In May 1917, President Woodrow Wilson directed the organization of eight African American infantry regiments for service in WWI. One of these regiments, the 805th Pioneer Infantry, was raised at Camp Funston, Kansas, and included many Missourians. Nicknamed the “Bearcats,” the regiment arrived in France in September 1918. They were assigned to the Department of Light Railways and Roads, where they built and provided upkeep of roads and railroads behind the front lines. They served in this role, performing admirably, until the end of the war in 1918. Read more »
In summer 2009, I received an email from someone in Germany, asking how much of “the German” there was left in Missouri. Never having met the sender, I almost did what most of us do with spam. As I sat there pondering the message, I thought: Why would anyone even take the time to ask such a question? Read more »
On August 22–23, the Missouri History Museum had a booth at my favorite St. Louis event, the Festival of Nations. The annual two-day multiethnic celebration features music, food, dance, crafts, and folk art demonstrations. More than 50 different nations are represented at the festival each year. Our staff ate delicious food at the celebrations, from doro wat (Ethiopian) to jasha maroo (Bhutanese). We were able to watch the energetic moves of the Grupo Atlántico Dancers (Colombian) and hear the beautiful music of St. Louis Spelmannsag (Scandinavian). Read more »
On this day 104 years ago, the designer of St. Louis’s greatest monument was born. Eero Saarinen entered a design competition for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 1947. He didn’t live to see the Gateway Arch completed in 1965, but he discussed his vision in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch interview reprinted in the book Lion of the Valley by James Neal Primm: Read more »
In this letter, James mentions that he was paroled with 600 other officers a few days earlier. The exact reason and circumstances for his parole are not known. However, it may have related to the Union shelling of Charleston, which started in 1863, and the resulting movement of prisoners, by both sides, to the area under fire. In June 1864, Confederate major general Samuel Jones requested the transfer of 50 Union prisoners to Charleston, to be placed in the area of the city that was being shelled by the Union. He hoped this action would encourage the Union to stop bombing the city.Read more »
One hundred years after St. Louis produced the Pageant and Masque in 1914, the small village of Bedous, France, commissioned a pastorale to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis. The events took place on August 4–5, and I was honored to have the extraordinary opportunity to attend as the official representative of the City of St. Louis and the Missouri History Museum. Read more »
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