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Genealogy Research in Kansas City

 

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Beverly Whitaker, professional genealogist




Last update: August 22, 2010

            ?? WHAT RECORDS CAN THE RESEARCHER EXPECT TO FIND IN KANSAS CITY ??

Consider the following comments to be an "introduction" to the abundance and variety of records the genealogist can find in the Kansas City area. There are many repositories here. Although the collections contain an abundance of material of local interest, no geographical area is left untouched.

The listings below are not complete; our libraries, archives, and societies constantly add materials. These listings are simply some I have used for my own family research or at one time for clients. Currently I have other projects claiming my attention; consequently I am not taking clients at present. But there are other researchers in the area, and they can help you if you find something here that might lead to information you need. And I invite them to send me ADDITIONS and CORRECTIONS to this page of resources.

Internet users are constantly surprised at the volume of information available online for the Kansas City area. Take the opportunity to use the Internet Resource Links provided near the end of this web page.

 

RECORD
TYPES

KC AREA REPOSITORIES

PROFESSIONAL RESEARCHERS

INTERNET RESOURCES

 

Although much of Kansas City, Missouri, is in Jackson County, the city extends north of the Missouri River into Clay and Platte counties. Realistically, persons researching the Kansas City area ought to think in terms of at least 5 counties, some on each side of the Missouri/Kansas border:

Clay County, Missouri

Jackson County, Missouri

Platte County, Missouri

Johnson County, Kansas

Wyandotte County, Kansas

 

~~KINDS OF RECORDS TO BE FOUND

1. BOOKS and JOURNALS:

Our libraries have full shelves! Expect to find genealogical reference material not only for metro Kansas City, but also for almost any region you might think of, especially for those areas from which families migrated to this area. Library catalogs are ONLINE for the Kansas City Public Library, the Midwest Genealogy Center, and the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library. Of special interest to persons outside the area is a very large circulating collection of genealogical books at the Mid-Continent Library, via Inter-Library Loan.

 

2. CITY DIRECTORIES and TELEPHONE BOOKS:

The Kansas City Public Library has City Directories since 1859, most of which are on microfilm although some scattered volumes in book form are on open shelves. Kansas City metro area phone books are on microfilm, 1899 to current, at the Kansas City Public Library.

 

3. EARLY DEATH RECORDS and INDEXES:

Two area libraries have death records on microfilm for Kansas City, 1874-1909, with an index to 1915. [The records themselves are very brief -- name, race, date of death, place of birth (state or country), place of death, age, marital status, cause of death, name of physician.] On microfilm, the images are of poor quality, difficult to read because of crowded and faded entries.

 

4. BIRTH and DEATH RECORDS after 1910:

Beginning in 1910, both birth and death records and certified statements relating to Missouri marriages and dissolution of marriages are available at the state level. The fee has been $10, but that is subject to change. The approximate date is required since they are indexed only by date.

Bureau of Vital Records
930 Wildwood
P.O. Box 570
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Telephone: (573) 751-6400

CERTIFIED copies of most Kansas City birth and death records after 1910 are also available at the Kansas City Health Department, if the date is known. They are unindexed, except by date. I don't know the current charge, probably the same as at the state's Bureau of Vital Records.

Kansas City Health Department
2400 Troost
Kansas City, MO
Telephone: (816) 512-6309

 

5. NEWSPAPERS:

Until 1990, Kansas City had both a morning and evening newspaper. The Kansas City "Times" began publishing in 1871, and the Kansas City "Star" began its publication in 1880. Microfilm is available for viewing at both the Kansas City Public Library and the Mid-Continent Library in Independence which is also in Jackson County. Obituaries, death and funeral notices were not duplicated. Nor do they appear in an organized fashion until recent years. The earliest ones are brief, often only 3-4 lines (for which there was a charge), and were printed wherever there was space. News-worthy deaths were reported as news items, not as obituaries. After about 1915 or 1920, if the date of death is known, it is usually possible to locate an obituary in one of the newspapers in about 30 to 45 minutes, checking each paper for about a week. Also available is microfilm for the Kansas City "Post" for 1906-1928, the Kansas City "Journal" (a magazine) for 1877-1942, and by various names, the "Journal of Commerce" from 1857-1870. In addition, there were/are suburban newspapers as well.

