Researchers with Kansas ancestors during the territorial period will have to rely on federal and state census records for 1855, 1859, and 1860. State censuses also were taken between 1865 and 1925. They’re available through the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) http://www.kshs.org and the Family History LIbrary (FHL).
Statewide recording of births and deaths didn’t occur until July 1911, but earlier births and deaths may have been recorded in the town or county clerk’s office. KSHS has an index to marriage licenses before 1867. Statewide marriage registration began in 1913. Order birth and death records after 1911 and marriages after 1913 from the Office of Vital Statistics.
KSHS has records from the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office, including muster rolls, and is collecting war letters of people in the military from the Civil War to the present.
Because Kansas is a public domain state, the federal government handled initial land sales and grants. Initial land transfers appear in Kansas Tract Books and are available on microfilm from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Other land records occur on the county level and can be found at the Register of Deeds. Originals of all federal land records for Kansas are at the National Archives.
In 1875, a group of Kansas newspaper publishers sought a repository to preserve papers printed in the state. This led to the founding of KSHS, which has an almost comprehensive collection of unindexed Kansas newspapers (listed on the website). Look in particular for obituaries, which may predate vital records. You’ll need an approximate death date.
KSHS also collects microfilm of county materials filmed by the FHL, as well as federal records that document the state’s history. You can search the KSHS and other Topeka-area library holdings at http://www.kshs.org/research/collections/documents/opac/opac1.htm. You’ll find maps, directories, published and unpublished family histories, organizational papers, and county histories in their library. Additional details on the holdings appear on the society’s website.
Most of Kansas’ 105 counties have groups that participate in the Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies. Their volunteers undertake indexing projects for local records. Once you’ve determined where your ancestors lived, contact that county’s society to see what local materials are available.
- Historical Atlas of Kansas by Homer E. Socolofsky and Huber Self (University of Oklahoma Press, 1988)
- Kansas in Maps by Robert W. Baughman (Kansas State Historical Society, 1961)
- Kansas Place Names by John Rydjord (University of Oklahoma Press, ca. 1972)
- Kansas Post Offices, May 29, 1828-Aug 3, 1961 by Robert W. Baughman (Kansas Postal History Society, ca. 1961)
- Kansas Towns & Cities as of 1912 by Debra Graden (Grey Ink, ca. 1997)
- The Official State Atlas of Kansas (Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies, 1982)
- Fighting Twentieth, History and Official Souvenir: An Account of the Kansas Volunteers in the Spanish American War, 1898-1899 (John A. Ostertag, 1989)
- The History of the Kansas Department of the American Legion by Richard J. Loosbrock (Kansas Department of the American Legion, ca. 1968)
- An Honor Roll of Kansas Civil War Veterans by Sherman Lee Pompey (Pacific Specialties, 1972)
- Records of Indians in World War I by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs, Potawatomi Agency (Federal Archives and Records Center, 1977)
- Abandoned and Semi-Active Cemeteries of Kansas by Don L. Ford (Anundsen, ca. 1983-1985)
- Births, Marriages, Deaths and Other News Items and Events by John Ostertag and Enid Ostertag (J.A. Ostertag, 1989-1999)
- Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Kansas by the Historical Records Survey (The Survey, 1942)
- Mortality Schedule, Kansas, volumes for 1860, 1870 and 1880, edited by Ronald Vern Jackson (Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1979)