Missouri State History

Get more access to a wealth of history information about the Show-Me State, including details on historical figures like Lewis & Clark, Dred Scott and Harry S Truman.

Historical timeline
Take a timeline tour of Missouri’s history from 1673-1990.
Hall of Famous Missourians
Take a virtual tour of Missouri’s most famous residents and historical figures.

Missouri’s state symbols

Can you name the state tree of Missouri? How about sing the state song? Brush up on your state symbols.

Previous state and federal officials
The Historical Listing of Missouri’s State and Federal Officials provides basic information about those individuals who have served Missouri as state and federal legislators. The listing includes service from Missouri’s territorial period through the present.
Missouri Digital Heritage
More than 6.8 million records can be accessed through Missouri Digital Heritage, including the collections of the Missouri State Archives, the Missouri State Library and more than 50 institutions from across the state.

Common questions about Missouri

How did Missouri get its name?

Missouri gets its name from a tribe of Sioux Indians of the state called the Missouris. The word “Missouri” often has been construed to mean “muddy water” but the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology has stated it means “town of the large canoes,” and authorities have said the Indian syllables from which the word comes mean “wooden canoe people” or “he of the big canoe.”

Why is Missouri called “the Show-Me State”?

There are a number of stories and legends behind Missouri’s sobriquet “Show-Me” state. The slogan is not official, but it is common throughout the state and is used on Missouri license plates. Visit the Missouri State Archives to learn more about the state’s nickname.

What is the history of the Missouri state capitol?

The first state capitol building in Jefferson City was built in the period of 1823-1826 and was destroyed by fire in 1837. A new capitol building had been approved at the time and was completed in 1840. The second capitol was destroyed by fire on February 5, 1911, when a bolt of lightning struck the dome. The present capitol was built in the period of 1913-1917 and stands upon the same spot as its predecessor, high atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. Learn more at the Missouri State Archives.