The ‘Sunflower’ state of Kansas is in the heart of the United States. Its name comes from the ‘Kansa’ Native Indians. However many different Indian tribes lived on these great plains. The hunting of the plain’s bison was the core of their existence. In 1854 the US government opened up the Kansas land for settlers. It became a state of the Union in January 1861. After the American Civil War ended in 1865, thousands of families and individuals (war veterans and former slaves from the southern states) settled on the Kansas prairie land and began farming. By 1880 the population was 996,000.
The Kansas State Archives and numerous universities’ libraries have assembled a massive collection of documents and photos of the history of Kansas and they are online at the Kansas Memory site. Just photographs alone there are some 269,600 images. Then are countless scanned and in digital format documents. These include journals, records, dairies, remembrances and letters from many of the families and individuals who were part of the early years of Kansas’ development.
Using the search box at the top then place a key word, year or phrase. A sampling of some of the collection would be ‘Farm 1900′ (keyword phrase) had 111 items; some images of documents about the Indian tribes, missionaries, marketing of farm products, family journals, diaries, remembrances of early Kansas life on a farm and portraits of farmers and ranchers.
Placing the phrase and year ‘School 1900′ had 101 items with photos of school sports teams, school houses, Indian schools, plus images of documents with remembrances. Searching just the year ‘1890’ had 973 photos including of the 1st and 23rd Regimental Bands, A. W. Knowles & Co. Hardware Store in Topeka, Kansas, wheat fields and county fairs around 1890.
Placing some family surnames produced an interesting variety. For ‘Wilson’ there were 255 items that have first a thumbnail image and then click on it to enlarge the view. There is a written description to go with each image. The surname ‘Coleman’ had 40 images, ‘Johnson’ with 359 and ‘Bright’ had 101 items.
For some images of the 1920s and 30s in Maryville, Kansas, there is the collection by Omar F. Hawkins with many regular street and town scenes.
A very useful web site with additional online information besides the documents and photos can be found at the Kansas Memory.
Photo: The Charles Taylor farm and family located south of Hoxie, Kansas. Shown also a two-story barn with cupola, wooden windmill, haystack, three horses and wagons in the farmyard.< Return To Blog