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Trove of Historical Records Comin’ To Kansas City

$250,000 Gift Jumpstarts Campaign To Expand Kansas City Research Center

rendering of corridor gallery in new kansas city research center The newly renovated Kansas City Research Center will have a corridor gallery. (Courtesy | State Historical Society of Missouri)
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The State Historical Society of Missouri has announced receipt of a $250,000 lead gift toward relocating and expanding a research center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The award comes from the Kansas City-based Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation. The money will assist in moving the Kansas City Research Center from Newcomb Hall to a new 5,100-square-foot spot in Miller Nichols Library.

At present, most of the research center’s 14,000 cubic feet of material is stored at the University of Missouri’s records center in Columbia. The new space will accommodate most of the collection, cutting retrieval time from as long as two weeks to five minutes.

“I like to think of it as we are bringing Kansas City history back home,” said Lucinda Adams, associate director of the historical society.

The total cost of the relocation project is $3 million. The hope is to have the work completed by the summer of 2021. Relocation of the research center is part of ongoing renovations to the UMKC library.

According to the university, a foundation gift this year provided funding to complete the third floor, leaving the ground and fourth floors to be renovated.

By moving into third floor space at the Miller Nichols Library, Adams is anxious to increase the visibility of this collection, which is open to the public.

“You don’t know how many times I have heard, ‘I didn’t know you all existed,’ ” Adams said.

The new space will have room for exhibits and a view that looks off toward downtown and the Country Club Plaza. Miller Nichols was the son of famed Kansas City developer J.C. Nichols, who developed the Plaza and other areas around the city.

Established in 1980, the Kansas City Research Center is one of six State Historical Society research centers located throughout Missouri. 

J.C. Nichols and family at Indian Hills fire pit
This 1922 photo shows J.C. Nichols (on the left) and his family at one of their favorite evening spots in Indian Hills. (Courtesy | State Historical Society of Missouri)

According to the historical society, the research center here holds the largest local history collection in Kansas City. Its holdings include more than 17,000 sets of architectural drawings, the J.C. Nichols Co. records, the Miller Nichols Papers, the Jewish Community Archives, and the Native Sons and Daughters of Greater Kansas City Records.

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