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Upcoming Speaker Series Presentations

The Thursday Evening Speaker Series is free of charge and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Unless otherwise noted, programs will be held at the Missouri State Archives, located at 600 W. Main Street in Jefferson City. The series is underwritten by the Friends of the Missouri State Archives.

[Presentation Videos from past events are available at the following location:
Missouri State Archives Presentation Videos.]


Hidden History of Jefferson City: Origins and Earliest Settlers

Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021 @ 7 p.m.




Centuries after prehistoric Mississippian societies built mounds on the cliffs around what is now Jefferson City, the area passed into Spanish, then French hands before the United States ultimately acquired it through the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Sparsely populated when Missouri was admitted to the Union in 1821, it may have remained free of major settlement if not for a commission established by the new state to identify the future site of its capital. Later in 1821, the commission selected the unclaimed, but now familiar, site of forested limestone hills on the south bank of the Missouri River.


The bold decision to forego an existing locale meant Jefferson City truly was the “City a Capitol Built.” Its earliest settlers were mostly of southern descent, with a few of the state’s richest men purchasing land in the new capital and many more relocating from the small nearby communities of Marion and Cote Sans Dessein. Within a decade, a second wave of influential settlers appeared: German immigrants. These groups’ collective vision took the dot on a map and built it into a capital city.   


In celebration of Missouri’s ongoing bicentennial of statehood, join us for a program about the founding of the state capital taken from the new book, Hidden History of Jefferson City, from author and Missouri State Archives staff member Michelle Brooks.

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Contesting the Constitution: Congress Debates the Missouri Crisis, 1819-1821

Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 @ 7 p.m.




The admission of Missouri to the Union quickly became a constitutional crisis of the first order, inciting an intensive reexamination of the U.S. Constitution by Congress. At the heart of the matter was whether that body possessed the authority to place conditions on a territory, in this instance Missouri, regarding restrictions on slavery—before its admittance to the Union.

The larger question with which the legislators grappled involved the limits of the Constitution’s provisions granting Congress the authority to affect the institution of slavery, both where it already existed and where it could expand. What would come to be known as the Missouri Crisis severely tested the still young republic and, some four decades later, would all but rend it asunder. Edited by Dr. William S. Belko, Contesting the Constitution: Congress Debates the Missouri Crisis, 1819-1821 is a collection of original essays thoughtfully engaging the intersections of history and constitutional law presented by this historic impasse. Join us for a program on this timely volume that’s certain to find eager readers among historians, legal scholars, political scientists, as well as many others who call Missouri home.

Belko is the Executive Director of the Missouri Humanities Council. He’s also published several monographs and award-winning articles on various early 19th century American history subjects. Belko comes from a long line of families that settled in Missouri during its territorial and early statehood period, and who rose to prominence during the development of the St. Louis area.

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