The Kansas Historical Society is the official historical society of the state of Kansas. It is one of the government organizations established in 1875 as a state agency. With its headquarters in Topeka, it operates as a trustee of the state for the purpose of maintaining the state’s history. It also
operates the Kansas Museum of History, Kansas State Archives and Library, Kansas State Capitol Tour Centre and other state-owned sites. It also works closely with the Department of Education to provide programs for history and social studies curriculum.
After the Civil War, the Kansas Newspapers’ Editors and Publishers wanted to find a way to safeguard the history of the foundation of the state and its contributions in the abolition of slavery. On December 13, 1875, members of the Kansas Editors’ and Publishers’ Association met and established the Kansas Historical Society. They started donating copies of all the newspapers that were published in Kansas to the Society. Therefore, it has the most elaborate and comprehensive collections of newspapers in all the nation.
Initially, the Society stored its collections in a bookcase in the State Capitol. In 1879, the Society was recognized as a trustee of the state in maintaining the state’s history by the State Legislature.
The collection of the Society continued to grow and in 10 years they were able to collect 16,000 pamphlets and books and about 3,700 volumes of bound newspapers and periodicals. In 1893, the Legislature allowed the Society to occupy three rooms in the Statehouse.
In 1905, the State Legislature issued a bill establishing the Society as a repository for all official government records. The Kansas Historical Society, thus became the State Archives for Kansas, receiving records from various government organizations that required to be retained permanently.
In 1914, the collections of the Society were moved to the newly constructed Memorial Building in Topeka. The Kansas Museum of History moved to a new site near Potawatomi Mission in west Topeka, in 1984, leaving behind the rest of the agencies in the Memorial Building. Again the Society was reunited in one location in 1995 when the large collection of manuscripts were transferred to the new location in west Topeka as the State Archives and Library.
The Kansas Historical Society is the first such society to establish a website, in the year 1993. The retail, membership and fundraising portion of the Society is known as the Kansas Historical Foundation.
The Kansas Historical Society is the government organization charged with the responsibility of sharing and safeguarding the state’s rich history and enriching people’s lives by connecting them with their pasts.
This is achieved by collecting, preserving and interpreting information and materials pertaining to the history of Kansas.
The main function of society is to provide preservation and public access to land survey records, historical photographs, maps, manuscripts, and newspapers.
The Society, along with the Department of Education of the State, addresses curriculums needed for the K-12 classrooms related to Kansas history and government. They also look after the collection of objects and exhibits at the Kansas Museum of History.
The Historical Society acts as a state agency with the help of state subsidies. About half a million public benefit from their programs and services annually. The Kansas Historical Foundation endorse the work of the agency. It manages the museum and the historical site stores and provides financial support to award-winning scholarly journals.