This presentation draws from history and folklore to consider ghost stories, sometimes teasing out the truth about a phantom and other times examining the people and land that conjured the tales. Older, forgotten ghost stories in Missouri are explored for the truth or the unexplained in each tale. Audiences are always invited to share their own ghostly experiences. The stories are suitable for ages ten and older.
Mary Collins Barile has a PhD in theater history and is an avid collector of tales and plays about ghosts and haunting. She lives in Boonville, where she has spent many nights with friends on the hunt for the supernatural. She is the author of The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts, Ghouls, and Monsters of Missouri’s Heartland and other books on Missouri’s history.
With its divided loyalties and unprecedented levels of guerrilla violence, Missouri occupied a unique position during the Civil War. The state’s complicated legacy is remembered through a growing number of museums, battlefields, cemeteries, historic homes, statues, and monuments. This presentation will explore how historic sites help people not only remember but also contextualize and interpret history.
Aaron Barnhart is the former television and media critic for the Kansas City Star. He is the co-author of The Big Divide: A Travel Guide to Historic and Civil War Sites in the Missouri-Kansas Border Region.
The Civil War had an enormous impact on Missouri’s civilian population who lived under martial law. This presentation will examine conditions in Civil War Missouri through the letters of those experiencing the ordeal and through stories of individual soldiers’ lives.
After the end of slavery, African Americans struggled to achieve equal rights in Missouri. Their efforts in education, politics, employment, and transportation led to varying results but were marked by hard work, persistence, and courage.
Carr W. Pritchett, born in Virginia and reared in Missouri, taught in various places before establishing Pritchett School Institute in Glasgow, Missouri, in 1866. Mostly self-educated, Pritchett was also for some years the most significant astronomer in the state. Pritchett School Institute, later Pritchett College, typified a major form of educational institution in nineteenth-century Missouri.
Lawrence O. Christensen is Curator’s Teaching Professor of History at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, where he taught American history for more than thirty years. He is co-editor of Missouri: The Heart of the Nation and The Dictionary of Missouri Biography.
The story of Adeline, a slave in Savannah, Missouri, will be performed. Adeline was present to hear Abraham Lincoln debate political opponent Stephen Douglas; with the North’s victory in the Civil War she became free, but chose to stay on with the family to which she had been sold.
This presentation provides the story of Martha Jane Chisley, a slave in Missouri, and her son Augustine Tolton, who became the first black priest in America.
Gladys Caines-Coggswell has been named a master storyteller by the Missouri Folk Arts Program. Her other awards include honorary life membership from the National Association of Black Storytellers, the 2005 Missouri Arts Council’s Individual Artist of the Year award, and the 2005 Griot Award from the St. Louis Black Museum. Her book Stories from the Heart: Missouri’s African American Heritage received the Missouri Humanities Council’s Outstanding Achievement in Literacy award in 2010.
During the Civil War, hundreds of Confederate–sympathizing women passed through the hands of the military justice system as prisoners of war in and around St. Louis. Those deemed guilty of the most serious infractions were confined to the nearby Alton prison, the former Illinois state penitentiary, for their part in assisting the Confederate war effort. The women imprisoned in Alton came from states primarily along the Mississippi River, especially Missouri, and each spent many months in custody. This presentation focuses on those women and their experiences.
Thomas F. Curran is the author of Soldiers of Peace: Civil War Pacifism and the Postwar Radical Peace Movement. He is currently completing a history of Confederate women arrested and imprisoned in the St. Louis region during the Civil War.
This slide presentation combines facts and archival photographs to illustrate “St. Louis’s most shining hour,” its hosting of the monumental World’s Fair marking the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase and thrusting St. Louis onto the early twentieth-century world stage.
Missouri’s caves, shelters, and rock outcrops still display traces of the beliefs and stories of prehistoric American Indians. The presenter has documented over one hundred prehistoric carvings (petroglyphs) and paintings (pictographs) left by Missouri’s earliest American Indian populations. She will share her interpretations of these enigmatic designs, which include human figures, animals, geometric and abstract designs, as well as records of celestial phenomena.
