home Ellis Library, Events and Exhibits, Government Information Century-old Soil Survey Maps Also Reveal the Built Environment

Century-old Soil Survey Maps Also Reveal the Built Environment

Have you seen our latest display in the Bookmark Café? From a distance, these maps–neither paintings nor drawings–look like antique marbleized papers with amorphous shapes in a dreamy blending of lavenders, corals, blues, golds and pinks. But up close another scene is unveiled: villages as they appeared nearly a century ago. Schoolhouses on hilltops. Green plantations on the banks of the Rio Grande river, looking out into Mexico. Islands in lakes. Cemeteries and church buildings. Serpentine trails that wander through the wilderness, terminating at lone cabins. On the south wall, you can visit Las Vegas back when it only had a dozen streets each way, dots indicating buildings.

Sampson County, North Carolina

For nearly 100 years, a large collection of these soil survey maps have been folded up and tucked in the back of U.S. Department of Agriculture documents in Mizzou Libraries’ Government Information collection. Although the project’s purpose was to document soil types and alkalinity, the maps show much more than that.

These maps are generally too fragile to unfold without tearing, but with the help of award-winning preservation specialist Michaelle Dorsey, some maps from a 1923 volume were very carefully opened up and placed inside clear plastic envelopes, custom made in our on-site preservation shop. See the original maps on display now because they are for the most part not available online. However if you want to see one for a different place or year, you can use this guide to discover which areas were mapped on which dates, and we can help you view others in our print collection.


home Databases & Electronic Resources, Government Information, Resources and Services Prices and Wages Give Us a Glimpse into the Past

Prices and Wages Give Us a Glimpse into the Past

The Prices and Wages by Decade research guide has found fans across campus, the state, and the world since Marie Concannon, Head of Government Information, created it six years ago.

Esteemed research scientist Jay Zagorsky, who collects data for the National Longitudinal Surveys of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is one of the latest scholars to use the detailed lists of resources for prices and wages throughout the history of the U.S. Zagorsky investigated how prices at high end restaurants have changed since 1899 using menus found via the guide.

Marie enjoys making historical prices meaningful by placing them in context with average wages paid at the time. The guide directs users mostly to U.S. federal and state government information, supplemented by other primary sources when needed.

The audience for the Prices and Wages by Decade guide has dramatically increased each year. Maries notes that the vast majority of visitors find the guide through Google searches. She says, “I developed the site expecting that most people would look for hard-to-find information from the 1800s, but it turned out that the most popular decades are the 1920s, 1950s and 1970s.”











If you use the guide, let us know about your project and how the information you found on prices and wages made the research process easier.



Jennifer Gravley

I am a Research and Instruction Librarian with a background in creative writing.

home Ellis Library, Events and Exhibits, Government Information Volunteer Income Tax Assistance at Ellis Library

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance at Ellis Library

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Tuesdays February 27 – April 17, 2018 (except March 27)
3:00-7:00 pm
Ellis Library Colonnade

Volunteers will be available to assist with do-it-yourself income tax preparation and e-filing for federal and state income tax returns. This service is available to U.S. citizens and resident aliens without treaty benefits on a first-come, first-served basis until maximum capacity is reached.

You will use software to self-prepare your return. Volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and help with tax or software issues. Volunteers have passed an IRS certification exam covering many aspects of tax law as it relates to tax preparation.

Details on what to bring with you, full-service assistance locations, and additional information can be found on the 2018 VITA flyer.

This program is sponsored by the Personal Financial Planning Department, MU School of Law, and the University of Missouri Extension. Questions? Call (573) 882-2173.



Jennifer Gravley

I am a Research and Instruction Librarian with a background in creative writing.

home Cycle of Success, Ellis Library, Government Information Cycle of Success: Missouri’s Government Information Guru

Cycle of Success: Missouri’s Government Information Guru

Tove Klovning, who serves as US, MO, and EU Government Documents Depository Coordinator as well as Foreign/Comparative/International Law Librarian & Lecturer in Law at Washington University in St. Louis, often interacts with researchers seeking access to both historical and current government information. She explains, “Preserving government information and making it accessible for both current researchers and future generations is an important task for depository libraries.” In her work at a sub-regional and Federal depository library, she has benefited from the direction and guidance of Marie Concannon, Missouri’s regional coordinator for the Federal Depository Library Program and Head of Government Information and Data Archives here at Mizzou Libraries.

