February 18, 2023

The State Historical Society of Missouri board of trustees has elected recently retired U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Springfield as president of the State Historical Society for a three-year term.

Congressman Roy Blunt

The former senior U.S. Senator from Missouri has served as a trustee of the Society since 2005. Blunt’s term as president follows that of Virginia Laas, a professor emerita of history at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. Laas will continue to serve as a trustee of the Society.

Blunt begins his presidency as the State Historical Society of Missouri celebrates the 125th anniversary of its founding by the Missouri Press Association in 1898 and its establishment as a trustee of the state a year later. The State Historical Society collects, preserves, and shares with the public materials related to all aspects and periods of Missouri history. It has research centers in Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla, St. Louis, and Springfield. Its vast holdings include newspapers, manuscripts, rare books, maps, oral histories, photographs, editorial cartoons, and an extensive art collection of important artworks related to the state’s history and westward expansion.

“As a student and teacher of history before entering politics and having traveled to all 114 counties and the city of St. Louis throughout my political career, it is my privilege to continue to serve Missourians and this important organization,” said Blunt, who also spoke of his long-time working relationship with Gary Kremer, executive director of the State Historical Society. While Blunt served as Secretary of State, he appointed Kremer to State Archivist. Blunt added, “I look forward to working with Gary and the rest of the great staff at the Society. I also appreciate the leadership of Virginia Laas, who helped guide the State Historical Society through the challenges of COVID soon after we opened a new headquarters facility on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia.”

A fifth generation Missourian, Blunt was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives seven times, beginning in 1996, and to the U.S. Senate in 2010. Reelected in 2016, Blunt chose to retire in January 2023. Before serving in Congress, Blunt was a history teacher, a county official, and, in 1984, became Missouri’s secretary of state, the first Republican to be elected to the seat in 52 years. He also served as president of his alma mater, Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar.