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Using the research room - Our catalogs

Map of the Kansas Historical Society research room

The following information will help you navigate our catalog system:

The cards for printed material, manuscripts, maps and photograph collections are in separate catalogs. Each card catalog includes author, title, and subject cards interfiled alphabetically. Card catalog drawers come out of the cabinets so you may sit at the tables to look through the cards.

We stopped adding new cards to our card catalogs in 1994. To find material cataloged since 1994, use our online catalog system, ATLAS, that we share with other Topeka libraries. Our Archives Catalog includes records for all our state records and manuscripts holdings. If possible, please let the staff know when you will be visiting to use these collections so they can have the material pulled in advance. Computer terminals in the research room allow access to these and popular internet resources, including Ancestry. Our databases webpage links to our online indexes and guides to collections.

Books and magazines

The card catalogs for books and magazines are located behind the reference desk. The blue-labeled drawers contain Kansas history, places and people. The white-labeled drawers (or general catalog) contain U.S. and World history and family histories. It is best to check both catalogs if you are looking for genealogical material.

Manuscript collection

The manuscript collection card catalog is also behind the reference desk in the red-labeled drawers. Here you will find information about our manuscript holdings, which include items such as diaries, church and business records and personal papers of Kansans throughout the state's history.

Kansas Historical Society reading room

Photograph collection

The photograph collection card catalog is located in the research room across from the reference desk and is divided into two parts. The catalog on the left is the old part. The items here are being re-cataloged and put into the new part, which is on the right. Both sets have green-labeled drawers. Be sure to check both catalogs when looking for photographs. The photographs are categorized by geographic location, subject and photographer. Some of the photographs have been digitized and can be viewed on Kansas Memory.

When you ask to see photographs we will bring you up to 20 envelopes at a time and ask you to keep them in the original order. We will give you gloves to use while handling photographs. Nearly 5,000 photos are also available to view on microfiche.

Map collection

Researcher using the card catalogThe yellow labeled catalog drawers contain the map collection card catalog. Maps are cataloged by place [e.g. Nemaha County] or topic [e.g. Oregon Trail] and then listed in chronological order. There is a separate drawer near the bottom of the cabinet for creators of maps that is arranged alphabetically by surname.

Our reference staff will be happy to help you throughout your visit to the research room. Individuals in need of access assistance or auxiliary aids and services are asked to contact the Historical Society prior to their visit. 

The following links provide additional information about using the research room: