Browse Digital Collections

1940 Tax Photos 1940 Tax Assessment Photographs In 1940, the Works Progress Administration, in conjunction with the Jackson County Tax Assessor’s office and other local agencies, provided the manpower and partial funding for a photographic survey of all standing buildings in Kansas City, Missouri. The project produced thousands of images of residences, businesses, schools, churches, and government buildings, including many structures that are no longer in existence or would not have otherwise been photographed.
Advertising cards Advertising Cards Victorian trade cards, one of the more picturesque collections in the Missouri Valley Room, provide not only a rich resource for researching the history of printing, advertising, medicine, fashions, late nineteenth-century culture, etc., but also Kansas City companies. The cards reached their height of popularity in the 1880s and 1890s.
Aerial photos Aerial Views Curtiss or Curtiss-Wright Flying Service, Photo Division New York City, shot these Kansas City area aerial views in the 1920s and '30s. The company's name derived in 1929 from pioneer aircraft engine developer and airplane manufacturer Glenn Curtiss and the famous Wright brothers. Find more aerial photographs by putting aerial in the search box above to search all the collections.
Askren collection Askren Photograph Collection Local photographer Robert G. Askren donated 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 1950s-1980s, although there are some early aviation photos.
Assorted Images This eclectic collection consists of images of people and Kansas City places including schools, ice houses, hospitals, businesses, street scenes, historical monuments, etc. Included are the following special collections: Stephen H. Brown; Budworth West Bottoms Drawings; DAR Scrapbook; Dungan Autograph Book; Fire Department; Frank Ford; Gold Star Legion Scrapbook; Hughes Photographs; Ice Houses; KC Bar Association Records; KC Centennial Scrapbook; KC School District Glass Slides; Missouri Valley Historical Society; Old Men's Association; Old Westport Shopping Center Survey; Pioneer Park; Posse of the Westerners; Presidents and Past Presidents Club; Ward Hunt; First National Bank, Speas Company, Richards and Conover Hardware, and World War I Scrapbook.
Autochromes Autochromes During the early 1930s Frank Lauder employed the autochrome process to photograph homes, gardens, and landmarks throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area. These 1200 unique color images provide a truly captivating and one-of-a-kind view of Kansas City's past. Many of the images are close-ups of individual plants and flowers, but also include many exterior views of residences. The autochrome, introduced in 1907 by the Lumiere brothers, was the first viable color photograph process.
Biographies Biographies The famous - and infamous - and not so famous but important Kansas Citians are featured in these locally written biographies. Actors and actresses, artists and architects, politicians and philanthropists, sports figures and settlers, criminals and community leaders, and others all either lived or worked in Kansas City at one time. New biographies are added regularly, so check back frequently.
Building Profiles Kansas City can boast its fair share of architecturally significant buildings. This digital collection highlights 26 of these and includes the historic Vaughan Diamond Building commonly called The Junction (featured here on the left), the New York Life building, Coca-Cola/Western Auto, City Hall, several theaters, and others. The profiles are in PDF form.
Business buildings Business Buildings In 1926-1928 Henry D. Green created a scrapbook with 78 images that feature business buildings, banks, hotels, and theaters.
Churches Churches Comprised primarily of photographs from Olive Hoggins' Centenary History of the Churches and the Westminster Congregational Church Records, this group highlights many of Kansas City's churches. Other collections have church related images, especially Mrs. Sam Ray's postcards and SC206 St. Mary's Episcopal Church Collection. Put "churches" in the search box or click on the "churches" subject heading found with one of these photos.
Coon Sanders
Coon-Sanders Nighthawks Orchestra
Joe Sanders and Carleton Coon co-founded the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks orchestra that gained fame during the 1920s. This digital collection includes many photographs of the orchestra and other performers as well as photographs from Fred Edmiston, author of The Coon-Sanders Nighthawks, and the Harvey Rettberg papers. Rettberg and Clyde Hahn established the Coon-Sanders Nighthawk Fan Club in 1959.
Education Education Kansas City schools and school children comprise the bulk of this grouping of over 470 images. Included are the following special collections: Nikoles Aleski/Virtuana System; James A. Hazlett; Kansas City, Mo. School District; James F. Spalding; Thomas Fitzpatrick.
