Show-Me Awards Promote Missouri History Knowledge, Awareness of State’s Bicentennial in 2021

Hannah Scott, Odessa
Hannah Scott of Odessa is a three-time winner of the Show-Me Prize. She received the 2014, 2015, and 2017 awards for senior individual exhibit.

The State Historical Society’s Show-Me Awards encourage National History Day in Missouri students to investigate a key development in Missouri history or explore how a Missourian contributed to a significant national or international event. Students chosen for the awards receive $50, learn more about their state, and have a chance to see their work included in Missouri’s bicentennial observances.

The awards were created in 2014 to promote engagement with Missouri history among National History Day participants and to raise awareness of the upcoming 200th anniversary of Missouri joining the Union on August 10, 1821.

Each year, the State Historical Society of Missouri issues up to five awards of $50 each to students presenting individual entries on Missouri history topics in the senior division of the state competition. The award recipients grant the Society permission to showcase their National History Day projects in promotional efforts for Missouri’s bicentennial. Students must apply for the awards in order to be considered.

Learn more about special prizes through the application. Be sure to have students apply before March 30.

Bicentennial Alliance Launches Statewide Projects at Governor’s Mansion

Gary Kremer and First Lady Sheena Greitens
Gary Kremer, SHSMO executive director, addresses guests at the Bicentennial Alliance signing event on January 8 at the Governor’s Mansion. Kremer’s remarks followed a welcome from Missouri First Lady Dr. Sheena Greitens, standing at right.

The Bicentennial Alliance, a coalition of statewide organizations and government agencies, celebrated its official launch at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City on January 8. The alliance, which will foster collaboration and cooperative efforts to commemorate Missouri’s bicentennial in 2021, emerged out of the State Historical Society of Missouri’s work with other institutions through the Missouri 2021 initiative.

Other partners participating in the Bicentennial Alliance include the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri, the Missouri Council for History Education, the St. Louis–based Missouri Historical Society (formerly the Missouri History Museum), the Missouri Humanities Council, and the Missouri State Archives.

At the January 8 event, Missouri First Lady Dr. Sheena Greitens noted that the bicentennial marks a significant historical milestone beckoning Missourians to reflect upon their heritage.

“We are really excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate Missouri’s history and culture, and to make that history and culture accessible to people all over the state,” Greitens said. “Eric [Governor Greitens] and I look forward to celebrating with you and to partnering with you on this important work.”

Gary Kremer, SHSMO’s executive director, said the bicentennial provides an opportunity for exploring and promoting the intricate history and wide range of cultures found among Missouri’s local communities.

“One of the things that intrigues me most about Missouri is its diversity,” Kremer said. “We Missourians embody and exemplify the complexity and diversity of this great nation; these are attributes meant to be celebrated.”

The State Historical Society of Missouri plans to launch a series of programs and projects designed to explore the history of the state and its people through Missouri 2021. Initial Society bicentennial projects include:

  • Missouri Encyclopedia – a comprehensive online encyclopedia providing general audiences with authoritative information on the history and culture of Missouri
  • Endorsement Program – a media partnership between SHSMO and local organizations creating bicentennial activities
  • My Missouri 2021 – a project inviting professional and amateur photographers to capture and share distinctive images of Missouri
  • Missouri Community Legacies – a program providing opportunities to document local traditions and creative expressions, meaningful places, and organizations and institutions of significance to communities around the state

Learn more about the Bicentennial Alliance and planned projects and find us on Facebook.

Grants Supporting Bicentennial, Local History Projects Announced

Missouri 2021 is excited to share that grants are available if you are looking for funding to start your observances of the bicentennial of Missouri’s statehood in 2021! The State Historical Society of Missouri announced it will offer funding in 2018 to local Missouri cultural heritage institutions in support of their efforts to preserve historic material and provide programming on local history topics, including bicentennial projects.

SHSMO will award up to $500 per calendar year, per organization, through Brownlee Grants, named in memory of Dr. Richard S. Brownlee, the Society’s executive director from 1960 to 1985. A maximum of $5,000 in total grants will be awarded in January, and the grant period will run through the end of 2018.

“Five hundred dollars doesn’t sound like much, but from my experience, for local organizations that can be the difference between having the supplies they need or not,” said Gary Kremer, SHSMO executive director. “It can also mean being able to host a workshop or bring in a special lecturer for programs that otherwise might not be possible.”

SHSMO is accepting applications now through December 15 for projects in one of three focus areas: historical records preservation, educational or programming activities, and observances of the bicentennial of Missouri’s statehood in 2021.

“The Missouri Bicentennial will be here before we know it, and the Brownlee Grants are a wonderful way to ensure that we are commemorating the uniqueness of our communities,” said Michael Sweeney, SHSMO’s Missouri Bicentennial coordinator. “While meeting with people around the state, we are learning that local history is as important to individuals as our state history. Missourians tend to experience global issues through a local lens.”

