Charles Parsons is one of St. Louis’s and the nation’s most influential yet little-known figures. He was instrumental to the Union cause as a Civil War quartermaster and adviser to generals, politicians and presidents alike. As a world-traveling art connoisseur, he helped found the first art museum west of the Mississippi, to which he donated his remarkable collection of American, European and Asian art. Today many of his pieces can be found at both the St. Louis Art Museum and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis.
John Launius is a media and technology executive based in St. Louis, Missouri. He has provided leadership across governmental and educational sectors and has worked in all forms of media during his career. As a designated “Show Me Missouri” Historical Speaker, representing the Missouri Humanities Council and the Missouri State Historical Society, he enjoys research, writing and lecturing about nineteenth- and twentieth-century America.