Special topics

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

Special Topics in the Missouri Valley Room

Aerial view of Kansas City from the northeast, circa 1878
Aerial view of Kansas City
from the northeast, circa 1878

The Missouri Valley region, encompassing the Kansas City metropolitan area, sits squarely in the center of the United States. This strategic location has generated a vibrant and colorful history.

The Osage Indians roamed the territory when Lewis and Clark came through on their expedition. Some of the earliest settlers were a religious group who believed Jackson County, especially Independence, was sacred ground.

Independence, Westport, and St. Joseph developed into bustling outfitting posts for the three major trails going west: Oregon, California, and Santa Fe.

Aerial view of downtown Kansas City looking northwest, circa 1930
Aerial view of downtown KC
looking northwest, circa 1930

And while many believe the raid on Harper's Ferry ignited the Civil War, it really began here, or what is often called the heart of America.

The Civil War spawned outlaws, like the Jesse James gang and Quantrill's band of guerrillas, that caused chaos in the area.

Many people and events continued to impact the development and growth of Kansas City, and even the nation. The Missouri Valley Special Collections preserves and makes available to the public the history of all these events and the stories of the people. Explore our Special Topics links on the left to discover more.