Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: Photographs


Visual Materials at the Missouri State Archives

The Missouri State Archives houses approximately 500,000 photographic prints and negatives documenting Missouri's state and local governments, history, culture, agriculture, recreation, industry and events from the late 19th century to the present. A photograph exhibit showcasing 63 images from several Archives’ photograph collections lines the hallways of the State Information Center. This exhibit, Missouri Memories: A History in Photographs, can be seen online at: http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=mo_memories.

Some complete collections are available on the Missouri Digital Heritage website at http://wwww.missouridigitalheritage.com. The Archives' Flickr page (http://www.flickr.com/people/missouristatearchives) contains sample sets of images from most collections.

State Agency Collections

Missouri State Capitol, ca. 1960
Missouri State Capitol, ca. 1960

Commerce and Industrial Development
3,650 prints and approximately 17,000 negatives, 1945-1972

Created in 1943 as the Commission of Resources and Development, this agency's mission was "to advance the economic welfare of Missourians by promoting its natural resources, industry, agriculture and recreation opportunities." In 1967, the 74th General Assembly created the Division of Tourism, which took over these responsibilities. The collection shows Missourians at work and at play; documents major events, architecture and people; and highlights Missouri's regional diversity.

Columns, University of Missouri campus, n.d.
Columns, University of Missouri
campus, n.d.

Office of the Secretary of State, Publications Division
Photograph Collection, 6,500 prints, mid-1930s-present

This collection is comprised of the official portraits of Missouri's state representatives, senators, elected officials and division heads published in the Official Manual of the State of Missouri (the Blue Book). Also included and available online are general subject photographs that document government buildings, historic sites and state institutions originally considered for, or published in the Official Manual. This collection, The Historic "Blue Book" Photograph Collection, can be seen at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=nonportrait.

Covered wagon in Hermann, Missouri, 1913
Covered wagon in Hermann, Missouri,

Office of the Secretary of State, Publications Division
Official Manual Photo Contests, 3,000 prints, 1880-1998

In 1987, Missouri photographers submitted photographs to be considered for a special feature photo essay in the Official Manual. The Official Manual Photo Contest has continued to amass work by photographers from all corners of the state for each succeeding Official Manual. This collection has grown to comprise color and black and white images of rural and urban Missouri, including photographs of old cars, railroad depots, threshing scenes, stores, turn-of-the-century barns and homes, logging and mining industries and family portraits.

Building the expressway in St. Louis, Mo. Street Scene 1935
Building the expressway in St. Louis, Mo.,
street scene, 1935

Missouri Department of Transportation, more than 25,000 negatives and slides, 1916-1965

This collection illustrates the development of Missouri's highway system in the first half of the 20th century. Photographers were responsible for documenting all phases of road building, bridge construction, viaduct and overpass construction and traffic at major intersections statewide. In addition to documenting Missouri's urban and rural infrastructures, this collection captures parks and recreation areas, historic buildings and important events.

Sonny Liston receiving a haircut in the Missouri State Penitentiary, c1950
Sonny Liston receiving a haircut in the
Mo. State Penitentiary, c1950s

Missouri Department of Corrections, 528 prints, 1900-1990

This collection includes photographs of inmate life at the Missouri State Penitentiary, prison structures within the corrections system, inmates, prison farms, prison wardens and other employees and the 1954 Missouri State Penitentiary prison riot.

Cheryl Willcockson with prize winning pumpkin, 1969.
Cheryl Willcockson with prize winning
pumpkin in 1965

Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri State Fair Collection, 5,000 prints, 1930-1992

These photographs highlight the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, including the fairgrounds and buildings, entertainment, fair events and contests, exhibits, parades, queen candidates, people, agriculture and animal contests.