Carol Diaz-Granádos, a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University, is a past president of the Missouri Association of Professional Archaeologists and a former board member on the Missouri Humanities Council. She has done excavations in Missouri and Illinois, as well as archaeological research on the northern coast of South America. She is the co-author of The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri and The Rock-Art of Eastern North America.
This presentation discusses the early migration of the Osage people and how the structure of their clan system reflects their view of the cosmos. Their fascinating origin myths are explored in relationship to the environment, subsistence, procreation, and the artifact record. Audience members will learn how these proud, independent people, forced to move from their homeland beginning in the 1820s, have managed to surmount the hardships of forced acculturation to retain their identity.
The presenter covers Missouri’s archaeological record and how it reflects the populations from the state’s prehistoric past. Missouri’s incredible archaeological resources are in large part due to two of the largest river confluences in North America. This confluence region and the natural resources of Missouri drew populations going back at least 13,000 years. Through slides, the presenter will show examples of American Indian artifacts found in the state and discuss their significance and what they reveal about Missouri’s American Indian populations.
Jim Duncan is the former director of the Missouri State Museum and was information officer for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He directed the statewide Lewis and Clark programming during the Discovery Corps bicentennial from 2003 to 2006. A former president of the Missouri Association of Professional Archaeologists, he is the co-author of The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri and co-editor of The Rock Art of Eastern North America.
During the American Civil War, hundreds of women cut their hair, bound their breasts, donned men’s clothing, and reported to Union or Confederate army recruiters. Others served as scouts and spies. This presentation explores how the war allowed women to defy traditional gender expectations for proper female conduct during Missouri’s Civil War.
Diane Eickhoff is a former textbook editor turned historian and humanities scholar. She is the author of Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols and the Pioneering Crusade for Women’s Rights and co-author of The Big Divide: A Travel Guide to Historic and Civil War Sites in the Missouri-Kansas Border Region.
The presentation looks at the lives of Kansas City train porters Ollie Ollison and George Mayfield as well as the significance of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters founded by A. Phillip Randolph, examining their impact on the black professional class and the modern civil rights movement.
The presentation focuses on the civil rights movement in greater Kansas City with an emphasis on the photographs of the black professional and business classes. Besides looking at the political struggle for civil rights, the presentation will highlight daily community life, including schools, churches, and wedding and other social events during the period.
Delia Cook Gillis is professor of history and director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Central Missouri. The author of numerous scholarly publications including a photographic history entitled Kansas City, her essays, articles, and reviews appear in The Public Historian, the Jackson County Historical Society Journal, and the Encyclopedia of African American Business.
This presentation considers how women in both the northern and the southern states aided the war effort through war relief organizations, which were established to assist the soldiers in securing personal necessities that the Union and Confederate governments were unable to provide.
A description is offered of the timeline for Victorian fashions worn by a lady of the 1860s when she rises in the morning, the various dresses suitable for her daily activities, and the clothing worn during evening hours. The speaker will appear in period attire with reproduction garments and will display twelve China dolls in hand-fashioned period clothing.
Connie Grisier, a former history instructor and member of the National Association of Interpreters, is retired as the historical administrator of Missouri’s American Indian Cultural Center at Van Meter State Park. She is presently a member of the Marshall Cultural Council’s speaker’s bureau for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
This presentation traces the history and evolution of Missouri’s highways in the twentieth century. Topics include the creation of the Missouri State Highway Department and political resistance to road construction, as well as discussions of Missouri’s Centennial Road Law and the state’s role in the creation of Route 66 and the interstate highway system.
Thomas J. Gubbels is a former historic preservation specialist for the Missouri Department of Transportation and an expert on the history of Missouri’s highways. He is preparing a comprehensive history of the Missouri Department of Transportation and its predecessors.
Callaway County’s Helen Stephens (1918-1994) had gumption, tenacity, intelligence, and natural talent. She won two Olympic gold medals in track and field in Berlin in 1936 and became the first woman to own and captain a women’s basketball team. Stephens was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame of the USA and the National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. In her senior years, she competed in the National Senior Games and Show Me State Games and won gold medals every year. The full story of how she was able to step into the limelight and stay there, achieving international fame, is presented by her authorized biographer.
