The Courageous and Faithful: The Cavalry at Jefferson Barracks was a local history project centering on an exhibition in the Old Ordnance Room Museum at Jefferson Barracks Historic Site. With this project, the organization developed a holistic look at the story of the horse cavalry in St. Louis from the establishment of the first permanent unit (1833) through the end of the Indian Wars period (ca.1890). It represents the first comprehensive effort to understand the impact of Jefferson Barracks on the development of the cavalry in the U.S. Army and its larger impact on westward expansion.
The primary goals of the project were to introduce the St. Louis community and the broader public to an area of important and previously under-explored historical scholarship, to create a dynamic exhibition that is attentive to visitors with special needs and those of varying developmental levels and learning styles, and to develop a stronger relationship with community partners whose goals align with the work of Jefferson Barracks Historic Site.
The exhibit itself was roughly 1500 sq. ft. and included over one hundred artifacts and images, two professionally developed video pieces, three touch screen interactives, and two hands-on interactive areas. In addition to the exhibit, this project included a publication and a series of educational programs which targeted the key audiences of families and school groups.
The stated mission of Jefferson Barracks is to collect, preserve, and educate the public about the history of Jefferson Barracks as an active U.S. Army post from 1826-1946. This project was central in moving that mission forward. Through the underlying scholarship, the Jefferson Barracks Historic Site has been able to create a narrative around a body of history that had previously not been holistically studied. Moreover, they were able to develop a stronger understanding of the historic artifacts relating to this topic in the institution’s collection and beyond, and use this knowledge to engage with their community and share the story of this important site.