes. Besides looking at the political struggle for civil rights, the presentation will highlight daily community life, including schools, churches, and wedding and other social events during the period.
Delia Cook Gillis is professor of history and director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Central Missouri. The author of numerous scholarly publications including a photographic history entitled Kansas City, her essays, articles, and reviews appear in The Public Historian, the Jackson County Historical Society Journal, and the Encyclopedia of African American Business.
The Santa Fe Road opened the door for westward expansion and brought countless settlers and tradesmen both to and through Missouri. Learn the role that Senator Thomas Hart Benton played in convincing the US Congress to fund the proposed project and the lasting impact that it had on the Show-Me State. Primary sources including newspapers, letters, and Senator Benton's own words from his public speeches will transport attendees into the middle of this important chapter of Missouri history.
An adjunct professor of history at Longview Community College, Henry Goldman teaches US history. He has traveled extensively, lecturing on management and finance worldwide, including a visiting professorship at the University of Macau in China.
This presentation considers how women in both the northern and the southern states aided the war effort through war relief organizations, which were established to assist the soldiers in securing personal necessities that the Union and Confederate governments were unable to provide.
A description is offered of the timeline for Victorian fashions worn by a lady of the 1860s when she rises in the morning, the various dresses suitable for her daily activities, and the clothing worn during evening hours. The speaker will appear in period attire with reproduction garments and will display 12 China dolls in hand-fashioned period clothing.
Connie Grisier, a former history instructor and member of the National Association of Interpreters, is retired as the historical administrator of Missouri’s American Indian Cultural Center at Van Meter State Park. She is presently a member of the Marshall Cultural Council’s speaker’s bureau for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
This presentation traces the history and evolution of Missouri’s highways in the twentieth century. Topics include the creation of the Missouri State Highway Department and political resistance to road construction, as well as discussions of Missouri’s Centennial Road Law and the state’s role in the creation of Route 66 and the interstate highway system.
Thomas J. Gubbels is a former historic preservation specialist for the Missouri Department of Transportation and an expert on the history of Missouri’s highways. He is preparing a comprehensive history of the Missouri Department of Transportation and its predecessors.
For the 100th anniversary of the Jefferson Highway that crossed western Missouri along its international route from Winnipeg, Canada, to New Orleans, Hansford will discuss how this early auto trail was designed to foster regional travel and tourism in the 1920s. Information taken from association publications, digitized documents, and local newspapers will highlight the highway's impact on towns along its path such as St. Joseph, Kansas City, and Joplin, while also providing the story of its longtime promoter James D. Clarkson.
"In the midst of Depression, the New Deal (1933-43) put millions to work, gave the nation hope, and left a vast legacy of public works still serving America today. No city, town, or rural area was untouched by the New Deal. Hundreds of thousands of roads, schools, theaters, libraries, hospitals...gardens, and artworks—created in only one decade by our parents and grandparents—are still in use today." Living New Deal Project
A sampling of Missouri projects funded by the Work Projects Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, and less-known agencies will be highlighted and placed in context within the legacy of the New Deal. Hansford will also discuss current grassroots efforts to digitally document the lasting impact of the New Deal in local communities and the nation at the website livingnewdeal.org
Michele Newton Hansford spent more than 30 years of her professional career at the Powers Museum in Carthage, where she recently retired as director. Her passion for the museum's mission continues as a volunteer special projects coordinator and curator of collections. Hansford holds a B.A. in American Studies from Anderson University and an M.A. in historical administration from Eastern Illinois University.
Callaway County’s Helen Stephens (1918-94) had gumption, tenacity, intelligence, and natural talent. She won two Olympic gold medals in track and field in Berlin in 1936 and became the first woman to own and captain a women’s basketball team. Stephens was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame of the USA and the National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. In her senior years, she competed in the National Senior Games and Show Me State Games and won gold medals every year. The full story of how she was able to step into the limelight and stay there, achieving international fame, is presented by her authorized biographer.