Sharon Kinney Hanson is a former member of the literary advisory committee for the Missouri Arts Council, former managing editor of Sheba Review Publishing, and has taught at Columbia College. She is the author of The Life of Helen Stephens: The Fulton Flash.
This PowerPoint presentation will tell the story of Lake Placid, a resort in the Missouri Ozarks created for African Americans by Dr. Percy Turner, superintendent of Kansas City’s General Hospital No. 2, a racially segregated health-care facility for African Americans. Lake Placid thrived especially during the 1930s through the 1950s, at a time when many recreational facilities in Missouri were inaccessible to the state’s African American population. Black visitors to Lake Placid presented unusual opportunities for racial interaction between African Americans and traditional residents of the Ozarks.
Gary R. Kremer is the executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, headquartered in Columbia with research centers also in Cape Girardeau, Kansas City, Rolla, and St. Louis. He is author, coauthor, or coeditor of eleven books and also serves as editor-in-chief of the Missouri Historical Review.
Guerrilla warfare dominated the lives of many women in southwestern Missouri during the Civil War. Using county records and provost marshal evidence, this talk examines how women survived the chaos that resulted when undisciplined bands of marauding men roamed their countryside.
Virginia J. Laas is a dedicated historian of nineteenth-century America and has twice served as president for the Missouri Conference on History. She is the author of several books, including Lincoln’s Lee: The Life of Samuel Phillips Lee with Dudley Cornish, which won the John Lymon Book Award. She is currently working on a biography of Emily Newell Blair, a writer, suffragist, political leader, and southwest Missouri native.
This presentation brings the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown to life in a lively yet historically authentic performance. Stories will range across Margaret Tobin Brown’s amazing life from her birth in Hannibal, Missouri, in 1867 to her childhood years during Hannibal’s Gilded Age; her migration to Colorado in 1886 searching for the road to love, wealth, and fame; the years of fighting for women’s suffrage, fairness in the juvenile justice system, the rights of workers, and child labor laws; and her poignant and heart-wrenching experiences aboard the Titanic.
Lisa Marks is the co-curator of the Hannibal History Museum. She performs Molly Brown at the museum and also lectures on women in the Progressive era and Hannibal history. She and her husband, Ken Marks, are the authors of Molly Brown’s Hannibal as well as Hannibal, Missouri: A Brief History and Haunted Hannibal: History and Mystery in America’s Hometown.
One of the often forgotten heroes of the Civil War is the African American soldier. Many of those who fought in Missouri for the Union were former slaves. The first African American unit to engage in combat was the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment, whose men “fought like tigers” at the Battle of Island Mound, near Butler, Missouri. This presentation will share the stories of selected African Americans who fought in Missouri at Island Mound and Westport.
Joe Louis Mattox is an independent scholar at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and State Museum in Kansas City, where he serves as the volunteer resident historian. A retired public housing official and freelance writer specializing in topics of interest to African Americans, he serves on the board of the directors of the Historic Kansas City Foundation and is also a historian for the Midwest Afro-American Genealogical Interest Coalition, a volunteer at the Battle of Westport Visitor Center and Museum, and is honored to be a “Living Historian.”
This portrayal of Beals, the first woman photojournalist, considers her frenetic professional and personal life in an era when men dominated the professions. Her images of the St. Louis World’s Fair are an enduring legacy of her acclaimed career. Memorabilia from the fair will be on display.
Zerelda James Samuel was the mother of two of Missouri’s most infamous sons, Frank and Jesse James. The story of her sons’ Clay County boyhood, Confederate Civil War involvement, and postwar criminal activities remains one of historical legend filled with border war battle, bushwhacker defiance, and a trail of theft and murder.
Dianne Moran is a Chautauqua scholar, folklorist, and naturalist whose living history portrayals are said to transport audiences to another time and sphere. She performs throughout the Midwest.
