Brian K. Snyder of Independence is a trustee of the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Brian K. Snyder of Independence is a trustee of the State Historical Society of Missouri.


1 What’s the primary mission of the Historical Society?

Missouri has a very rich and diverse history. It is the State Historical Society’s mission to collect, preserve, and make accessible to the public that great history through our collection of books, newspapers, documents, maps, photographs, artwork, and other media.

2 The Historical Society has had significant cuts in state funding this year. What is the organization doing in response to that?

Well, half of our state funding has been cut by 35 percent, resulting in reductions in programs, eliminating a few staff positions, and four-day work weeks for staff and research library. We’ve stepped up requests for private donations. I urge readers to visit for opportunities to participate with the society. 

3 What is your role as a trustee?

The trustee’s role is to advise the executive staff on managing the organization and the collection. Many trustees are also involved with fundraising and lobbying.

4 Why is historic preservation important to a community and to a state?

For those who are truly proud of their historic community, historic preservation is an expression of that pride. Historic preservation should be cornerstone of community planning, economic development, tourism, education, and green-sustainability initiatives. Successful communities understand this. For local historic resources important to the state and the nation, as we have here in Independence, preservation can be a part of state and regional heritage tourism programs. Why just read about history when you can experience it while walking in the footsteps of those who made history.

5 What is your favorite little-known or overlooked story in Missouri history?

There is the story of Samuel C. Owens, local Santa Fe Trail merchant and first Jackson County clerk. Early trading on the Santa Fe Trail literally put Independence on the map and represented critical international commerce for our young nation. Samuel’s final trading venture in 1847 inadvertently put him in the middle of the Mexican War and a battle that ended his life. But even as a war hero, his sister Mary Owens ended up more famous while breaking the heart of a young gentleman suitor from New Salem, Ill., in 1837. This gentleman’s name was Abraham Lincoln.