Get involved, University of Missouri

1949 and 1959: Photos of Columbia

Want to see what Columbia looked like to photographers of the Missouri Photo Workshop in 1949 and 1959? I found the images stunning.

Photographers come from across the U.S. and around the world to participate in this Workshop at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. Since 1949, Workshop participants have gone to a small town in Missouri each year to documenting lives there, according to an announcement on the Missouri School of Journalism Facebook page posted today.

Twice, Columbia was the town documented. These links to 1949 and 1959 will take you to a slideshow of haunting views of Columbia.

If you’re not from Columbia, here’s a link to find other towns which were featured.

There are no captions, only images. But I find myself wondering who are these people. Where are they today? Do they see themselves? Do they see our lives in 1949 or 1959?

Do you know them? Can you identify them?

 

 

Black History, Boone County Bicentennial, CoMo200, Events, General, Get involved, National Register of Historic Places, Notable Properties List, University of Missouri

Seven ways to use this website

If you’re a regular reader, thanks! If you’re not, here are seven ways this website can help you and will convince you to follow this website.

  1. First, I keep up with and post any news and events related to history on the page “All Media Coverage.” That’s why this week’s list includes information on upcoming meetings to mark the Boone County bicentennial. All the news comes from reliable news outlets such as KOMU.com, the Columbia Daily Tribune or the Columbia Missourian.  Note, I’m a one-person show, so I’m not perfect. If you see something missing, send me a note or comment below. I’m a keen fan of crowd-sourced knowledge!
  2. Forgot that important happening or upcoming event? Use the All Media Coverage page to refresh your memory.
  3. Only interested in Black history? I got a page for you that I keep updated. There’s an update today! Really want to follow BoCo200 or CoMo200 information? I’ve got a page about that, too. In today’s update, there’s a link to one of the most moving articles I’ve read about the links to slavery common icons have. Those columns at MU? Not such a beautiful site since I now know they were likely built with slave labor.
  4. Not keen on the news? Only want to find out what buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places or the city’s Notable Properties List? No problem. Houses, Apartments, Areas, Buildings, Schools including the University of Missouri, Stephens College and Columbia College all have their own pages. Each page is organized by address so you can find out if that cute house that looks fresh out of a fairy tale at 121 N. West Boulevard is on the National Register.  Spoiler: It’s not.
  5. Can’t be bothered with looking at this website? I understand. We’re all busy. You can sign up for emails whenever I post something.
  6. In love with Facebook like I am? You can find my posts there along with other information as I catch it.
  7. You can send me questions or comments and I’ll try to find answers for you. I have uncovered primary documents proving that David Guitar of 2815 Oakland Gravel Road never served in the Confederacy. An owner of the house during the 1940s renamed the house Confederate Hill, but the original owner of the house never fought against the Union forces. I’ve found a downtown building built by the first Korean student at the University of Missouri. Do you have a question you’d like answered? Let me know and I’ll try to find the answer.

Here’s this week’s news roundup. Enjoy!

  • April 20, 2019 — Center unveils historic photo collection. Source: Columbia Daily Tribune. Summary: Immigrants. A mother. A Reconstruction-period soldier. These images are among the historic photographs on display in the exhibit “Faces Found: Boone County Portraits 1886-1940,” at the Boone County History and Culture Center.
  • April 18, 2019 — Bicentennial mural project meeting in Sturgeon. Source: Columbia Daily Tribune. A meeting is set for April 27, 2019 in the Sturgeon Christian Church Fellowship Hall to seek input about what should be in the mural artist Stacy Self will create for the 200th anniversary of the founding of Boone County.
  • April 14, 2019 — Rude Awakenings: Invisible chains hang on our iconic columns. Source: Columbia Daily Tribune. Summary: An article noting the African-American history that goes unnoticed. For example, the columns left standing in the Quadrangle of the University of Missouri are from a building built in 1839, most likely using enslaved labor. The article notes that in 1830 nearly a quarter of the Boone County population were slaves. The article calls for making sure the history of blacks are not ignored during the bicentennial celebrations.
  • April 12, 2019 — Boone bicentennial plans moving ahead. Source: Columbia Daily Tribune. Summary: Reporting on plans developed for celebrating Boone County’s 200th anniversary. Those plans include having a mural created with input from various Boone County towns. For example, Hallsville residents want representations of Native Americans from the Osage Tribe and a 1963 explosion included. Boone County was created in 1820. The mural will hang in the Boone County History and Culture Center.
  • April 12, 2019 — Letter to the Editor: Looking for new Good Old Boys. Source: Columbia Daily Tribune. Summary: Men who meet at Midway Truck Stop are looking for men to join them for dinner, as many members have left. The meal is at 5:30 p.m. in the cafe. The next meeting will be Monday, May 6.
Apartments, Black History, Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Events, Get involved, Historical Homes