Sharon Kinney Hanson is a former member of the literary advisory committee for the Missouri Arts Council, former managing editor of Sheba Review Publishing, and has taught at Columbia College. She is the author of The Life of Helen Stephens: The Fulton Flash.
Standing in dozens of towns throughout Missouri are stone and iron reminders of frontier justice. From Arrow Rock's one-room calaboose to Jefferson City's eerie penitentiary, historian and author Paul Kirkman presents a snapshot of crime and punishment from Missouri's past. Stories both humorous and soulful are attached to many of these structures, reflecting Missouri's wild and difficult youth. The unsung and underpaid lawmen, who often lived with their families within the same walls as their charges, will be discussed as well.
Paul Kirkman is the author of Forgotten Tales of Kansas City, Battle of Westport: Missouri's Great Confederate Raid, and coauthor of Lockdown: Outlaws, Lawmen, and Frontier Justice in Jackson County, Missouri.
Using examples from Missouri history, historian and author Gary Kremer will focus on the ways in which African Americans and whites often interpret both the past and the present differently. These differing interpretations stem, in part, from different histories, which, in turn, derive from, among other things, the fundamental realities of race. The goal of this presentation is to encourage individuals and groups to seek to understand the historical forces that have shaped their lives, as well as the lives of those with whom they come in contact.
This presentation will focus on the Great Migration in Missouri, which extended from the era of World War I through and beyond the period of World War II. Focusing on the St. Louis County city of Kinloch and the Kansas City neighborhood of Leeds, Kremer will describe the rich community life created by the residents of these two places and discuss how these communities thrived in many ways, despite the overt racism that dominated Missouri life during the Jim Crow Era.
Gary R. Kremer is the executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri. He taught history at Lincoln University in Jefferson City (1972–87) and William Woods University in Fulton (1991–2004). He also served as the state archivist of Missouri from 1987 to 1991. Kremer has written, coauthored, and coedited 12 books, most recently Race and Meaning: The African American Experience in Missouri.He was a student and research assistant of African American history pioneer Dr. Lorenzo J. Greene while a student at Lincoln University during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
This talk discusses the life, times, and contributions of Charles Parsons, a St. Louis banker whose art collection filled the galleries of the first art museum west of the Mississippi. His pieces went on to the Palace of Fine Arts during the 1904 World's Fair, then the City Art Museum, and finally the St. Louis Art Museum. Using an object from Parsons's early art collection, now held at Washington University, a fascinating perspective on nineteenth-century travel and art collecting emerges, bringing to life early St. Louis and one of its most interesting early contributors.
John Launius is a former staff member of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis. He has spent the past decade studying the life and times of Charles Parsons (1824–1905), a St. Louis banker who contributed greatly to St. Louis during the nineteenth century.
This presentation brings the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown to life in a lively yet historically authentic performance. Stories will range across Margaret Tobin Brown’s amazing life from her birth in Hannibal, Missouri, in 1867 to her childhood years during Hannibal’s Gilded Age; her migration to Colorado in 1886 searching for the road to love, wealth, and fame; the years of fighting for women’s suffrage, fairness in the juvenile justice system, the rights of workers, and child labor laws; and her poignant and heart-wrenching experiences aboard the Titanic.
Lisa Marks is the co-curator of the Hannibal History Museum. She performs Molly Brown at the museum and also lectures on women in the Progressive era and Hannibal history. She and her husband, Ken Marks, are the authors of Molly Brown’s Hannibal as well as Hannibal, Missouri: A Brief History and Haunted Hannibal: History and Mystery in America’s Hometown.
This portrayal of Beals, the first woman photojournalist, considers her frenetic professional and personal life in an era when men dominated the professions. Her images of the St. Louis World’s Fair are an enduring legacy of her acclaimed career. Memorabilia from the fair will be on display.
