Library and Research Facility

To Be Listed on the National Register of Historic Places--July 17, 2003

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You can contact us at:

PO Box 632

Bolivar, MO


Click here for directions to PCGS Library and Research Facility
The PCGS Research Facility is located at 120 E. Jackson,
on the southeast corner of the town square in Bolivar.

Current hours:
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
or by appointment.


If Bolivar schools are closed because of weather, the library will also be closed. There will be no night meeting, either, if school is closed on a Thursday. If bad weather develops on a Thursday afternoon before the regular monthly meeting, members can call 417-777-2820 to find out the status of the meeting. Click here for school closings list at

Contact PCGS for more information.


Monday, January 16 (MLK Jr. Day)
Monday, January 29 (PCGS Staff Training Day)
Monday, February 19 (President's Day)
Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day)
Wednesday, June 19 (Juneteenth)
Thursday, July 4 - Sunday, July 7 (Independence Day break)
Monday, September 2
(Labor Day)
Monday - Sunday, November 25 - December 1 (Thanksgiving break)
Monday, December 23 through Sunday, January 5 (Christmas break)
We will open at 10 a.m. on Monday, January 6, 2025

For renovation pictures, click here

Library Holdings Index

The society's library holdings are now on!
Click here to search by title, author or keyword.

Microfilm Index at the PCGS Library
Click here to see a list of the microfilm available in the library.

Archives Holdings Index
Go to Our Archives page or jump right to A-K or L-Z or Open Shelves Holdings

Contact PCGS for more information about the books listed.

The Polk County Genealogical Society Library turned into a television studio for a few hours Wednesday morning, June 2, 2004. The first floor of the building was the back drop for a segment for the public television series "History Detectives."
Click here for the complete story and pictures. The episode aired Sept. 13, 2004.

In November 2001, PCGS started the application process to get the PCGS Library building, formerly the public library, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Lou Kemp was the coordinator of the process.

The building was built by a grant from Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation in 1914/15. T. H. B. Dunnegan donated the land where the building is located.

picture from the early days of the library

The building was designated as a historic site because of its "social significance in the life of Bolivar and Polk County" according to President Susan Sparks. It was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 17, 2003.

For more on this story, see the article below from the Bolivar Herald-Free Press, August 27, 2003, page 1-A. (Reprinted with permission. A big thank-you to BH-FP!)

By Linda Fuerst

After a year and a half of research, the latest project of the Polk County Genealogical Society has reached a successful conclusion. The former Polk County Library building on the Bolivar square, now the home of the genealogical society, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is the first building in Polk County to be designated as an official historic site.

The members of the society started the application process for the historic designation in November 2001. Lou Kemp acted as coordinator for the project, gathering the necessary documentation about the role of the library in community life.

"It had always been a dream of mine to get this building named as a historic building," Kemp said. "The other members of the society were a lot of help; every time they were looking in old newspapers for someone's obituary, if they saw something about the library, they copied it, too. We gathered a lot of information."

The building was built in 1915, funded by an $8,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corp. The Bolivar Library Board was headed at that time by T.H.B. Dunnegan, who also donated the land where the building is located. The architect who designed the building, James Heckenlively of Springfield, was also involved in the design of the Shrine Mosque, St. John's Hospital and other Springfield landmarks.

"This kind of research wasn't that difficult for us," said Susan Sparks, president of the genealogical society. "We have experience in finding the history of people; it wasn't that different to find the history of this building."

An application for a historic site has to go through the state Office of Historic Preservation, which approved the Bolivar application in April. The state office forwarded the request to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., which officially added the library to the National Register of Historic Places on July 17.

"There are two ways to be designated as a historic site; either through architectural significance or through social significance to the community," Sparks said. "We went for the social significance of this building in the life of Bolivar and Polk County."

The building is much less elaborate than many other Carnegie libraries in other parts of the country, but Sparks said she doesn't mind.

"They only had $8,000 to build with, so they spent their money on structural stability, not on decoration," she said. "They put big steel beams in the floor and in the ceiling, and that's one reason the building is in such good shape. I'm thankful for that."

Sparks and Kemp both said they hope other owners of downtown buildings will get involved in historic preservation.

"We just felt this building was important to the landscape of the square and the life of the community," Kemp said. "That's why we wanted to save it."

RENOVATION 2007-2010
Before (2007) . . . . . . . . . . . . During renovation, September and October 2007

Almost finished October 2007

The library was built in 1914; the first set of stairs failed in 1926. New ones were built on top of the old stairs. There was no support built for the new stairs, hence the reason the latest ones had bowed and cracked. The old ones were knocked out and new ones were poured in their place.

Day 1, July 2009

Day ?, August 2009

After (2009)

Kenny Jones with Bolivar Insulation installs windows at the Polk County Genealogical Society’s Library and Research Facility in downtown Bolivar Wednesday, January 20, 2010. All 30 windows in the building are being replaced to increase energy efficiency and maintain better climate control for the documents stored in the facility. The windows being replaced were installed in the 1960s.
Caption from page 1A,
Bolivar Herald Free Press, Friday, January 22, 2010. Photo by Charlotte Marsch.

Other pictures by PCGS members

Solar panels were installed the last week of June 2016
on the roof of the PCGS research facility.

efore & After:

From across the street:

Business meetings are the first Thursday of every month at the
Polk County Genealogical Society Research Facility, on the square in Bolivar, MO

Copyright 2003-2025, Polk County Genealogical Society, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Last revised:  January 1, 2024

Located on the southeast corner of the courthouse square in Bolivar, MO

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