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.

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.”

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.

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.

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 nhdmo.org for more information.