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 Month in the Civil War on the Western Border

This Month in the Civil War on the Western Border
December 1864
Missouri and Kansas residents reflect on the year 1864, continue recovering from Price’s Raid, and anticipate the New Year and the possible end of the war.


This Week in Kansas City History

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Strange Bedfellows

Nell Donnelly

December 16, 1931: Nell Donnelly, a Kansas City dress manufacturer, and her chauffeur, George Blair, are kidnapped and held hostage in a cottage near Bonner Springs, Kansas, only to be released two days later without paying ransom.

Missouri Valley Sundays


The KC Salesman Who Readied America for War (America's First Censor: George Creel of Kansas City) - Timothy Westcott
Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 2:00 p.m.
Central Library
RSVP now!

As the one time head of President Woodrow Wilson’s Committee on Public Information, George Creel later recalled in his memoir “how we advertised America” but more accurately it was how he sold World War I to a largely neutral populace. Wilson, whose 1916 reelection campaign proclaimed, “he kept us out of war,” abruptly switched gears, and the electorate needed to catch up quickly. A native Missourian and former Kansas City newspaperman, Creel imaginatively combined the new techniques of public relations and propaganda with extensive government censorship to shape public opinion and control the flow of war information. Historian Timothy Westcott traces the life and career of Creel, who created the template for an entire industry of Madison Avenue “Mad Men.”