This presentation about the character and nature of Missourians asserts that making a living in Missouri is difficult, that life in the Show-Me State is often harsh, and that the state’s people respond to these realities with a sense of humor. Missourians laugh a lot, often at themselves, and their laughter and humor enable hardworking farmers, miners, and woodsmen to accept the backbreaking labor that confronts them on a daily basis. The presentation draws its title from Pres. Harry Truman’s autobiography, Plain Speaking, and uses stories from family histories, oral interviews, court records, and published histories.
Frank Nickell is assistant director of The State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center in Cape Girardeau and an emeritus faculty member of the Department of History at Southeast Missouri State University. He has received numerous teaching and service awards, including the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Missouri Humanities Council Acorn Award for outstanding service, and the Jonas Viles Award from the Missouri State Archives for significant contribution to the preservation of Missouri’s heritage.
Just 200 years ago, during the winter of 1811–1812, the New Madrid fault line exploded in a region that included what is now eastern Missouri. Three great earthquakes, each with a magnitude exceeding 8 on the Richter scale, were recorded and—along with fifteen of the largest aftershocks—felt as far away as Washington, DC, over 750 miles from the quake zone. What was it like for the people living and working on this part of the American frontier at that time? Hear personal stories of individuals who experienced this harrowing event and whose lives were forever changed by it.
In the days before radio and television, the people of the Ozarks entertained each other by telling and retelling traditional stories. Many of these tales can be traced back through well-established traditions rooted in Appalachia and Ireland. Discover the humor of the tall tales and follow the exploits of wondrous characters born in the imaginations of generations of storytellers who migrated from the Old World and passed through the Appalachian Mountains to eventually settle in the Missouri Ozarks.
Steve Otto is a full-time professional storyteller who has worked in television and has acted and directed more than thirty roles in community theater. He presents more than 200 programs each year to all age groups and has taught storytelling at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri State University, the Kansas City Metropolitan Community Colleges, Rockhurst University, and Lindenwood University.
This presentation discusses the personal experiences and goals of Perry and his wife during nearly four years spent teaching a variety of subjects at Chinese universities. The program features Missouri-specific teaching examples and draws broad conclusions about the Chinese impact on Missouri, while offering some thoughts on traveling in China. A slide show is included.
Alan Perry is a former archivist with the National Archives in Kansas City. He has taught courses on Western Hemisphere Indian History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The presentation pays tribute to the achievements of the “Greatest Generation” through a sampling of letters from the State Historical Society of Missouri manuscript collections. The recorded experiences of men and women who served in the military offer a candid and comprehensive glimpse of life in battle and life in support units.
Relying on Paige’s two published autobiographies, the presentation focuses on the bittersweet story of a superb veteran of the Negro Leagues and his belief that he waited too long to get called to play in the Major Leagues.
Michael Polley has taught at Columbia College since 1990, teaching numerous courses and serving as department chair, division head, and interim academic dean.
Up in the “holler,” deep in the Ozarks, the old ways of using Yarbs persists. This presentation is the story of the herbs and their uses, which are often unique to the Ozarks. “Root Diggers” roamed the hills until just after World War II, and the old ways still live in pockets by the springs in the mossy oak forests. This is a journey with the spirits of goldenseal, black walnut, sassafras, plantain, echinacea, St. John’s wort, comfrey, skullcap, and the other plants and medicines of the rolling Ozark Plateau.
Kenneth R. Porter is retired after thirty-three years with the US Army Corps of Engineers. He has conducted conservation and Lewis and Clark programs for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He performs reenactments and manages his small farm for native and introduced herbs to use in his presentations.
Confederate general Sterling Price was popular with his men, but Thomas Caute Reynolds, governor of the state’s Southern government in exile by the Civil War’s end, expressed his own opinions in a manuscript held by the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. This presentation explores both Price’s career and Reynolds’s importance to the continued operation of the Confederate government of Missouri.
When the Civil War came in the spring of 1861, loyalties in northeast Missouri were deeply divided. In the early years of the war, both sides were actively involved in partisan action. One particular case, that of John L. Owen of Marion County, received national attention. The events and their devastating consequences will be discussed.
