St. Louis Mercantile Library Special Collections

The special collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library consist of over 400 individual collections with archival materials numbering in the millions, including over 100 historic newspaper titles, presidential letters, early travel diaries and civil war era letters, fur trade records and the newspaper and printing morgue of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, some of which is available digitally. The M-Series of collections represents the core of the Mercantile's holdings. Finding aids and descriptions can be accessed from the library's website through the Mercantile Special Collections Directory.
St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis


M-536 Smith, Charles Army Paymaster Seminole War Correspondence
Letter written by Charles H. Smith, an Army Paymaster in the Territory of Florida. Writing from St. Augustine in East Florida, Smith discusses the status of payments to both regular and volunteer troops. He also responds to a letter from Florida territorial governor Richard K. Call. The last page of the letter, which bears an address to Nathaniel Towson, the Paymaster-General of the United States Army, features a St. Augustine postmark and a “FREE” handstamp. The letter is dated October 26, 1836.
M-552 Scudder, John Missouri Hotel Lease Indenture
Manuscript lease indenture between John Scudder and Benjamin L. Turnbull to lease the Missouri Hotel in St. Louis. The manuscript, dated November 15, 1836, contains witness signatures and an inventory of hotel goods, including feather-beds, lamps, linens, and a Franklin stove. The document indicates the property will be used as a tavern or house of entertainment, and a list of payments is included on the back.
M-562 Brown, John Trapping Correspondence
Letter written by John Brown of Peoria, Illinois to his parents in Morris County, New Jersey. The letter describes plans for possible fur trapping expeditions in the Rocky Mountains and the “Winnebago swamps”. Brown describes the necessary equipment for this kind of expedition and extends an invitation to his friend William Laurence to join the group. He also discusses the rapidly increasing population in the area, the prices of goods, and his work on the construction of the Peoria County Courthouse. The letter is dated July 7, 1835.
M-565 Barbeau, Charles Fur Trader's Manuscript Map of Illinois Country
Manuscript map by fur trader Charles Barbeau. The map illustrates the Illinois Country surrounding the Mississippi River and Kaskaskia River around 1803-1804. The map highlights settlements in the area at the time, including “Fort L’Kentucky” and three English trading posts. Travel times are also noted between various points, and an illustration of an animal appears at the bottom of the page. The name Isaac Hill is also mentioned, possibly referring to the man President Thomas Jefferson commissioned to survey the Illinois Territory around 1808. The verso lists an inventory of furs, livestock, hunting rifles, and other goods in addition to a number of enslaved people. Both the map and inventory are written in French.
M-567 Van Swearingen Correspondence About Tensions with Indigenous People
Letter written by Van Swearingen to Captain Josiah Swearingen of Berkeley County, Virginia, dated March 17, 1791. The author describes a raid against indigenous people, led by Samuel Brady, in retaliation for the capture and killing of settlers. He details the aftermath of the raid and the expectation of upcoming battles. The second half of the letter also discusses Van Swearingen’s financial lending practices.
M-606 Patton, Samuel N. California Gold Rush Letter
This letter, dated April 21, 1852, was written by former Philadelphia resident Samuel N. Patton. Writing to a friend from Rich Gulch in Calaveras County, Patton describes his experience moving to California to be a miner, traveling through the boomtown of San Francisco and the varying landscape of the region. He also describes meetings with friends and his views on gold fever. The letter offers a new migrant’s perspective on the business practices, social relationships, and natural environment at the heart of the California Gold Rush.
M-8-2 Thomas Hart Benton Collection
A collection of documents and images from Thomas Hart Benton, a 19th Century Missouri politician, US Senator and US Representative.


Mercantile Library Collections Directory

Mercantile Special Collections Directory

Barriger Library Collections Directory

Barriger Special Collections Directory

Pott Library Collections Directory

Pott Special Collections Directory