Eldridge Slides Eldridge Slides of Kansas City During the 1950s and 1960s, amateur photographer Dorothea Eldridge took slides of Kansas City scenes which include buildings, hospitals, riverfront areas, Municipal Airport, Union Station, the West Bottoms, and more. All 108 color slides in the collection have been digitized. 24 black and white and two color prints were made and have been digitized as well.
Family collections Family Collections In addition to photographs, this group has images of documents such as letters. Included are the following special collections: James J. Akard (Civil War related papers); Carl Betz; Jim Bridger; Dixon/Jordan Family; Leonard/Guitar Family; Myers Family; Peery Family; Robinson Family; and John Barber White.
Guadalupe Center Guadalupe Center Photographs The Guadalupe Center began in 1919 when the Catholic Diocese asked the Agnes Ward Amberg Club for Women to establish a settlement house primarily for Mexican immigrants. This digital collection of over 220 photographs originally was in three photo albums. Views include the Guadalupe Center Building, events like festivals and fairs, band concerts, athletic teams, camping and outdoor activities, folk festivals, and family activities.
Guerillas and Outlaws Guerrillas and Outlaws Part of the Missouri Valley oversize art work (MV0), these 53 drawings feature members of William Quantrill's Guerrillas, the James-Younger gang, and others associated with these men, like Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby. All but one of the 53 drawings are done in charcoal by two artists, A. L. Dillenbeck and Elmer Stewart. More...
Hargrace photo collection Hargrave Photograph Collection The Judge Elmo M. Hargrave Photograph Collection contains images taken circa 1920s-1940s that were used to document accident sites in the city. They provide a unique perspective on the traditional views of streetscapes, businesses, residences, parks, and other locales.
Journal-Post photographs Journal-Post Photographs The Kansas City Journal-Post came into existence in 1928 when the Kansas City Journal and the Kansas City Post merged. The paper ceased publication in the 1940s, at which time they apparently sold various items. In 1998 Richard Zeldin donated about 400 glass negatives that he said his grandmother had purchased at that sale. Prints were made from the best negatives courtesy of the Friends of the Library. This digital collection of some of the prints showcase sports figures, numerous celebrities, aerial views, aviation, and the Bennett bridge game murder trial.
Landmarks Commission Landmarks Commission Kansas City Landmarks Commission donated nearly 1,000 photographs to the Missouri Valley Special Collections. They are divided into four groups, but only three have images in the MVSC Digital Gallery: Health Care; Art Commission Awards; and a group of over 580 Miscellaneous photos primarily from different city departments. Images include architectural award-winning Kansas City locations, area hospitals, Kansas City Police, Fire, Public Works, and Sanitation Departments, the 1951 Flood, the Stockyards, and more.
Maps Maps Digital images include state, county, and city maps as well as road, railroad, river, and other areas like the trails. Due to copyright restrictions, many of the records in this collection do not have an associated image. These may be viewed in the Missouri Valley Room. More maps can be located by searching the Library's online catalog.
Music, Dance, Theater Music-Dance-Theater Portrait and group shots of musicians, dancers, and actors comprise this digital collection. The following special collections are included: Dory DeAngelo; Charles Johnson; Felice Lyne; Miracle Scrapbook; Helen Seibert Thomes; Youth Symphony; and Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra Scrapbooks.
Native American and Western Photographs Native American & Western Photograph Collection This artificial collection of 146 photographic images, circa late 1880s to the early 1900s, includes scenes of Native American peoples in Indian Territory, Oklahoma, "Boomer" settlers and settlements, and scenes from the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre. The principal tribes represented are the Ponca, Kiowa, Comanche, Pawnee, Apache, Cherokee, Sac and Fox, Otoe, and Sioux.
Nelly Don collection Nelly Don When Nell Quinlan married Paul Donnelly and moved to Kansas City from Parsons, Kansas, in 1906, she wanted to keep costs low, but still look stylish while working around the house. Not finding what she wanted, she designed and sewed her own housedresses. Her creative genius grew into a multi-million dollar business-the Donnelly Garment Company and the Nelly Don clothing label, "a stylish, feminine frock." Many women of the 1930s and '40s owned a Nelly Don dress. These few photos are mostly group employee shots.