Zerelda James Samuel was the mother of two of Missouri’s most infamous sons, Frank and Jesse James. The story of her sons’ Clay County boyhood, Confederate Civil War involvement, and postwar criminal activities remains one of historical legend filled with border war battle, bushwhacker defiance, and a trail of theft and murder.
Dianne Moran is a Chautauqua scholar, folklorist, and naturalist whose living history portrayals are said to transport audiences to another time and sphere. She performs throughout the Midwest.
This presentation about the character and nature of Missourians asserts that making a living in Missouri is difficult, that life in the Show-Me State is often harsh, and that the state’s people respond to these realities with a sense of humor. Missourians laugh a lot, often at themselves, and their laughter and humor enable hardworking farmers, miners, and woodsmen to accept the backbreaking labor that confronts them on a daily basis. The presentation draws its title from Pres. Harry Truman’s autobiography, Plain Speaking, and uses stories from family histories, oral interviews, court records, and published histories.
Frank Nickell is assistant director of The State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center in Cape Girardeau and an emeritus faculty member of the Department of History at Southeast Missouri State University. He has received numerous teaching and service awards, including the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Missouri Humanities Council Acorn Award for outstanding service, and the Jonas Viles Award from the Missouri State Archives for significant contribution to the preservation of Missouri’s heritage.
Just 200 years ago, during the winter of 1811–12, the New Madrid fault line exploded in a region that included what is now eastern Missouri. Three great earthquakes, each with a magnitude exceeding eight on the Richter scale, were recorded and—along with 15 of the largest aftershocks—felt as far away as Washington, DC, over 750 miles from the quake zone. What was it like for the people living and working on this part of the American frontier at that time? Hear personal stories of individuals who experienced this harrowing event and whose lives were forever changed by it.
In the days before radio and television, the people of the Ozarks entertained each other by telling and retelling traditional stories. Many of these tales can be traced back through well-established traditions rooted in Appalachia and Ireland. Discover the humor of the tall tales and follow the exploits of wondrous characters born in the imaginations of generations of storytellers who migrated from the Old World and passed through the Appalachian Mountains to eventually settle in the Missouri Ozarks.
Steve Otto is a full-time professional storyteller who has worked in television and has acted and directed more than 30 roles in community theater. He presents more than 200 programs each year to all age groups and has taught storytelling at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri State University, the Kansas City Metropolitan Community Colleges, Rockhurst University, and Lindenwood University.
This presentation pays tribute to the achievements of the “Greatest Generation” through a sampling of letters from the State Historical Society of Missouri manuscript collections. The recorded experiences of men and women who served in the military offer a candid and comprehensive glimpse of life in battle and life in support units.
Relying on Paige’s two published autobiographies, the presentation focuses on the bittersweet story of a superb veteran of the Negro Leagues and his belief that he waited too long to get called to play in the Major Leagues.
Michael Polley has taught at Columbia College since 1990, teaching numerous courses and serving as department chair, division head, and interim academic dean.
Up in the “holler,” deep in the Ozarks, the old ways of using Yarbs persists. This presentation is the story of the herbs and their uses, which are often unique to the Ozarks. “Root Diggers” roamed the hills until just after World War II, and the old ways still live in pockets by the springs in the mossy oak forests. This is a journey with the spirits of goldenseal, black walnut, sassafras, plantain, echinacea, St. John’s wort, comfrey, skullcap, and the other plants and medicines of the rolling Ozark Plateau.
Kenneth R. Porter is retired after 33 years with the US Army Corps of Engineers. He has conducted conservation and Lewis and Clark programs for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He performs reenactments and manages his small farm for native and introduced herbs to use in his presentations.
The Missouri-Kansas Border War was like no other American war. On August 25, 1863, General Order No. 11 was issued by Brigadier General Thomas Ewing of the Union Army. It called for the depopulation and suspension of civil rights for residents of four counties in the state of Missouri along the Kansas border. More than 150 years later almost no archaeology has evaluated how these polarized times impacted the daily lives of ordinary people. Dr. Ann M. Raab's research in the Bates County, Missouri, area offers a unique context for understanding not only the destructiveness of the Civil War, but also how the survivors of General Order No. 11 were able to recover.
