Missouri Historical Society

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Horizontal, black and white photograph showing the Jefferson Memorial Building and the intersection of Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue on 25 September 1930 after the completion of construction for the River des Peres Sewerage and Drainage Project in the area. A car is shown turning onto DeBaliviere from Lindell, and a man carrying an umbrella can be seen walking on the sidewalk. P0054-00005 is a duplicate of this image.The directors of the 1904 World's Fair used some of the salvage materials after the fair to build a permanent memorial to Thomas Jefferson, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. The memorial building was intended to store the archives of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company, the collection of the Missouri Historical Society, and historical artifacts associated with the territory the U.S. acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. The statue of Jefferson was created by Karl Bitter, who was the chief sculptor for the World's Fair.

The Missouri Historical Society was founded in St. Louis in 1866.[1] Founding members created the historical society "for the purpose of saving from oblivion the early history of the city and state."[2]


The Missouri Historical Society operates the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis' Forest Park, as well as the Library and Research Center. Admission to the museum and library are free to the public. There is a fee for special museum exhibitions, but weekly free admission times are available.

Library and Research Center

The Library and Research Center houses a regional history collection documenting St. Louis, the Mississippi and Missouri Valleys, the Louisiana Purchase Territory, and the American West. The Library and Research Center collections include:

  • Library Collections
  • Manuscript Collections
  • Photographs and Prints
  • Architecture Collections
  • Broadcast Media Archives
  • Museum Collections

No appointment is needed to view the library and manuscript collections, but might be needed for other collections. Among its unique collections are the 301 freedom suits of the 19th-century St. Louis Circuit Court Records, the largest group of such case files in the country. These have been scanned into a searchable database that is online for researchers. They document the slaves' petitions for freedom under state law before the American Civil War.[3]

The research library is housed in an historic 1927 Byzantine revival synagogue building erected by the United Hebrew Congregation on Lindell Boulevard. (The congregation has moved to Chesterfield where it erected a new building.)


The Missouri Historical Society offers programs and outreach services, including traveling exhibitions, tours, theatrical and musical presentations, programs for school classes and youth groups, family festivals, special events, workshops, and lectures.


  1. Forest Park, St. Louis. London: Scala Publishers. 2007. ISBN 978-1-85759-340-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Overview and Mission", Missouri Historical Society Official Website
  3. "Freedom Suits Case Files, 1814–1860", St. Louis Circuit Court Records, Missouri Historical Society (St. Louis, MO), 2004, accessed January 4, 2011

External links