Capitol Construction, April 15, 1915.
Capitol Construction, April 15, 1915

Capitol Construction Commission, 140 prints and negatives, 1913-1917

Missouri's fifth capitol building, the second in Jefferson City, was struck by lightning and burned to the ground February 5, 1911. The Capitol Construction Commission was created to organize the building for the current statehouse. Thomas Cooper, a Jefferson City photographer, was in charge of photographing all stages of construction for this new building, from the foundation work to the capping of the dome. A single photograph by another local photographer, Peter Herman Rackers, illustrates the removal of the columns of the destroyed Capitol. (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=capitol

African-American Girl, ca. 1910
African-American Girl, ca. 1910

African-American Portrait Collection, 129 prints, 1880-1920

In 1999, the Missouri State Museum purchased several photo albums that included unidentified African-Americans, taken primarily in the Moberly area, but also in Hannibal, Louisiana, Macon, St. Joseph, Jefferson City, St. Louis and Kansas City. The bulk of the collection is in the form of the widely popular albumen print cabinet card. Albumen prints were invented in 1850 and involved printing an image to paper using an emulsion of egg white (albumen), salt (sodium chloride) and light to fix the image. To create the cabinet card, the thin photographic print was then mounted on a 4 x 6 " card. (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=aa_portrait

Local Government Collections

Kansas City, Missouri, Main Street, 1861
Kansas City, Missouri, Main Street, 1861

Kansas City Parks and Recreation Collection, 1,500 negatives, 1860s-1960

This collection shows the construction and improvement of Kansas City's parks, boulevards and avenues, as well as some of its prominent structures, such as the Country Club Plaza and Liberty Memorial. Also featured are some Works Progress Administration projects and portraits of past park commissioners.

CCC Camp, New Madrid County, truck drivers.
CCC Camp, New Madrid County, truck
drivers, n.d.

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), 165 prints and negatives, 1935-1942

CCC camps at New Madrid, Palmyra and Kahoka, Missouri, are represented in this collection. The photographs depict camp personnel, buildings, work scenes and camp life. Photographers are Fred R. Jacoby, Cecil Westmorland and Archie W. Durham.

Two women stand on car in flooded street
Two women stand on car in flooded
street, n.d.

Little River Drainage District, 3,094 contact prints, 1909-1940s

The Little River Drainage District in southeast Missouri carefully documented the construction of the Headwater Diversion Channel and levee, the five parallel floodway ditches and hundreds of miles of additional ditches. While the majority of prints record the construction, other subjects are found among the photographs. Floods and overflows, particularly the 1937 Mississippi River flood, are included. Agriculture and the changing landscape, development of the railway system, construction of numerous communities, Civilian Conservation Corps and individuals important in the development of the District are also in the collection.

Private Collections

General view from east hillside, 1931
General view from east hillside, 1931

Bagnell Dam Construction Photographs, 845 prints, 1929-1953

This collection of 845 photographs contains aerial and general views of all phases of the Bagnell Dam construction project. The dam was built by the Union Electric Light and Power Company of St. Louis (now AmerenUE) between 1929 and 1931. The collection also documents the workers, the buildings erected for housing and other needs and views of areas around the dam site. (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=bagnell)

Benny Goodman playing clarinet, 1942
Benny Goodman playing clarinet, 1942

Camp Crowder Photograph Collection, 274 prints, 1942-1946

The collection consists of photographs and newspaper clippings detailing events in the World War II-era army base located near Neosho. Highlights include portraits of then-Sen. Harry S. Truman, Benny Goodman, Missouri colonels and generals and Hollywood film stars. Other photographs depict aspects of camp life, such as training drills, banquets, the predominantly German POWs at work and activities within the Neosho community. (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=crowder)

Two men and a river diver, n.d.
Two men and a river diver, n.d.

Charles Elliott Gill Photographs, 722 glass plate negatives, 1887-1948

Charles Elliott Gill was one of the countless amateur photographers who emerged in the 1880s with the advent of more simplified cameras and manufactured glass plate negatives. Gill was born and raised on a farm in Dent County where, despite his love of travel, he always returned. His photographs document his travels to both coasts of the United States and illuminate how the Ozarks were affected by the passage of time. (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=gill)

Caricature of Domino Danzero on horseback, ca. 1900
Caricature of Domino Danzero on
horseback, ca. 1900

Domino Danzero Family Photograph Collection, 1056 images, 1890-1950

Amateur photographer Domino Danzero immigrated to the United States from his native Italy at the age of 19. He worked for many years as a chef for the Harvey House restaurant chain and later launched several businesses with a trusted business associate, his wife Bridget. He and his family settled in Springfield in 1907. Danzero's photography captures his different careers and travel adventures, as well as relatives, friends and the communities where he lived.

