Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: Missouri Memories: A History in Photographs

Missouri Memories: A History in Photographs

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Missouri Memories: A History in Photographs


Photographs elicit different responses from people. Sometimes photographs are principally documentary, communicating facts about a time, a place, or an event. Often, the photographer's purpose is to convey beauty. The true meaning of a particular image can be elusive and even change over time. The study of history through visual collections challenges what we think we know about the past.

Missouri history can be mined in the hundreds of thousands of photographs, negatives, and slides held by the Missouri State Archives. Photography has been, and continues to be, an important method for understanding our industry, recreation, and natural landscape. As time passes, the contemporary photograph becomes a historical record and provides a window to the past. The Missouri State Archives has displayed 63 images from several collections in the hallways of the State Information Center. We hope these images either surprise you with something you did not know, remind you of something you did, or charm you with the unexpected.

Third Floor - Missourians on the Move (Elections Hall)

People are always trying to get somewhere. Initially, Missourians used boats to navigate our waterways, and horses and wagons to travel along trails. Eventually, trails turned into roads, and our love affair with the automobile began. These transportation photos show the different ways Missourians got around: some of which are still with us, while others proved only passing fads.

Third Floor - The Lake of the Ozarks (Corporations Hall)

Construction of Bagnell Dam began in 1929, designed to provide electricity for Missouri residents. By the 1950s, the lake created by the dam had become a popular vacation spot with hundreds of resorts and activities from which to choose. The lake today is an even busier place, but what Missourians originally loved to do there - boating, swimming, fishing, and water skiing - remains at the heart of the area that is now a national tourist destination.

Second Floor - Louise and Omar Putman Collection (Securities Hall)

These poignant images were donated by the nephews of Louise and Omar Putman, who gave the photographic works of their aunt and uncle to the Archives to ensure public access. The Putmans did more than simply document their surroundings. The camera and darkroom was to them like paint and paper to an artist. They worked with light, structure, and placement to create visual images that captured the imagination.

First Floor - Rural Missouri (Records Services)

Missouri may still be a rural state, but small farm ways are slowly being replaced by corporate agriculture and modern convenience. The images on the first floor came from many collections, and are meant to show a way of life that has largely disappeared. Gone now are many farming practices, the one room school, the small town merchant, and in some instances, how we worked and played. For some older Missourians, the activities and scenes recorded in these images will not seem so long ago.

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