State Seal

July 10, 2015 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Please join us for the 2015 Annual Meeting of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Association, featuring Sealing the Deal: Steamboats and Their St. Louis Connections, a talk by Sean Visintainer, Cuator of the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library.

This event is free and open to all Mercantile Library members. Light refreshments will be served. Your RSVP is appreciated by July 8 to Amanda Schneider at 314.516.7248 or

whistle stops

Whistle Stops: Campaigning By Train

On Display through October 30, 2015

With Presidential Campaign season just a few months away, be sure not to miss this exhibition of memorabilia and imagery associated with Presidential Campaigning by train, featuring materials from the Shopmaker Political Memorabillia Collection, the Mercantile Library and the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library.  These rare items showcase the use of trains in campaigning by Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.

Merchants On the Map

Merchants on the Map: Selections of Original Business Records from the Mercantile Library's Special Collections through Time

On Display through August 30, 2015

The connections between where St. Louis business leaders and entrepreneurs established their business and the maps of the region are direct and compelling.  Maps were laid out and drawn, consulted and studied, and promotional views of the city were made often at the initiation and urging of the merchants of the frontier city.  Often businesses printed their own maps or were directly involved with the mapping of the city for business reasons.  The link between merchants and mapping was crucial and in St. Louis explains how the city grew for generations, becoming a great American city.  The maps of the town always gave the merchants marketing information and vision; the maps also provided information for new settlers and thus, future clients.

This is a sampling of some of the most fascinating records which present opportunities for further research here at  a library that was intentionally founded by merchants, in part to preserve their embedded history in the story of a city, a state and a nation, right down to its very rubric, “The Mercantile.”

Proud Pastures

Proud Pastures, Country Chronicles and Rural Rhapsodies: America's 19th Century Illustrated Farm Atlases and Viewbooks

On Display through August 30, 2015

For a ten year period, roughly from the late 1860’s through the late 1870’s a publishing phenomenon occurred in America starting in New England, spreading across New York and Pennsylvania, through the heartland of Ohio and Illinois and stretching out across the Mississippi into Missouri, Iowa into the newly settled states of the wheat belt.  This flurry of book production, the creation of large, celebratory county atlases,  essentially across the trans Appalachian agricultural regions of the Eastern seaboard and especially the  Midwest, focused on the preservation of the local history of these regions and created bedrock town and county histories for much of the new nation in the process .

 Somewhere in between the good and the foibles of these exercises in pride and promotion came the thousands of town and country views—of farms and towns, general stores and banks, stables and milling plants, horse farms, cattle farms and apple farms, lumber yards and ferry landings, birds eye views of great cities and  depictions of a tiny farm village here, a country church yard there.  The landscape of the yeoman American farmer, as Jefferson was so fond of invoking in his vision of America, perhaps never came as close to reality as in these books.  They were at once flights of fantasy and romantic renderings of a homogenously  bucolic Lake Wobegon, and at the same time they were accurate depictions before the widespread advent of photography,  of American farm and town households just at the beginning  of their existence.