Local history & genealogy

The Missouri Valley Special Collections (MVSC) consist of the non-circulating local history and genealogy resources of the Kansas City Public Library as well as the Library’s archives. More...

Digital Gallery

Search the Digital Gallery

The Digital Gallery features images of material from the Missouri Valley Special Collections.

HeritageQuest Online

Search census data, books, periodicals, Freedman's Bank records, and more.

Civil War on the Western Border

Civil War on the Western Border

Discover the Civil War's legacy in the Greater Kansas City region.

Ancestry Library Edition

Research the history of your family with online access to historical records provided by Ancestry.com. NOTE: you must access Ancestry from within a Kansas City Public Library location.

This Week in Kansas City History

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The Greatest Pitcher Ever

Satchel Paige

July 7, 1906: Satchel Paige, who will win fame as a pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs and be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, is born in Mobile, Alabama.

Missouri Valley Sundays

Sodom and Gomorrah in Sedalia: The 1974 Ozark Music Festival
Sunday, July 19, 2015 - 2:00 p.m.
Central Library
RSVP now!

In July 1974, an estimated 100,000 members—and probably more—of the Woodstock generation descended on the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia for a weekend of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Amid the sweltering heat and the sounds of such popular bands as the Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and REO Speedwagon, they effectively overwhelmed the beleaguered town. Drawing from seven years of work on his documentary, The Story of the Ozark Music Festival: 3 Days of Sodom & Gomorrah in Sedalia, Missouri, filmmaker Jefferson Lujin discusses a Woodstock-esque weekend of sex, drugs, and rock and roll in July 1974.

Foam on the Range: Early History of Kansas Brewers & Breweries
Sunday, August 16, 2015 - 2:00 p.m.
Central Library
RSVP now!

As settlers streamed into Kansas, brewers followed and set up their strange contraptions – “mash tuns” and “wort kettles.” The manufacture of beer was as much art as craft during a time before out-of-state competition, temperance societies, and state prohibition laws killed the budding industry. Kansas boasted more than 90 breweries, fixtures in German communities. Leavenworth had at least six operating at one time in the 1850s. They fueled social events, instilled civic pride, and made the local brewer—as entertainment sponsor and cultural custodian—one of the town’s leading citizens. A historian wrote, “Wherever Germans are to be found, there also you will find beer.” In her illustrated lecture, Cindy Higgins discusses the brewers and breweries of early Kansas, their role in fostering a sense of community within the state’s German enclaves, and their surprising legacy among today’s beer aficionados.