Tove says she “honestly could not have wished for a more competent Regional Depository Coordinator. Marie is always there to answer any questions we may have and is always willing to offer training, updates, and continuing education to both new and established depository librarians on a regular basis.” For example, when Tove needed input regarding weeding the local collection, Marie consulted with her.

Marie has also worked to help libraries free up much-needed space while retaining government resources in the region: “Thanks to her great work with area depository librarians, an Intrastate Regional agreement was put into place in 2012.” This model encouraged depository libraries to stay in the program, Tove explains, since sharing resources helps each individual library better cope with the perpetual struggle of space issues. Marie met face-to-face with about a dozen depository libraries in St. Louis to facilitate the process of drafting this agreement.

Marie Concannon

In terms of training and support for depository librarians in the region, Tove has found that Marie plays a vital role as educator. A frequently consulted resource is a guide for Missouri FDLP members which helps librarians navigate the federal depository system. Marie built and maintains this guide to facilitate online access to crucial information for these librarians and help keep them informed of training opportunities and conferences.

Organizing workshops and conferences is another way Marie makes sure librarians can get up-to-date training on government information so that they can help patrons access the data they need. In November, Missouri state government employees and both academic and public library employees attended the Missouri State Government Information Conference, which she co-organized. The 2017 theme was “Sunshine and Missouri’s Digital Future,” taking its name from the state Sunshine Law. Marie says the conference’s purpose is “to bridge the gap between libraries and government, and help lay groundwork for closer partnership on projects involving government information accessibility.”

For all of these reasons and more, as Tove says, “We are very fortunate to have Marie as our Federal and State Regional Coordinator.”

Cycle of Success is the idea that libraries, faculty, and students are linked; for one to truly succeed, we must all succeed. The path to success is formed by the connections between University of Missouri Libraries and faculty members, between faculty members and students, and between students and the libraries that serve them. More than just success, this is also a connection of mutual respect, support, and commitment to forward-thinking research.

Although the Cycle of Success typically focuses on the relationships among the Libraries, faculty, and students, the Libraries also contribute to the success of all the communities Mizzou serves. The Libraries are an integral part of Mizzou’s mission “to provide all Missourians the benefits of a world-class research university.”

If you would like to submit your own success story about how the libraries have helped your research and/or work, please use the Cycle of Success form.


Jennifer Gravley

I am a Research and Instruction Librarian with a background in creative writing.

home Government Information Bon Voyage! Read about it in Government Documents

Bon Voyage! Read about it in Government Documents

Bon Voyage!  Read about it in Government DocumentsRecent news reports have drawn the nation's attention to the discomforts of air travel.  People feel "like cattle" and customer service seems to have reached new lows.  But a peek into MU Libraries' historical government documents collection shows that this may not be a new phenomenon.  As it turns out, customer service problems once afflicted rail travel in the same way.  And travelers' experience has long been a matter of interest to the federal government!  

Let's look at the 1920s and 1930s.  Passenger rail service had peaked in 1920, but automobiles and bus transportion were becoming increasingly preferred by the modern traveler.  Railroad companies that once enjoyed a captive customer base were compelled to consider why people were choosing other options.  Turns out that according to government publications, one of the issues was terrible customer service.  The Federal Coordinator of Transportation's Passenger Traffic Report (1935) gives a snapshot:

"A well nigh universal criticism of rail passenger transportation is the absence of personal helpfulness…. Impersonal, discourteous, indifferent, austere or insulting treatment of passengers must be ruthlessly eradicated by intensive training, supervision and discipline."

