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

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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 Month in the Civil War on the Western Border

This Month in the Civil War on the Western Border
April 1865
The people of Missouri and Kansas react to Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and to the prospect of laying down arms and ending the war.


This Week in Kansas City History

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"Her inspiration certainly came from heaven"

Florence Crittenton Home, 1890

May 1, 1894: Elizabeth Bruce Crogman, who will establish the Florence Home for Colored Girls, which provided shelter for single black mothers in Kansas City, is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Missouri Valley Sundays

History on a Piece of Cloth: Kansas Flour Sacks - Nancy Jo Leachman
Sunday, April 19, 2015 - 2:00 p.m.
Central Library
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Kansas mills, located literally in the breadbasket of America, produced an enormous quantity of flour in an era when women routinely baked their families’ bread at home. Mill owners used cotton flour sacks as advertising tools to proudly display their names, locations, and unique brands, as well as to catch the consumer’s eye. The empty sack also served as a needed piece of fabric during the Depression.

Avid collector Nancy Jo Leachman, a longtime reference librarian at the Salina Public Library, has accumulated more than 100 vintage flour sacks from the 1920s-1940s, representing more than 30 Kansas counties. Her illustrated lecture of the best and most colorful—nothing “run-of-the-mill” here—reveals how each sack carries a fascinating story, be it advancing nutritional information, expressing political views, or reflecting popular culture.

Legacy of Order No. 11 - Tom Rafiner
Sunday, May 17, 2015 - 2:00 p.m.
Central Library
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By the time of Lee's surrender at Appomattox, the land and people of western Missouri had suffered as much as any during the Civil War. The edict known as “Order No. 11” and the Federal army that carried it out in 1863 had depopulated several Missouri counties, devastated homes and farms, and left deep scars—“a burnt district”—that took decades to heal.

Focusing on families and communities, author Tom Rafiner looks at what former residents found when they returned after the Civil War on the western border had ended. Order No. 11 cast a long, dark shadow over postwar Missouri but left a puzzling legacy, at times appearing and disappearing from the consciousness of the region's inhabitants.