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25, October 2016

A Soldier’s Story

When I joined the U.S. Air Force in September 1980 via the Delayed Entry Program, I immediately discovered that being homosexual in the military wasn’t allowed. The section of my enlistment form asking me to check whether I was homosexual made that pretty clear. In spite of this, I wanted to serve my country and travel the world. I also knew this would be the best experience for me to grow, to become something on my own. Read more »

25, October 2016

Picturing 1930s St. Louis: An Introduction

Last month, the Missouri History Museum’s Photographs and Prints Department began work on an exciting project involving the Sievers Studio Collection. The studio was founded in 1917 by professional commercial photographer Isaac Sievers. Over time, its staff expanded to include several photographers. Isaac’s son, Alvin, joined the business after World War II and kept it going until 1989. Throughout its 72 years of operation, the Sievers Studio captured 264 linear feet of negatives and prints—that’s the length of an entire city block! The Picturing 1930s St. Read more »

24, October 2016

Photo Archives: More Than Just Pretty Pictures

When people think of archives, they tend to think of written documents, such as old letters, diaries, ledgers, and manuscripts. They don’t immediately think of images as archival documents, but human beings communicated with pictures long before written language evolved. From cave paintings to selfies, the images we create are more than just pretty pictures. They’re documents that capture the events, people, and places we want to remember, and they communicate this information in a clear way that transcends all language barriers. Read more »

20, October 2016

Find Your Family's History

If I've learned anything throughout my years with the Missouri History Museum, it's that you can find family in all kinds of unexpected places. Case in point: While presenting at the St. Louis Genealogy Conference in Chesterfield earlier this month, I showed a photo of my grandfather, Ray Northcott, on his wedding day, pictured with friends Joe Zamberlan and Frank Digiovanni. Read more »

19, October 2016

3 Reasons to Love the Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries

One question I’m frequently asked when people find out I’m an archivist (besides “What’s an archivist?”) is: Which collection is your favorite? For me, that’s easy. I loved digitizing and transcribing the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries. Read more »

18, October 2016

An Inside Look at “The Destruction of Memory”

Cultural destruction—the purposeful destruction of buildings, books, and art in order to erase a people’s history and identity—has been happening for years, but it has seen an explosion in the 21st century. The Destruction of Memory is a new documentary that explores how and why cultural warfare has evolved, as well as the efforts to protect, salvage, and rebuild. Following is a Q&A with the film’s producer and director, Tim Slade. Read more »

12, October 2016

An Archival Challenge: The Lewis and Clark Journals

As I’ve mentioned in earlier Archives Month posts, researchers who come to the Missouri History Museum’s Library and Researcher Center can use and handle most of the documents in the Archives. However, in some cases the archivists have to decline access in order to preserve the documents for the next hundred years. One such case is our collection of five original journals from the Lewis and Clark expedition. Read more »

10, October 2016

McKenney and Hall: Preserving Native Portraits for Posterity

History of the Indian Tribes of North America was first published as a three-volume folio set between 1838 and 1844. It's based on paintings that Thomas McKenney, superintendent of Indian trade for the U.S. War Department, had commissioned of leaders and others who came to Washington, DC. To reach a wider audience, McKenney decided to have lithographs made of the paintings and asked James Hall to write the biographies of the people portrayed. Read more »

6, October 2016

The Finest Dining at the Fair

Imagine you’ve been seated in a grand dining hall decorated like a Bavarian palace. As you peruse the nearly 200-item menu, you relax to the sounds of a 100-piece orchestra, nearly forgetting you’re one of 3,000 souls about to embark on a culinary journey through Germany and beyond. Read more »

5, October 2016

From Lincoln's Pen to Your Hands

I started at the Missouri History Museum as an intern in 1997, right after graduating from college with a degree in history. My first task was to help Dennis Northcott, one of the archivists, compile a guide to the Civil War manuscripts in the Archives. Previously I had viewed the 19th century as boring, but the more I read the letters and diaries of soldiers who fought in the Civil War, the more my perspective changed. Read more »