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.
German immigrants played a major role in the early days of the Civil War in Missouri. They were nearly united in their support for the Union and were among the first to enlist in its army. In their eyes, this support for their adopted fatherland was a sign of their loyalty and suitability to be citizens of the republic. By taking up arms to defend the US government, many Germans felt they should have silenced for all time debates over whether or not they deserved the full rights of citizenship. Their reputation for supporting the North would cause problems, however, with Confederate-sympathizing Missourians, and in rural parts of the state Germans were sometimes targeted by Southern guerrillas. Also problematic in the eyes of many white Missourians was the Germans’ support for emancipation as a war aim, something that many Unionist Missourians were not eager to see. Ultimately, Missouri Germans played an important role in the Civil War, but due to the hostility they encountered from Confederates and conservative Unionists, their involvement did not make them less conscious of their ethnic identity, but instead made them even more aware of—and proud of—their identity as an immigrant group within Missouri.
German immigrants played important roles in opposing slavery in the Border South (including St. Louis, Missouri), providing much of the support for emancipation that existed among whites in that region. However, simply categorizing the Germans as abolitionists obscures as much as it reveals. A more in-depth examination of the racial attitudes of German immigrants and their participation in the debates over slavery during the 1840s–1860s reveals that the Germans’ reputation for being antislavery was for the most part deserved, but the reasons they opposed slavery and the ways in which they did so were much more complex than that simple statement suggests. In fact, although some German Americans deserved their reputation for racial egalitarianism, many others were quite pragmatic in that they shifted their position on slavery and the place of African Americans in American society when it benefited their own community to do so. When slavery did not seem to affect their lives, they ignored it. Once it began to threaten the stability of the country or their ability to get land, they opposed it. Once it was gone, however, many showed little interest in ensuring that African Americans obtained the rights that they themselves sought as adopted citizens.
Kristen Anderson is associate professor of history at Webster University. She specializes in nineteenth-century US social history, in particular the participation of immigrants in the Civil War and debates over slavery. She is currently working on a new book project examining how German immigrants remembered and commemorated their Civil War participation. Her publications include Abolitionizing Missouri: German Immigrants and Racial Ideology in Ninteenth-Century America.
This presentation explores the early history of the Ozark region through the lens of popularly held perceptions and myths of the region. It involves the presentation of these myths (or at least oversimplified perceptions) and then exposes them by revealing the real history behind the myths. For example, the myth of the “Scots-Irish Ozarks” leads into a discussion of the surprising degree of racial and ethnic diversity in the pre–Civil War Ozarks, including the role of “immigrant Indians” in Old Ozarks affairs and the prominence of slavery in many locales. The myth of the feuding Ozarks leads into a discussion of the “Slicker War” and other episodes of violence, including examination of their root causes. The myth of the isolated Ozarks leads into a discussion of the many evidences of the region’s connections with regional and national markets, such as the centrality of lead mining in the Old Ozarks and the survival of antebellum store ledgers that offer a window into rural and small-town commerce. Overall, the presentation introduces audiences to a more realistic vision of the Old Ozarks by challenging the things we think we know about the region.
This more lighthearted presentation explores early ethnic and cultural influences on the Ozarks through the lens of dialect and accent. It dismisses the old notion of Elizabethan dialect in the Ozarks and instead looks at words, phrases, and speech patterns that were once common in vernacular Ozark (and usually Appalachian) language, tracing their origins to European or colonial American roots. The presentation invites frequent audience participation and includes a built-in “Talking Ozark” quiz. Natives or longtime residents of the Ozarks will enjoy revisiting styles and words that have probably gone unused for decades, and others will gain an appreciation for cultural diffusion and regional distinctiveness in Missouri—as well as the forces that constantly chip away at that distinctiveness.
Brooks Blevins is the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University in Springfield. He is a native of the Ozarks, tracing his roots deep into the antebellum era in both Arkansas and Missouri. He has written six books and edited two more. His most recent book, A History of the Ozarks, Volume I: The Old Ozarks, is the first in a planned trilogy on the history of the region.
In 1867 Isaac Johnson arrived at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. An unknown, illiterate hotel worker and former slave from Montgomery, Alabama, he was to become an original Buffalo Soldier, destined to change the course of American history and the world. This slight man, just 5 feet and 7¼ inches tall, served in the 38th and 24th Colored Infantry and the famed 9th Cavalry. The presentations may include not only Johnson but also Cathay Williams, a female Buffalo Soldier; the creation of the Tuskegee Airman; the participation of African American soldiers alongside the Rough Riders in the charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War, and countless battles up to the issue of Executive Order 9981 by President Harry Truman ending military segregation on July 26, 1948.