Meeting Saturday: Saving my father’s bookcase

On Saturday, April 6, you’re invited to help write Columbia’s action plan for historic preservation at a meeting from 10 – 11:45 a.m. It will be held in the historic J.W. “Blind” Boone House at 10 N. Fourth Street. Free coffee and snacks will start the event at 9:45 a.m.

It’s a chance to be heard by the Historic Preservation Commission members and help write how we as residents of Columbia want to preserve our history.

So, what do you think should be the city’s priorities? How do you think historic preservation could benefit you? Reply here or on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission’s Facebook page.

Why this is important: My father’s bookcase

For me, historic preservation comes back to my father’s bookcase. When my brothers and I were cleaning out my mother’s house, long after my father had died, one of them held up this battered bookcase/table combination. It didn’t look like much. It was painted a generic white. Clearly, it had seen better days. But just before my brothers tossed it into the dumpster, I said, “I think Dad made that in shop in high school.” We all stopped. “Really? I didn’t know that,” one of my brothers said. “Yeah, I think so,” I said.

We kept it. That’s what historic preservation is all about to me. It wasn’t the bookcase itself. There are lots of small white bookcases in the world. But it was the fact that my father made it — and trust me he wasn’t a master craftsman when he made that bookcase. It gave us a chance to remember and talk about a man who loved and cared for his family the best way he knew how, working long hours, two jobs and repairing everything himself.

Columbia’s bookcases

    • If you were around in 2000/2001, you may remember we almost lost Stephens Park to development. Instead, a city government-citizen partnership provided the push and funding to allow the purchase of this land for one of our city’s most beautiful parks.
    • Or maybe you recall the near loss in 2013 of the Neidermeyer Apartments
    • We’ll be holding the meeting one of the city’s most important historic preservation wins, a journey that took 16 years, the J.W. “Blind” Boone House.

If we’d lost the Boone house, we would have lost the reminder of a man who was born in 1864, the child of a contraband former slave and a Union army bugler. Boone went on to tour the country as a classical and ragtime composer and musician becoming one of the richest men in Boone County before his 1927 death. 

What “bookcases” in Columbia do you want to save? How can the HPC better serve you? What partners should the Commission be seeking?

Let’s have coffee on Saturday and talk about it. I’ll be there to tell you more about my Dad.

Events, Research

Temporary closure of research center!

If you’re a Columbia history researcher, here’s news you need right now! The Research Center of the State Historical Society of Missouri is going to close on April 19 until it reopens Aug. 12, 2019.

Other options are listed below. But where will you turn? Share some other ideas and resources in the comments or on the Facebook page Comohistoricplaces.

Another reason to get going now is new building openings are often delayed, it might actually open a bit later than Aug. 12.

The Society’s other research centers will still be open, but that means a drive to Cape Girardeau, Kansas City, Rolla, Springfield or St. Joseph. Not that far, but not across the street either.

Here’s more information about this temporary suspension of services.

Other options:

  • Columbia Public Library — Don’t freak out too much. The Columbia Public Library will still be open with its research offerings in house and online from home using your library card to log in or online resources at the library such as Ancestry.com.

Not ready to research on your own? The library offers free classes including one on how to use HeritageQuest. The next one will be 9:30-11 a.m. There is also drop-in genealogy help at various times and days. Check out the library’s website for more information.

