Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association Records

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association Records, c. 1930-1975
-Finding aid by Suellyn Lathrop and Laura Mills

Revised May 1997


During the early 1930s, Luther Ely Smith, a St. Louis lawyer, championed a movement to build a memorial to St. Louis' role in Westward Expansion on the riverfront. Smith gained the support of Mayor Bernard Dickmann, who, on December 15, 1933, called a group of civic and business leaders into his office to discuss Smith's plan. The group liked the idea and formed a temporary committee to look further into the matter. A civic committee was formed to work for the establishment of a federal memorial to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and to honor President Thomas Jefferson and those who explored and occupied the American West. In the next few months this group planned to raise money and generate public interest.

In April 1934, the committee obtained a state charter as Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association and acquired a nonprofit designation. The group intended to arouse public interest, adopt suitable plans, solicit money and property, and improve a site for...a suitable and permanent public memorial to the men who made possible the western territorial expansion of the United States, particularly President Jefferson, his aides Livingston and Monroe, the great explorers, Lewis and Clark, and the hardy hunters, trappers, frontiersmen and pioneers who contributed to the territorial expansion and development of these United States, and thereby to bring before the public of this and future generations the history of our development and induce familiarity with the patriotic accomplishments of these great builders of our country.

Over the course of the next 30 years, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association, or "Jenny Mae," laid the groundwork for what was to become Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Most significantly, JNEMA conducted the competition which resulted in the choice of Eero Saarinen's arch design as the central commemorative feature of the park. JNEMA worked with the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission (USTEMC), the National Park Service, and several members of Congress in their efforts to establish a national park on the St. Louis riverfront.

Information obtained from this collection must be properly cited, whether used in publication or in other formats. The proper citation for this collection is:

National Park Service
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
JNEMA Records
Box__, Folder__
and image number where applicable

Researchers are advised that before records, photographs, or any other unpublished materials from this collection can be published or exhibited, permission from the National Park Service must be obtained in writing.


As much as possible, the original arrangement within series has been maintained, although series have been arranged in alphabetical order.

Series 1. Dedication of Site

Records in this series deal with two dedication ceremonies, one in 1950 and one in 1968. The first was held June 9-11, 1950, and combined the dedication of the site of JNEM and the reunion of the 35th Division, which included veterans from Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. President Harry S. Truman participated in both the dedication of the site and the reunion. The governors and senators of all the states in what was once the Louisiana Territory were invited to attend. The second ceremony, held May 25, 1968, dedicated the completed Gateway Arch.

Series 2. Executive Committee

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association was broken down into several sub-committees. Chief among them was the Executive Committee. Records relating specifically to this sub-committee can be found in this sub-series. Types of records include correspondence, letterheads, minutes, reports, and resolutions. This series also contains information regarding the visit of Secretary of the Interior Julius Krug to St. Louis and his departure from the Department of the Interior and the appointment of Secretary Oscar L. Chapman.

Series 3. Financial Records

This series contains information about general financial activities of JNEMA, such as budgets, certificates of indebtedness, information about the competition fund, estimated cost of the Arch, financial statements, ledgers, petty cash, taxes, and treasurer's reports. This series also includes records regarding the various fund raising activities conducted by the Association including the bond issues of 1935 and 1967, contributions, Ford Foundation applications, fund drives, the Luther Ely Smith Memorial, the Luther Ely Smith, Jr. Memorial, pledges and pledge ledgers, press releases, and subscriptions. Other records include correspondence, minutes, reports, speeches, and statements of the committee.

Series 4. Historical Data Committee

This series contains the records of another sub-committee of JNEMA, the Historical Data Committee. Records in this series include a number of brief, undated reports on the history of the Memorial area and a transcript of the committee's meeting on January 31, 1934.

Series 5. Legal Actions

JNEMA was involved in many legal cases, most having to do with the acquisition of the property in what is now the Memorial area. This series contains documents relating to or generated by these various cases. Cases included in this series are American Cone and Pretzel Co. v. City of St. Louis; Bader Realty & Investment Co. v. St. Louis Housing Authority et al.; Balter et al. v. Nagle et al.; Coleman v. City of St. Louis; Hole v. City of St. Louis; Pasquel v. Owen; Rothschlaeger v. City of St. Louis et al.; Township of Franklin et al. v. Tugwell et al.; U.S. v. Certain Land in the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri, Known as Block 3 et al.; U.S. v. Certain Land in the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri, Known as Block 33 et al.; and Vrooman v. City of St. Louis et al. For additional information see Series 6. Legal Committee.

Series 6. Legal Committee

Another sub-committee of JNEMA was the Legal Committee. This committee dealt with the various legal issues facing JNEMA, including property acquisition, railroad relocation, and zoning. For the records of specific cases, see Series 5. Legal Actions.

Sub-Series 1. General Records
This sub-series contains information not directly related to property acquisition or railroad relocation, including legal case summaries, ordinances, and zoning.

Sub-Series 2. Property Acquisition
This sub-series contains records related to the acquisition of the property in what is now the Memorial area, including correspondence regarding the sale of property, correspondence between property owners and Luther Ely Smith, letters of agreement to sell, specifications for demolition, and inventory and disposition of architectural fragments collected by JNEM. This sub-series also includes information on Balter et al. v. Ickes et al.; Barnidge v. United States; and Ramming Real Estate Co. v. U.S. For more litigation records, see Series 5. Legal Actions.

Sub-Series 3. Railroad Relocation
The relocation of the railroad tracks was a long and complicated process, but essential for the realization of JNEMA's plans for the Memorial area. This sub-series contains information regarding that process, including "Report on Investigation of Merchants Elevated Structure," City of East St. Louis v. Terminal Railroad Association; City of St. Louis v. Terminal Railroad Association; U.S. v. Certain Land in the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri, Known as City Block 2 and Valentine Warehouse Company, a corp. et al., exhibits; City of St. Louis and JNEM v. Terminal Railroad Association and Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern Railroad et al.; a compromise plan, and agreements.