Grants are available to Missouri cultural heritage institutions, and preference will be given to local historical societies.

“We look forward to supporting a wide variety of local projects and in turn many of our communities throughout the state,” Sweeney said. “Helping cities and towns across the state preserve our history and start working on ways they would like to celebrate our 200th year is a wonderful way to honor Dr. Brownlee.”

Learn More about Brownlee Grants

Happy birthday, Missouri!

196 Years - Missouri Outline
Today marks Missouri’s 196th anniversary of statehood and places us one year closer to the Missouri Bicentennial in 2021.

Missourians are a dynamic, innovative, and persistent group of people. From the river valleys to the Ozark Mountains and from the rich farmlands to the urban centers, Missouri has bred, welcomed, and challenged individuals. Builders, farmers, explorers, scientists, leaders, and artists of all kinds have risen to the occasion, enriching the Show-Me State we know today with their contributions.

The Missouri Bicentennial provides a once-in-a-lifetime occasion to consider, commemorate, and celebrate the history and culture of the state and the unique role of its many and diverse communities in shaping its past, present, and future. Encouraging people to consider their own Missouri story, the State Historical Society of Missouri is creating projects aimed at engaging all Missourians.

The mission of Missouri 2021 is to promote a better understanding of Missouri, its regions, communities, and people, both past and present. The bicentennial of Missouri statehood will provide opportunities for citizens to celebrate and explore the rich history and diversity of the state and to share their unique perspectives.

Thank you for your continued support and interest in the Missouri Bicentennial. Stay up-to-date on the planning process and ways you may be involved by subscribing to emails. You can also follow Missouri 2021 on Facebook to learn more about the Show-Me State.

State Historical Society Welcomes New Bicentennial Coordinator

Photo of Michael Sweeney
Michael Sweeney, the Society’s new bicentennial coordinator.

Michael Sweeney has been appointed to spearhead the Society’s efforts to commemorate Missouri’s state bicentennial in 2021. Sweeney, who served as a staff historian and senior research specialist at SHSMO’s Kansas City Research Center from 2015 to 2016, is based in Kansas City.

Sweeney rejoins SHSMO after a stint as director of collections at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. He holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Missouri.

“His depth of knowledge about Missouri history and his ability to build partnerships make Michael the ideal candidate to coordinate the Society’s plans for the bicentennial,” said Gary Kremer, SHSMO executive director.

Sweeney has quickly advanced the vision for the celebration by laying groundwork throughout the state. Crisscrossing the state for meetings, he has met with potential partners in Missouri’s urban centers and rural communities.

“We want to ensure that Missourians—both at home and abroad—will walk away from the bicentennial experience with a greater appreciation of the state’s history and its diverse communities and cultures,” Sweeney said. “Missourians are a dynamic, innovative, and persistent group of people. The bicentennial is an excellent reason for all Missourians to evaluate who we are and consider who we will be.”

2017 Show-Me Prize Winners

Please join the Bicentennial Committee in congratulating Jakob Palmer, Hannah Scott, and Sarah Worthley! Palmer’s senior division documentary, Alexander William Doniphan; Scott’s senior division exhibit, The Safekeepers of History: A Monumental Stand for Cultural Preservation During World War II; and Worthley’s senior division website, That’s Nuts: A Man’s Stand For Growing Generosity, were selected as the 2017 Show-Me Prize Winners at the National History Day in Missouri state contest on April 29.

The award, established in 2014, is presented to the best individual senior division entry in any category that showcases a significant development in Missouri history or demonstrate how a Missourian contributed to significant events in national or international history.

Commemorative Bicentennial License Plate Design Selected

After public meetings and consultations with the Missouri Highway Patrol, a new automobile license plate design was selected by an Advisory Committee in late January 2017. The design commemorates Missouri’s 200th anniversary of statehood on August 10, 2021. The color palette honors the Missouri state flag with the use of red, white, and blue.

The new Missouri license plate will be available starting on January 1, 2019.

According to Gary Kremer, the State Historical Society of Missouri’s executive director, the Advisory Committee also worked to find a design that represented the entire state. “The waves in the bands of color represent a river,” Kremer said. “Rivers are an important symbol for Missouri, as waterways figured prominently in the state’s historic role as a gateway for American exploration and transportation.”

Ruth Otto of the Motor Vehicle and Driver’s License Division at the Missouri Department of Revenue agreed. “This design option is universal to the state of Missouri and not specific to a certain region of the state,” she said.

The selected design also had the greatest readability when tested by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, according to Lieutenant Brian L. Daniel. “We placed the sample plates on a vehicle and positioned a patrol car 50 feet behind the test vehicle to ensure officers could read the plate,” Daniel said. “This test was completed both during the day and night. The patrol car’s head lights, emergency lights, and spot light were also utilized to determine if the plate’s reflectivity compromised the readability of the plate.”