  • The Boone County History and Culture Center — In addition to exhibits and a large bookstore, the BCHCC has a research library available by appointment. The research library is staffed by volunteers, so call ahead to make sure it’s open. You can also contact the research library volunteers to ask questions and get guidance. (Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer there one afternoon a week and am always finding new resources.)
  • The Genealogy Society of Boone County & Central Missouri is also housed in the Boone County History and Culture Center. The website for the GSBCCM includes a list of the resources available there. Again, it is staffed by volunteers to check to make sure someone is there so you can access the materials

So what resources do you use for historical research? Hit me in the comments or head over to the Facebook page Comohistoricplaces for this website.

 

 

Historical Homes, University of Missouri, Women

Romance, mistakes and hidden history

Watch out guys! If you think getting your beloved flowers is going to cut it after this, you might be mistaken.

The house at 206 Bingham Road is going to put you to shame. Built in 1928, the Tudor Revival features the intertwined initials of architect Harry Satterlee Bill and his wife Florence Harrison Bill. Yeah, their love is literally built into the house. Chocolates ain’t gonna compare to that.

But this is also a blog post about another kind of mistake — mine.

When I listed the historic homes on this page, I mistakenly listed the owners as Harry Satterlee Bill and his wife Florence Henderson Bill. Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader, I was alerted to the mistake and corrected it today. But the great news about making mistakes is you get to learn from them and I did. According to this website Find a Grave, Bill wasn’t even Bill’s name. The document on Find a Grave states that Bill’s original surname was De’Bill. Further, the website includes the information that he was born  “Harrie Satterlee De’Bill, according to the census records of 1880-1900 and his 31 May 1900 passport application.”

And that is what I love about research. Just when you think you’ve found the truth, more information is uncovered which puts things into perspective.

That brings us to some hidden history. It probably wasn’t just romance that made the Bills put their initials into their home, it was reality.

While Harry Satterlee Bill’s accomplishments are documented in, well, documents, and buildings, his wife’s contributions are less well known. In some cases, even her first name gets lost when she’s referred to as Mrs. Bill, as was traditional at that time. Note Harry Satterlee Bill lived from 1876-1946, and Florence Harrison Bill lived from 1879-1958.

As for Mr. Bill’s accomplishments, he was one of the city’s most prominent architects. His work includes his home at 206 Bingham as well as the home at 211 Bingham and the addition to the Central Dairy building at 1104 Broadway. He was also a professor of architecture at the University of Missouri for 17 years and helped to found the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Yet, his wife did more than keep the home fires burning. According this 2017 document created for Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission, Florence Bill took care of the construction details for their home. If you’ve ever even done a kitchen renovation (yes, this is the voice of experience), you know how many details there are in any construction project, so this was no little task.

But there’s more. According to information found on the Missouri Historical Society website, the collection of the Harrison Family Papers includes nine manuscripts for publications in the Bulletin of the Missouri Historical Society.

So as we head into the Valentine’s Day season, along with appreciating the people you love in your life, you might give some thought to the women who went before and didn’t get the gratitude they deserved. And maybe you want to keep it to yourself that Harry Satterlee Bill went way beyond candy hearts in proclaiming his love for his wife Florence Harrison Bill.

No way any of us can beat that.

Black History, Books, University of Missouri, Women

Six degrees of connection: Lucile H. Bluford

History is all about connections, change and, I hope, progress. Lucile H. Bluford isn’t from Columbia, Missouri but she’s connected to Columbia, Missouri.

A book about this journalist, Black feminist and civil rights advocate was published on April 23, 2018 and I apologize for not publicizing it then. To buy it direct, click the title: “Lucile H. Bluford and the Kansas City Call: An Activist Voice for Social Justice.” The book is authored by Sheila Brooks, Ph.D., and Clint C. Wilson.

Lucile H Bluford and the Kansas City Call book cover, used with permission.
Lucile H Bluford and the Kansas City Call book cover, used with permission.

So who is Bluford and how is she connected to Columbia?

