FALL, 2019
A Treasure Trove of Unseen Historic Steamboat and River Photo Albums Coming to the Mercantile:

From Family Heirloom to Vibrant Research Collection Overnight
 
The Mercantile over the summer received a series of scrapbooks of early, historic steamboat and river scenes, including hundreds of rare images of St. Louis in the golden age of the these river palaces that hemmed the riverfront of the past. Included are views of the Eads Bridge immediately after the Great Cyclone of 1896 that cut a huge swath of destruction across the city and disrupted river traffic dramatically. Also included in these elegant albums are series of pictures of many of the greatest packet lines that navigated the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Collection at the Mercantile is home to nearly 100,000 historic photographs that span two centuries, and these new acquisitions immediately take their place as a crowning jewel of this research trove for students and the general public alike. 
An unrecorded image of the Mighty Mississippi, after the Great Cyclone of St. Louis in 1896.
This interior scene gives new meaning to the size of a riverboat. Images of riverboat outings,
such as this, are a hymn to bygone days on the Mississippi River.
A chilling ice flow on the Mississippi River banks.
This steamboat album is meticulously documented page by page.
As We Say Farewell to Headlines of History, the Mercantile Welcomes New Historical Journalistic Collections
 
Over the summer months, as news of the move of the offices of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was made public, the Mercantile Library, which houses the largest collections of historic newspapers, newspaper business records, and historic journalistic photographs in Missouri, sprang into action once more to offer assistance in preserving collections at the Post that could not be taken into the newspaper’s new quarters. 

Coming to the Mercantile Library are extraordinary pieces of St. Louis newspaper memorabilia including Joseph Pulitzer Jr.’s desk and chair, the famous etched windows from the Peters Shoe factory that depicted Peters Weatherbird Shoes for children. The Library also has acquired hundreds of the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau scrapbooks, spanning columns and clipping related to world historical events from generations of journalists with a front seat to history and a typewriter capable of describing those events to audiences back home in St. Louis. Also coming are hundreds of thousands of historic photo negatives arranged by the names of the photo journalists working at the Post, added to the complete working files of this historic newspaper previously donated by the Pulitzer Publishing company. This tremendous collection is a magnificent compliment to the historic photo collections here at the Mercantile of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. These research collections will aid in numerous scholarly projects in the future both at the Library and as the underpinning of further programs, examinations and exhibitions by other regional cultural institutions in partnership with the Mercantile to tell the unique story of our city, state and nation. In a related acquisition, the collection of photos of distinguished St. Louis Globe-Democrat photographer T. V. Vessell came to the Library recently, which document well the people and places of St. Louis at the height of the Globe’s circulation.
 
The Mercantile has added thousands of issues of historic newspapers from across the nation and the centuries since the opening of this exhibition. In addition to these acquisitions, the Mercantile is scanning the complete files of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat for online-access—to date thousands of images from the photo collections of this newspaper are on the Mercantile’s digital archive pages. The Library is tremendously grateful to the many donors, from large companies, to individual contributors who recognize the importance of preserving historic newspapers – the great time machines of our experience in this nation. They have made this massive preservation of the printed memory of St. Louis possible here at the Mercantile. Our commitment to newspaper history is encapsulated in Headlines of History, to which we give a fond farewell at the end of November. We urge members to take a last look at an exhibition years in the planning and probably never to be duplicated as we begin mounting new exhibitions marking the Library’s 175 Anniversary in the coming year.


Woodville, “War News from Mexico” print in the Headlines exhibition
This issue has a front page article on "The Mexican Republic", and on "Texas"; less than four months after the Alamo.
 
The Earliest Missouri Almanac Won at Auction
for the Mercantile’s Rare Book Collection

 
At the end of the summer the Library staff was notified of the appearance at auction of one of the rarest Missouri imprints, the 1818 Charless’ Missouri and Illinois Almanac. This work is so rare that only two intact copies survive in the nation, and it has alluded the Mercantile, which is home to the first book, the first collection of poems, the first play, the first newspaper, the first city directory, the first work of history and the first novel among many other firsts of Missouri publishing and printing, and yet not this fabled piece of frontier literature. 