Robert Schultz is the author of four books and editor of three others, and has published numerous articles on Missouri history and the Civil War. He has presented adult education programs on the Civil War in Missouri and on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
This presentation explores the varieties of Ozarks religious life, including evangelical revivalism, ethnic Protestantism, Bible Belt Catholicism, Ozarks Judaism, and the new immigrant religions. Special attention is given to the role of music, food, and architecture in Ozarks congregations. Photographs, sound recordings, and maps are used to illustrate the diversity of the Missouri Ozarks.
From brush arbor revivals to faith-friendly theme parks, Ozarkers have worked to entertain the faithful. This presentation will focus on the fusion of Ozarks religion and popular culture. Special attention will be given to ethnic foodways, gospel music (“singing and dinner on the grounds”), and Branson’s emergence as a major tourist destination.
John Schmalzbauer teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Missouri State University, where he holds the Blanche Gorman Strong Chair in Protestant Studies. He is the author of People of Faith.
In the early morning hours of April 27, 1865, the steamboat Sultana exploded and sank in the Mississippi River, killing or injuring hundreds of Union soldiers, many of them recently released from prisoner-of-war camps. The tragedy is a little-remembered piece of Civil War history, but Alicia Lee Scott, a descendant of one of the Sultana survivors, shares their tragic story.
Alicia Lee Scott has worked in community education for seniors. She attends the yearly Sultana descendants reunion and shares the story of the boat’s final journey with schoolchildren, historical societies, and others interested in the preservation of history.
In 1889 steel magnate Andrew Carnegie vowed to give away his fortune—a tall order for the world’s first billionaire. Part of his philanthropy included funding almost 1,700 public libraries in the United States, including some three dozen in Missouri. Carnegie called free public libraries “temples of democracy” because he saw them as agents for self-improvement and advancing democratic society. This program will examine Carnegie’s legacy in libraries in the Show-Me State.
Cemeteries are more than just burial grounds. They are also documents of the ways we see ourselves and the ways people wanted to be remembered. This illustrated talk will use St. Louis’s Bellefontaine Cemetery as an example of the ways tombstones, mausoleums, and cemetery design reflect the attitudes and values of Gilded Age Missouri.
Jeffrey Smith, professor of history at Lindenwood University, formerly served with the St. Louis Mercantile Library and has designed numerous public programs combining history and entertainment. He received a Missouri Humanities Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement in 2012.
Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham was a witness and participant in Missouri’s Civil War. After the war, he documented this experience with Gen. Order No. 11, a picture representing the evacuation of 10,000 civilians from four western Missouri counties in the wake of William Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kansas. The PowerPoint presentation on this important artwork may be either a general discussion of the picture or a discussion tailored to address one of three subtopics: “A Focus on Women in the Painting,” “A Focus on Race and Self-Emancipation in the Painting,” or “A Focus on Bingham’s Relationship with Order No. 11’s Author, Gen. Thomas Ewing.”
From the 1930s until his death in 1975, Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton argued that representational art more successfully reflected American culture than did nonobjective abstraction. This unfashionable attitude remains a contentious aspect of Benton’s legacy among critics who label him a regressive, anti-modern reactionary. A rediscovered and recently published taped interview with Benton from 1962 sheds light on his outlook, suggesting that his aesthetic philosophy was not so much anti-modern as “differently” modern.
Joan Stack oversees exhibitions and public access to the State Historical Society of Missouri’s collection of more than 17,000 artworks. Her publications include the exhibition catalogue The Art of the Book: 1650 to the Present and the introduction for “But I Forget That I Am a Painter and Not a Politician”: The Letters of George Caleb Bingham. Her current work focuses on the art of Missouri painters Bingham and Benton.
This program describes Hannibal, Missouri, from approximately 1819 to 1860, focusing on notable events and developments in the town during that period. Special attention is given to industrial and commercial growth, education, and the social and cultural forces and events that influenced Sam Clemens.
This program begins with a look at Mark Twain’s life and then moves into an assessment of Twain’s writings and why they continue to be relevant today.
