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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 »

28, February 2014

Bidding Farewell to the Gillette Family Garden

The Gillette Family Garden on the Museum's east lawn has been a tremendous resource for K–12 students visiting the Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello exhibition. Our young Museum visitors have been engaged with the garden, which helped them discover history about the lives of the enslaved families who lived at Monticello. They also gained a sense of the political, social, cultural, and economic developments that shaped lives during the Antebellum period and how those currents worked to shape American life today. Read more »

19, February 2014

Seed Saving and Surviving in the Gillette Family Garden

After the past few months of winter weather in St. Louis, we are all looking forward to spring. Although we had high expectations for our fall garden on the east side of the Museum, the frequency of frost and subzero temperatures prevented much from happening in our plot. So now, onward to spring we go. Read more »

17, February 2014

Francophilia, Food, and Freedom at Jefferson’s Monticello

On February 10, President Obama and French president Francois Hollande visited Monticello, the historic estate of Francophile Thomas Jefferson. For both presidents, this was their first visit to Jefferson's estate. Monticello is rich in history and, in many ways, quite telling of a relationship between France and the United States. The enslaved cooks at Monticello also left their imprint on this narrative. It was of Edith Fossett’s cooking that Daniel Webster spoke when he described the meals at Monticello as "in half Virginian, half French style, in good taste and abundance." Read more »

30, December 2013

Paradox in the Garden

To the furthest degree possible, they took charge of their lives. Among the tangible signs of black initiative and autonomy, the foremost spatial statements were the extensive vegetable gardens, sometimes as big as half an acre per person, in which [they] raised much of their own food.
—J. M. Vlach, 1993 Read more »