Special collections

All Library locations will be closed on Sunday, April 20, in observance of the Easter holiday.

Special Collections in the Missouri Valley Room

Letter from Walt Disney
Letter from Walt Disney

The Missouri Valley Room has approximately 200 specialized archival collections. Consisting of papers, photographs, postcards, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, diaries, and ephemera from local individuals and organizations, these historically significant collections help to document the history and development of the Kansas City area. The Library's archives are also maintained here as well as some material from the Kansas City School District.

Some of the more noteworthy collections include papers and books of James Greenwood, superintendent of the Kansas City schools from 1874-1914, correspondence submitted to the Liberty (Mo.) Tribune for publication in the newspaper from 1832 to the 1880s, records of the Missouri Valley Historical Society, Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection, and the South Central Business Association records.

The theater and concert programs, an extensive collection of popular sheet music printed in Missouri and the Midwest, and the Joe Sanders Collection (co-founder of the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks orchestra) and related collections all document the area's lively arts scene. The over 2,000 advertising cards from the late nineteenth century reveal the culture of the times.

Advertising card for Kansas City Wire and Iron Works, circa 1890s
Advertising card for Kansas
City Wire and Iron Works,
circa 1890s

The department preserves and provides access to these collections for reference and research use. The collections that include photographs and postcards have been digitized, or in the process of being digitized, and are a part of the MVSC Digital Gallery.

Specific photograph collections have been assigned numbers with a P prefix, i.e. P1, P2, etc., and the remaining collections have an SC prefix. A list by numbers is available online as well as an alphabetical list which includes a short description of each collection. Finding aids for processed collections are also online as part of the Local History Index.

The staff welcomes and encourages donations of these types of materials that help document the history of the area. Please contact us at 816.701.3427 or email lhistory@kclibrary.org.