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28, October 2016

Images in Reverse: A Look at Photographic Negatives

The photographs of the St. Louis Public Schools Collection provide a new look at St. Louis history from the viewpoint of one of the region’s oldest public school systems. The negatives alone offer over a century’s worth of memories, dating from the early 1900s into the 2000s. As one of the archivists for this collection, I’m responsible for carefully identifying the types of negatives I’m working with to ensure their proper preservation and storage. Here’s a crash course on identifying and storing photographic negatives—it may even help you with negatives you have at home! Read more »

27, October 2016

Who Stayed at 2316 Pine Street?

As a cataloger of urban architecture photos, I spend my days looking at pictures of old buildings—lots of them. That may sound boring, but when you consider the intriguing stories tucked away inside St. Louis’s historic structures, you realize it’s anything but. Read more »

26, October 2016

A Soldier’s Story

When I joined the U.S. Air Force in September 1980 via the Delayed Entry Program, I immediately discovered that being homosexual in the military wasn’t allowed. The section of my enlistment form asking me to check whether I was homosexual made that pretty clear. In spite of this, I wanted to serve my country and travel the world. I also knew this would be the best experience for me to grow, to become something on my own. Read more »

26, October 2016

Finding Aids: The Keys to Unlocking MHM's Archives

Imagine you have a great-grandmother named Ethel, and she told stories about a love affair with a World War I soldier who died on the fields of the Meuse-Argonne. They exchanged letters that remained in your family until after her death. You’d like to read them, but they’ve been donated to the Missouri History Museum, along with genealogy research, newspaper clippings, and business records. The entire donation fills 28 boxes, but you’re interested solely in great-grandma’s love letters. Read more »

26, October 2016

A Rare Baseball Find: Stars Park

Walloping bats and roaring fans were commonplace at the intersection of Compton and Market back in the 1920s thanks to Stars Park, home of the Negro National League (NNL) franchise the St. Louis Stars. Originally called the St. Louis Giants, the team got new owners, a new name, and a brand-new ballpark in 1922. At the time, Stars Park was one of few facilities in the country built especially for a Negro League team, and the Stars played there until the NNL went out of business in 1931, a casualty of the Great Depression. Read more »

25, October 2016

Picturing 1930s St. Louis: An Introduction

Last month, the Missouri History Museum’s Photographs and Prints department began work on an exciting project involving the Sievers Studio Collection. The studio was founded in 1917 by professional commercial photographer Isaac Sievers. Over time, its staff expanded to include several photographers. Isaac’s son, Alvin, joined the business after World War II and kept it going until 1989. Throughout its 72 years of operation, the Sievers Studio captured 264 linear feet of negatives and prints—that’s the length of an entire city block! The Picturing 1930s St. Read more »

24, October 2016

Photo Archives: More Than Just Pretty Pictures

When people think of archives, they tend to think of written documents, such as old letters, diaries, ledgers, and manuscripts. They don’t immediately think of images as archival documents, but human beings communicated with pictures long before written language evolved. From cave paintings to selfies, the images we create are more than just pretty pictures. They’re documents that capture the events, people, and places we want to remember, and they communicate this information in a clear way that transcends all language barriers. Read more »

20, October 2016

Find Your Family's History

If I've learned anything throughout my years with the Missouri History Museum, it's that you can find family in all kinds of unexpected places. Case in point: While presenting at the St. Louis Genealogy Conference in Chesterfield earlier this month, I showed a photo of my grandfather, Ray Northcott, on his wedding day, pictured with friends Joe Zamberlan and Frank Digiovanni. Read more »

19, October 2016

3 Reasons to Love the Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries

One question I’m frequently asked when people find out I’m an archivist (besides “What’s an archivist?”) is: Which collection is your favorite? For me, that’s easy. I loved digitizing and transcribing the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries. Read more »

18, October 2016

An Inside Look at “The Destruction of Memory”

Cultural destruction—the purposeful destruction of buildings, books, and art in order to erase a people’s history and identity—has been happening for years, but it has seen an explosion in the 21st century. The Destruction of Memory is a new documentary that explores how and why cultural warfare has evolved, as well as the efforts to protect, salvage, and rebuild. Following is a Q&A with the film’s producer and director, Tim Slade. Read more »