This endowed fund is a memorial to longtime Executive Director Richard S. Brownlee 1960-1985.
During his tenure, Richard S. Brownlee built The State Historical Society of Missouri into a major specialized research library. SHSMO's holdings of newspapers, reference materials, and manuscripts tripled in size. With Sidney Larson, art curator, Brownlee expanded SHSMO's unrivaled collection of Missouri genre paintings, featuring the works of George Caleb Bingham and Thomas Hart Benton; developed a contemporary art collection; expanded the editorial cartoon collection; and, widely loaned SHSMO's artworks for exhibition. He edited the Missouri Historical Review and numerous historical publications and wrote articles and essays.
When Brownlee retired in 1985, Representative Francis "Bud" Barnes III, Society president, called him "the finest public historian the state of Missouri has ever known." SHSMO honored him with the Distinguished Service Award and Sidney Larson painted his portrait.
Starting in 2013 the Brownlee funds were used to pursue works exploring critical times in Missouri history. Historically the Brownlee Fund was presented as grants to individuals and organizations proposing to publish or otherwise document Missouri and its citizens. The Brownlee Fund now sponsors two Center for Missouri Studies Fellowships.