Born in 1911 in Salisbury, North Carolina, Bluford was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, where her father moved the family when he took a position to teach there in 1918. She wrote for her high school newspaper at Lincoln High School and wanted to attend college to study journalism but at the time, the University of Missouri wouldn’t admit African Americans, according to the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Several connections to the University of Missouri

Bluford’s first connection is one of disconnect. Because MU wouldn’t admit her, she attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, and graduated in 1932 with high honors.

The next connection is again another of disconnection. In 1939, she “applied to the University of Missouri School of Journalism to do graduate work. She was accepted into the program, but when she went to Columbia to enroll, she was turned away. University officials had not known that she was African American. Just the year before, Lloyd Gaines, an honors student from Lincoln University, had sued the Univesity of Missouri to be accepted into its School of Law. After his case when to the United States Supreme Court and the court ruled in his favor, Gaines mysteriously disappeared,” according, again, to entry on Bluford entry on the State Historical Society of Missouri website.

But Bluford did not disappear. She filed several lawsuits against the university and in 1941, the state supreme court ruled in her favor — but the School of Journalism shut down its graduate program pleading a lack of faculty and students due to World War II.

Finally, there are three positive connections to MU. In 1984, the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism recognized Bluford and awarded her with the Honor Medal for Distinguished Serice in Journalism.

In 1989, the university awarded her with an honorary degree.

2018, MU named a residence all for her, an event which received significant media coverage. 

More connections: Brian Brooks

Brooks, professor emeritus of MU’s School of Journalism, called Bluford, “Little known outside the Missouri-Kansas area, Lucile Bluford nonetheless is one of the true heroines of the U.S. civil rights movement,” according to the book’s website.

Another connection: Clint C. Wilson II – School of Journalism Honor Medalist

The book co-author, Wilson, was given the School of Journalism’s Medal of Honor for Distinguished in Journalism in 1999. Wilson is professor emeritus of journalism, communication, culture and media studies at Howard University.

The book itself, according to a blurb in the October 2018 issue of the Missouri Historical Review, publication of The State Historical Society of Missouri, “attempts to place Bluford in historical context, in art by surveying black women journalists-activist predecessors such as Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Ida B. Wells, Charlotta Amanda Spears Bass, Mildred Dee Brown and Daisy Bates. The latter half of the book includes a quantitative analysis of reportage and opinion pieces on various civil rights issues written by Bluford between 1968 and 1983.” 

So while I don’t know if there’s a historic house in Columbia where she lived while she tried to attend the University of Missouri, Bluford and the book is connected to Columbia, through the historic racism and the progress made in Columbia shown by the University of Missouri recognizing her work even if belatedly.

Historical Homes, Kit homes

Sears homes remain

The verdict is in: Sears is closing its stores and declaring bankruptcy. But Sears homes — and more importantly the legacy of kit homes made famous by Sears will live on.

Sears wasn’t the only firm that offered kit homes, but the term Sears home for kit homes has become widespread.

Do you own or know of Sears homes in Columbia? I’d love to hear about any kit homes so I can start a list of them in our town.

Kit homes bucked racism

The Sears homes were also called radical according to this Forbes article published Oct. 23, 2018 article.  Sears homes bucked the racist procedures at the time that attempted to prevent African Americans from buying homes. The application to buy a Sears home didn’t ask what race the buyer was. The ownership of the land itself was considered proof of a person’s solvency.

See this from the Forbes article: “The terms were easy, requiring a down payment of 25% of the cost of the house and lot, as little as 6% interest for 5 years, or a higher rate for up to 15 years. More radically, the application form asked no questions about race, ethnicity, gender or even finances. This made home ownership possible for thousands of buyers who were not welcome at their local banks.”

Want more information?

You can see more Sears homes in this Washington Post article which shows the catalog photo and the actual house in Elgin, Illinois.

Here’s more in-depth information from this Jan. 29, 2013 article on This Old House online.

I’m betting Columbia has plenty of Sears homes and other kit homes. Do you live in a kit home or even a Sears home? Do you know of any kit homes in Columbia? Let me know. I’d love to catalog and track Columbia’s kit homes!