Two decorated army veterans and Buffalo Soldiers cofounded what is today the 9th & 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association on July 28, 1966. This national organization was formed in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District in Kansas City. Today, after 52 years, it is the oldest such chapter in the nation and is headed by its second President, John Bruce, a veteran and a recipient of the Bronze Star for Valor. Bruce is joined by two other presenters, one a veteran and great-grandson of an original Buffalo Soldier and one the daughter of the cofounder of the national organization.
This talk engages the things writers from Missouri have had to say about the state of their state. Writers such as the first African American novelist Williams Wells Brown, Mark Twain, T. S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Maya Angelou, Calvin Trillin, and many other essayists, novelists, poets, and playwrights who have hailed from Missouri have had a lot to say about the state. As a place that has been implicated in so much of American history, that is home to the last eastern city and the first western one, that has been shaped by people from France, Spain, and Germany as well as Boston, Kentucky, and the people who were here before all of them, there is much about Missouri that is informed by and connects to the rest of the country and the world. The course of the nation, of its political realities and aspirations, of its expansion westward and its foreign entanglements, all of these developments have marked Missouri, and as they have done so they have provided fuel for the work of a great and varied group of writers. Ultimately, their work can itself be read as providing a composite portrait of their state.
The Missouri Crisis is the name that has been given to the turmoil the United States was thrown into by Missouri’s application for statehood. The tensions that emerged in that crisis existed not only in Missouri but across the nation, and their suppression and reemergence in the Civil War mark a pattern that continues today. Missouri history—from the Crisis early in the nineteenth century to the crisis in Ferguson early in the twenty-first century—is marked by these tensions, and those marks are visible in the literature of Missouri. Examining a range of works by Missouri writers, this talk will explore not only the history and literary history of the state but also the future of Missouri as a place to live in and write about.
Samuel Cohen is an award-winning teacher and scholar of American literature at the University of Missouri, where he teaches twentieth- and twenty-first-century American literature and culture and directs undergraduate studies. He is author of After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s and coeditor of The Legacy of David Foster Wallace and The Clash Takes on the World: Transnational Perspectives on the Only Band That Matters. He is series editor of The New American Canon: The Iowa Series in Contemporary Literature and Culture and author of the textbooks 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology and Literature: The Human Experience.
This presentation highlights the beginnings of the Jewish communities of the Ozarks, why these people came, where they went to, and the impact they had on the larger community. The talk is illustrated with numerous historical images. The goal is to help the listener understand the multicultural/religious nature of one of the most homogeneous regions in the United States.
Mara W. Cohen Ioannides teaches in the English Department at Missouri State University and is the president of the Midwest Jewish Studies Association. She has edited the only published volume on the history of the Jews of the Ozarks and has published nearly a dozen articles, book chapters, and books on the Jews of America, the Jews of the Midwest, and the Jews of the Ozarks. She is the authority on Jews of the Ozarks.
Some errors in law ultimately require constitutional change. On the basis of illustrating human misery and need for a change in law, perhaps no other decision is as poignant as Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 US 393 (1857). This infamous decision, in which the Supreme Court went on record as being willing to deny African Americans the most basic right—that of US citizenship—was antithetical not only to principles of democracy but also to any notion of human decency.
In Missouri, Virginia Minor was an early proponent of women’s right to vote. She had been the first president of the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri in 1867—two years before Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton established the National Woman Suffrage Association. Minor wanted to vote in the national election in 1872, but St. Louis registrar Reese Happersett would not let her register to vote. Minor sued, but in Minor v. Happersett, 88 US 162 (1875), the Supreme Court ruled that no law conferred on women the right to vote. The Court pointed out at the outset of its opinion that the constitution and laws of Missouri limited voting to men. Virginia Minor died in 1894, never getting the right to vote for which she labored for decades. This presentation will also discuss coverture, the status a woman acquires through marriage under common law.
Sandra Davidson earned her PhD in philosophy from the University of Connecticut and her JD from the University of Missouri, graduating Order of the Coif. She is a Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, teaching media law there since 1989. She also taught media law at the MU School of Law. She is the attorney for the Columbia Missourian, published by the Missouri School of Journalism.
Explaining the example of how Missouri officials dealt with the “Mormon Problem” in the 1830s, attorney Stephen Davis will demonstrate how the same and other officials later dealt with slavery and abolitionists. As Senator David Rice Atchison (former lawyer to the Mormons) said to Jefferson Davis, “We will be compelled to shoot, burn & hang, but the thing will soon be over. We intend to ‘Mormonise’ the Abolitionists.” This action in western Missouri and Bleeding Kansas would ignite the Civil War.
