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30, July 2010

Ode to Glory: Restoring a Grand Collection of Costumes

Dancer and performer Katherine Dunham gave a large portion of her fanciful collection of costumes to the Missouri History Museum in 1991. Miss Dunham and her dance troupe wore the costumes on stages around the world, starting in the 1930s. Many of these ingenious designs were created by Dunham’s husband, renowned theater designer John Pratt.

Since receiving the collection, the Museum has meticulously conserved 45 of the costumes and related textiles, which were included in the recent exhibition Beyond the Dance. Read more »

21, June 2010

Pocket Treasures

One of the side benefits of rehousing our special collections material is that we find wonderful little treasures. We have a three-volume set of books, The expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, to headwaters of the Mississippi River, through Louisiana Territory, and in New Spain, during the years 1805–6–7. The volumes were published in 1895. We were making phase boxes (protective two-piece boxes or enclosures, made out of heavy stock paper) for them when a volunteer started pulling out maps from a pocket in the third volume. Each map was folded down into 4" x 7" dimensions. Read more »

17, May 2010

Silver goblet presented to Mr. Hamilton of the G. W. Graham by Mary P. Maguire, 1864

The launchings of James B. Eads’s gunboats at the Carondelet shipyard became something of a popular event during the Civil War and were advertised in the local papers. As the twin-turreted Chickasaw prepared to launch on the morning of February 10, 1862, a crowd estimated at 150 to 200 gathered to witness the occasion. Read more »

16, April 2010

Strong German Influence on Display in St. Louis

St. Louis is a multicultural city, and the Missouri History Museum likes to celebrate that diversity by highlighting the stories of each culture that comprises our city. In May and June, the display cases at the Museum’s Library will center on German immigration to Missouri, including some of the social customs that were introduced to the region as a result.

The Niedringhaus family arrived in St. Louis in the 1850s and soon after found a niche in business with the manufacture of granite ironware. Read more »

7, April 2010

Canstruction Awards Announced!

During the second half of March, the wild and wacky St. Louis Canstruction project was on display at the History Museum. Although we’re sad to see the exhibit come down, the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry and the St. Read more »

6, April 2010

The Battle of Shiloh: “Language Is Inadequate”

One of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles took place 148 years ago on April 6 and 7, 1862. Major General U. S. Grant’s forces had gathered at Pittsburgh Landing, aka Shiloh, Tennessee, and were surprised by General A. S. Johnston’s Confederate attack on April 6. Read more »

2, April 2010

Play Ball!

In 1911, most well-to-do ladies did not follow sports teams or run businesses, but Helene Britton did both. That year, when she inherited ownership of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team from her uncle, Stanley Robison, many assumed the 32-year-old mother of two would sell the team or transfer ownership to her husband. Instead, she moved her family to St. Louis from their home in Cleveland to embrace her role as the first woman to own a major league baseball team.

Britton grew up in Ohio in a baseball family. Read more »

31, March 2010

Missal Bifolium, ca. 1450–1470

This artifact is an amazing, unique piece of the Missouri History Museum's collections—a 15th-century Italian illuminated manuscript. How did it come to be in St. Louis in the 21st century? It was collected by philanthropist and Missouri History Museum president (1907–1913, 1925–1930) William K. Read more »

24, March 2010

Poosh-M-Up Jr. 4-in-1 pinball game, ca. 1960

Pinball games or bagatelles date from the 1700s and have their origins with billiards. In the 20th century, many toy companies manufactured pinball games. Northwestern Products Company developed the Poosh-M-Up series of games in the 1920s, when the St. Read more »

22, March 2010

Chinatown in St. Louis?

The Library and Research Center’s Margaret Blanke Grigg Reading Room displays material from our collections. Our first topic for the year was race and ethnicity in St. Louis. Once we decided on this topic my first thought went to a researcher who years ago used to use our library quite frequently. She was researching the Chinese in St. Louis. A few years later, two books have been added to our collections from that researcher.

What I found most interesting and something of a surprise was the early immigration of the Chinese to St. Read more »