It was a rare instance where the planning for the celebration of the event took longer than the event itself. In 1820, President James Monroe signed the Missouri Bill, allowing people living in the area that would become our state to adopt a state constitution and establish a state government. The following year, the U.S. Congress passed the Missouri Compromise, admitting Missouri as the 24th state.
This year-long process pales in comparison to the four years that officials and academics at The State Historical Society of Missouri (SHSMO) have spent planning the statewide Missouri Bicentennial celebration. More than several thousand Missourians have participated in some way already, either with the planning or with submitting photos, stories, quilt blocks and more to various collections.
The theme of the celebration, which is affiliated with nearly 200 programs and events across the state, is “past, present and future.” A complete list of events throughout the year is online at missouri2021.org.
A festival at the Center for Missouri Studies in Columbia, featuring the unveiling of the bicentennial stamp and dedication of the Bicentennial Bridge is being built in Jefferson City, and a statewide ice cream social are planned for the official statehood day, Aug. 10. In the meantime, there are several events Franklin County residents can get involved in.
Beth Pike, senior strategic communications associate for the The State Historical Society of Missouri who used to live in Washington, Missouri, began working on a timeline in September covering Missouri history dating from the Oneota Indigenous People of 1250 A.D. to the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup and Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victories in 2019 and 2020.
“It was a huge undertaking,” Pike said. “I think it’ll be a helpful resource for people of all ages.”
The timeline is available online at missouri2021.org/ara-homepage/missouri-timeline.
Launching Feb. 1 will be Missouri Scouts, a family-friendly program encouraging exploration and travel to new regions of the state. Participating locations will offer collectible buttons to visitors.
The Missouri Main Street Connection, a collective of more than 160 Missouri commercial districts, including Washington’s, also has a Bicentennial Passport to encourage tourism and travel.
Missouri 2021 Presents
With Missouri 2021 Presents, the state historical society is offering a free virtual lecture series exploring the history of the state every first Tuesday of the month. The next program, Feb. 2 at 11 a.m., will host artists and art historians discussing Missouri’s contributions to American art. The program also will feature the Missouri Bicentennial Mural, a 16-panel, 30-foot canvas people across the state are being invited to contribute to, and include information on the four student finalists in the Bicentennial Poster design contest, who will each have their work made into an official poster by Kansas City-based Hallmark Creative Marketing Studio. Register at shsmo.org/events/2020/mo2021-presents-feb.
The January program, “The Missouri Crisis and Struggle for Statehood,” focused on the story of Missouri’s admission as a slave state and the debates on the institution of slavery and is available to view online.
2021 Photo Project
This program began in 2018 and asked people across the state to submit their best photos of Missouri. The best 1,000, taken by amateurs and professionals, including some submissions from Franklin County, were selected for the exhibition, sponsored by Shelter Insurance and PRO Expo Exhibits.
The gallery will travel to 10 locations during the year. It will be on display in Ste. Genevieve starting Feb. 11, and in South County at St. Louis County Library Grant’s View Branch starting March 4. A team of judges selected the best 200 to be archived with the Bicentennial materials.
The complete gallery is also online at missouri2021.org/my-missouri-2021.
This program’s mission is documenting the meaningful places and people of Missouri, which will be archived and used long term for research. The initiative asks anyone in any part of the state to record their memories and histories of specific landmarks for the collection.
“What we’re asking people — and I’d love if that happened in Washington — is if there’s anything about a place, something that has a meaningful value to you and your community, you can write a narrative about it, as well as (share) some images, and it will be archived as part of the whole Bicentennial,” Pike said. “It’s a way to share with the future generations one particular place or thing that is special to you.”
That information is available at missouri2021.org/mo-community-legacies and can be completed by individuals or organizations.
Organizations, businesses and government agencies are invited to send in three items for potential inclusion in a statewide time capsule organized by the state historical society and Saint Louis Ambassadors. The three items should represent your past, present and future — this can be a note to future Missourians unearthing the time capsule, which will be housed at the state historical society building in Columbia. The capsule will be sealed Aug. 27, 2021, and reopened Aug. 10, 2046.