July 16, 2020

Beginning July 20, visitors and residents will have the chance to explore the significance of Missouri’s statehood in a traveling exhibit that examines the conflict, crisis, and compromise surrounding its admission into the Union in commemoration of its upcoming bicentennial.

The exhibit, Struggle for Statehood will be on display at the St. Joseph Visitors Center, 502 N Woodbine, from July 20 – August 28.  Visitors will be asked to adhere to safety guidelines in relation to COVID-19.

The exhibit explores the many facets of the Missouri crisis on both a national and local level. Learn about the history of Missouri leading up to its battle for admission and how that history shaped the future state. Examine what it means to be a state and how that meaning differed for the diverse groups of peoples living in Missouri at the time of its admission.

“No state, I can readily assure you,” said Dr. Steve Belko, Executive Director of the Missouri Humanities Council, “entered the Union with greater fanfare.” When the residents of the Territory of Missouri petitioned Congress in 1818 for admission into the United States, a three-year-long political and ideological battle began between “free” and “slave” states, almost destroying the very union Missouri sought to join. The political upheaval was temporarily resolved with the “Missouri Compromise,” in which Maine entered the Union as a free state, and Missouri – a slave state – became the 24th state in the United States of America. But Missouri’s admission to the Union laid bare the undercurrents of division over slavery and the increasingly fraught political balance between the North and South that would culminate in the American Civil War

Our state’s approaching bicentennial is a unique opportunity for all Missourians to better understand its history. Missouri statehood is tied to the enslavement of African American peoples and audiences to Struggle for Statehood are asked to consider its lasting effects in the region. This exhibit aims to accurately represent Missouri’s entrance into the union and remember injustices that occurred in its past. Missouri’s 200th anniversary offers a platform to showcase the different histories and heritages that comprise our communities ­– a chance to recognize and represent the historically marginalized members of our state.

In addition to the exhibit, The St. Joseph Public Library is helping the community celebrate the third annual Local History Week beginning on July 20.

Local History Week programs available on the St. Joseph Public Library YouTube channel will be “Torn in Shreds: A Town on Two Sides of History” related to the Struggle for Statehood Exhibit, along with “Oral History Project How To”, “Introduction to the Library Digital Archives”, “Making an At-Home Exhibit with Family Heirlooms”, and “Researching Your Home’s History – At Home.”

Other programs and events include Historical Walking Tours using the Clio app, an Architectural Scavenger Hunt, Oral History Project Field Kits available for checkout, and Genealogy Kits to Go for both Adults and Children.

Visit the library’s website at sjpl.lib.mo.us for more information about viewing and participating in the Local History Week programs, along with finding out about other library services and programs.

The exhibit Struggle for Statehood was developed by the Missouri Humanities Council in consultation with the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy and is supported by The Bicentennial Alliance. Companion programming has been made possible in part from funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Missouri Humanities (MH) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The organization strives to enrich lives and strengthen communities by connecting Missourians with the people, places, and ideas that shape our society. For more information: www.mohumanities.org  |  @mohumanities.






Exhibit Contact: Marci Bennett, Exec. Director, St. Joseph CVB, mbennett@stjomo.com, 816-232-6688

History Week Contact: Jennifer Sanders-Tutt, Local History Librarian, 816-232-8151


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