The paper collection is owned by Missouri State University and portions were published with permission by the Missouri State Archives. (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=danzero)

Fiesta dancer, n.d.
Fiesta dancer, n.d.

Louise and Omar Putman Collection, 303 prints, 1947-1955

The collection comprises portraits, agricultural and industrial scenes and images documenting Kansas and Missouri life and buildings. The Putmans' photographs often capture the unique shapes of water towers, barns and silos against the rural landscape. (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=putman)

Great Mississippi Ice Gorge, St. Louis, Mo., ca. 1910
Great Mississippi Ice Gorge, St. Louis,
Mo., ca. 1910

Mary Alice Hansen Postcard Collection, 209 postcards, 1911-1914

Mary Alice Hansen was a Minnesota postcard collector who traveled extensively in Missouri. The images document Missouri buildings, industry and culture from the early 20th century and primarily include Springfield, St. Louis and St. Charles, but the collection also contains many of Missouri's smaller communities. For instance, one can view the 1912 high school graduation class in Wellsville or a bustling downtown scene of Monett. Of particular interest are the photographic postcards covering the Branson area and the Missouri Ozarks. (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=hansen)

Warwick Village Lodge, Jefferson City, Mo., ca. 1950
Warwick Village Lodge, Jefferson City,
Mo., ca. 1950

Arnold Parks Postcard Collection, 151 postcards, early 20th century

This collection comprises postcards of Jefferson City dating from the first half of the 20th century. They include street scenes, businesses, state and local government buildings, the State Capitol, and the Missouri State Penitentiary with the warden's residence.

President Harry S Truman and Winston
Churchill in Fulton, Mo., 1946

Gerald R. Massie Collection, 933 prints, 768 negatives, mid-1930s-1974

This collection contains Massie's work while employed with Commerce and Industrial Development and his early photography while living in Kansas City in the 1930s. As state photographer, Massie was in charge of developing the visual concepts for Missouri's regional booklets and tourist advertising. This collection, like the Commerce and Industrial Development Collection, depicts Missouri scenery, industry, agriculture and recreation, as well as special events, such as Sir Winston Churchill's visit to Westminster College in Fulton.

High Street looking east, Jefferson City, Mo., n.d.
High Street looking east, Jefferson City,
Mo., n.d.

Dr. Joseph Summers Collection, 1,852 prints and 300 negatives, 1850-1990

The Summers Collection is an excellent resource for Jefferson City, history. Arranged alphabetically by subject, this collection provides imagery of Jefferson City businesses, streets, buildings, people, schools, clubs, churches, institutions and the State Capitol building.

Jefferson City School of Aviation, Missouri, n.d.
Jefferson City School of Aviation,
Missouri, n.d.

Ehrhardt Photograph Collection, 45 prints, 1920s-1930s

This collection contains black and white photographs of Jefferson City, people, places, buildings and businesses. Several photographs of the Missouri State Penitentiary are included in this collection.

West Main Street looking east, Jefferson City, Mo., n.d.
West Main Street looking east,
Jefferson City, Mo., n.d.

George Grazier Photograph Collection, 228 prints, ca. 1900-1950

The George Grazier Photograph Collection includes black and white photographs of Fulton and Jefferson City, businesses, streets, buildings, people and places from the first half of the 20th century.

Missouri Bridge construction workers, ca. 1924
Missouri Bridge construction workers,
ca. 1924

John Mark Graham Photograph Collection, 157 prints, 1922-1926

This collection comprises black and white bridge construction photographs from Glasgow, Boonville, Lexington and Jefferson City from 1922-1926.

Kansas City Urban League Training Class, 1931
Kansas City Urban League Training
Class, 1931

Urban League of Greater Kansas City, Inc. Photograph Collection, 90 prints, 1922-1946

The Urban League for Negroes of Kansas City was founded in 1919 as a social service agency to address the challenges facing black immigrant workers and black soldiers returning from World War I. It continues today as the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, Inc. This collection of 90 black and white photographs depicts people and activities related to the League during its early years.

Digital reproductions of photographs from these collections can be provided at cost by contacting the Missouri State Archives at 573-751-3280, email archref@sos.mo.gov, or by mail at Missouri State Archives, P.O. Box 1747, Jefferson City, MO 65102.