St. Louis at Play
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22, October 2014

The Louisiana Purchase and the Changes It Wrought

When I was a kid learning about the Louisiana Purchase in school, I learned the basic framework of the story—in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from France, nearly doubling the size of the United States. And, from what I learned, the Louisiana Purchase was undoubtedly a good thing: It gave the United States access to the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, granted the United States control of the Missouri, and gave Americans millions of acres of land to settle. Read more »

16, October 2014

Early St. Louis and the Transfer of Power

Imagine if someone came to you right now, in your neighborhood, and told you the place where you live had just been sold to another country. That might sound like a strange scenario, but take a second and really consider the question. How would you react? Would you be angry? Sad? Worried about how your life might change? A mix of all of the above? Read more »

13, October 2014

WWI Artifacts and Memories: Piano Man in France

On March 17, 1918, Charles Atkinson Bull, a well-known St. Louis gospel singer, religious worker, and piano salesman, departed for France. Carrying with him a portable Estey pump organ, Bull joined the 25,925 YMCA volunteers serving overseas and in America. The YMCA provided entertainment, support, and religious services to men of the United States and their allies during World War I. Read more »

10, October 2014

Civil War Love Letters: October 10, 1864

Since writing his last letter, James was moved to a prison in Columbia, South Carolina. At the end of September 1864, due to the spread of yellow fever among prisoners at Charleston and the movements of Union general William T. Sherman’s Army, Confederate authorities decided to move prisoners to Columbia. Approximately 1,400 Union officer prisoners were moved from Charleston to Columbia, including James. He arrived at the new prison camp on October 6, 1864. Read more »

8, October 2014

The Louisiana Purchase and the Rise of Dueling in St. Louis

If you’ve lived in St. Louis long enough, you’ve probably heard a little bit about the history of dueling in this city. More than likely, you’ve heard the story of Thomas Hart Benton, the Missouri senator who killed a man during a duel in 1817. You’ve probably also heard of Bloody Island, a sandbar in the Mississippi River where duelists traveled to draw pistols, take their paces, and fire at one another. By 1826, dueling was such a defining feature of St. Louis that the Reverend Timothy Flint wrote dueling was “one species of barbarism that is but too common [in St. Read more »

3, October 2014

The Art of Hair Work in the 1800s

How do you grieve? Most people cry, but how else does death impact our lives? Eventually, many of us fall into silence; we avoid speaking the name of a loved one or sorting out their belongings for fear of arousing paralyzing emotions. To succeed at this, modern mourning rituals are quick and finite. But 150 years ago, most of American society experienced the opposite. In a world surrounded by danger, disease, and high-infant mortality, people were well acquainted with death. Read more »

1, October 2014

When History and Video Games Collide

Recently, as I was browsing through our collections, I came across a piece of hardtack. I paused in surprise, and thought, “Wow. This is actually a thing.” Hardtack is something that I use every day but didn’t realize actually exists (or existed). You see, I use hardtack in a virtual world, one in which I fight for the good of humanity as I try to save the world from its own narcissistic tendencies. Read more »

30, September 2014

The Louisiana Purchase Room: A Place of Reflection

When the Louisiana Purchase Treaty goes on display here at the Missouri History Museum on October 25, our visitors will have a rare opportunity to see a document that is routinely cited as one of the five most important documents in American history, on par with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. Without this treaty, the city of St. Louis may not have ever been American—it could still be a part of France, or perhaps a different nation would have been formed to the west of the Mississippi River sometime during the 19th century. Read more »

28, September 2014

Civil War Love Letters: September 28, 1864

Marine Hospital
Charleston S. C.
Sept. 28th 1864

My Dear Molly

I asked Capt. Austin to send you a letter when he reached Atlanta which would give you the news more in detail than I can by the “Truce Boat.” I think I told you before of Capt. A. (of the 8th) being captured on the 4th of July last. Well he was one the fortunate ones under the arrangement made between Genls. Sherman & Hood at Atlanta. So also was Lt. Hale, who was wounded at Chicamauga about the same way and time as my­self, and who has been my messmate and companion ever since. Read more »

26, September 2014

Ritz Park: A Park with Historic Roots

On September 19 the Missouri History Museum was asked to witness history at the ribbon cutting of Ritz Park. The South Grand Community Improvement District, with help from local businesses, made this idea a reality. The outdoor pocket park and theater was five years in the making, and construction began in late June 2014. The Missouri History Museum participated in all of the excitement while promoting the rest of St. Louis’s history with our 250 in 250 exhibit.  Read more »