Research Library, National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri
By H. David Pendleton
WWI Museum Volunteer

Many researchers may find useful the National World War I Museum’s research library, part of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. The research library contains several thousand books along with many magazines, journals, and unpublished manuscripts related to the Great War. Due to its location, the library’s holdings include much information about the 35th Division, the local Missouri-Kansas National Guard unit that trained at Camp Doniphan, Oklahoma (Fort Sill) before its deployment and subsequent action in the Meuse-Argonne battle. While much of the material relates directly to the war itself, some of the holdings focus on Kansas City in the 1910’s and early 1920’s.

The library features easy accessibility for researchers. The museum does not charge a fee to access the library, but visitors must sign in with the volunteer at the desk. Visitors can browse the open shelves or request assistance from the volunteer or the museum archivist whose office door opens into the library. The open stacks contain several sections such as US divisions in numerical order, state related alphabetically, and general war information.

The World War I’s archivist, Jonathan Casey, serves as the research library’s only full-time paid staff member. Jonathan answers emails ([email protected]) very quickly and will conduct some initial research before a visit to see if the museum contains the types of materials a researcher seeks. The library has much of its holdings listed on their website. Several of the museum’s part-time volunteers help out in the research library, but Jonathan is the archivist researchers should primarily seek out. The volunteers can explain the library’s arrangement and make copies of documents. Researchers can coordinate with archivist for access to museum documents not in the open part of the library.

The research library contains seats at several tables for 24 people. Fourteen ground based outlets at each end of the table and several additional wall sockets allow researchers to access power for their laptop computers. The library does have wireless internet service capability, but the researcher will need to obtain the password from a staff member to access it. The library possesses a microfiche viewer. The staff allows visitors to bring their bags and equipment into the library, but no materials can leave the library area.

First time visitors may find reaching the Liberty Memorial somewhat tricky even with the signs scattered throughout Kansas City. The Liberty Memorial and the National World War I Museum are located south of Union Station, an AMTRAK stop, at 100 West 26th Street, Kansas City MO 64108. From Kansas City International Airport (MCI), visitors travel south on I-29 to reach downtown Kansas City. Once a visitor glimpses the 217-foot tower on the hill, one of the highest points in the city, drivers need only to find their way to the parking areas either south or southwest of the museum. Many hotels, most fairly expensive, are within walking distance of the museum. While researchers that travel by air will need to find transportation to downtown Kansas City (rental cars or hotel shuttle buses are options), those that choose AMTRAK could possibly make a visit without a rental car. The museum offers reasonable priced food ($6-$10 for lunch), quick snacks, or just coffee. Visitors can find other eateries either at Union Station or cheaper dining options ten minutes away on foot or car. Researchers who wish to reduce costs may wish to stay at less expensive hotels farther away from downtown Kansas City, but this would likely create the need for a vehicle that may cancel out any substantial savings from cheaper lodgings.

(Winter 2011)