 

6. CEMETERY RECORDS:

Published records for cemeteries within Kansas City include those for Elmwood Cemetery, Union Cemetery, Brookings Cemetery, and more. The Clay County Archives in Liberty, Missouri, maintains a computerized index for cemeteries in that county. The Kansas City, Kansas Public Library has a collection of cemetery indexes for Wyandotte County.

 

7. MARRIAGE RECORDS:

There are transcribed, published records of marriages for some years for Jackson County and surrounding counties. They are located at various libraries in the metropolitan area. The state's Bureau of Vital Records can provide certified statements of marriage or dissolution of marriage for those which have occurred in Missouri from July 1, 1948 to the present. A certified copy of the actual license or decree can only be obtained from the county Recorder or Circuit Clerk's office. For information regarding marriages since 1948, it is necessary to contact the county's Recorder of Deeds; for dissolutions, contact the county's Circuit Clerk.

 

8. CENSUS:

The complete Federal Census for all states is available here at both the National Archives Central Plains Region's Records Services Facility in Kansas City and at the Mid-Continent Public Library's Genealogy Department in Independence, Missouri. Both also have a large collection of printed indexes of Federal Population Schedules for most of the states.

Specifically, the microfilm collection at Mid-Continent Library includes:

(1) U.S. Census Population Schedules for all states 1790-1930, including all available slave schedules.
(2) Soundex for 1880, 1900, and 1920 census and for those states indexed for Soundex in 1910 and 1930.
(3) 3 surviving rolls and 2 rolls index for the 1890 census.
(4) Descriptions of Census Enumeration Districts 1830 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930.
(5) Federal Mortality Census Schedules 1850-1880 (formerly in the Custody of the DAR)
for states AZ, CO, DC, GA, KY, LA, TN.
(6) Agricultural, Industrial & Mortality Schedules for the state of Missouri -- 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880.

 

9. MILITARY:

Assorted published records are available at area libraries. The National Archives Central Plains Region has the usual federal records on microfilm -- service, pension, and unit histories.

 

10. IMMIGRATION AND PASSENGER LISTS:

We have an abundance of published lists and microfilm, but they are time-consuming to research.

 

11. COUNTY RECORDS:

Hundreds of rolls of microfilmed county records have been added at the Genealogy and Local History Branch of the Mid-Continent Library (Independence, Missouri) for CLAY and PLATTE counties. Films have also been ordered for Jackson County.

 

 

~~ REPOSITORIES:
Even if you can't come to our area yourself, you need to know what repositories are located here.

 

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES' CENTRAL PLAINS REGION
has its headquarters in Kansas City.      http://www.archives.gov/central-plains/

 

MIDWEST REGIONAL STATE REPOSITORIES

·        Arkansas History Commission - Little Rock, AR

·        Colorado State Archives - Denver, CO

·        Illinois State Archives - Springfield, IL

·        Iowa - State Historical Society of Iowa - Des Moines, IA

·        Kansas State Historical Society and Archives - Topeka, KS

·        Minnesota Historical Society - St. Paul, MN

·        Missouri State Archives - Jefferson City, MO

·        Missouri State Historical Society - Columbia, MO

·        Nebraska State Historical Society - Lincoln, NE

·        Oklahoma State Archives - Oklahoma City, OK

 

COUNTY COURTHOUSES

Jackson County, Missouri, has two courthouses. The very early records are at Independence; newer records are in the courthouse located in downtown Kansas City. The Clay County Courthouse is at Liberty, MO. The Platte County Courthouse is at Platte City, MO. The Wyandotte County Courthouse is at Kansas City, Kansas. The County Courthouse for Johnson County, Kansas, is located in Olathe, Kansas.

Other county courthouses in close proximity to Kansas City:

In Missouri: Buchanan, Cass, Clinton, Johnson, Lafayette, and Ray

In Kansas: Atchison, Doniphan, Leavenworth, and Miami.

 

~AREA LIBRARIES

There are lots of libraries in the Kansas City area that have great genealogical and historical resources.

