On July 1st, 2016 Governor Jay Nixon signed HB1851 into law, designating 16 counties along the Missouri River, which follow the settlement of thousands of Germans in the state of Missouri, the Missouri German Heritage Corridor. By 1860, Germans comprised more than half of Missouri’s foreign-born residents.
The Missouri Humanities Council (MHC) has implemented a heritage tourism initiative highlighting Missouri’s German culture and history along the Missouri River. This project will emphasize the past and present influence of the German heritage in Missouri. MHC is currently collecting an inventory of sites, past people and institutions, settlements, culinary aspects, conflict (nativism, Civil War, World Wars I & II), scenic byways, transportation (river landings, bridges, trails), religious influence, agriculture, maps, prints, and images, music, art, and architecture.
MHC’s goal is to create an interactive website and app which will allow tourists and others interested in Missouri immigrant history to explore German heritage in the state. Along with other cultural institutions in the area, the WU Libraries are partnering with MHC on this endeavor. Chris Freeland, Associate University Librarian, was appointed to the Advisory Board for this project. Besides Chris, additional WU librarians and curators will provide research and technical expertise. Together with the partnering institutions, MHC recently submitted an NEH grant for additional funds. This is an exciting opportunity for us to help document, preserve, and provide access to German cultural heritage in our own backyard.
Image of the Missouri German corridor. Pink represents concentrations of German immigrant communities. Image source: Missouri German Consortium.