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Collecting Stories on Route 66

David Richards at Meyer Library event

From Chicago to Santa Monica, historic Route 66 stretched across the country becoming synonymous with an idyllic 1950s world full of neon signs and Chevrolet Corvette convertibles. Missouri State University (which is conveniently located in the birthplace of Route 66) now serves as one of the repositories for Route 66 archives in order to make it more accessible to researchers and scholars. David Richards, associate professor of library science, and Thomas Peters, dean of the libraries at MSU, recently were awarded several grants to study this highway in a new light.

This is the first in a two part series featuring their current work preserving Route 66 history.

In November 2013, Richards and Peters were invited to a World Monuments Fund Roundtable Meeting on Route 66 in Anaheim, California. Richards explains how their current oral history project was born at that meeting.

Through a grant from the National Park Service, the team has begun conducting interviews to build an oral history library that examines the experiences of diverse populations who trekked the route, hoping to answer questions about where they stayed, ate and conducted business during times of segregation. The stories, notes Richards, are moving.

The team has enlisted others to help in conducting some of the interviews, and Peters notes that they have already captured the memories of several African Americans with a number of interesting ties to Springfield and Route 66.

 They are interested in hearing many more stories from a variety of people. If you or someone you know has a story to share about being a minority and traveling on Route 66 or working in one of the establishments, contact Richards at (417) 836-4299 or at

Nicki received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State in marketing, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. After gaining experience in writing, marketing, special event planning, fundraising and public relations, she returned to the university to work in the office of strategic communication. There she tells the university’s story by sharing the stories of individuals at Missouri State.
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