1. Midwest Genealogy Center This brand new state of the art genealogy facility is slated to open in summer 2008. The new library is built on about 8 acres of land at the intersection of Lee's Summit and Kiger Roads in Independence, Missouri. It is part of the Mid-Continent Public Library, which has had a genealogy collection for over 35 years. For more information about the types of materials available, visit their website.

2. Kansas City Public Library -- Missouri Valley Room (Local History & Genealogy) Come visit, use our Missouri Valley Special Collections, and see our beautiful new/old Central Library at 10th and Baltimore, downtown.

3. University of Missouri at Kansas City houses some of the Western Historical Manuscript Collection. See this website for hours etc.

4. Clay County Archives and Historical Library -- Liberty, Missouri

5. Kansas City, Kansas Public Library houses the Kansas Collection.


~~ RESEARCHERS:

You may want to hire a researcher to seek records for you in the Kansas City area. Follow my links to locate persons who do genealogical research for a fee. [Note: Although you may find my name on these lists, I am not taking new clients at the present.]


~~ Learn the HISTORY of the area:

Kansas City, Missouri, extends beyond Jackson County into Clay and Platte Counties which are north of the Missouri River. And right "next door" is the smaller city of Kansas City, Kansas in Wyandotte County with its very strong relationship with Kansas City, Missouri, especially during the middle and late 1800s. Also on the Kansas side is Johnson County, a thriving metropolitan suburban area with a rich history. This means there are 5 counties with 5 sets of records to investigate! You will want to learn something of our area's history here at the Missouri/Kansas border. View my brief survey of four of those counties: Jackson, Clay, and Platte in Missouri; Wyandotte in Kansas

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gentutor/KC.html


~~Internet Resource LINKS for the KC Area

Kansas City Attractions

·        Kansas City History

·        Newspaper: The Kansas City Star

·        Postcards: Images of Kansas City

·        "The Kansas City Magazine"

·        Greater KC Convention & Visitors Bureau -- with many links

·        The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum

·        Art at Kansas City's Country Club Plaza (includes pictorial tour)

·        The Kansas City Zoo

·        The Hallmark Crown Center

 

Linkpendium County Sites

·        Clay County, Missouri Links

·        Jackson County, Missouri Links

·        Platte County, Missouri Links

·        Johnson County, Kansas Links

·        Wyandotte County, Kansas Links

 

U.S. GenWeb sites

·        Missouri GenWeb County Links

·        Clay County, MO Links

·        Jackson County, MO Links

·        Platte County, MO links

·        Kansas GenWeb County Links

·        Johnson County, KS Links

·        Wyandotte County, KS Links

 

U.S. County Directories -- These include links to maps, cities, addresses, & much more.

·        Missouri County Index

·        Clay County, MO

·        Jackson County, MO

·        Platte County, MO

·        Kansas County Index

·        Johnson County, KS

·        Wyandotte County, KS

 

Genealogical and Historical Societies

·        Missouri Genealogical and Historical Societies

·        State Historical Society of Missouri

·        Jackson County Historical Society in Independence, Missouri.
            Contact them in advance to arrange time for a visit.

·        Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society in St. Joseph, Missouri
          This repository houses resources for the 9 Platte Purchase Counties in Missouri and adjacent Kansas Counties: Atchison, Nodaway, Worth, Gentry, Holt, Andrew, DeKalb, Clinton and Buchanan Counties in Missouri and Brown and Doniphan Counties in Kansas. They are also the official archive of Buchanan County, Missouri and have original court and marriage records.

·        Johnson County Genealogical Society (Kansas):
          The society's holdings are located at Johnson County Public Library located in Shawnee Mission,KS

·        Kansas Genealogical and Historical Societies

 

LDS Family History Library and FamilySearch Research Helps

·        Online Catalog - Includes listings of rental microfilm for counties

·        Research Outlines and Worksheets, listed by state

 

Maps

·        Missouri Census and County Formation Maps

·        Missouri 1895 County Maps

·        Kansas 1895 County Maps

 

Historic Newspapers

·        Historic Missouri Newspaper Project

·        Ancestry.com Historical Newspaper Collection


~~ Get ORGANIZED:

Don't overlook the clues to your own family's history right there in your own home
or by way of communication with other family members.

Get help at Genealogy Tutor Tips about how to gather and organize your material.

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