Series 7. Legislative Committee Records

This series contains the records of the Legislative sub-committee of JNEMA. Information in this series includes authorization bills, bond issues, chronologies, City Journal, Congressional Record, correspondence, executive orders, hearings, legislation, mailing list, ordinances, public laws, resolutions, statements, and WPA emergency relief laws.

Series 8. Louisiana Purchase Sesquicentennial

JNEMA was involved in the activities surrounding the sesquicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase. The focus of these activities was the issuing of a commemorative stamp. Items in this series include a commemorative stamp ceremony, correspondence, and publicity.

Series 9. Membership Committee Records

Another sub-committee of JNEMA was the Membership Committee. Most of the records in this series are mailing lists and rosters of various kinds.

Series 10. Nominating Committee Records

This series deals with the Nominating sub-committee of JNEMA. Records include correspondence, minutes, reports, rosters, and vacancy sheets. More information on the Nominating Committee can be found under Executive Committee correspondence.

Series 11. Organization Records

This series contains the organizational records of JNEMA, including minutes and reports of annual meetings, by-laws and proposed amendments, incorporation papers, invitation lists, minutes, newsletters, and press releases.

Series 12. Parking Committee Records

This sub-committee of JNEMA dealt with parking issues, both temporary and permanent, for the Memorial area. Records include correspondence, reports, and information regarding a parking garage in San Francisco.

Series 13. Plan and Scope Committee Records

Another sub-committee of JNEMA, the Plan and Scope Committee dealt with such major issues as the architectural competition and riverfront redevelopment. The records contained in this series are broken down into three sub-series: Architectural Competition, Riverfront Development, and General.

Sub-Series 1. Architectural Competition
This sub-series contains the records of the architectural competition held in 1947-48 to determine the design for the memorial. These records are arranged chronologically and include applications, biographies and photographs of Saarinen & Associates, comments on the winning design, competition packet, correspondence, judgement (first and second stage), jury of award, letters to competitors, Libera v. Saarinen, list of competitors and their associates, original competition drawings, photographs and slides of the competition drawings, Saarinen contract, second stage addenda to the program, and files on 1st Prize, 2nd Prize, 3rd Prize, and Runners-up. Where competitors are listed, they are arranged alphabetically by firm or architect.

Sub-Series 2. Riverfront Development
This series contains information on riverfront development plans other than JNEM. It is arranged chronologically and includes publications outlining various proposals for riverfront development, including the east side, dating from 1928 to 1969.

Sub-Series 3. General
This sub-series contains Plan and Scope Committee records which do not relate to the architectural competition or riverfront development. It is arranged chronologically and deals with various issues of, and plans for, city planning and development. Records include comments on the arch concept, description and explanation of "Plan 8009" (a 1938 Park Service plan for riverfront development), guidelines for the master plan, JNEM planning report, minutes, museum planning prospectus, statement for management, and tour of proposed JNEM. Organizations mentioned include American Planning and Civic Association, City Plan Commission, Construction Foundation, Metropolitan Plan Association, and Mississippi River Roadway Planning Commission. This series also includes several publications regarding various plans for civic development.

Series 14. Publicity Committee

Another sub-committee of JNEMA, the records of the Publicity Committee include promotions regarding the architectural competition, correspondence, editorials, ephemera, events and exhibits, JNEM brochures, newsletters, newspaper articles, periodicals, a pictorial history, press releases, publications, rosters, and speeches.

Series 15. Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was the focus and inspiration of JNEMA. This series contains records relating to Jefferson's birthday ceremonies, justification for the memorial, a reproduction of a letter from Meriwether Lewis, the publication of Jefferson's papers, speeches for Jefferson's birthday ceremonies, and notes regarding Jefferson's tombstone.

Series 16. United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission

In their efforts to create a national memorial on the St. Louis riverfront, Luther Ely Smith and Bernard F. Dickmann proposed a commission patterned after the George Rogers Clark Memorial Commission. In March 1934, joint resolutions were introduced in the House and Senate "authorizing the creation of a Federal Memorial Commission" to construct a permanent memorial. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill into law June 15, 1934, establishing the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission (USTEMC) "for the purpose of considering and formulating plans for designing and constructing a permanent memorial on the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri." The Commission would have fifteen members: three chosen by the president, three by the House of Representatives, three by the Senate, and six by Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association. On December 19, 1934, USTEMC held its first meeting in St. Louis. At this meeting the commissioners received a briefing from the Association, reviewed plans for the memorial, visited the historic site on the riverfront, and elected an executive committee with Senator Barkley as chairman. On February 1, 1935 the group met with President Roosevelt, presented a general outline of development, answered questions about the architectural competition, noted the number of St. Louis unemployed, predicted a starting date, and estimated the project's duration. On April 13 (by chance Thomas Jefferson's birthday), the Commission's executive committee approved plans for the memorial. Records in this series include correspondence, financial records, membership records, minutes, reports, resolutions, special events, statements, transcripts, and records regarding Vrooman v. City of St. Louis et al.

Series 17. Miscellaneous Records

Items which do not relate to any of the previous series but are part of the records of JNEMA are housed in this series. Items in this series are arranged chronologically.

Series 18. Correspondence

This series contains correspondence to and from various members of JNEMA. The correspondence is dated 1923-1979, but also contains reproductions of letters dated 1802, 1804, and 1857. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically.

If you have questions regarding archives holdings, contact Archivist Jennifer Clark at the JNEM Archives at (voice) 314-655-1600. Appointments are encouraged, if possible.

Last updated: October 1, 2020

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