Missouri State Historical Society creates online database

Monday, January 10, 2011 | 5:01 p.m. CST; updated 10:46 p.m. CST, Monday, January 10, 2011
"In a Quandary," by George Caleb Bingham

COLUMBIA — Despite the 102-year difference, a 1909 print issue of the Columbia Missourian shared a similar headline with today’s online publication: heavy snow expected for Columbia.

Issues from the first 14 years of the Missourian, which was founded in 1908 as the University Missourian, along with thousands of other Missouri-related resources, are now easily available online.

The State Historical Society of Missouri has digitized thousands of editorial cartoons, articles, photographs and artworks that previously were available only by visiting the society at MU's Ellis Library.

“This is a treasure trove of research material,” said Gary Kremer, executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Kremer said the effort to digitize the society's collections is ongoing. By the end of February the society hopes at least 100,000 pages of newspapers from across the state, including the Kansas City Journal and St. Louis Republic, will be in the digital archive.

“We’re not going to get the whole collection,” Kremer said, explaining that the clarity of some of the images is poor and that it will be difficult to get everything into the database.

The society also hopes to digitize material from the “National Women in Media Collection” from the Western Historical Manuscript Collection. In a news release, Kremer said the society hopes to work with the Missouri School of Journalism to create the premier selection of works by female journalists in the country.

The database puts five collections of documents, photographs, newspapers and artwork into the hands of students, researchers and the public. Researchers can browse the collections by topic, dates or keyword terms.

“It is going to be incredibly important to researchers of all ages,” Kremer said.

The online collection also contains digital images of more than 400 works by Missouri artists George Caleb Bingham and Thomas Hart Benton, 3,500 photographs of Missouri people and locations, more than 2,000 issues of the St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican, more than 13,000 editorial cartoons and 150 transcripts and audio files of interviews with Missouri political leaders, including an interview with the late Gov. William Hearnes.

“Missourians ought to be able to access materials from their homes, libraries, schools and offices,” Kremer said in a news release. “We have an incredibly rich documentary and artistic heritage. It’s time we Missourians took greater notice of that reality.”

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