Missouri election law attorney and former presidential campaign election lawyer Stephen Davis will explain the redistricting process in Missouri, proposals for reform, and recent Supreme Court cases.
Stephen S. Davis is an attorney with Arent Fox, LLP, a national law firm. After graduating from the University of Missouri–Columbia Law School, he became the sixty-second elected chief clerk and administrator of the Missouri House of Representatives. He then served as an assistant US attorney in St. Louis. He left that position to become Mitt Romney’s election lawyer for the State of Missouri. Davis chaired the Missouri Bar Committee on Citizenship Education and is the recipient of the Missouri Bar’s Solomon Civic Virtue Award. He lives with his wife and four children in St. Louis.
At the time of statehood, at least 15 million acres of tallgrass prairie blanketed Missouri—about a third of the state. Missouri’s prairie was part of the great North American prairie ecosystem that stretched from Ohio to the Rockies, north into Canada, and south to Mexico. Today, there are fewer than 60,000 scattered prairie acres remaining in the state. Missouri’s prairie remnants have inherent value, but they also serve us by providing carbon storage, water filtration, pollination, and other measurable benefits. This presentation focuses on the history, beauty, and conservation of Missouri’s prairies, and on facets of a new “tallgrass prairie economy,” which uses an ancient ecosystem as a model for new, sustainable landscapes that benefit people in many ways.
Missouri’s native plants provide more than habitat for wildlife in undeveloped parts of our state. Incorporated into plantings, they also provide many benefits to cities large and small, including stormwater management, pollinator habitat, and beautification. This presentation delves into the many reasons why, to improve human quality of life and make municipalities function better, we must draw upon the botanical wealth of our state and incorporate native plants into the places where we live, work, and do business.
As executive director for the Missouri Prairie Foundation, Carol Davit oversees fundraising, strategic planning, communications, advocacy, the Grow Native! program, and administration, and has also edited the Missouri Prairie Journal since 1996. Davit has worked for more than 20 years in the conservation and environmental fields in communications, development, administration, and leadership capacities. She has worked for private, nonprofit conservation groups and in municipal and state government. She is the chair of the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s Grasslands Committee and of the MPF’s/Grow Native! Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force. Davit has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in interdisciplinary studies.
This presentation tells the story of trail-marker trees in the United States, in Missouri, and on Doughty’s own farm. Through video and research on trail trees by authors Dennis Downes and Don Wells, Doughty explores the significance of why a peculiar-looking bur oak tree on his property was “bent” around 300 years ago. As a result of his own research, the tree has been confirmed as a Native American “Trail Marker Tree” and is listed in the Trail Tree Project Registry, where it stands as one of the oldest trail-marker trees in the country. Through his presentation, Doughty seeks to inspire audience members to look for still-standing trail trees on their properties.
This presentation examines the encounter between Doughty’s great-great-grandfather William F. Peery and Mormon leader Joseph Smith when they crossed paths in Missouri in the 1830s. Born in Virginia, Peery came west at age 18 and became one of the first settlers in Livingston County, Missouri in 1838. Soon after he homesteaded, skirmishes broke out between Mormons in Caldwell and Daviess Counties and other settlers in the region. Peery enlisted in the Missouri Militia and played in role in the conflict that drove the Mormons out of Missouri.
A fifth-generation Missourian, Douglas Doughty operates a corn, soybean, and cattle farm in northern Missouri. He is also the general manager of the Chillicothe Mudcats, a summer collegiate baseball team, and a former NCAA baseball umpire. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri–Columbia, where he studied agricultural journalism and agronomy.
Most of the 1,100 military engagements in Missouri during the Civil War were between Union troops and guerrillas. Historian and author James Erwin traces the history of the guerrilla war from sporadic attacks on railroads to sustained assaults on soldiers, wagon trains, steamboats, civilians, and entire towns. Its history is told through the experiences of the guerrillas, the soldiers who fought them, and the civilians who suffered from depredations by both sides.
Jesse James is an iconic figure in Missouri history. In this presentation, historian and author James Erwin describes how a farm boy, guerrilla, bank and train robber, and murderer became a political hero and nineteenth-century media star. In the twentieth century, Jesse James’s criminal past was excused or ignored in dozens of movies, serials, television shows, and songs, and he was transformed into a typical western hero. But as movies became more realistic, the portrayals of James became more nuanced and historically accurate. Erwin describes James’s life, legend, and movie “career” using photographs, movie posters, song and film clips.
James Erwin is a retired attorney who practiced law in St. Louis for 38 years. He was an adjunct professor at Washington University in St. Louis for 10 years. Erwin is the author of four books, three on the Civil War in Missouri and one on the history of St. Charles. He is a frequent speaker on the Civil War and local history topics. He is currently vice chair of the Kirkwood (Missouri) Arts Commission, president of the St. Louis Civil War Roundtable, and treasurer of the Unbound Book Festival.
