HISTORY: Founded in 1846, and chartered by the State of Missouri in that year, the St. Louis Mercantile Library is the oldest general library in continuous existence West of the Mississippi River. In 1986 the records of the institution were recognized to be of such deep cultural significance that the institution received a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to inventory and establish a modern archival arrangement for them, in order to facilitate researchers concerned with a wide array of topics. Materials continue to be added and retained in this functioning archive.
SCOPE: The Archives includes historical records of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Association, and of its subsequent history as an affiliated institution with the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Included are accession records, which run from 1846-1950; selected early circulation records and membership roles, letters, minutes and financial records, 1846-present.
HOLDINGS: Approximately 600 linear feet of papers, ledgers, and printed materials currently in 26 departmental or other record groups.
ACCESS: A published finding aid exists: An Inventory and Guide to the Archives of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Association (1989) for Special Collection M-117. Some of the printed materials, including books acknowledging the help of the Mercantile, are catalogued on the OCLC database. Portions of the collection may be photocopied, digitally scanned, or photographed, depending on condition. Selected personnel and other records are sealed and not available for research purposes. A finding aid to this collection is available for download: