German Abolitionist Exhibition

German Immigrant Abolitionists: Fighting for a Free Missouri
February 12, 2016 - May 15, 2016
Center for Global Citizenship, Suite 124
Public Viewing by Appointment: Call 314-977-9326 or email: 

Listen to Dr. Norton's KMOX Interview 

Click here for a calendar of events 


Thursday, April 21, 4:00 - 6:00 pm, "The Münch Family: From Hesse to Missouri-A German Abolitionist Family." Lecture by Dorris Keeven-Franke, public historian and author.

Curator's Talks:

Friday, April 15, 3:30 - 4:30 pm
Friday, May 6, 3:30 - 4:30 pm


Missouri is well-known for its German-American heritage, but the story of 19th-century German immigrant abolitionists is often neglected in discussions of the state's history. German Immigrant Abolitionists: Fighting for a Free Missouri tells the story of what happened when idealistic German immigrants, many highly educated and devoted to the ideals of freedom and democracy, came to a pre-Civil War slave state. Fleeing political persecution during the 1830s and 1840s, German immigrants such as Friedrich Münch, Henry Boernstein, and Franz Sigel arrived in Missouri in hopes of finding a land more congenial to their democratic ideals. When they encountered slavery, many became abolitionists and supported the Union in the emerging Civil War.

German Immigrant Abolitionists: Fighting for a Free Missouri focuses on the political activism and writings of German immigrants in Missouri before and during the Civil War. Previous research on these intriguing figures has largely been confined to specialists. This exhibition contributes a compelling visual component not only for scholars but also for a wider general audience. Through a variety of photographs, historic objects, newspapers, diary entries, satirical cartoons and maps, this exhibition makes connections between the theoretical underpinnings of these activists' ideals and the realities of their everyday lives.

Questions that this exhibition explores are: Who were the German abolitionists, and how did they contribute to the political landscape of pre-Civil War Missouri? Did German immigrants work closely with African-Americans in Missouri toward the common goal of ending slavery? How did the editors of and contributors to German-language newspapers in the St. Louis area change the course of the Civil War in Missouri, particularly in regards to recruiting German immigrant volunteer soldiers?

This exhibition is proudly supported by Saint Louis University's Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Center for International Studies, Center for Global Citizenship, and the Mellon Foundation.


The Center for Global Citizenship (CGC) is located at 3672 West Pine Mall. The CGC includes occupant centers and offices housed in neighboring Des Peres Hall. Both buildings are easily recognizable by the array of international flags lining the rooftops. The nearest intersections to the CGC are Laclede Avenue and Grande Avenue and Laclede Avenue and South Spring Avenue.


Parking is available in the visitor section of the Laclede Garage or at meters along Laclede Avenue.


The Center for Global Citizenship is accessible from the front entrance on West Pine Mall adjacent to the clock tower. Des Peres Hall also offers a rear door entrance to the building from the Gonzaga parking lot. While Saint Louis University constructs a new residence hall near the intersection of Laclede and Spring, please be advised of the following public access points to the Center for Global Citizenship:


64/40 West bound:
Take exit 38A for Forest Park Ave. toward Grand Blvd.
Continue onto Forest Park Ave.
Make a right onto Grand Blvd.
Make a left onto Laclede Ave.
Parking garage is on the left

64/40 East Bound:
Take exit 37B for Grand Blvd.
Make a right onto S. Grand Blvd.
Make a left onto Laclede Ave.
Parking garage is on the left

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