Beginning in 1838, German peasants from the Kingdom of Hanover poured into southwestern Lafayette County, only to find when the Civil War came that they were in the Missouri County with the most slaves. They were unwavering Unionists and thus were raided three times by guerrillas led by Bill Anderson. In the last raid, 24 immigrants were killed with the loss of only 1 or 2 guerrillas.
Settlers came to Missouri’s Little Dixie region in considerable numbers immediately after the War of 1812, but the more remote prairie townships were mostly empty until the 1850s. Settlers in these areas came mostly from the southern states until after the Civil War. As the rural population dispersed in the 20th century, some went to Kansas City but more went west, especially to California.
Robert W. Frizzell is a retired librarian and historian. He has been employed by Illinois Wesleyan University, Hendrix College, Northwest Missouri State University, and the University of Arkansas–Fort Smith. He is the author of one book, a dozen articles in scholarly journals, and several dozen book reviews. His book Independent Immigrants: A Settlement of Hanoverian Germans in Western Missouri won the Governor’s Humanities Book Award from the Missouri Humanities Council.
The Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, now known as Missouri University of Science and Technology, has long been known as a rigorous institution, but its students still knew how to have fun and get into trouble. Larry Gragg will discuss some of the notable scandals involving MSM students, including a duel in 1873; an armed robbery by the president and vice president of the junior class in Butte, Montana, in 1925; and two riots. The first riot involved a political campaign in 1950, and the second, at Halloween in 1959, was not brought under control until both the Rolla police and the Highway Patrol intervened. All of these incidents attracted newspaper attention far beyond Rolla. Gragg will also discuss some of the most humorous pranks during those years. Drawing upon nearly ninety years of faculty meeting minutes, he will talk about the types of bad behavior faculty members had to address over the years and the types of punishment that resulted. This will be an opportunity to hear about a side of campus life beyond the academic challenges of a mining and engineering school.
Larry Gragg is Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus at Missouri University of Science and Technology, where he has taught since 1977. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the University of Missouri President’s Award for Teaching Excellence and the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, he also has published nine books on early American history and the history of Las Vegas. Gragg is now writing a history of the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (University of Missouri–Rolla, and Missouri University of Science and Technology) in anticipation of the campus’s sesquicentennial in 2020.
This presentation provides a brief overview of American Indians and the story of the Cherokees up to the present day, explaining how they came to cross Missouri on the Trail of Tears.
This presentation explains the myths associated with the relationship of Indians and whites and what led to the Trail of Tears through Missouri. The program concludes with telling the story of the Cherokees after this event to show how we have developed a collective amnesia about our own history.
Galen E. Gritts has a degree in history from the University of Missouri, St. Louis and has completed twenty-three hours of graduate work in that same field. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a lifelong resident of Missouri. He has been active in researching the story of the Cherokee for decades.
This presentation provides travelogue(s) highlighting the content in the book Historic Missouri Roadsides, which covers five small-town historic road tours and six historic destinations in Missouri.
This presentation focuses on ways to increase recognition of historic resources in Missouri, including local historic districts and ordinances, the Certified Local Government Program, the National Register of Historic Places, and others.
William M. “Bill” Hart is the director of the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation (Missouri Preservation). He has conducted workshops in historic building materials and conservation, historic recognition programs, heritage tourism, tax credits, and the economic benefits of historic preservation. He holds a bachelor of science degree in historic preservation from Southeast Missouri State University. He did his graduate work in architectural history at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. The author of the 2016 book Historic Missouri Roadsides, he has a special interest in roadside architecture and attractions.
Sitting near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, St. Louis proudly wears the title of “Gateway to the West,” a status displayed in the Gateway Arch, the city’s iconic landmark. Another landmark, The Old Courthouse (where the Dred Scott case was tried) speaks to St. Louis’s and Missouri’s history of slavery. Thus, we are reminded that a north-south axis along the Mississippi River, not just the relationship between east and west, also shaped St. Louis’s and Missouri’s history and identity. While Missouri is commonly recognized as midwestern, its historical identity is more complicated. The area of Little Dixie along the Missouri River, the conflict with Kansas on Missouri’s western border before and during the Civil War, a history of codified racial segregation, and even the University of Missouri’s recent inclusion in the Southeastern Conference all speak to the state’s identity as “the northernmost southern state.” Using examples from history and popular culture, historian Bryan Jack explores Missouri’s southern identity. The goal of the presentation is not to convince anyone that Missouri is “southern,” but to help people understand how its geography and culture occupies a unique place in American culture.
