State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-Columbia
23 Ellis Library, University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri 65201-5149
The Western Historical Manuscript Collection (WHMC), now the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-Columbia, was created at the University of Missouri in 1943 with the aid of a Rockefeller Foundation grant. Initially developed to serve as a repository for the Work Projects Administration’s Missouri Historical Records Survey files, the WHMC eventually came to include other documents of historical significance. In 1963 the State Historical Society of Missouri, which had been acquiring manuscript materials since 1900, and the WHMC became a joint collection when their manuscript holdings were physically combined. Branches of the WHMC were established in 1968 at the Kansas City, Rolla, and St. Louis campuses of the University of Missouri.
The Columbia Collection has a wide ranging and eclectic scope, with unique, unpublished records of state, regional, and national significance. Its holdings span Missouri’s pre-statehood days to the present and chronicle many aspects of the history of the state and the trans-Mississippi West: social and cultural, religious and educational, military and political, economic and legal, business and labor, urban and rural, ethnic, environmental, and many others.
The Collection represents present and former Missourians from many walks of life, and includes the correspondence, diaries, photographs, financial records, and other papers of pioneers, soldiers, workers, farmers, business leaders, educators, scientists, doctors, artists, writers, politicians, and itinerant preachers.
The mission of the Research Center is to support the research needs of University faculty and students, Missouri residents, and the general public, by collecting, preserving, and making available to them various primary source materials documenting the history of the university, the state, and the region.
The holdings at Columbia can be accessed through the extensive name, location, and subject index, the alphabetical listing of collection titles, or specialized subject guides. Narrative descriptions and inventories of each collection enhance the card catalog entries. A search engine is also available. Reference archivists are available to assist the in-house researcher, as well as to answer mail and telephone inquiries. There is no charge for reference assistance or use of the collections.