August 4, 2021
To family historians, the term “FAN Club” serves as a reminder to extend our research to the Friends/Family, Associates, and Neighbors (who often became family) living in our ancestors’ communities. As we celebrate Missouri’s bicentennial, let’s tweak this acronym for just a moment and use it to guide us through a look at some of the Firsts, Accomplishments, and Notables from the Show-Me State’s first 200 years.
First, the Firsts – Missouri is home to both the first private university (St. Louis University, 1818) and first public/state university (University of Missouri, 1839) west of the Mississippi River, with Mizzou earning a bonus point for the world’s first journalism school.
On a sweeter note, pancake lovers owe a flapjack flip to St. Joseph’s Pearl Milling Company for introducing the first commercially marketed self-rising flour and ready-mix food in 1889. And who doesn’t envy those experiencing the world’s first iced tea and ice cream cones (plus the “new” machine-spun cotton candy and Dr. Pepper) at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair?
The mention of St. Louis brings us to the Gateway Arch—the tallest manmade monument in the U.S, topping out at 630 feet. Across the state, Kansas City’s 200+ fountains surpass all other cities but Rome, earning it the nickname, “City of Fountains.”
In 2014, Kansas City Chiefs fans put the Show-Me State in the Guinness Book of World Records for the loudest cheering in an open-air stadium, with a nearly ear-shattering 142.2 decibels. While less measurable, Missourians can also argue being #1 for both their barbecue and renowned state fair.
A for Accomplishments – Harry S. Truman, George Washington Carver, Thomas Hart Benton, Josephine Baker, Emmett Kelly, Scott Joplin, Sara Teasdale, Mark Twain, Joyce T. Hall—how does one decide which accomplished Missourian to note in a short piece like this? With courage, innovation, talent, and determination, Missourians have overcome adversity and found ways to use their unique gifts to lead the world in business, government, science, the arts, and more.
Finally, the Notables – Let’s wrap this up by returning to genealogy and some notable opportunities for researching one’s ancestors in the great state of Missouri. Missouri’s noteworthy libraries and archives include the National Archives at Kansas City, the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, and—dare we add—the Midwest Genealogy Center, which is the largest, free-standing, public genealogy library in the U.S.
Whether you prefer in-person or online research, family historians should note the resources of the Missouri State Archives, the State Historical Society of Missouri, and the Missouri Secretary of State’s Missouri Digital Heritage with its online access to county histories, plat books, and select Missouri death certificates. Links to these Missouri “notables” and to other outstanding regional libraries, archives, and genealogical societies can be found on the FamilySearch.org “Missouri Archives and Libraries” wiki.
And so, we celebrate Missouri’s big 200th this August 10 by inviting everyone to join the 24th state’s “FAN club.” Want to learn more about Missouri? Check out the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Missouri Encyclopedia or swing by MGC and let us show you some Show-Me State hospitality.
Midwest Genealogy Center