Henry Sweets has led workshops and made presentations on behalf of the Mark Twain Museum since 1978 and has edited the museum’s publication, The Fence Painter, since 1982. His favorite Mark Twain quote is “Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”
To Secure These Rights and Freedom to Serve, reports issued by Pres. Harry Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights, were two of the most important documents on civil rights released under the direction of the executive branch in the twentieth century. This presentation will examine how Truman’s Missouri political career impacted his decision to issue the executive orders creating the committee and why he issued the orders when he did, while evaluating the committee’s historical significance.
Jon E. Taylor formerly served as historian at the Harry S Truman National Historic Site. He is the author of A President, A Church, and Trails West: Competing Histories in Independence, Missouri; Truman’s Grandview Farm; Freedom to Serve: Truman, Civil Rights, and EO 9981;and Harry Truman’s Independence: The Center of the World.
Walt Disney was the most successful and influential movie producer in history. This slide presentation features images of Walt Disney’s early life in Marceline and Kansas City and his later life in Hollywood, with an emphasis on illustrating how his Missouri years influenced the films he made and the theme parks he designed and built.
Dan Viets, who has researched and written about Walt Disney for nearly twenty years, is coauthor of Walt Disney’s Missouri: The Roots of a Creative Genius. He is president of the group that owns and is restoring Disney’s first professional film studio in Kansas City.
Missouri’s community and neighborhood movie houses took center stage for national propagandistic efforts during World War I. Leaders in 112 Missouri counties promoted liberty bond campaigns, military recruitment, and home front rationing programs. This presentation outlines the Missouri community efforts and those who led them.
Timothy Westcott has presented on numerous topics related to local, Missouri, and regional historical events. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Westport Historical Society; the President’s Council, National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial; and the acquisitions committee for the Kansas City Museum.
From Bethel in the north to Carthage in the south, nineteenth-century Missouri was home to a number of intentional communities designed to achieve an ideal social order, a planned alternative to the ordinary modes of life. This presentation describes Missouri’s well-known and little-known utopias, both religious and secular, and includes biographical sketches and anecdotes about some of the colorful and eccentric figures who founded them.
Steve Wiegenstein has taught at Centenary College of Louisiana, Drury University, Culver-Stockton College, and Western Kentucky University. His novel Slant of Light was the runner-up for the David J. Langum Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction in 2012.
This presentation is a highly selective look at some of the cultural phenomena of nineteenth-century Missouri such as the nineteenth-century oyster craze, eating arsenic as a beauty aid, and changes in Christmas customs. Each of these stories tells how Missourians embraced new ways of doing things as their society moved from frontier principles into middle-class values.
Nineteenth-century medical educators needed human bodies for their students to practice on, but that was illegal. The result was midnight raids of graveyards, doctor eccentricity, student high jinx, and intrigue. While Mark Twain found it all amusing, others did not. Riot ensued when people suspected that ghoulish medical men turned to murder to obtain bodies.
Kenneth H. Winn is the former state archivist of Missouri and former director of the Library and Public Services for the Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri. He is the author or co-editor of a number of books and articles on Missouri political and cultural history. He has taught history at Washington University, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Lincoln University.
What was then the largest infantry campaign in American history played out over several weeks in October 1861 as a force commanded by John C. Frémont moved from Jefferson City to Springfield, Missouri. The facts belie common misconceptions of Frémont’s Civil War career. The real story is set against a backdrop of political warfare over the future of slavery and a bitter fight between two of America’s most prominent families.
Porter, a promising Confederate cavalry officer, traveled from Arkansas to recruit Southern men in northeast Missouri. He conducted a remarkable campaign from July to October 1862, attempting to bring his recruits south into Confederate lines. This presentation provides an overview of the campaign and its aftermath while discussing new evidence unearthed by archaeologists in Callaway County at the site of Porter’s Battle of Moore’s Mill.
Greg Wolk is a lawyer in St. Louis and the author of Friend and Foe Alike: A Tour Guide to Missouri’s Civil War. He is a former member of a committee of the Missouri Tourism Commission charged with exploring the tourism potential of the Civil War sesquicentennial.