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30, March 2016

The Missouri History Museum: An Architectural Gem

The Missouri History Museum has been part of the St. Louis community for nearly 150 years. It was founded in 1866 as the Missouri Historical Society by a group of people who wanted to save “from oblivion the early history of St. Louis and the state of Missouri.” In 1913 the Society moved its collections to the Jefferson Memorial Building in Forest Park. The Museum expanded in 2000 with a stunning contemporary addition that more than tripled its space, creating a building that combines architectural beauty and historic significance with modern amenities. Read more »

29, March 2016

Gunfire on Grand

One thing you may notice when you visit Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs is that none of the nine major incidents of terrorism covered in the exhibit took place in St. Louis. But that doesn’t mean St. Louis has no ties to terrorism. In fact, on February 15, 1972, St. Louis was unexpectedly drawn into the investigation of a terrorist cell operating in the United States, and it all started with a basic traffic stop. Read more »

2, March 2016

Miss Nettie's Ghost

When I started at the Missouri History Museum about 10 years ago, I remember being in the Jefferson Memorial portion of the building when a door slammed shut with no one behind it. “What was that?” I asked. “Just Miss Nettie’s ghost,” was the answer. Over the years, if a label stubbornly refused to stay on a wall, if a door in the old part of the building opened or closed by itself, I would often hear that it was Miss Nettie making her presence known. Read more »

26, February 2016

Dr. Herman Dreer and Black History Month in St. Louis

Every February, communities across America come together to explore, learn, and celebrate influential African Americans like Harriet Tubman, Muhammad Ali, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This celebration hasn’t always been the norm, however. The roots of Black History Month go back to 1915, when Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard professor, and Jesse E. Read more »

17, March 2015

A Welsh Bard in St. Louis

March 1 was St. David’s Day, when Welsh people (the Cymry) all over the world celebrated their patron saint’s birthday. If you have any of the following surnames or your ancestors do, you’re Cymric! These are just a few: Baines/Banes, Blevins, Bowen, Cadwallader, Davies/Davis, Ellis, Evans/Bevan, Howell, Hughes, Jenkins, Jones, Lloyd, Llewelyn, Loy, Maddox, Merrick, Morgan, Morris, Powell, Perkins, Price/Pryce, Parry,Rees/Reese/Reece/Rhys, Thomas, Thompson, Vaughn, and Williams. Read more »

24, December 2014

How Santa Got His Suit

The image of Santa Claus is widely recognizable. But how did Santa come to look as he does today? Santa’s transition began long before he started drinking cola to pull off a gift-giving round-the-world all-nighter. Santa Claus is a hybrid figure, and while he may have descended from the bishop Saint Nicholas, he has evolved into a secular figure from the influence of many people over the years.

John Pintard and Washington Irving Read more »

31, October 2014

A Halloween History Lesson

Halloween is a holiday that allows us to find joy in the eerie and frightful, but where did it come from, and how did we come to celebrate it as it is today? Read more »

18, October 2013

“Where Did They Go to High School?”: A Brief History of the First High Schools in St. Louis

Part 2: Public Schools and African American Schools

The first public high school in St. Louis was founded in 1853, although it sadly closed in 1984, after 131 years. Known as Central High School, or simply “the High School,” this school was originally housed in a room of the public elementary school near Benton Park.[...]

Image at left: Central High School, Davison Avenue and Natural Bridge Road location. Photograph by W. C. Persons, 1937. Missouri History Museum. Read more »

4, October 2013

“Where Did They Go to High School?”: A Brief History of the First High Schools in St. Louis

Part 1: Catholic Schools

One question I have heard again and again since arriving in St. Louis is that ubiquitous one: “Where did you go to high school?” As a non-native, I am mostly excused from answering this, but, when I mention my St. Louis–born boyfriend, I am often asked where HE went to school. Recently, this prompted me to do a little research on the history of high school education in St. Louis.

  Read more »

25, April 2013

A Look Back at a Notorious Bank Robbery in South St. Louis

Sixty years ago this week, a story that inspired a Hollywood movie was unfolding in South St. Louis. On the morning of April 24, 1953, a gang of bandits from Chicago attempted a heist at Southwest Bank at the intersection of Southwest and Kingshighway.

As the bank’s alarm sounded, officers Melburn Stein and Robert Heitz were first on the scene, Heitz heading to the side entrance while Stein went for the front door. A shootout followed, wounding Heitz. When bullets whizzed above Stein’s head, he ducked behind a newspaper vending machine outside. Read more »