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Fans of history have no trouble finding great spots to explore here in Columbia. One place to absolutely not miss is a hidden gem on the University of Missouri campus, the State Historical Society (SHS) of Missouri. Nestled into Ellis Library, the SHS is the premier center for research and study when it comes to the history of our state.

The SHS is home to beautiful displays of Missouri art, including one of the largest George Caleb Bingham collections and Thomas Hart Benton works. Many other Missouri artists, both past and present, also are well represented.

Also ready to be explored are a variety of collections.

opens in a new windowThe Manuscript Collection

  • Began acquiring through members of the Missouri Press Association in 1898.
  • One of the earliest and most significant acquisitions is the Thomas Adams Smith (1781-1844), Papers.
  • In 1943 the Western Historical Manuscript Collection (WHMC) was created at the University of Missouri with the aid of a Rockefeller Foundation Grant.
  • In 1963 with SHSMO and WHMC manuscript holdings were combined creating a joint collection.

opens in a new windowThe Newspaper Collection 

  • Beginning with the July 26, 1808 issue of the St. Louis Missouri Gazette, the Society’s newspaper collection offers a wealth of information about the day-today lives of Missourians and the political, cultural, economic and religious events that have influenced them.
  • Available in 1,270 bound volumes and on over forty-one million pages of microfilm
  • Some 300 current newspapers, from every Missouri county are added to the collection each week.

opens in a new windowOral History Program 

  • Since 1993, the SHSMO has had a full-time oral historian recording and transcribing hundreds of oral history interviews that preserve Missouri’s history, culture and heritage.
  • The first project of the oral history program focused on artists from Missouri’s Bootheel region. Researchers collected oral history interviews and other recordings, which resulted in Art and Heritage of the Missouri Bootheel: A Resource Guide.
  • With over 4,000 interviews, the oral history program continues to actively produce and collect oral history interviews that represent Missouri’s culture and history. However, researchers will find our oral history collection reaches well beyond the Show-Me State’s borders.

opens in a new windowReference Collection 

  • Houses resources ranging from family histories and printed minutes kept by local literary societies to Missouri official publications and scholarly monographs on the history of the state and the lives of its citizens.
  • County and town histories, city directories, compiled cemetery records, and indexes to local records.
  • Primary and secondary sources on many aspects of the state’s and the nation’s history and culture.

Take some time during your next visit to Columbia to dive into the exciting history of our state. It’s a great place to get lost in the past.