Looking for Eliza Scidmore in St. Louis

“A sense of place.” I think it’s crucial to understanding the influences that shape an individual. The master biographer Robert Caro agrees.

That idea took me to St. Louis this fall looking for traces of Eliza Scidmore. Early in her career Scidmore wrote frequently for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, which at that time was one of the most influential papers west of the Mississippi.

St. Louis Mercantile Museum Library

Scidmore wrote for the paper from Washington. But did she spend much time in St. Louis?

That’s what I hoped to find out when I accompanied my husband on a business trip. The St. Louis Mercantile Museum holds all the historical records of the Globe-Dispatch, which ceased publication in 1986. I knew from advance research that the newspaper’s business records only dated back to about the 1920s, but I wanted to poke around and see what I might find in other archival resources. 

Benton Park in St. Louis

Unfortunately, I didn’t uncover much that was useful for the book. But I enjoyed the trip for other reasons.

For one thing, I’d never been to St. Louis, even though I attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. Bruce and I stayed in the Benton Park area and enjoyed some of its many great restaurants. Maybe it’s because I was raised in midwestern Ohio, but I felt really comfortable in St. Louis.

St. Louis Botanical Garden (Photo: D. Parsell)

A highlight of the trip was spending a day at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Beautiful fall weather, lots of still-colorful plants, and a terrific Japanese garden, one of the largest in North America. That amused me for some time, since Eliza Scidmore wrote a great deal about Japanese gardens and gardening.

A nice fall getaway with new sights.




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Filed under Biography, Eliza Scidmore, Research, U.S. History

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