For most of his long career, John Hoover has tended to America’s past with loving devotion. As director of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the oldest library west of the Mississippi River. A noted scholar and author, Hoover lectures widely on the American west, bibliography and rare book librarianship. He currently serves as president of the Bibliographical Society of America.

Hoover will now join an illustrious roster of individuals who have been selected as members of the American Antiquarian Society, a national research library of American history, literature and culture through 1876. Hoover was named to the AAS at its annual meeting Oct. 13 in Worcester, Mass. Founded in 1812, the AAS’ membership has included 13 American presidents, scholars, authors, publishers, collectors, librarians, journalists and civic leaders as well as laypersons with an interest in American history.

“I am very pleased to be recognized for my work at the St. Louis Mercantile Library here at UMSL,” said Hoover. “For most of my career I have worked in an institution with collections very similar to the AAS, and I highly respect them both.”

Hoover came to the Mercantile Library in 1984 and became its director in 1994 managing its move from downtown St. Louis to the UMSL campus in 1997. He has edited and compiled numerous presentations on St. Louis’ cultural history at the Mercantile Library including: “John James Audubon on the Frontier” and “St. Louis: Cradle of Western American Art, 1830-1900.”  His talk on “The Mercantile Library: A Story of Books and Readers on the Missouri Frontier” was published in honor of the Mercantile Library’s 150th anniversary in 1996.

He also serves as associate director of libraries for special collections and is a faculty member of the Graduate Program in Museum Studies.

Hoover is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds advanced degrees from the University of Missouri and Southern Illinois University.

Hoover is the author of “Adventures and Sufferings: The Indian Captivity Narrative through the Centuries.” He is working on a publication of Irish immigrant Joseph Charless, founder of the Missouri Gazette, the first newspaper west of the Mississippi. His other publications in the works include one on the early book illustrator, Felix Darley, and another on early library development and book collecting in St. Louis.

The Mercantile Library was established in 1846 as a general library and cultural institution by civic leaders and philanthropists. Today its vast collections concentrate on Western Expansion and the history, development and growth of the St. Louis region and of the American rail and river transportation experiences. As a research library those collections are available to local, national and international users.

Christopher Breshears

Christopher Breshears