Archives

20, April 2015

From the Collections: Whimsical Mechanical Banks

Cast iron mechanical banks became popular in the 19th century after the Civil War. During the war the Union and Confederate sides began creating their own paper money to help deal with the shortage on coins. However, the public was leery of the new currency due to its lack of intrinsic value. Coins would retain some value due to the metal, regardless of whatever occurred within the government. Penny banks were meant to educate children about the importance of being thrifty through the use of a fun and exciting toy. 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 »

14, April 2015

Commemorating Abraham Lincoln's Death

Today marks the 150-year anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. In 1865, as people around the nation and around the world learned of the horrible news, they recorded their reactions in many forms—from written materials like diaries and letters to commemorative items like ribbons and flags. For the first time in one place, you can see personal items and remembrances from the Americans whose lives were touched by the president’s death and its aftermath. Read more »

9, April 2015

World War I Artifacts and Memories: St. Charles Car Company

Following the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914, industries across the United States recognized opportunity and began to shift their focus to building war materials for the belligerent nations. The St. Louis region was no exception, and from 1914 to 1918 an industrial boom ensued. One of the many companies in the area to benefit from government contracts was the St. Charles Car Company. 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 »