In the 1930s, St. Louis Jaycees began erecting historical markers throughout the city’s downtown. One of the sites they marked was the Bernard M. Lynch Slave Pen/Myrtle Street Civil War Prison. Before the Civil War, Lynch was a slave dealer in St. Louis; the marked site was one of his numerous locations. In 1861 Lynch fled south to join the Confederacy and Union officials converted the slave pen into a military prison. Today, the site sits across the street from Busch Stadium. As three million baseball fans walk past statues and plaques celebrating Cardinals history, most are unaware that before the Cardinals, the area was a site for selling human beings. The history of the site remains mostly unacknowledged, as do many other locations of St. Louis’s racial past. In 1963, during construction of the previous Busch Stadium, newspapers reported on the existence of the site, but it was razed as part of urban renewal, and no new historical marker was erected. Historian Bryan Jack uses the existence (and destruction) of this and other sites as an opportunity to explore how St. Louis interacts with its uncomfortable racial history, and often creates a more palatable history under the guise of civic progress.
Bryan Jack is associate professor of historical studies at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. He is the the editor of Southern History on Screen: Race and Rights, 1976–2016 and The Saint Louis African American Community and the Exodusters. His articles have appeared in The Griot and the Councilor, and in international publications from the British Association of American Studies and American Studies of Turkey. Jack earned his PhD from Saint Louis University, a master’s degree from the University of Alabama, and a bachelor’s degree from Baker University. He lives in the city of St. Louis.
Many consider Frank Lloyd Wright to be America’s greatest architect. His “organic architecture” helped popularize open floor plans, light-filled rooms, and connections to nature, all still in demand today. In Missouri, Wright worked with forward-thinking families to design four unique houses; he also butted heads with building authorities while constructing a controversial church. Who were these Missourians on the cutting edge of architectural design, and why do Wright’s creations remain relevant nearly sixty years after his death? This talk will help you see Missouri’s buildings with new eyes.
Maps spur our imagination. Maps transport us. In maps we trust. But all maps are lies. Filled with examples of maps from the Show-Me State and beyond, this presentation will forever change the way you look at maps. You will come away as a more informed and discerning map reader with an understanding that “not only is it easy to lie with maps, it is essential.”
Kelly Johnston is a Missouri native, raised on a farm near Warrensburg. He earned degrees from the University of CentralMissouri and Indiana University. He has been a software developer and a cartographer, and he taught mapping at the University of Virginia. He grew up immersed in architecture and building as he worked alongside his father, a master carpenter who built their family home. Recently retired from Virginia, Johnston and his wife moved back to Missouri, where they restored a historic home, now listed on the National Register. He leads tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright house at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and has visited 50 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings around the world.
Two competing definitions of the Missouri River emerged in the early twentieth century. One saw the river as a conduit of commerce and industrial development, growing the financial wealth of the region. The second saw the river as pivotal to the region’s public health, especially for cities that relied on the river for both drinking water and waste carriage. These two visions have been in competition, the former arguing that wealth brings about health, and the latter arguing that good health leads to wealth. Each vision sees an important role for the federal government to play—one in economic development, and the other in the protection of human and environmental health. This presentation will explore how these visions developed, and how they impacted the Missouri River and the cities of the lower basin, with an emphasis on Kansas City.
Urban environmental history helps reveal the ways that the Kansas Cities became so socioeconomically segregated and why environmental risk has been unevenly distributed. After establishing the importance of the river to urban development, this program shows that controlling the flow of the river through the city (like drinking water and sewage) was a key to political, economic, and social power. Using images, this presentation will show how Kansas Citians of the past have experienced and dealt with urban and environmental issues.
Amahia Mallea is associate professor of history at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She earned her doctorate in 2006 from the University of Missouri, where she studied environmental history with Susan Flader. As a transplant to the Midwest, Mallea fell in love with the Missouri River, and it became the subject of her research. She is the author of A River in the City of Fountains: An Environmental History of Kansas City and the Missouri River. At Drake she teaches courses on the history of the West, public health, and urban environments.
With over 30,000 residents identifying with American Indian tribal affiliations, Missouri is enriched by tribal diversity. Using data from the US Census Bureau and other nationally recognized sources, this presentation focuses on where the current American Indian population is living within Missouri. It explores land and water rights, tribal preservation efforts, representation vs. misrepresentations, and indigeneity among local Missourians. Audience members will leave with a greater understanding of the American Indian people and the culture which surrounds them.
