In this well-written and solidly researched study, Alan R. Havig provides the history of the first one hundred years of the State Historical Society of Missouri, a state agency that counts thousands of Missouri citizens as members and touches the lives of thousands more through its programs.
The book's chapters are organized chronologically and coincide with the agency's chief administrators' terms of service. Focusing on the society's origins, the initial chapter discusses the work of Francis A. Sampson, the society's first paid administrator. The following two chapters are on Floyd C. Shoemaker, who served as secretary from 1915 to 1960. Chapters 4 and 5 treat the administrations of Dr. Richard S. Brownlee, director from 1960 to 1985, and Dr. James W. Goodrich, executive director from 1985 to the present.
Havig addresses such key topics as the growth of the society's collections, which include the largest collection of local newspapers in the United States; the reference library, featuring nationally famous collections of rare books on Missouri history and western Americana; the Western Historical Manuscript Collection; and an extensive assortment of visual art, including a famed collection of works by Thomas Hart Benton and George Caleb Bingham. Havig also examines the society's collaboration with the University of Missouri in obtaining physical space for its operations; its work with local groups in promoting special events such as Missouri's centennial in 1920-1921; the society's outstanding publications program; its role in the placement of historic markers along Missouri highways; its sponsorship of History Day; and numerous other endeavors made by the society to preserve and disseminate Missouri's rich heritage to the state's citizens.
A Centennial History of the State Historical Society of Missouri, 1898-1998 will be of special value to professionals working in Missouri history and in the field of state and local history. It will also appeal to anyone who shares an interest in the state's fascinating past.
About the Author
Alan R. Havig is Professor of History at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. His publications include From Southern Village to Midwestern City: Columbia, an Illustrated History and Fred Allen's Radio Comedy.
Published by University of Missouri, paperback, 1998. 296 pages.