Established in 1846 by civic leaders and philanthropists, the Mercantile exists today as a vibrant community, cultural asset. It is the oldest library west of the Mississippi and the grandparent of all cultural institutions in St. Louis. The task of the Mercantile Library as a research library is to make its collections, which have come to concentrate on Western Expansion and the history, development, and growth of the St. Louis region and of the American rail and river transportation experiences, available to the widest number of local and national users.The special collections of the library consist of over 400 individual collections with archival materials numbering in the millions, including over 100 historic newspaper titles, presidential letters, early travel diaries and civil war era letters, fur trade records and the newspaper and printing morgue of the St. Louis Globe Democrat. The Mercantile Library Art Museum contains works by important American artists including George Caleb Bingham, Thomas Hart Benton, Oscar Berninghaus, Charles Deas and Harriet Hosmer, with an emphasis on 19th and 20th century regional artists.
St. Louis Mercantile Library
Housed at UMSL since 1998, the St. Louis Mercantile Library is the oldest existing library west of the Mississippi River. It has developed a significant permanent collection of paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, decorative arts and folk art.