Lindsey Manshack is a public health research coordinator at the Washington University School of Medicine and a tribal citizen of the Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from the University of Missouri–Columbia and earned a master’s degree in public health from Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work. She is also a member of the Missouri American Cancer Society Board of Directors. She now works to strengthen community capacity to reduce health disparities and enhance education and awareness about chronic disease risk, prevention, and community resources.
Utilizing key cultural artifacts found in Missouri’s German Heritage Corridor, ethnographer and museum educator W. Arthur Mehrhoff will draw upon a wide array of archival and contemporary materials to interpret key themes in Missouri’s German cultural heritage as well as to suggest its potential relevance for understanding cultural continuity and change.
W. Arthur Mehrhoff recently retired after eleven years as the academic coordinator for the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He taught American cultural studies at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota from 1988 to 2003 and at University College of Washington University in St. Louis from 2004 to 2006. He also worked (1986-87) as a museum educator at the Gateway Arch National Park from 1986 to 1987. He has written three books and is currently working with Missouri Life magazine on one about Missouri’s German cultural heritage.
This presentation will provide an overview of connections between native people of the Southeast (Seminoles, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Cherokees) and Missouri. Most of the talk will focus on the nineteenth century and Trail of Tears in particular. However, the program will also provide background information about southeastern native culture, Missouri’s native history, and early connections between the Southeast and Missouri. The presentation will briefly touch on the experience of southeastern natives after they traveled through Missouri. The presentation will focus on the experiences of individuals and small groups in an attempt to richly invoke what life was like for nineteenth-century natives as they were forcefully exiled from their ancestral homelands.
Nathaniel Millett is an associate professor of history at Saint Louis University. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Edinburgh and a PhD from Cambridge University. He is the author of The Maroons of Prospect Bluff and their Quest for Freedom in the Atlantic World, which won four prizes. Thanks to a Fulbright Fellowship in London and a Weatherhead Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, he has made major progress on a book that considers the role that indigenous people played in the Anglo-Caribbean between the sixteenth century and middle of the nineteenth century.
St. Louis has the largest Bosnian community outside of Bosnia-Herzegovina, consisting of more than 50,000 people who fled the war and genocide perpetrated in the homeland between 1992 and 1995. Drawing on firsthand accounts by Bosnian survivors of war and ethnic cleansing, this presentation highlights the lessons that we can learn from the experiences of Bosnians who came to St. Louis as refugees. It also considers the complex positions of the second generation of Bosnians, who are dealing with the legacy of war and genocide, sometimes with little understanding of its origins. Finally, it asks the audience to reflect on the implications of our Bosnian community for St. Louis’s racially divided history and multiethnic future. As much as possible, the presentation privileges the voices of St. Louis Bosnians who have shared their stories with the Bosnia Memory Project.
Dr. Benjamin Moore has taught at Fontbonne University since 1994. In 2006 he cofounded the Bosnia Memory Project, which is dedicated to preserving the memory of Bosnian refugees and their children by recording oral histories and collecting artifacts and documents. In 2007 he helped to develop the traveling exhibit Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide, which has been shown at twenty-one locations across the United States, including Capitol Hill. In 2016, Moore’s work garnered a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which will fund the development of courses about Bosnia in St. Louis–area high schools.
Along with his adopted Ioway brother White Cloud, Great Walker signed the Treaty of 1824, which ceded the northern portion of Missouri to the United States. Great Walker (also known as Big Neck) became so distraught about his role in the land cession that he left his people and the land the government had set aside for them to live north of the Missouri border. Later, he and some of his followers were tried in Randolph County for an 1829 skirmish in which four white militiamen and two Ioways died. The jury acquitted Great Walker because they believed the militiamen had provoked the battle.
Deroine (1806–1859) was a slave who unsuccessfully sued his owner Joseph Robidioux for freedom. The Ioway nation bought his freedom so that he could work for them as an interrupter. This job took Deroine to Europe for two years with a delegation of Ioways. Deroine became one of the few African Americans to own property in Holt County and in the city of St. Joseph.
Greg Olson was the curator of exhibits and special projects at the Missouri State Archives for nineteen years. He is the author of two books published by the University of Missouri Press. One of these titles, The Ioway in Missouri, won the Missouri Humanities Council’s Governor’s Humanities Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement. Olson has also published three biographies in the Notable Missourians series for upper-level elementary school students with Truman State University Press. His most recent book, Ioway Life: Reservation and Reform, 1837–1860, was named a Kansas Notable Book in 2017.