The document goes on to reflect nostalgically on how different it had been in the old days, when passengers were treated so kindly by crews on ocean voyages:

"Although the ship's captain of fiction is a grim and hard boiled citizen, the most pleasant memories which ocean travelers retain are those of the courteous hospitality of the captain and his officers."

Air travel was still quite new in the 1930s, but some had already experienced its pleasures.  According to survey results cited in the government report,  "Many passenger ballots contained comments on the excellence of airline personnel, and their courteous treatment of passengers.  No ballot contained a criticism."

So there you have it.  Traveling is always stressful, and passengers will choose another mode of transportation when things get too bad (if they can).

If you are interested to learn more about passengers' experiences in American history, don't forget to check the Government Information department at Ellis Library!  You don't have to journey far to find us, we are on the 1st floor, east side.

Happy Travels!


Marie Concannon

Marie Concannon is Head of Government Information and Data Archives, based in MU Ellis Library.

home Cycle of Success, Government Information, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse with Special Collections and Government Documents

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse with Special Collections and Government Documents

Emilee Howland-Davis’ English 1000 classes spent this semester reading the post-apocalyptic novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, which is presented as a series of first-hand accounts of the social and political implications of the zombie outbreak.  To provide a real-world perspective to this work of science fiction, they also studied materials related to disaster and survival in Government Documents and Special Collections. Materials the students considered included:

The students presented historical and rhetorical analyses of the materials in Ellis Library. Kudos to them for their hard work, and hats off to their innovative instructor for making such great use of library resources!


Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli

home Government Information 2016 Tax Information Is Now Available

2016 Tax Information Is Now Available

2016 tax information is available at libraryguides.missouri.edu/tax. The deadline for filing is Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

home Ellis Library, Government Information, Resources and Services Register to Vote at the Ellis Library Reference Desk

Register to Vote at the Ellis Library Reference Desk

The Ellis Library Reference Desk is now a voter registration place. 

To vote in the November presidential elections, Missouri voters must be registered by Wednesday, Oct 12th!

We encourage all students, staff and community members to register! Check out our guide all about how to register! https://libraryguides.missouri.edu/register-to-vote

home Ellis Library, Government Information, Resources and Services Understanding Brexit through data analysis

Understanding Brexit through data analysis

Data Enthusiasts,

A blog post on the UK Data Service website titled “Making Sense of Brexit – the data you need to analyse” includes a great annotated list of data resources they make freely available.  There is a whole world of data out there!  The data services librarians right here at MU Libraries can help you find the data you need to complete your research.  Visit our Data Sets for Quantitative Research page for details and contact information.

home Ellis Library, Government Information, Resources and Services Finding a Dream Ship in Government Documents

Finding a Dream Ship in Government Documents

How would a Mississippi riverboat captain’s dream ship have looked in 1870?  For David De Haven of New Orleans, it would have featured spiral staircases, arched passageways, private promenades for the ladies and one for “gents,” and luxury cabins opening into sky-lit rotundas.  "Water closets" for passengers were to be tucked behind the two towering side wheels. Captain De Haven submitted his drawings to the U.S. Patent Office and received a patent for the innovative floor plan in 1870.  Although the designs and accompanying text are part of the U.S. PTO’s online database, they cannot be retrieved through a simple Google search.  

MU’s Government Information librarians are available to help you navigate the rich history of our nation’s innovations, whether they be physical machines, new ways of doing things, or artistic innovations such as steamboat designs.   We have been an official depository for federal government since 1862.  Our trained government information specialists are ready to assist library patrons search more than nine million U.S. patents dated from 1790 to the present.  Contact Marie Concannon at 573-882-0748 or email concannonm@missouri.edu for more information or to schedule training session for your class.


Steamboat cross-section view


D. De Haven, “Ship Building,” U. S. Patent #105,438.  July 19, 1870.  To view the patent online at high resolution, enter patent number 105438 at the US Patent Full-Page Image search page: http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/patimg.htm




Marie Concannon

Marie Concannon is Head of Government Information and Data Archives, based in MU Ellis Library.