Interested in your family's history and genealogy? These are the resources you should use.
Ready to start learning about your ancestors or family history in Kansas? Feeling a little overwhelmed about where to begin? Becoming the family sleuth can feel intimidating at first, and more than frustrating when you hit a roadblock. Even for the most seasoned genealogist.
Luckily there are passionate historians and local volunteers ready to assist you. From statewide resources like the Kansas Historical Society or the Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies, or those focused more locally or regionally.
It’s good to remember genealogical research often requires patience, as it involves piecing together information from various sources. Also, consider the possibility of human error. Some dates and details may not always match perfectly. It's a good idea to start with known details about your family to guide your search.
KANSAS STATE ARCHIVES
The Kansas State Archives, a segment of the Kansas Historical Society, holds a wide range of historical records, including vital records, land records, probate records, and military records. Onsite in Topeka, researchers can access decades worth of newspapers on microfilm from across the state. They have online resources and physical collections that can help you trace your family history in Kansas.
The Kansas State Archives also partners with Ancestry.com, which provides digitized Kansas records and newspapers available online. Kansas residents, with a verified Kansas driver’s license, can view available records for free.
If you know the communities your ancestors have lived in, then contact the local library. Most often have genealogy sections or special collections dedicated to local history and family research. Visit the public libraries in specific towns or counties to access local records, newspapers, city directories, and other relevant materials.
LOCAL HISTORICAL SOCIETIES
Similar to community libraries, connect with the city, county, or regional historical societies. In their collections, they may have photography, artifacts, and details that can help round out the stories of your relatives. An example could be an old yearbook with their high school senior photo. Was your ancestor a prominent resident of the community, maybe there is a photo of their business.
CHURCHES AND CEMETERIES
If you’re struggling with dates, churches, and cemeteries may be of help. Churches can be a source for baptism, wedding, and possibly funeral records. If you know where an ancestor is buried contacting the cemetery could provide dates of their birth, death, and possibly additional family details. Each depends on the record-keeping of that location.
REGIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETIES
Many counties or regions in Kansas have local genealogical societies or historical societies that focus on preserving and researching local history. These organizations often maintain archives, publish journals, and host events related to genealogy. Contact the relevant society for the area you're interested in to inquire about resources and assistance.
All genealogical research should come with a disclaimer, it’s easy to get stuck in the details and head down the proverbial rabbit hole. Once you start it’s hard not to become fully consumed. Remember to keep your eye on the bigger picture, take good notes and most important enjoy the ride.