Upcoming Events: Join in the Commemoration of the Show-Me State!

Michael Sweeney at Arrow Rock meeting.
SHSMO’s bicentennial coordinator Michael Sweeney presents at the Friends of Arrow Rock Annual Meeting.

Join the State Historical Society of Missouri at two upcoming bicentennial programs! On June 6 SHSMO’s bicentennial coordinator Michael Sweeney will share what plans are in place for Missouri’s 200th birthday on August 10, 2021, and how you can join in the commemoration. This program will be held at 7 p.m. in the Missouri State Museum’s History Hall, located in the east wing of the Missouri State Capitol, 201 West Capitol Avenue. To access the Capitol after 5:30 p.m., enter through the garage on the east side of the building.

You can also learn more about Missouri’s Bicentennial at 2 p.m. on June 12 in Washington, Missouri. “Your Missouri Story: Finding Your History and Helping Write It through the Bicentennial” will be hosted by the Washington Historical Society at 113 East 4th Street. The session will cover Missouri 2021’s new projects and programs, and attendees will learn tips to help them discover their history within the State Historical Society of Missouri’s vast collection. Since 1898 SHSMO has been entrusted to collect, preserve, and share the state’s history, giving a voice to the people who helped build this country.

Missouri Encyclopedia Seeking Topics

Missouri Encyclopedia logoThe State Historical Society of Missouri is developing a new online Missouri Encyclopedia for the Missouri Bicentennial. To be comprehensive, the editorial team needs your help. Who are the people and what are the places and events that shaped your community, your county, and your region? Contribute topic suggestions online.

The Missouri Encyclopedia seeks to provide concise, informative articles on subjects significant to the history of Missouri and its region. This online resource for general audiences will launch in 2021. Visit the website or download the flyer for more information, including writer’s guidelines and sample articles.

Two New Programs Kick Off for State Bicentennial

Missouri landscape
The intersection of Missouri Highway 11 and Route Y in northeast Missouri, facing northwest.

The State Historical Society of Missouri has launched two new programs exploring Missouri’s history and culture at the occasion of its bicentennial in 2021—the My Missouri 2021 Photograph Project and the Missouri 2021 Endorsement Program.

The My Missouri 2021 Photograph Project invites professional and amateur photographers to submit their work for an exhibition that will run during the bicentennial. Two hundred images will be selected and exhibited at the Society’s future headquarters building in Columbia and other sites around the state in 2021. The photos will also be featured in a digital collection on the Missouri 2021 website.

The project will create a lasting visual retrospective of the state’s physical and cultural landscape at the time of its bicentennial. The 200 selected photos will become part of SHSMO’s permanent bicentennial collection, where they will remain available to researchers, teachers, students, and the general public.

Learn More about My Missouri 2021

The Missouri 2021 Endorsement Program creates a media partnership with local organizations seeking to develop and host their own bicentennial activities or to brand existing community offerings for the bicentennial year. Endorsed programs and events receive acknowledgment from the State Historical Society and are granted permission to use Missouri 2021 logos according to established guidelines. Endorsed programs or events will also be publicized on the Missouri 2021 website. See the current list of projects.

Learn More about Endorsements

2018 Show-Me Prize Winners

Mirina Firman holding award.
Marina Firman
Emilty Blunt holding award
Emilty Blunt

Please join the Bicentennial Committee in congratulating Emily Blunt and Marina Firman! Blunt’s website, Give Me a Hand and I’ll Make My Living Like Every Other Man: The Conflict and Compromise of the 1939 Sharecroppers’ Strike in Southeast Missouri, and Firman’s paper, Premium Standard Farms: Innovation in the Pork Industry Brings Conflict and Compromise, were selected as the 2018 Show-Me Prize Winners at the National History Day in Missouri state contest on April 28. Both students competed in the senior individual category.

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.

Brownlee Grants: SHSMO Supports Ten Local History Organizations

Historic map being restored.
The materials used to repair and store historic maps such as this one can affect how the item ages.

The State Historical Society of Missouri received an overwhelming response to its call for 2018 Brownlee Grants applications. SHSMO received 55 submissions from 33 different Missouri counties requesting funding from the available pool of $5,000. Ten institutions received funding, largely for the purchase of archival supplies.

The Society’s conservator, Erin Kraus, said she is encouraged that so many institutions applied with the intent of expanding their conservation efforts. “Storage materials can make the difference between objects lasting for centuries versus just decades,” she said.

Grant recipient Kathy Smith, executive director of the Historical Society of Lee’s Summit Museum, said the museum will use its award to extend the life of its collections and control the effects of past flooding. The museum also experiences ongoing water issues in its historic building, a former post office built in 1939.

“We installed the proper devices to ensure we would have humidity control,” Smith said. “This did help in preserving our artifacts but did not prevent some mold and mildew damage.”

To help control the problem, the museum has worked with a conservator recommended by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to develop a plan for the site and to eradicate mold and mildew. But like many organizations, the Lee’s Summit organization has more needs than funds.

“We are out of tubs and need shelving to keep our collections from getting wet should we flood again,” Smith said. “Five hundred dollars goes a long way to help us protect the balance of our artifacts.”

For those stretching their budget, Kraus suggests getting started with the right materials and expanding in phases. “The storage materials used with historical collections are crucial to their long-term preservation,” she said. “Proper storage can provide protection from dust, light, water, pests, and physical forces that will harm historical objects.”

In addition to the Historical Society of Lee’s Summit Museum, 2018 Brownlee Grants are supporting the Cape River Heritage Museum in Cape Girardeau; the Rusche Park Board of the City of Marthasville; the Friends of Historic Boonville; the Hallsville Historical Society; the Harrison County Genealogical Society in Bethany; the Macon County Historical Society Museum in Macon; the Missouri Pacific Historical Society in St. Louis; the Reynolds County Museum in Ellington; and the Stone County Historical and Genealogical Society in Galena.

The State Historical Society of Missouri plans to offer Brownlee Grants in 2019, and bicentennial projects will again be an area of focus. Watch SHSMO publications and the website for the call for proposals, which should be announced this fall.

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.”