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Books and magazines

Image of a student researching in the State Archives and Library reading roomThe State Archives collects published materials about the history of Kansas and, to a lesser degree, the American West. Subject areas include railroad development, trails, westward expansion, frontier and pioneer life, western forts and military life, Indian wars, the Civil War, and western Native American tribal histories and bibliographies. The research collection also focuses on genealogy for Kansas and other states, particularly those surrounding Kansas and those east of the Mississippi. Access to materials is through an online catalog for newer material, card catalogs for older material, plus various indexes, and finding aids.  The online catalog, ATLAS, is a shared catalog of several Topeka libraries and it shows Kansas Historical Society materials cataloged since 1994.  Only a small portion of our catalog records have been converted from the card catalog to the online catalog, so less than 5 percent of KSHS holdings can be found in ATLAS at this time. 

Logo and link to ATLASThe research collection includes books, pamphlets, church and school histories, yearbooks, atlases, family histories, historical and current published records of state government, poetry, music, and newspapers related to the collecting areas described above. The State Archives is a depository for selected federal documents. The holdings currently consist of approximately 500,000 items.

Image of two young researchers using the card catalogs.Magazine and periodical holdings of the KSHS research collection include the publications of the Kansas State Historical Society, historical periodicals from various historical associations and historical societies, periodicals from Kansas and out-of-state genealogical organizations, magazines published in Kansas, journals of Kansas professional organizations and other special interest publications. The holdings also include numerous nineteenth and early twentieth century popular and literary magazines with a national focus. The Archives has more than 1500 titles of current and discontinued Kansas and national periodicals.

Other holdings include:

Biographies/Information on Individuals

The Archives holdings include many sources containing information on individuals and families. This link will provide information on a variety of these sources. Portraits of many Kansans and Kansas families my be found in the photograph collections.

County & Town Histories

Our collections contain a vast number of histories of both Kansas and non-Kansas counties and towns. A bibliography for each Kansas county contains titles for most of the Kansas county histories. These histories often contain biographical sketches of residents. County clippings volumes also contain information on individuals and incidents. The ‘dead town list,” compiled in the 1930s, includes information on more than 4,500 extinct or declining towns in Kansas. The Kansas Post Offices Database includes every known Kansas post office created between May 29, 1828 to August 3, 1961, with its dates of operation. These dates can indicate approximately when the town was established and, in some cases, when it disappeared.


Statewide gazetteers and Kansas county, city, farm, business, and telephone directories, 1859 to date, are listed in finding aids available in the Research Room. Some non-Kansas directories also are available. Information on our holdings of Kansas city directories, telephone directories and some farm and other specialized directories is available in the directories database.

Kansas Historical Society Publications

Over the years, the Kansas Historical Society has published several ongoing periodicals. The Society's first periodical was the 17 volume Kansas Historical Collections. The first 10 volumes of this series were also titled the Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society. The first 11 volumes are available on microfilm through interlibrary loan. Many articles are available online.

The Collections were followed by the Kansas Historical Quarterly, which was published from 1931 through 1977. Many articles are available in digital format.

The current scholarly publication is Kansas History, which is available through an annual membership in the Kansas Historical Foundation, as is Reflections, a member publication.

State Government Publications for Kansas

The Kansas State Historical Society has been a permanent repository for state publications since 1876 and possesses the most extensive collection of Kansas government documents in the United States. This collection reflects the strong historical commitment and legal requirement of the society to preserve Kansas’s history and state publications.

Federal Government Publications

KSHS has been a U.S. depository site since 1877 and possesses an extensive collection of government documents relating to Kansas and the West, as well as a general collection on U.S. history, politics, and government. Holdings include complete runs of the Congressional Record, the Congressional Serial Set, the Yearbook of Agriculture, and Statistics of Railroads in the U.S.

Out-of-State Holdings

The collection is strong in a number of areas for non-Kansas items such a family histories, local histories for other states, Adjutant General’s reports for the Civil War era for states east of Kansas, gazetteers, postal guides, and some vital records, military rosters, city directories, and indexes to and federal census for other states. For genealogical researchers, there are more than 1500 genealogical books, 500 genealogical pamphlets, numerous genealogical periodicals, and lineage books for various patriotic societies including the DAR. The American Genealogical and Biographical Index is available and the KSHS has approximately 70% of the sources indexed in this standard genealogical reference tool.