1951 Flood 1951 Kansas City Flood The 1951 flood was one of the most devastating natural events in the Kansas City area. The photographer of these 30 images is unknown. Numerous other photographs of the 1951 flood can be found by putting 1951 Flood in the search box or clicking on the "1951 flood" subject heading with one of these photos.
19th Century Nineteenth-Century Kansas City These late nineteenth-cenutry images of early Kansas City, primarily the 1870s-1890s, provide unique views such as the Board of Trade building under construction, exterior and interior views of the glass Exposition Building, unusual weather events, hotels, and businesses. Early transportation is depicted by bridges, street cars, trains, railroad stations, etc. The bulk of these photographs are from the William Hyde collection and two scrapbooks-Number 1 and Number 3.
General photographs Photographs (General Collection) Brookings Montgomery was a local photographer who owned and operated Montgomery Foto Service for over 50 years during the twentieth century. His collection of thousands of photographs provided the beginning for the general photograph collection of Missouri Valley Special Collections. Staff continue to add to this collection that features people and places in Kansas City.
Postcards Postcards Mrs. Sam (Mildred) Ray's postcard collection contains over 16,000 postcards from all over the world. Only 700 of these have been digitized. For some years, Mrs. Ray wrote a weekly column for The Kansas City Star and The Kansas City Times called "Postcards from Old Kansas City." The digital images in this collection include her historical articles. Additionally, the general collection includes thousands of postcards, but only a few have been digitized. The postcards not digitized can be viewed in the Missouri Valley Room at the Central Branch of the library.
Sanborn Maps Sanborn Maps The Kansas City Sanborn Fire Insurance maps in the Missouri Valley Special Collections Digital Gallery consist of over 1200 individual pages or images. The large-scale maps provide an invaluable resource for historians, genealogists, geographers, students, environmentalists, and others researching buildings, neighborhoods, and the individuals that lived and worked in them. More...
South Central Business Association South Central Business Association
This digital collection of 900 photographs includes portraits of local business, civic, educational and church leaders as well as famous entertainers. The South Central Business Association, organized in 1919, was a business group located in the area of 31st and Troost. The core of the collection contains 44 scrapbooks with newspaper clippings, photographs, brochures, flyers, correspondence, and a variety of ephemeral items. Only the photographs have been digitized.
South Central Business Association Stockyards
The Kansas City Stockyards operated in the West Bottoms of Kansas City from 1871 to 1991. It was the second largest stockyards in the nation and one of Kansas City's most important industries. This collection documents the natural and built environment of the Kansas City Stockyards and West Bottoms from 1828-1983. It is a mostly oversized collection of blueprints, maps, architectural drawings, land abstracts, photos, and correspondence.
This collection shows modes of transportation used around 1910: railroads, the newly evolving automobile, streetcars, interurban to Excelsior Springs, riverboats, and an early airplane. Few photos of rolling stock and engines appear, but views of railroad track and bridges are numerous as well as railroad employees such as cooks and depot workers. These photographs capture both rural and urban scenes as well as the dress, style, and mood of the time.
Union Station Construction
Union Station Construction
The Union Station Construction Photographs collection consists of 49 photographs of Kansas City’s Union Station and corresponding infrastructure while under construction. The photos are identified, dated between 1910-1911, and offer insight into the scope of work put into the building that would serve as the primary transportation hub of Kansas City into the middle of the 20th century.
Willis Castle Willis Castle Memorial Photographs Primarily from the 1940s-1950s, these 340 photographs contain shots of the city market, municipal auditorium, street scenes, city officials, aerial views, and parks. Willis Castle, was employed by Kansas City, Missouri, as Superintendent of Markets and Broadway Bridge from 1974-1977.
Local History Index Local History Index This valuable resource, an index to numerous articles in magazines, newsletters, newspapers, books, as well as factual entries on topics of interest to the Missouri Valley area and Kansas City specifically, has over 36,000 records. Entries are added daily by the librarians. To view most of these items, you need to visit the Missouri Valley Room, or where applicable, write to request a photocopy.