Missouri Valley Special Collections
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We are working on a NEW Local history website which will replace this version of KCHistory.org. Stay tuned for details!

What's New?

April 24, 2009


CONTENTdm, the software used for the Missouri Valley Special Collections Digital Gallery that showcases images and includes the Local History Index, was upgraded to version 5.


Users will notice the difference immediately in the search functions. In the main search box, the use of "and" is now enabled. A user can enter Bonnie and Clyde (with the and) in the main search box and the search engine will find all instances. Previously the "and" was not recognized, and to get any results a user had to put simply Bonnie Clyde without the and.

Second, faceted browsing allows a user to refine a search in selected fields. Choices for refining a search appear in a box on the left and include the number of records for each. For instance, in the Local History Index, a search may retrieve 100 records over all different item types like newspaper, magazine, book, vertical file, etc. It is now possible to select one of the item types, like only newspaper articles, to narrow the initial search.

Advanced Search is still available and produces more targeted and better search results. See the Help files for more on searching, viewing, and on how to use the image toolbar.

PDF Files

PDF files now open directly. Before, a user had to click on a link to open the document. See Viewing PDF Files to learn how to view and search within a PDF.

Questions, comments, and feedback are greatly appreciated to help us create a better user experience in the MVSC Digital Gallery. Please write to lhistory@kclibrary.org.


December 30, 2008

We’ve added two new collections, the Sanborn Maps and the Robert G. Askren Photograph Collection, and over 200 images to the general map collection and a rare nineteenth-century book about Kansas City.

  1. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. Several years ago, 20 volumes of these maps were digitized but were not available to the public. An LSTA grant this year allowed us to put those maps no longer under copyright online. These maps are wonderful for researching buildings, neighborhoods, and urban development. Because they are color-coded, the images in our Digital Gallery complement the Pro-Quest subscription and those we have on microfilm for Kansas City. We’ve added extensive metadata to help users find more specifically what they are researching.

    In addition, the University of Missouri has the three base volumes of 1895 and 1896, but our volumes have been updated to 1907. This means a comparison of the buildings and neighborhoods can easily be made between those years.

    To date, we have added five volumes. We continue to work on adding the images and metadata and should hopefully have all volumes not under copyright added by the end of June next year.

    For more information and links to other Sanborn maps, you may want to check out our pages on the library’s Web pages about the Sanborn maps.

  2. General Map Collection. MVSC has an excellent general map collection. Over 600 are cataloged in our database, but only a few had the actual image attached to the record. Last year we digitized approximately 200 maps, and this year we replaced the “Image Not Available” icon with the map image. Of particular note are maps of early Kansas City, the Country Club District, and, while strictly not a map, the drawing of the 8th Street tunnel. We plan to continue digitizing maps in our collection without copyright restrictions to add online.

  3. Robert G. Askren Photograph Collection. Over 300 photographs from the Askren collection have been added. Robert Askren, a local photographer, donated his photographs and negatives to the Missouri Valley Special Collections in 2006. Images generally depict Kansas City buildings, parks, streets, important events, local personalities, and aerial views of Kansas City. The bulk of the collection dates from the 1930s-1980s, although there are some early aviation photos.

  4. Kansas City: Its Resources and Their Development. This 114-page pictorial book published by The Kansas City Times was produced to advertise and celebrate Kansas City. It includes information about and photographs of buildings, community leaders and business owners, and industries in the late 1800s.

A couple hints to make browsing more effective. When you open the collections, if they are not in thumbnail format, you can change how the images display by clicking on “preferences,” a link located at the bottom of the screen.

And second, to be able to enlarge the map images, you’ll want to turn on the small icon on the toolbar with two rectangles, the hide/show thumbnail icon, to be able to navigate more easily within the image.  Read about how to use the toolbar for a better viewing experience.

April 11, 2008

New Web Pages!

Those who have been using the Missouri Valley Special Collections Digital Gallery web pages will notice some changes.

The Web pages for the Kansas City Public Library made a major overhaul—new design, new content. With that change, the Missouri Valley Special Collections, the local history and genealogy section of the Library, acquired a new and better way to present its many materials.

In July 2007, when we moved the digital images and the Local History Index into the new CONTENTdm-based web pages, the pages were designed in such a way as to incorporate our other material, like the research guides, resources, links, etc.  Now, these have a more appropriate place among our Local History pages, and the CONTENTdm-based Web pages can showcase those materials found in the MVSC Digital Gallery and Local History Index.

The exhibits and essays have been temporarily removed for a new look and will return in some way.

Please explore the new pages.  If you have questions or comments, please write to lhistory@kclibrary.org. We welcome your suggestions.