While many people are familiar with the historical significance of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment depicted in the movie Glory, few are aware that the very first engagement of African American soldiers in the Civil War occurred on Missouri soil, not far from Butler in Bates County. Dr. Ann M. Raab worked as an archaeologist at Missouri's newest state historic site, Battle of Island Mound, commemorating this momentous event in American history. Much of what is known comes from military records and oral histories. Raab will share her experience working on the archaeological piece of this fascinating puzzle as well as the social and cultural considerations of properly memorializing this moment in time.
Dr. Ann M. Raab has been an adjunct college professor at the University of Missouri−Kansas City for over six years. She also served the Johnson County Community College in the same capacity for over three years. A seasoned speaker, Raab was part of the 2014 JCCC College Scholars program and the Missouri State Archives Civil War Speaker Series. She also coordinated the Missouri Archaeology Society's 2011 Fall Symposium and participated in the NEH grant-funded educational program, "Crossroads of Conflict: Contested Visions of Freedom & the Missouri-Kansas Border Wars."
This presentation explores the varieties of Ozarks religious life, including evangelical revivalism, ethnic Protestantism, Bible Belt Catholicism, Ozarks Judaism, and the new immigrant religions. Special attention is given to the role of music, food, and architecture in Ozarks congregations. Photographs, sound recordings, and maps are used to illustrate the diversity of the Missouri Ozarks.
From brush arbor revivals to faith-friendly theme parks, Ozarkers have worked to entertain the faithful. This presentation will focus on the fusion of Ozarks religion and popular culture. Special attention will be given to ethnic foodways, gospel music (“singing and dinner on the grounds”), and Branson’s emergence as a major tourist destination.
John Schmalzbauer teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Missouri State University, where he holds the Blanche Gorman Strong Chair in Protestant Studies. He is the author of People of Faith.
Missouri women and children often did more than just wait for their husbands and fathers to return home from the battlefields. This is the story of individual women and children who actively took part in the war. Nurses, spies, powder monkeys, messengers, and martyrs to the cause, they suffered and served to support their beliefs.
Confederate general Sterling Price was popular with his men, but Thomas Caute Reynolds, governor of the state’s Southern government in exile by the Civil War’s end, expressed his own opinions in a manuscript held by the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. This presentation explores both Price’s career and Reynolds’s importance to the continued operation of the Confederate government of Missouri.
Robert Schultz is the author of four books and editor of three others, and has published numerous articles on Missouri history and the Civil War. He has presented adult education programs on the Civil War in Missouri and on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
In the early morning hours of April 27, 1865, the steamboat Sultana exploded and sank in the Mississippi River, killing or injuring hundreds of Union soldiers, many of them recently released from prisoner-of-war camps. The tragedy is a little-remembered piece of Civil War history, but Alicia Lee Scott, a descendant of one of the Sultana survivors, shares their tragic story.
Alicia Lee Scott has worked in community education for seniors. She attends the yearly Sultana descendants reunion and shares the story of the boat’s final journey with schoolchildren, historical societies, and others interested in the preservation of history.
In 1867 after fire destroyed a wood building in Warrensburg, Missouri, the owner rebuilt the structure using locally made sun-dried bricks marked "HMW." During renovations nearly 150 years later, the bricks were rediscovered, launching a journey to unlock the history of the Old Davis Store Building. During this talk, attendees will learn about the history of the building recently donated to the Johnson County Historical Society and the treasures uncovered beyond the bricks and mortar.
A past president of the Johnson County Historical Society in Warrensburg, James (Mike) Shaw has spoken at the Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival, Boone's Lick Regional Library, and the Sustainability Teach-In at the University of Central Missouri. He is a past board member of the Blind Boone Heritage Foundation in Columbia.