Estimated immediately to exceed the auction’s estimate many times over, the Library went on a campaign to acquire needed funds to obtain this important work of Missouri history, and the challenge to create a bidding war chest was resoundingly met by our generous members and donors who have so often since the Mercantile’s beginnings  helped create this great library collection. The 1818 Almanac is part of a bound series of nearly twenty other rare Missouri and Pittsburgh frontier almanacs assembled and signed by St. Louis’ pioneer printer, Joseph Charless (1772-1834) and form an almost unbelievable survival of frontier Americana. The Library wishes to thank all of its generous friends who help assure such successful outcomes by fortifying our acquisition funds and allowing a great St. Louis imprint to return home to its city of origin. Next to the Holy Bible, an almanac was perhaps the most important book to grace the table of a lonely Missouri frontier cabin two hundred years ago, as peddlers brought them from outpost to outpost out of their horses’ saddle bags—they were vestiges of civilization and truly, as one earlier writer called them, the “voice of the old frontier.”

New Arrival!
 
The Diaries of Rufus Ingalls
 
Mercantile and Pott Library Board Member Thomas Grady donated three volumes of the diaries of Rufus Ingalls that cover the years 1853, 1854, and 1861. Ingalls was born in Maine in 1819 and was part of the West Point Class of 1843, where he was the first year roommate of Ulysses S. Grant. Before the outbreak of the war, Ingalls served with Grant in Oregon Territory. He remained on the frontier until April, 1861 when he was ordered to Ft. Pickens, Florida.

After his posting to Ft. Pickens, Ingalls joined the staff of Major General George B. McClellan in Virginia and served with the Army of the Potomac until the end of the war. He was appointed Quartermaster General of the Army of the Potomac in 1862 and was promoted to Major General. He served as Quartermaster of that army throughout the war. When his pre-war associate Ulysses Grant assumed command of all Union Armies and took personal charge of the Eastern Campaigns, he placed Ingalls in the position of coordinating the supply of the three Union armies operating against Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia in 1864.

Ingalls reverted to a regular army rank of Colonel after the conclusion of the war and served in a variety of Western Posts until 1882. He was made the 16th Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army in February of that year and retired in 1883. He spent time in Oregon until 1891 when he moved to New York, where he passed away in 1893.

The three diaries cover two years of Ingalls' pre-war career, with particular focus on the Steptoe Expedition from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory to Benecia, California. The diaries also provide an itinerary of his travels by steamship from the West to the East, and he discusses the mundane duties of submitting pay vouchers and expenses that were part of the routine of a pre-war officer in the Army.

His 1861 Diary begins in Washington, D.C. on the eve of the Civil War. As the war clouds gather, he begins to put his personal affairs in order, settling debits and making sure balances owed are collected. For the remainder of the year Ingalls is involved in Army service; first at Fort Pickens, one of the few U.S. Forts in the South that did not fall to Confederate assault, and then to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, future prison of Jefferson Davis. 

The three volumes provide a small glimpse into the day-to-day life of a pre-war officer in the West and a wartime Quartermaster, and will be of great use to historians of the West and the US Civil War.


Saunders Schultz: Visionary Abstractions

On view in the Meier Gallery through January 1, 2020

Saunders Schultz: Visionary Abstractions is a focused exhibition of works by this world-renowned St. Louis artist that explores his commitment to nature as the purest inspiration. The 33 drawings, paintings, and sculpture reveal the artist’s vision of natural forms reduced to their simplest and most elemental shapes and used to convey essential human truths. The opening reception on June 23 featured a talk by Lisa Schultz, the artist’s daughter, and attracted a large group of members and guests, many of whom knew Schultz or his collaborator, William Severson.

Schultz was one of the originators of the concept of environmental architectural sculpture and contributed to nearly 300 works found in 37 states and around the world.  St. Louisans have the opportunity to see his site-specific sculptures at the Zoo, in Clayton, in public parks, and in churches and synagogues throughout the city.  Perhaps most notable is the brick relief sculpture on the side of the 27 story Council Towers building on Grand Avenue, facing the Arch.  Schultz designed Finite-Infinite in 1976 using forms that reflect the shape of the Arch and visually connect the two monumental landmarks. On this 50th anniversary of the sculpture, it is fitting to honor Schultz’s contribution to the art world with this exhibition.

