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24, October 2014

Utopia Exhibit Attracts Muench Descendants Nationwide

“Great event!” “Amazing!” “A life-changing experience.” These were some of the comments heard on September 6 and 7, 2014, during the opening weekend of the Utopia exhibition at the German–American Heritage Museum in Washington DC. “It's larger than the museum itself!” exclaimed museum curator Petra Shuermann when the Utopia delivery truck first pulled up in front of the museum. The museum is housed in the former townhouse of German immigrant-merchant John Hockemeyer. Read more »

22, October 2014

The Louisiana Purchase and the Changes It Wrought

When I was a kid learning about the Louisiana Purchase in school, I learned the basic framework of the story—in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from France, nearly doubling the size of the United States. And, from what I learned, the Louisiana Purchase was undoubtedly a good thing: It gave the United States access to the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, granted the United States control of the Missouri, and gave Americans millions of acres of land to settle. Read more »

16, October 2014

Early St. Louis and the Transfer of Power

Imagine if someone came to you right now, in your neighborhood, and told you the place where you live had just been sold to another country. That might sound like a strange scenario, but take a second and really consider the question. How would you react? Would you be angry? Sad? Worried about how your life might change? A mix of all of the above? Read more »

8, October 2014

The Louisiana Purchase and the Rise of Dueling in St. Louis

If you’ve lived in St. Louis long enough, you’ve probably heard a little bit about the history of dueling in this city. More than likely, you’ve heard the story of Thomas Hart Benton, the Missouri senator who killed a man during a duel in 1817. You’ve probably also heard of Bloody Island, a sandbar in the Mississippi River where duelists traveled to draw pistols, take their paces, and fire at one another. By 1826, dueling was such a defining feature of St. Louis that the Reverend Timothy Flint wrote dueling was “one species of barbarism that is but too common [in St. Read more »

30, September 2014

The Louisiana Purchase Room: A Place of Reflection

When the Louisiana Purchase Treaty goes on display here at the Missouri History Museum on October 25, our visitors will have a rare opportunity to see a document that is routinely cited as one of the five most important documents in American history, on par with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. Without this treaty, the city of St. Louis may not have ever been American—it could still be a part of France, or perhaps a different nation would have been formed to the west of the Mississippi River sometime during the 19th century. Read more »

24, September 2014

A New Look at the Louisiana Purchase

Just a few short months ago, the Missouri History Museum got the official word: The National Archives would be lending us pages from the Treaty of Cession, one of three documents that make up the Louisiana Purchase, for display. This is a huge honor. The Treaty of Cession is not on display often, and institutions have to meet a rigorous set of guidelines to be able to show the Louisiana Purchase. Read more »

28, August 2014

How an Email Turned into an International Story

In summer 2009, I received an email from someone in Germany, asking how much of “the German” there was left in Missouri. Never having met the sender, I almost did what most of us do with spam. As I sat there pondering the message, I thought: Why would anyone even take the time to ask such a question? Read more »

1, August 2014

A Traveling Exhibit Starts Its Journey to America

The Museum's upcoming exhibit, Utopia: Revisiting a German State in America, has ended a three-month run in Bremen, Germany, and is headed for American shores. And much like the Germans who immigrated to Missouri to establish their own German State in the 1800s, the Utopia exhibit is crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a boat. Read more »

11, July 2014

Museum Teams with Area Restaurants to Feature Prohibition-Era Cocktails

The cocktail is experiencing a renaissance, as bars that specialize in classic cocktails are cropping up across the U.S. and around the world. Since legend has it that the first cocktail party was held here in St. Louis in May 1917, by Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. at 4510 Lindell Boulevard (now the archbishop’s residence), it seems only fitting that our fair city actually has quite a few of these establishments. But why the sudden resurgence in popularity? And where did all of those drinks come from? Read more »

8, July 2014

Stepping Onto 139-Year-Old Streets: A First Look at Upcoming Exhibit

In 1874–1875, St. Louisan Richard Compton, a sheet music publisher, teamed up with wandering draftsman Camille Dry on a task that sounds impossible: draw—in accurate perspective—every single home, building, street, and even tree in St. Louis. Pictorial St. Louis, published in 1876, was the incredible result of their effort. Measuring 24 feet wide by 8 feet tall when pieced together, it was the largest and most exact view of any city in the world up to that time. Read more »