School is almost out, but history lessons are always important
From one of our country’s most infamous outlaws to one of its greatest presidents, some of America’s most interesting history unfolds at museums in northwest Missouri. Fascinating exhibits will take you from the war to end all wars to the advancement of civil rights through the universal language of sports and more.
One hundred years ago, eight African-American baseball teams, including the Kansas City Monarchs, created a league of their own in segregated America. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, located where it was founded in Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine District, is the world’s only museum to celebrate the rich history of African-American baseball and its contributions to social change in America.
Dedicated to remembering and understanding the Great War and its impact, the National World War I Museum and Memorial in downtown Kansas City holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world. The museum takes visitors on a journey through this transformative time in history by sharing personal stories of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice.
When the steamboat Arabia sank in the Missouri River in 1856, it carried 200 tons of cargo bound for the west. The river channel eventually shifted, leaving the vessel buried in the middle of a farmer’s field. The ship’s recovery in 1988 followed a modern day treasure hunt that resulted in a glimpse of life in the 1800s. See the artifacts – including clothing, fine china, tools and children’s toys – at the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City.
The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence honors the only president to call Missouri home. The facility underwent a $30 million renovation in 2020 and features interactive exhibits focused on telling Truman’s story. The museum chronicles his rise from humble beginnings to the Oval Office, including his handling of the challenges of becoming president during the final months of World War II.
As the west was being settled, it took mail anywhere from 20 to 60 days to reach its destination. A relay system of horseback riders to deliver correspondence was developed in St. Joseph – and the Pony Express was born. With their saddlebags stuffed full of letters, the riders could deliver mail to California in 10 days. Housed in the stables where the horses were once kept, the Pony Express National Museum features interactive exhibits about the riders’ adventures as they rode across the untamed wilderness.
Notorious outlaw Jesse James was raised in western Missouri. A bank and train robber, James was shot and killed in St. Joseph by Bob Ford, a member of the James gang, so he could collect the $10,000 reward offered by the governor. Today, the Jesse James Home is a museum that focuses on the life and death of the infamous outlaw.