The Mercantile Library Art Museum gratefully acknowledges the generous donation of Schultz artwork by Lisa Schultz, the artist’s daughter, and Veronica Slade. We also extend sincere thanks to the City of Crestwood for the loan of one panel from the Gift from the Sea series formerly located in the Crestwood Plaza Mall. The exhibition will be on view in the Meier Gallery through December 2019. Free docent-led tours are available on weekdays by phoning 314-516-7248. Free docent-led tours are available Saturdays at 11 am and Sundays at 2 pm with no reservation needed. See more of Schultz’s work on his website.

Finite-Infinite, Council Towers, 1967
Untitled, ink on paper, 1996
Saunders Schultz exhibition opening, June 23, 2019
News Gathering

On the Road, Collecting Newspapers

 
The St. Louis Mercantile Library has been working with the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts to acquire newspapers from the post-1876 era. Because these items are outside of the collecting scope of the American Antiquarian Society, they have been seeking proper homes for them for some time.

 The first component of this acquisition arrived in July. The work started in the winter when Library Director John Hoover and Barriger Curator Nick Fry traveled to Worcester and surveyed the collection being made available to the library. Planning began to move the collection to St. Louis in several shipments from the various storage locations in Worcester.

Art Curator Julie Dunn-Morton, Barriger Curator Nick Fry and Mercantile Security Guard Bob Malon traveled to Worcester in June to pack up the first shipment for transport. We worked with our university partners at Enterprise Commercial Rentals to reserve a cargo van for the three day trip back to the library. Nick and Bob took turns driving the collection over the Appalachian Mountains, across the great rivers of the East like the Hudson and Susquehanna, and over the plains of Indiana and Illinois to St. Louis.

The next shipment is due in the first half of September with a final shipment of approximately twenty-five tons of newspapers to follow in the Fall. This new acquisition will more than double our existing holdings of newspapers and improve the library’s ability to assist researchers who are examining the history of the United States and the region. 
Security Officer Bob Malon, driving across Pennsylvania.
A glimpse of the precious cargo.
The first shipment of newspapers.
John Hoover surveys the collection.
Library News
Summer Intern Orchestrates the Mercantile Sheet Music Collection
 
The Mercantile Library has a long-standing arrangement with Truman State University to accept an intern for their summer semester course-credit internship program. This year’s student, Noah Rogers, is a Music and Linguistics major with an interest in American music history and folklore. Noah was excited to learn of the Mercantile’s sheet music collection, which was partially catalogued but had numerous additions since that time. During his seven weeks, Noah re-alphabetized the music to incorporate the additions, updated the finding aid list of 1250 pieces of sheet music, and scanned twenty pieces of sheet music for the UMSL Digital Library, bringing the online total to sixty pieces.  Enjoy these examples of historic music in the Digital Library here. Learn more about the collection on the Collections page here.
 

Mercantile Library Art Museum Secures Major Luce Foundation Grant
 
The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a $130,000 grant to the St. Louis Mercantile Library Art Museum in support of its conservation, exhibition and publications initiatives. This major grant is part of the foundation’s American Art program designed to support museums, universities, and arts organizations in their efforts to advance the understanding and experience of American and Native American visual arts through research, exhibitions, publications, and collection projects. The Museum’s grant proposal encompassed painting conservation, professional digital photography, publication of a significantly revised second edition to the Art Handbook, a selective re-installation of the art collection to highlight recent acquisitions, and upgrading gallery lighting fixtures. These projects are centered on and will support the celebration of the Library’s 175th Anniversary in 2021.
 
Staff Spotlight: Brittney West
 
In April the Library was pleased to welcome a new Library Assistant, Brittney West. Brittney has a BA in Fine Arts that she’s putting to good use with the Library’s many graphic projects, as well as considerable customer service experience that has prepared her for her membership and board-related duties. Thanks to her strong organizational skills, Brittney has quickly come up to speed on managing the Library’s many events. Her lively sense of humor and love of pets make her a perfect match for the Mercantile team!
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The St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri- St. Louis
1 University Blvd.  St. Louis, MO 63121
314-516-7240

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