In 1889 steel magnate Andrew Carnegie vowed to give away his fortune—a tall order for the world’s first billionaire. Part of his philanthropy included funding almost 1,700 public libraries in the United States, including some three dozen in Missouri. Carnegie called free public libraries “temples of democracy” because he saw them as agents for self-improvement and advancing democratic society. This program will examine Carnegie’s legacy in libraries in the Show-Me State.
Cemeteries are more than just burial grounds. They are also documents of the ways we see ourselves and the ways people wanted to be remembered. This illustrated talk will use St. Louis’s Bellefontaine Cemetery as an example of the ways tombstones, mausoleums, and cemetery design reflect the attitudes and values of Gilded Age Missouri.
Jeffrey Smith, professor of history at Lindenwood University, formerly served with the St. Louis Mercantile Library and has designed numerous public programs combining history and entertainment. He received a Missouri Humanities Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement in 2012.
Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham was a witness and participant in Missouri’s Civil War. After the war, he documented this experience with Gen. Order No. 11, a picture representing the evacuation of 10,000 civilians from four western Missouri counties in the wake of William Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kansas. The PowerPoint presentation on this important artwork may be either a general discussion of the picture or a discussion tailored to address one of three subtopics: “A Focus on Women in the Painting,” “A Focus on Race and Self-Emancipation in the Painting,” or “A Focus on Bingham’s Relationship with Order No. 11’s Author, Gen. Thomas Ewing.”
From the 1930s until his death in 1975, Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton argued that representational art more successfully reflected American culture than did nonobjective abstraction. This unfashionable attitude remains a contentious aspect of Benton’s legacy among critics who label him a regressive, anti-modern reactionary. A rediscovered and recently published taped interview with Benton from 1962 sheds light on his outlook, suggesting that his aesthetic philosophy was not so much anti-modern as “differently” modern.
Joan Stack oversees exhibitions and public access to the State Historical Society of Missouri’s collection of more than 17,000 artworks. Her publications include the exhibition catalogue The Art of the Book: 1650 to the Present and the introduction for “But I Forget That I Am a Painter and Not a Politician”: The Letters of George Caleb Bingham. Her current work focuses on the art of Missouri painters Bingham and Benton.
This program traces the Clemens family's experiences in Hannibal and focuses on young Sam Clemens. The people, places, and events Clemens later used in writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer provide the focus of the program. Attendees will go behind the scenes to see how Hannibal influenced Mark Twain.
This program begins with a look at Mark Twain’s life and then moves into an assessment of Twain’s writings and why they continue to be relevant today.
Henry Sweets has led workshops and made presentations on behalf of the Mark Twain Museum since 1978 and has edited the museum’s publication, The Fence Painter, since 1982. His favorite Mark Twain quote is “Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”
In 1798, five years before the Louisiana Purchase, William Clark set off down the Mississippi River on what seemed to be a commercial venture to New Orleans. Once there, he sold tons of tobacco and furs but also engaged in questionable activities, many of them illegal. Overlooked or misunderstood until recently, his journal of those travels—corroborated by a trove of evidence from widely varying sources—reveals Clark not as an artless agent of American expansion, but instead as a man of complex motives and perhaps divided loyalties.
After the Louisiana Purchase, Spain transferred shiploads of documents about Spanish Louisiana (which included the territory to become Missouri) to Pensacola, Florida, then to Cuba, and ultimately to Spain. To conceal evidence of having conspired for many years against the United States with US Army General James Wilkinson and his associates, Spain denied Americans access to the “Louisiana Papers,” even those unrelated to the conspiracy, until the twentieth century. This talk explains the Spanish Conspiracy and its effect on future Missourians.
Jo Ann Trogdon is the author of The Unknown Travels and Dubious Pursuits of William Clark and Charles Borromeo: 200 Years of Faith, both of which reveal an abundance of information from the archives of Spain.