Drawn by inexpensive land distanced from major population centers, a wide variety of Amish and Mennonite families are creating new communities and expanding existing communities in Missouri and the Midwest. Amish-themed romance novels and murder mysteries, not to mention “reality” TV series, are becoming an increasingly visible part of the American cultural landscape. Historian Steven Reschly, who grew up in a Mennonite community in southeast Iowa and whose ancestry is Amish, will illustrate Amish history, beliefs, stereotypes, and mistaken ideas in American popular culture. He will also discuss the present situation of Old Order religious groups and possible future directions for these societies with roots in European Anabaptist and Pietist movements. Possible subtopics include organic agriculture; theology; an Amish sleeping preacher in 1870s and 1880s Iowa; the Amish and the Great Depression in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Amish origins in Europe; gender; and the Amish in American popular culture.
The Amish make frequent appearances in the mass media. A short list would include the 1985 movie Witness starring Harrison Ford, the 1996 parody song “Amish Paradise” by Weird Al Yankovic, TV shows such as Amish in the City, World’s Squarest Teenagers and its sequel Living with the Amish, Amish: Out of Order, Breaking Amish, and the infamous and ridiculous Amish Mafia. The Amish also appear randomly in episodes of TV shows such as Family Guy, X-Files, Picket Fences, Bones, MacGyver, Murder She Wrote, and many others. Why are these people, who only want to be left alone, such good subjects for parody and humor? An antidote to stereotypes and mistaken beliefs about the Amish is accurate historical and theological information. Reschly will illustrate Amish history and beliefs, explaining their descent from the Anabaptist movement of sixteenth-century central Europe and their subsquent experiences of persecution, migration, encounters with governments and laws, and much more.
Dr. Steven D. Reschly has taught at Truman State University since 1994. He earned his PhD in history at the University of Iowa in 1994. His current research examines rural consumer culture in Great Depression–era Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His first book, The Amish on the Iowa Prairie, 1840–1910, was named the 2002 Book of the Year by the Communal Studies Association. He is also the author of Strangers at Home: Amish and Mennonite Women in History. In 2003–2004 he taught at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany as a Fulbright Senior Scholar.
Drawing from 20 years of personal and professional experience as a salsa and Latin jazz bandleader and percussionist, Pablo Sanhueza will present on the political and cultural significance of Afro-Latin music in the Midwest. The presentation will be part music demonstration and part historical overview. It will tell the story of the Latin American political exiles and immigrants who arrived in the Kansas City region in the 1970s and 1980s, describing how they created spaces to remain connected to their shared culture through music and dance. Sanhueza, who arrived to Kansas City in 1996 from Chile, continues the work of this first generation of organizers and artists. Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra executive director and historian Cynthia Ammerman will sometimes serve as copresenter.
Pablo Sanhueza is the artistic director and cofounder of the Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra. Since arriving in Kansas City, he has distinguished himself among the avant-garde of Latin American and Caribbean music across the Midwest. Sanhueza has studied with the Cuban Rumba and Folkloric ensemble Los Muequitos de Matanzas, jazz musician Bobby Watson, and NEA-recognized Cuban ritual percussionist Felipe Garcia Villamill. In 2017 his ensembles were presented at 93 events with an audience reach in excess of 20,000.
There were thousands of African American women living in Missouri in the shadows of enslavement before and during the Civil War. Many of their names and deeds have long been forgotten. This program focuses on the struggles for survival as freedom loomed on the horizon.
This presentation offers first-person portrayals of individual black women in Missouri, creating biographical sketches of several women and illustrating the impact of enslavement upon their lives and their families.
Carole Shelton is a storyteller, author, and retired educator. She tells stories from around the world with a hint of music from the heart. As a part of her repertoire she has researched and crafted historical first-person portrayals of African American women.
Beginning in 1699 with the building of villages like Cahokia and Kaskaskia, and later Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis, along the Mississippi River, French colonists from western France and Quebec merged with the native populations in what is now Missouri to create a Creole culture that is still unique from its cousins in Louisiana and Canada. As this early Missouri population grew throughout the mid- and late eighteenth century and changed the wild Missouri landscape to one with a distinct French flavor, it would eventually leave its legacy, not only through town names and landmarks but also in songs, language, stories, and food. Via 300-hundred-year-old traditions like the annual “La Guillannee” French New Year tradition, this exciting program will take the listener on a fascinating trip through the French Creole history of Missouri from both a historical and cultural perspective, highlighting the enduring French identity of places like Ste. Genevieve and Old Mines through ancient French folktales, haunting ballads, and foot-stomping fiddle tunes.
Fiddler and cultural historian Dennis Stroughmatt became acquainted with the historically French Creole community of Old Mines, Missouri, as a student three decades ago and learned the community’s music and folklore from its tradition-bearers. He is now recognized as one of the foremost experts on French Creole culture of North America, especially that of the old Illinois Country (encompassing much of present-day Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana). He has made numerous recordings and received awards from national cultural institutions. He travels extensively throughout the country as both a musical performer and an educational speaker, and teaches at Illinois Eastern Community Colleges.