The bicentennial design will replace the current Missouri bluebird license plate. State law requires the Department of Revenue to begin a full reissuance of license plates with the new plate design in January 2019. “Plates will be issued on or before January 1, 2019,” Otto said. “If we have the plates produced and distributed to the license offices before January 1, 2019, we will begin issuing sooner than this date.”

House Bill 2380 established the Advisory Committee in 2016 to develop and approve a new motor vehicle license plate design commemorating the bicentennial of Missouri. The committee held public meetings last year in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Poplar Bluff to gather input on the design.

Committee members included the director of the Department of Revenue or his or her designee, the superintendent of the Highway Patrol, the correctional enterprises administrator, the director of the Department of Transportation, the executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, and the respective chairpersons of both the Senate and House of Representatives Transportation Committees.

Call for Show-Me Prize Applicants

NHDMO student, Deanna Schmidt
Deanna Schmidt, 2016 Show-Me Prize Winner

The Bicentennial Committee established the Show-Me Prize for National History Day in Missouri students in 2014 to inspire exploration of significant developments in Missouri history and the role Missourians have played in national and international events. Currently, 6,000 sixth- through twelfth-grade students are competing at regional competitions throughout the state. Should you know a NHDMO scholar advancing to the state contest on April 29, please encourage them to check out the Show-Me Prize. See for more information.

Bicentennial Adds New Website and Logo

Missouri2021 logoThe launch of the bicentennial license plate project this past fall also inspired a redesign of the Missouri bicentennial website and logo. Patrons can now visit for all bicentennial updates.

The website, which replaces the former site, will keep readers posted on news concerning bicentennial plans. A suggestions page for submitting ideas about bicentennial projects and events has also been added.

Christina George, a SHSMO strategic communications associate, said that the updated logo encourages the public to think of Missouri’s history as a story that is constantly in progress. The logo’s three stars represent the past, present, and future of the Show-Me State. “The new logo focuses on the bicentennial as an important moment in Missouri’s history,” George said. “Our story is one that is still being written. We all have a say in what it will mean to be a Missourian in the future.”

The suggestions page invites the public to help determine what types of commemorations will be planned during the bicentennial. Alexandra Waetjen, SHSMO’s education outreach coordinator, said that public input will be indispensable to the bicentennial’s success. “There is no typical Missourian,” Waetjen said. “There is no typical Missouri town. It will take ideas and planning from all of us to ensure that each facet of Missouri’s heritage is commemorated in its own unique way.”

SHSMO has begun commemorating the Show-Me State’s cultural diversity on a social media page dedicated to the bicentennial. Visit Missouri 2021 on Facebook for information about upcoming statewide events as well as fun facts about Missouri.

Missourians Invited to Help Select Bicentennial License Plate

Online Voting begins September 27, Meetings to be held throughout the Show-Me State

All Missourians are encouraged to help select the design of a new automobile license plate, which will be out in time for the Show-Me State’s bicentennial in 2021. Options for the plate design will be presented at four public hearings across the state:

Missouri Bicentennial License Plate Options
Missouri Bicentennial License Plate Options
  • September 27 at the Southwest District–Missouri Department of Transportation building (3025 E Kearney Street, Springfield, MO 65803), phone 417.895.7600
  • October 11 at the Kansas City Area District– MoDOT building (600 NE Colbern Road, Lee’s Summit, MO 64086), phone 816.607.2000
  • October 25 at the MoDOT Transportation Management Center (14301 South Outer 40 Road, Town and Country, MO 63017), phone 314.275.1500
  • November 1 at the Tinnin Fine Arts Center (Tinnin Fine Arts Center, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901), phone 573.840.9605

All sessions begin at 6 p.m. The public is invited to discuss the plate options at the meetings. Online voting will be open from September 27 until through December 1 on this website.

Missouri became the nation’s twenty-fourth state on August 10, 1821. Planning for statewide commemorations began in 2013, after the 97th General Assembly selected the State Historical Society of Missouri to spearhead the efforts.

“It was essential that the process start when it did,” said Gary Kremer, SHSMO executive director. “The bicentennial license plate is the first step of many to help ensure that all Missourians are a part of the state’s celebration.”

State Representative Glen Kolkmeyer of Missouri’s 53rd District sponsored the legislation, and Dave Schatz, Senator from the 26th District, helped ensure the effort progressed on the Senate floor. On July 1, 2016, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed House Bill 2380, authorizing the bicentennial plate.

SHSMO trustee Doug Crews has also been an instrumental figure in the project. “A lot of people helped bring the idea of a bicentennial license plate this far. We are thankful to the Governor, Representative Kolkmeyer, and Senator Schatz for their support,” Crews said.

The public meetings were organized by the Bicentennial License Plate Advisory Committee, created by HB 2380. Members include leaders from the State Historical Society, Department of Revenue, State Highway Patrol, Department of Corrections, and Department of Transportation, as well as the chairpersons of the transportation committees in both houses of Missouri’s General Assembly.