Walt Disney was the most successful and influential movie producer in history. This slide presentation features images of Walt Disney’s early life in Marceline and Kansas City and his later life in Hollywood, with an emphasis on illustrating how his Missouri years influenced the films he made and the theme parks he designed and built.
Dan Viets, who has researched and written about Walt Disney for nearly 20 years, is coauthor of Walt Disney’s Missouri: The Roots of a Creative Genius. He is president of the group that owns and is restoring Disney’s first professional film studio in Kansas City.
From Bethel in the north to Carthage in the south, nineteenth-century Missouri was home to a number of intentional communities designed to achieve an ideal social order, a planned alternative to the ordinary modes of life. This presentation describes Missouri’s well-known and little-known utopias, both religious and secular, and includes biographical sketches and anecdotes about some of the colorful and eccentric figures who founded them.
When the Civil War ended in 1865, military operations may have stopped, but hostilities definitely did not cease. After four years of brutal guerrilla warfare and devastating military campaigns, some residents of Missouri were ready for peace and a return to normal life. But others—both victors and vanquished—still harbored grudges and a desire for revenge. Author Steve Wiegenstein, whose latest historical novel deals with Missouri during this time period, talks about the repressive measures that followed the war, the efforts at resistance and evasion, and the long-lasting effects of Missouri's painful path to reconciliation.
Steve Wiegenstein has taught at Centenary College of Louisiana, Drury University, Culver-Stockton College, and Western Kentucky University. His novel Slant of Light was the runner-up for the David J. Langum Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction in 2012.
Nineteenth-century medical educators needed human bodies for their students to practice on, but that was illegal. The result was midnight graveyard raids, student high jinx, and intrigue. Before the Civil War Dr. Joseph McDowell was Missouri's foremost medical educator. He was also Missouri's foremost body snatcher. Mark Twain thought him both amusing and brilliant and put him in his books and stories. Others were not as amused, and riot ensued when people suspected that his ghoulish students turned to murder to obtain bodies. McDowell's college was the state's first medical school, and both Washington University and the University of Missouri of Missouri claim him as their medical school's founder.
During the 1930s Tom Pendergast selected Missouri's judges not only in Kansas City, but for the state's Supreme Court. The colorful court members actively engaged in politics, showed a practiced eye for hitting a spittoon, and even boasted a family gun moll. Governor Lloyd Stark, who wanted to be president of the United States, thought that breaking the Pendergast machine would give him the national fame he craved. A ruthless war between Pendergast and Stark climaxed in a dramatic 1938 Supreme Court election in which the real candidates were almost forgotten. When the political dust settled, Missouri ended up with the nonpartisan court plan, which became a model for the nation.
Kenneth H. Winn is the former state archivist of Missouri and former director of the Library and Public Services for the Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri. He is the author or coeditor of a number of books and articles on Missouri political and cultural history. He has taught history at Washington University, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Lincoln University.
Using accounts from the recently released Myths and Mysteries of Missouri, author Josh Young will lead audiences on an exciting journey around the state from the near and familiar to the extraordinary and the all-too-often unknown. Young's explorations include the stories of Tom Bass, a former slave who became a renowned horseman; Ella Ewing, one of the tallest women to have ever lived; and Jesse James, the personification of scars left by the Civil War. From Mastodons to magic lights, Missouri is a land of marvels. This presentation will ensure that both Missouri natives and Show-Me State transplants fully appreciate the rich history of their state, and the many ways Missouri helps make America great.
Author and entrepreneur Josh Young was first introduced to the Missouri Ozarks during a year-long adventure traveling the United States. The region he now calls home was the inspiration for his recent book Myths and Mysteries of Missouri. A former social worker and administrator for organizations such as the Christian Associates of Table Rock Lake and the Stone County Health Department, Young now works and plays at Long Creek Herbs, Inc.