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30, June 2011

Race, Class, and Social Movements: Black Worker Struggles in St. Louis, 1930–1973

Stories of social struggle in the city of St. Louis demonstrate the deep ties between civil rights and labor rights there. The study of history has often discussed the fights of working people for better wages, safer working conditions, and a stronger voice in the workplace as distinct and separate from the fight of African Americans for equality, justice, and civil rights. The truth is these two movements, black freedom and labor, are linked inextricably. Read more »

26, April 2011

A Brief History of First Baptist Church

First Baptist is the oldest extant black church in the city of St. Louis. Its storied history dates to 1817 when two Baptist missionaries, John Mason Peck of Connecticut and James E. Welch, a native of Kentucky, arrived in St. Louis at the behest of the Baptist Triennial Missionary Convention based in Philadelphia. They were charged with establishing schools and churches with orders from the convention to pay particular attention to “the Fox, the Osage, the Kanses and other tribes of Indians.” Reaching St. Louis in December of 1817, they quickly set about fulfilling their mission. Read more »

8, March 2011

Susan Blow: Bringing Public Kindergarten to the U.S.

The following is an excerpt from Movers and Shakers, Scalawags and Suffragettes: Tales from Bellefontaine Cemetery, by Carol Ferring Shepley. It has been edited for length. Read more »

24, February 2011

Profiles: Jessie Housley Holliman

If you have ever gazed in admiration at the 38-foot mural “The Origins of Freemasonry” that spans the lobby of the New Masonic Temple at 3681 Lindell Boulevard in St. Louis, you have seen one of the few true fresco works in Missouri. The enormous mural was created in 1941 by Jessie Housley Holliman (ca. 1905–1984) and was dedicated by then-Senator and Free Mason Harry S. Truman. It is the only surviving mural by Holliman in a St. Louis public building.

Holliman, an accomplished artist, muralist, and art teacher, graduated from Sumner High School in St. Read more »

11, February 2011

Profiles: William Wells Brown

Each week during Black History Month, we will feature stories of African Americans who made History Happen—through the legacy of slave narratives, art and music, or activism in the civil rights movement.


William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown was born into slavery in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1814. Read more »

22, October 2010

Dreaming the Mississippi

By Katherine Fischer (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006)

Reviewed by David Lobbig, Associate Curator of Environmental Life

Dreaming the Mississippi is Katherine Fischer’s passionate account of life on the ever-changing great river of North America. Read more »

16, September 2010

The Hobble Skirt: One Crazy Craze

In 1910, St. Louis’s fashion-conscious women wanted to be seen in the latest trend, the hobble skirt. Completely impractical, the hobble skirt was so named because its fit was confining to the point that it literally inhibited a normal gait for the wearer.

The ankle-length skirts were slim-fitting around the hips and legs—a precursor to the pencil skirt—and then narrowed significantly at the hem. Read more »

23, August 2010

Putting on a Show

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of articles exploring the history of the Saint Louis Zoo as it celebrates its centennial. The History Museum has partnered with the Zoo to develop an exhibit chronicling its first 100 years. The Zootennial exhibit is located on the Zoo grounds in the 1917 Elephant House, now Peabody Hall. Read more »

27, July 2010

A Brief History of…Minnie Wood Memorial Square

In south St. Louis there is a small park with a playground located on S. Broadway and Meramec. I have been by the park a few times in my life and never really knew the name of it or for whom it was named…until recently. After preliminary research involving how the park was named, I was intrigued by the information about this woman. Her name was Minnie Wood and the park is called Minnie Wood Memorial Square.

Born in Germany as Minnie Sommers, she and her parents immigrated to Columbia, Illinois, in 1851. This is a town known for its German heritage. Read more »

28, June 2010

First Lady of the Saint Louis Zoo

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of articles exploring the history of the Saint Louis Zoo as it celebrates its centennial. The History Museum has partnered with the Zoo to develop an exhibit chronicling its first 100 years. The Zootennial exhibit is located on the Zoo grounds in the 1917 Elephant House, now Peabody Hall. Read more »