Missouri Times

Civil War Letters of Polk County Confederate Describe Battles at Pea Ridge and Vicksburg

When the Civil War broke out, James Washington Woodard lived with his wife and four children on a farm in Polk County, Missouri. Sympathetic to the Confederacy, Woodard, like many of his neighbors, joined the Fifth Missouri Infantry Regiment in January of 1862. He rose to the rank of lieutenant before he was killed on June 29, 1863, five days before the Confederate surrender at Vicksburg. A collection of Woodard’s papers recently donated to the Springfield Research Center provides insight into his wartime experiences.

African-American Experience in Missouri Lecture Series Draws Large Audiences

Ninety-seven-year-old Sehon Williams remembers when his hometown of Columbia, Missouri, had segregated schools and businesses, and the hospitals were off-limits to African Americans. For many years the town had a vibrant black community—Sharp End—but desegregation and urban renewal efforts ironically led to its decline. In October, Williams shared personal stories about Columbia’s past in a public conversation with longtime Columbia civic leader Bill Thompson as part of the African-American Experience in Missouri Lecture Series.

Former US Senator Claire McCaskill Delivers First My Missouri Lecture

The State Historical Society of Missouri launched the My Missouri Lecture Series on November 2 with a talk by former US Senator Claire McCaskill. The inaugural lecture, which also served as the keynote address for SHSMO’s Annual Meeting, highlighted the schedule of events for the first annual gathering held at the new Center for Missouri Studies building in Columbia.

Virginia Laas Elected President of the State Historical Society of Missouri

At the Annual Meeting on November 2, trustees elected Virginia J. Laas as president of the State Historical Society of Missouri. Laas, of Joplin, is the second woman to serve as the Society’s president. The first was newspaper publisher Avis Tucker, who was president from 1992 to 1995. 

“I have watched this organization take giant leaps forward over the past 24 years,” said Laas. “Just like the Apollo 11 moon landing that we celebrated on its golden anniversary in July, we, too, have moved heaven and earth to be where we are today.”

Springfield’s Summer of Terror Captured in Robert Lipscomb Collection

For three months in 1953, the residents of Springfield, Missouri, lived in fear as deadly snakes roamed the Queen City of the Ozarks. Town residents armed with hoes, pitchforks, and long poles patrolled the streets, and children were not allowed to play outside. The Great Cobra Scare of 1953 is legendary in Springfield history. Life and Time magazines sent reporters to cover the story. Eleven cobras were eventually apprehended, but no one knew where they came from until 35 years later. 

Student and Teacher from Liberty Honor Fallen Hero from War in the Pacific

Twelve pairs of students and teachers—six from the mainland, and six from Hawaii—stood solemnly on July 28 for a ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Oahu. They were there for the culmination of the Sacrifice for Freedom: World War II in the Pacific Student and Teacher Institute, in which each student spends six months researching an American whose life was sacrificed during the war.

Groups Rescue ‘Part of Who We Are’ in Recovering Photos from Missouri Storms

Mother Nature is unpredictable and terrifying at times. Missouri has faced more than its share of extreme weather this year, with damaging tornadoes and raging floodwaters affecting many parts of the state. In May, tornadoes swept across southwest and central Missouri, with one killing three people in Barton County and another ravaging Jefferson City. The one that struck the capital city tore through a historic district of hundred-year-old homes and businesses, as well as other neighborhoods.

‘Miracle on Elm Street’ Opens New Era for State Historical Society

The Center for Missouri Studies opened in grand style on August 10 with ceremonies and celebrations attended by about 1,200 supporters of the State Historical Society of Missouri. On a day chosen to coincide with the 198th anniversary of Missouri statehood, crowds witnessed elegant speeches and a ribbon cutting before pouring through the Center’s south front doors for the public’s first look at SHSMO’s new headquarters.

Notes from the State Historical Society of Missouri President

There will come a time, I suppose—although I cannot yet envision it—when I will not approach the Center for Missouri Studies and think, “Oh, My Lord!”

The thought came to me one morning in mid-June as I stood on the sidewalk across from the south entrance. Workers high above were...

Trans World Airlines Collections Document Kansas City’s Place in Aviation History

Missouri holds a significant place in aviation history, not least because of the longtime presence within the state of Trans World Airlines (TWA). Long headquartered in Kansas City, TWA once planned to build its primary hub there, but after many years of disagreement with the local authorities, the airline giant instead established its operations center at St. Louis Lambert International Airport while moving its corporate headquarters to New York. In 1992, TWA filed its first of three bankruptcies and moved the headquarters to St. Louis.