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Artifacts from the MHM collection
31, October 2011

Remembering Joseph Pulitzer on the Centennial of His Death

It has been 100 years since the death of Joseph Pulitzer (Oct. 29, 1911), an individual who lived a rather remarkable life. Born April 10, 1847, Pulitzer immigrated to the United States from the Jewish community of Mako, Hungary, at the age of 17 in 1864, having been recruited to join the Union army. He served until the end of the war, and unable to find work on the East Coast, made his way to St. Louis, where after a string of odd, short-lived jobs, he found his calling as an investigative journalist for the Westliche Post, one of St. Louis's German-language newspapers. Read more »

7, October 2011

An Apple for Its Day

The design team in the Missouri History Museum’s (MHM's) Exhibitions and Research division is composed of longstanding Apple users. All of what a visitor sees in the galleries of the Museum was started on the pages of a sketch pad and then some version of a Mac. Having been at MHM for nearly 15 years, I’ve worked on a number of computers in the Mac line and now travel to meetings with one in tow, it having become a vital tool in my day-to-day work and play. Like many other people, I am also amazed when reflecting on how this relatively small machine has changed my life over the years. Read more »

19, August 2011

In Search of the Great Mastodon...Tooth

This November, the Missouri History Museum will host Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, which comes to us from the Field Museum in Chicago. Ever since I joined the staff of MHM in 1997, I had heard stories of a mastodon tooth in our collections, but had not come across anyone who had actually seen it, or had reason or time to search for it. Curator Sharon Smith and I decided to track it down. Sharon first checked our database for a storage location. Read more »

17, June 2011

Sketches of War

As a conservation lab technician I have the privilege of working with objects from the Missouri History Museum’s collections, and each new day comes with another historically significant object. One of my responsibilities is assessing the condition of artifacts that are tentatively included in the Museum’s upcoming exhibit, The Civil War in Missouri (opening November 11, 2011). While examining several of these objects, I noticed that many of the pencil drawings were all signed by the same artist: Alex Simplot. Read more »

2, June 2011

The Heavy on Mortar Shells

Museum professionals have to be creative in responding to the different types of challenges that arise in the workplace. For example, how do you move a museum artifact that weighs more than 200 pounds? The artifact in question is a mortar shell that will be included in the Missouri History Museum’s upcoming exhibit The Civil War in Missouri (opening November 11, 2011). During the Civil War, this type of shell could be launched more than two miles using a Model 1861 13-inch Siege and Seacoast mortar. These mortars could be used on either land or water. Read more »

1, June 2011

Diary of Adam Burns Smith

Adam Burns Smith enlisted with Co. B of the 33rd Missouri Infantry Volunteers (Union) in Jefferson City on August 14, 1862. The next year Smith found himself in the midst of Gen. U. S. Grant’s protracted campaign to capture Vicksburg. Like many soldiers, Smith kept a journal to record the daily events of his life. His lengthy, and often detailed, entries described operations along the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi and around Helena, Arkansas, including skirmishes with rebel forces at Fort Pemberton near Greenwood, Mississippi, and gunboat maneuvers. Read more »

5, April 2011

Test Your Knowledge of Pottery!

Can you identify the different types of pottery? Do you know what each type is used for? Here is a brief look at the basic types of ceramics and their functions.



The wide body of pitchers narrows toward the top to form a neck, which widens outward to form the mouth. A pinched area on the front of the clay acts like a spout. Their bodies are quite often very heavy toward the bottom to prevent them from tipping. Read more »

23, March 2011

Looking at the Museum's Collection of German-Influenced Pottery

In my research on the Missouri History Museum's handmade ceramics, I came across a very interesting collection of pottery made by German Missourians, especially those found around the Boonville area, in the 19th century. Some of the ceramics in this collection were acquired by Charles van Ravenswaay, former director of the Museum. Read more »

17, February 2011

Clay Products and St. Louis Businesses

I’m Alex Choate, a graduate student in the Museum Studies program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. As part of my studies, I volunteer at the Missouri History Museum, where I am completing a large research project on the Museum’s pottery and ceramic collection.

Ceramics proved to be an important product for local businesses in St. Louis and the surrounding area in the middle to late 19th century. Read more »

2, February 2011

Hidden Spoons Stir Up a Mystery

One of our most recent donations combines a mysterious find with modern technology to fill a gap in our collections! The story begins in New York State, when the donor was cleaning an air duct in her house after a renovation project generated lots of dust. Much to her surprise, she found that someone had hidden some silver spoons in the ductwork. Perhaps this was done during the 1980s when silver briefly became more valuable than usual because of the Hunt brothers’ attempt to corner the silver market. Read more »