African American Resources for Kansas

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Introduction

A list of resources for African American research of ancestors who lived in Kansas.

Online Resources

Research Strategy

Kansas African American Genealogy

History

The first African American settlers in Kansas were slaves brought into the area in the years before the Civil War. The few slaves that may have been in Kansas before the Civil War may be listed in the United States Census Slave Schedules. The issue of slavery was heavily contested between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces in the state; Kansas was known as "Bleeding Kansas" because of violent clashes between the two groups. Kansas entered the Union as a free state months before the start of the Civil War. During the Civil War, African Americans in Kansas formed volunteer military units to fight against the Confederates. To learn more, see African Americans in Kansas. After the Civil War, Kansas was advertised as a good place for African Americans to settle; the 1859 Kansas Constitution opened the state to all settlers regardless of their ethnic or racial background.[1]

A large exodus ("Exoduster Movement") of African Americans out of the deep south into Kansas began in 1879. This exodus occurred in part because of recruitment by other African Americans and the prospect of jobs and in part because of the difficult economic times for poor African Americans in the South. Although the Kansas Constitution welcomed settlers of all races, many African Americans faced discrimination from white settlers and also hard economic times. While some African Americans either went back to the South or migrated west into unsettled territory, the majority of African Americans remained in Kansas indefinitely.[2][3]

Another huge wave of black migration occurred in the 1920s and 1930s. During this time, the mechanization of the cotton and other industries and hard economic times forced many African Americans out of their homes. Jobs in the meat packing industry in Kansas lured many to migrate there.[4]

To learn more, see these websites:

To learn more, see these books:

Resources

Biographies

Cemeteries

Census Records

Church Records

Emancipation Records

Funeral Homes

Genealogies

Land and Property

Plantation

Oral Histories

Other Records

Military Records

Many of those involved in the Civil War moved west after the War.

Newspapers

Since 1876, African Americans newspapers have been published in Kansas. See African American Newspapers to learn more about these newspapers and find a list of more than 80 African American newspapers.

Probate Records

Reconstruction Records

Freedman’s Bank

An excellent source is the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (visit the African American Freedman's Savings and Trust Company Records page to learn more). This company was created to assist African American soldiers of the Civil War and freed slaves. Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company signature cards or registers from 3 March 1865 to 25 July 1874 may list the name of the depositor, date of entry, age, birthplace, residence, complexion, name of employer or occupation, wife or husband’s name, death information, children’s names, name of father and mother, brothers’ and sisters’ names, remarks, and signature. Early books sometimes contained the name of the former master or mistress and the name of the plantation. Copies of death certificates were sometimes attached to the entries. The collection is organized alphabetically by state, then city where the bank was located, then date the account was established, then account number.

Online collections of Freedman's Bank records:

Freedmen's Bureau

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was created by the US government in 1865 until 1872 to assist former slaves in the southern United States. The Bureau created a wide variety of records extremely valuable to genealogists. Such documents include censuses, marriage records, and medical records. These records often include full names, former masters and plantations, and current residences.[5] For 1865 and 1866, the section on abandoned and confiscated lands includes the names of the owners of the plantations or homes that were abandoned, confiscated, or leased. It gives the county and location, a description of the house, the number of acres owned, and the number of cabins of former slaves. These films do not appear to contain the names of former slaves.

To find Freedmen's Bureau records:

Other FamilySearch collections not included:

Visit the African American Freedmen's Bureau Records page to learn more about utilizing these records.

School Records

Slavery Records

Vital Records

Birth

Marriage

The Freedmen's Bureau (1865-1872) was created by the US government to assist former slaves in the southern United States. One of their responsibilities was to record the marriages (past and present) of the former slaves. These records can be found in the collections below and include the lists of marriages that occurred previously, marriage certificates, and marriage licenses. The information contained on the records may include the name of the husband and wife/groom and bride, age, occupation, residence, year or date of marriage, by whom, number of children, and remarks.

Death

Divorce

Voting Registers

Archives and Libraries

The Kansas African American Museum
601 N Water
Wichita, Kansas 67203
Phone: 316-262-7651

Midwest Genealogy Center
3440 S. Lee's Summit Road
Independence, Missouri 64055-1923
Phone: 816-252-7228

Wichita Public Library
711 W. 2nd
Wichita, KS 67203
Phone: (316) 261-8500

Societies

The Kansas Genealogical Society & Online Library
2601 Central Ave, LL Suite 17
Dodge City, Kansas 67801
Email: kgslibrary@gmail.com

References

  1. "African Americans in Kansas," Kansas Historical Society, http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/african-americans-in-kansas/15123, accessed 16 August 2018.
  2. "Museum - African American History," Kansas Historical Society, https://www.kshs.org/p/museum-african-american-history/10663, accessed 16 August 2018.
  3. "African Americans in Kansas," Kansas Historical Society, http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/african-americans-in-kansas/15123, accessed 16 August 2018.
  4. "African Americans in Kansas," Kansas Historical Society, http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/african-americans-in-kansas/15123, accessed 16 August 2018.
  5. "African American Records: Freedmen's Bureau," "African American Heritage," National Archives, accessed 11 May 2018.