Local History

Post Date: Thu, December 28, 2017

With the beginning of a new year comes the renewed commitment to shake up our usual routines. We tell ourselves we’re going to learn a new skill, take a class or two, strive to get exposed to diverse and different ideas, make healthier choices, take risks in personal and professional lives… an ambitious list of life-changing activities. Luckily, the Library is an ideal starting point to help you turn your New Year’s resolutions into real results.

Post Date: Wed, June 15, 2022

The Library and two institutional partners – the Local Investment Commission (LINC) and the Black Archives of Mid-America – are being honored with the nation’s top award for the preservation of state and local history. They’ll receive the American Association for State and Local History’s Award of Excellence, recognizing their multifaceted 2021 Kansas City Black History project. It features a 44-page publication highlighting Black trailblazers, barrier breakers, and history makers in the city and the surrounding area, along with a companion website offering lesson plans, Black history programming, and other related content. 
 

Post Date: Tue, February 27, 2018

The Library recently launched its newest historical website, The Pendergast Years: Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression, a digital trove of photos, letters, documents, and original articles illuminating the wide-open era of the 1920s and ’30s when “Boss Tom” Pendergast ruled city politics, corruption was rampant., and violence, stoked by Prohibition, was commonplace.
 

Post Date: Mon, August 9, 2021

Two hundred years ago, on August 10, 1821, Missouri officially became the 24th state. From this year’s Homegrown Stories Summer Reading Program and our Missouri Valley Special Collections to recommended reading and online events, the Kansas City Public Library has many ways to celebrate the Show-Me State’s bicentennial.

Post Date: Thu, June 30, 2022

Henry Perry, the man who first assumed the title of Barbecue King of Kansas City, was born on March 16, 1874, in Shelby County, Tennessee. By 1908, he was in Kansas City selling smoked meats to downtown workers from a stand in the Garment District, eventually relocating to the east side at 17th and Lydia before landing at his famed 19th and Highland location. July 3 is Henry Perry Day in Kansas City; we take a moment to explore Henry Perry’s life and career through an article printed in the February 26, 1932, edition of The Call.
 

Post Date: Tue, June 29, 2021

Henry Perry, the man who first assumed the title of Barbecue King of Kansas City, was born on March 16, 1874, in Shelby County, Tennessee. By 1908, he was in Kansas City selling smoked meats to downtown workers from a stand in the Garment District, eventually relocating to the east side at 17th and Lydia before landing at his famed 19th and Highland location. July 3 is Henry Perry Day in Kansas City; we take a moment to explore Henry Perry’s life and career through an article printed in the February 26, 1932, edition of The Call.
 

Post Date: Wed, March 20, 2019

As Kansas City International Airport breaks ground on a new terminal on March 25, 2019,  the Library's Missouri Valley Special Collections provides a window seat to the city's aviation past.
 

Post Date: Mon, January 30, 2023

With Kansas City International Airport's new single terminal now scheduled to open on February 28, 2023,  the Library's Missouri Valley Special Collections gives you a window seat to the city's aviation past with a collection of images and historical background.
 

Post Date: Wed, June 29, 2022

Lucile Bluford – namesake of the Library's L.H. Bluford Branch – was a local civil rights leader and helped make The Kansas City Call one of the most important African-American newspapers in the nation. During July, The Library celebrates Bluford’s impact on the KC community and the nation at large.

 

Post Date: Mon, June 28, 2021

Lucile Bluford – namesake of the Library's L.H. Bluford Branch – was a local civil rights leader and helped make The Kansas City Call one of the most important African-American newspapers in the nation. During July, The Library celebrates Bluford’s impact on the KC community and the nation at large.
 

Post Date: Wed, February 27, 2019

Street signs along Kansas City's Paseo Boulevard began coming down in late February, replaced with new ones proclaiming the street’s new name: Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Following a long period of local debate, a mayoral task force, and a measure passed by the city council in October, the historic street is now officially renamed after the civil rights leader. On the occasion of the boulevard’s name change, the Library has pulled together a selection of images from the Missouri Valley Special Collections that provide some snapshots of The Paseo’s past.
 

Post Date: Wed, August 11, 2021

Finding a beach during the dog days of summer can be a real problem for landlocked Kansas Citians. The quest often requires long-distance travel and can decimate vacation budgets. Reader Tyler Smith recently came across some old photos of locals wiling away long summer days at a picturesque beach, a mere 20-minute train ride from downtown. He asked What’s Your KCQ?, a partnership between The Kansas City Star and the Kansas City Public Library, to help explain where it was located and what exactly happened to it.

Post Date: Wed, October 11, 2017

The Kansas City Public Library, National World War I Museum and Memorial, and Kansas City Museum offered a unique glimpse into our city’s past by organizing a “history crawl” walking tour along a portion of the Main Street corridor downtown. The approximately two-mile tour, led by preservation consultant and architectural historian Cydney Millstein, began at the Central Library near 10th and Main, and wrapped up at the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum.
 

Post Date: Thu, October 3, 2019

It’s fall, y’all, and the Library is kicking off the Halloween season with a monstrously good mashup of haunted local history tales, scary story recommendations, spooky special events, and frightfully fun family festivities.
 

Post Date: Sun, November 25, 2018

Question: What happened to all the Christmas decorations that used to be downtown, particularly the crowns strung across the streets with garland?

A timely question as we enter holiday light season in the Kansas City area. Short of digging through the attic at City Hall, my first thought was to consult Monroe Dodd’s 2001 book Christmastime in Kansas City: The Story of the Season. According to Dodd, the Christmas shopping season was a modest affair in the years before World War I. The economic boom that followed the war changed things, and beginning in 1924, a group of downtown retailers pooled their resources to festoon the streets with garland and other decorations. In 1925 they added a parade to kick off the holiday season.

Post Date: Wed, December 19, 2018

UPDATED Question: What happened to all the Christmas decorations that used to be downtown, particularly the crowns strung across the streets with garland?

In our first response to this question, I reported that the Merchants Association began displaying crowns at busy downtown intersections in 1957. Thanks to an observant reader with a special connection to the crowns, I now realize that this date is incorrect. In fact, evidence points to the crowns first being installed in 1962.

Post Date: Mon, October 15, 2018

It sure seems like Kansas City ought to be named Missouri City, doesn’t it? Although, our neighbors to the north in Clay County where the actual Missouri City is located might have something to say about that. To better understand why Kansas City was given its name, we must first gain an understanding of why a city was established here, and also what was going on in the world at that time.
 

Post Date: Fri, November 16, 2018

The KCTV broadcast tower at 31st Street and Grand Avenue once served as a 1,042-foot tall beacon at night, visible for miles around with more than 1,300 white lights tracing its four legs. But the tower has been unlit for more than a decade. Kansas City native Todd Hembree wonders why — and if — the lights will ever return.

Post Date: Mon, March 8, 2021

The Library's Missouri Valley Special Collections has two coloring books available for free download that celebrate the lives and contributions of local women in our region's history. Read about the legacies of these notable Kansas City women and get digital copies of the coloring books to print out and enjoy. Find both editions at kchistory.org.coloringkc.
 

Post Date: Fri, August 28, 2020

We’re celebrating the 100th birthday of Kansas City jazz legend Charlie Parker. Known as “Yardbird,” or just “Bird,” he was born in Kansas City, Kansas, on August 29, 1920, and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, during its peak years of jazz culture. Discover more about Parker’s impact on Kansas City and explore his musical legacy through the Library’s Missouri Valley Special Collections. You can also listen to albums of Parker’s music, available for free with your library card.
 

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