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State Research Guide: Kansas
8/1/2005
Follow the yellow brick road to your Sunflower State roots.
For most people, mentioning Kansas conjures up images of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."Whereas Dorothy has to click her heels together three times to return home, family historians can easily revisit their Kansas roots with the click of a mouse. No wizardry is required to access the genealogical gems on the Kansas State Historical Society's (KSHS) user-friendly Web site <www.kshs.org>, or to find ancestors in the old books, letters, diaries and photographs in the online Kansas Collection <www.kancoll.org>. You won't need magical ruby slippers to find your way to offline sources, either. Just rely on these research tricks to guide you on your journey.

The lion's share of records

First, you'll have to pinpoint where and when your ancestors lived in the region — details you can learn from censuses and vital records. Various territorial censuses were taken between 1855 and 1860. Kansas became the 34th state in 1861, and state census records — taken every 10 years — exist for 1865 through 1925. The federal government enumerated Kansas Territory in 1860, then began recording the state's citizens every 10 years starting in 1870.

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