Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis commemorates 100 years of service


ST. LOUIS – On January 21-22, 1914, the Reserve Bank Organization Committee (RBOC) came to St. Louis to solicit the views of St. Louis bankers and business leaders to make the case for St. Louis to be a Reserve Bank city. 

During the 19th and early 20th century, financial panics and bank runs plagued our nation. The Panic of 1907 prompted many Americans to call for a central bank. In response, Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act, which President Woodrow Wilson signed into law on December 23, 1913, to provide our nation with a more stable financial system.

Eventually, the RBOC heard arguments in support of 37 cities seeking designation as a regional Reserve Bank city.  Ultimately, the committee chose St. Louis, the nation's fourth largest city at the time, as the headquarters of the Eighth District, which covers all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

Central to America’s Economy

Today the St. Louis Fed is launching a new web site (http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/centennial) enabling users to explore 100 years of historical materials from the Eighth District, including an interactive timeline, historic photos, maps, and archived audio clips and interviews.

A few highlights include:

  • A 1914 telegram from William McChesney Martin Sr., the first Federal Reserve Agent and Chairman of the board of the St. Louis Fed.
  • An original boundary map of the 12 districts proposed by the RBOC in 1914.
  • A 1914 front page headline from the St. Louis Republic newspaper
  • Posters from the first of five Liberty Loan campaigns conducted by the Federal Reserve Banks to fund the U.S. effort during World War I.
  • Documents associated with all three of the district’s branch offices in Little Rock, Memphis, and Louisville.
  • Photos of the St. Louis Fed’s 1924 Mauran, Russell and Crowell building.
  • Background on Homer Jones, noted economist, mentor of Milton Friedman, and the St. Louis Fed’s former director of research (1958-1971) who pioneered the academic research model used by the Fed today.
  • In 1964 the St. Louis Fed began to send punch cards containing economic data to nearby McDonnell Douglas, who assisted in processing them into reports.
  • The Bank’s 75th anniversary publication, Foregone Conclusion.
  • 1989 video from the “The Money Tree,” educational lesson plans developed by the St. Louis Fed and the University of Missouri to help teachers integrate economic education into elementary education.
  • FRED, our world-renowned economic database, is featured twice in the timeline:  first with a brochure providing instructions for accessing FRED when it was an electronic bulletin board in the early 1990s and then again when FRED reached 50 million web hits in 2008.
  • 2013 documents highlighting the announcement of the bank’s new Center for Household Financial Stability.

Furthermore, St. Louis Fed librarians have supplemented the online digital archive FRASER (Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research) with hundreds of other centennial-related files and archived documents. 

Fed Audio

In addition to archived documents, the Centennial site will also allow access to exclusive audio, with sound bites from past and current Fed employees, including current Fed President Jim Bullard.

Learn More

Furnishing economic information and data to the public has historically been an important mission for the St. Louis Fed. Those interested in learning more or conducting their own research are encouraged to explore the FRASER archive, and learn more about 100 years of central banking

FRASER preserves and provides access to economic and banking data and policy documents.  Links to our Special Collections, archival collections of documents related to the Federal Reserve System, can be found on our homepage as well as from “All Titles”; a handy search bar is available at the top of each FRASER page.

If you would like assistance navigating the St. Louis Fed’s Centennial archive or tracking down additional documents or files, please reach out to Public Affairs at mediainquiries@stls.frb.org or 314-444-8783.

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Headquartered in St. Louis, with branches in Little Rock, Louisville and Memphis, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis serves the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District, which includes all of Arkansas, eastern Missouri, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, western Tennessee and northern Mississippi.  The St. Louis Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve banks that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., comprise the Federal Reserve System.  As the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve System formulates U.S. monetary policy, regulates state-chartered member banks and bank holding companies, provides payment services to financial institutions and the U.S. government, and promotes financial literacy, economic education, and community development.

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