One of the most complicated friendships during Harry Truman’s life was his long-lasting relationship with Tom Pendergast, who became a Kansas City political kingpin in the early 1920s and 1930s through his use of strong-arm tactics and personal wealth. However, by 1940, Truman’s political fortune hit a snag when Boss Tom was convicted of federal crimes and sent to Fort Leavenworth to serve time. Truman could no longer depend upon the boss for political support for his upcoming 1940 Senate reelection campaign. This presentation explores Truman’s relationship with Pendergast and explains how he was able to craft a political strategy to win reelection in 1940 despite the fact that Pendergast was jailed. It also assesses the lasting impact that Truman’s interactions with the Kansas City political machine had on his career.
Several noted Missourians played significant roles in World War I, including Harry Truman. Historians have identified Truman’s military service in World War I as a turning point in his life and later political career. This presentation examines Truman’s decision to enter military service in 1917, tracks his command of the 129th field artillery as it traversed the fields of France during the war, and assesses the significance of his military service on his political career.
Jon E. Taylor is professor of history at the University of Central Missouri, where he teaches courses in American history. Taylor has written four books on the life, political career, and legacy of Harry Truman. He is currently working on a book about the significance of Truman’s Senate career.
Greek immigrants have had a presence in the St. Louis area for over 150 years, particularly in the wake of the Great Immigration of 1900–1925. Those who settled in the area have left an impressive legacy, whether in business, education, sports, the arts, philanthropy, or other fields. Yet demographic mobility, changes in immigration law, and declines in adherence to the Greek Orthodox church, Greek cultural societies, and use of the Greek language suggest that Old World cultural expressions are diminishing if not already lost. Are the Greeks undergoing the kind of cultural assimilation experienced by earlier immigrants to the region such as the Irish, Germans, and others? What can be done to contribute to the preservation of immigrant Hellenic culture in the St. Louis area? This is the story of the one ethnic group’s life cycle, which may hold insights into challenges of cultural preservation faced by other communities as well.
Dr. Mike Tsichlis was born and raised in the City of St. Louis. He received his PhD in public policy analysis and administration from Saint Louis University in 1995, where he also taught in the Political Science Department and joined the development staff at the university. While continuing his career in higher education and nonprofit institutional advancement, he also pursued a career path as a researcher and writer. He has published numerous articles in newspapers, journals, and magazines, and is completing two book manuscripts, one on Greek-Americans in St. Louis and another on firefighting history in the region.
Utilizing a wide selection of photos and PowerPoint presentation, historian D. Christopher Warren brings a lesser-known area of Missouri’s Civil War history to light. The goal of this program is to expand knowledge of the Civil War in Missouri by explaining the various organizations of troops, the varieties of flags they carried into battle, and what happened to these unique treasures once the guns fell silent. To add to this unique program, Warren also presents the program in a period-specific Union Color Sergeant’s uniform and explains the importance of the regimental color guard.
Utilizing a wide selection of photos and PowerPoint presentation, as well as some interesting props, historian D. Christopher Warren presents a history of a unique military force during the Civil War that many have overlooked. Drawing upon his great-great-great grandfather’s regimental history and his own years of reenacting experiences and scholarly research, Warren takes his audience into the depths of Missouri’s premier engineering unit and their exploits from Sherman’s March to the Grand Review at the war’s end. Furthermore, by portraying the part of a member of the unit, Warren gives a performance that will make the audience feel as if they knew someone who had actually been there.
D. Christopher Warren is an active Civil War historian and reenactor. He teaches American History at Mineral Area College in Park Hills. He is a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; Turner Brigade; Missouri Civil War Reenactor’s Association; and the Historical Studies Honor Society for American Public University. Warren also holds a bachelor of science degree in education and social studies from Central Methodist University and a master of arts degree in Civil War military history from American Public University.
This presentation focuses on traditional stories told primarily by Choctaw, Cherokee, and Delaware Nations/tribes, all of which White is a member of or descended from. These stories are often told to educate or entertain.
The contents of this presentation may be tailored to the needs of the host. It frequently delves into the history of European and Native American interactions and often lends itself to showing how interactions between people of European ancestry and Native Americans have often forced changes in the population and cultures of the indigenous people.
Suzanne White is a high school science teacher in the Ferguson Florissant School District. She received a bachelor of science degree in zoology and a master’s degree in biology from Arkansas State University. From 1999 until its close, she was involved in the American Indian Center of St. Louis. Since then she has tried to provide education about Native Americans in the St. Louis area through variety of presentations.