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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Cool Operator

Elmer F. Pierson

August 27, 1896: Elmer F. Pierson, who, with brother John, will found the Vendo company, market the first reliable Coca-Cola vending machines, and dominate the vending machine industry, is born in Kansas City.

Missouri Valley Sundays

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.


The Journey of a People: History of the Community of Christ / RLDS
Sunday, September 27, 2015 - 2:00 p.m.
Central Library
RSVP now!

Metro-area landmarks, the Temple and Auditorium in Independence mark the world headquarters of the Community of Christ. Formerly named the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), the church emerged after the 1844 death of prophet and leader Joseph Smith Jr. and the recognition of his son as successor. In 1860 Joseph Smith III became prophet-president of the RLDS church, his tenure noted for strongly opposing polygamy. He and his successors navigated a difficult course for decades between Utah Mormonism and mainstream Christianity.

Historian Mark Scherer traces the early history of the Community of Christ, its restoration and reorganization, and the subsequent search for a separate identity. His talk is based on his recent two-volume history, The Journey of a People, which chronicles a trek that literally brought the descendants of early believers back to Jackson County, Missouri.

Kansas City Public Library Beta