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12, August 2015

Making Connections

“Could you help me find Third Street and Morgan?” I had barely begun leading a tour through A Walk in 1875 St. Louis when a woman asked me this question. While preparing for this tour I had pored over each enlarged panel of Compton and Dry’s Pictorial St. Louis; studied landmarks, churches, homes of famous St. Louisans; and taken reams of notes. I couldn’t recall a historic building on that particular corner. Read more »

17, July 2015

1875 St. Louis: The Russell Coal Mines

As many visitors of the Missouri History Museum’s current exhibit A Walk in 1875 St. Louis can attest, it can be quite the shock to glance across St. Louis of 140 years ago, especially if your neighborhood didn’t exist yet. For those who call Tower Grove South home, it can be even more of a shock knowing that in 1875 the neighborhood was being used as a coal mine! The resources hidden just beneath the area’s surface were quite valuable, and one family was busy adding their own tunnels, holes, and carvings to a landscape that already had quite a few natural ones. Read more »

14, July 2015

The Liberator and the Survivor

Volunteer docents at the Missouri History Museum are sometimes asked to accompany a tour that will be led by a curator. We greet the curator and guests and then respectfully move to the rear of the group as the tour begins. Most of the interaction occurs between the curator and the guests, but sometimes the docents are asked questions as well. The most frequently asked question on such evenings is, “Where is the restroom?” That always keeps us humble. Read more »

25, June 2015

The Whiskey Ring Scandal

 “The chances are that a man cannot get into congress now without resorting to arts and means that should render him unfit to go there.”

—Mark Twain, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873) Read more »

23, June 2015

Art in the Clubhouse

When our History Clubhouse exhibit opens this weekend, the first things you’ll encounter are large-scale paintings of St. Louis attractions. Local children helped paint these murals alongside St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc. We are very excited to unveil these 12-foot-high murals when we open the Clubhouse this weekend; they truly embody what the History Clubhouse is all about. Read more »

18, June 2015

History Clubhouse: By Families, for Families

On June 27, the Missouri History Museum is doing something big, something we’ve never done before—we’re opening the History Clubhouse, a nearly 6,000-square-foot space that is designed specifically for children and families. Children have an innate need to figure out how the world around them works, and they are equipped with the necessary tools, including their vivid imaginations that can skyrocket them to another time or place. In the History Clubhouse everything is big, colorful, and hands-on. Read more »

26, May 2015

Who Was Camille Dry, Anyway?

Anyone studying Pictorial St. Louis, the enormous map that is a main feature of A Walk in 1875 St. Louis, will agree that producing something so exact and detailed surely took the skills of a master cartographer. Unfortunately, little is known of Camille N. Dry—or “Drie” as many of his maps before Pictorial St. Louis display his name.  Oddly, for a man whose profession involved extensive amounts of paper, we have little of his behind-the-scenes legacy left. Read more »

1, May 2015

Why 1875?

The origins of A Walk in 1875 began with a simple question: What if we brought Missouri History Museum visitors so much information about life in a single year of St. Louis history that they could imagine they were actually there? The idea was exciting no matter what year we chose, but settling on just one seemed nearly impossible! St. Louis has no shortage of big years in its past, all with different and exciting ways to bring them to life. However, one stood above all the rest.

So… why 1875? Read more »

17, April 2015

War or Negotiation? Political Divisions and the Mississippi Crisis

No matter your political stripe, you’ve probably heard and agreed with the following sentiment at some point in the last few years: “Congress never gets anything done! The founding fathers would be rolling in their graves if they heard about the ways Congress was dealing with [insert current event]!” Popular opinion polls make it clear that many of us harbor at least a part of that sentiment: In a January 2015 Gallup opinion poll, congressional approval was at a mere 16 percent. Read more »

1, April 2015

Sylvestre Labbadie Jr. and the French Connections of Colonial St. Louis

Colonial St. Louisans had to go to great lengths in order to maintain their ties to French culture. Their village, after all, was small and at the very edge of the part of North America that Europeans had explored. In order to maintain their ties to France and French culture, St. Louisans traveled to France or to towns in North America that also had a strong French culture, like New Orleans or Montreal. They also brought in French goods such as fabrics, home décor, and books in order to try to keep up with the latest trends in Paris. Read more »