Grand Genealogy Journey: The Research-Rich Environment of Kansas City

The Kansas City multi-county, bi-state metropolis is a genealogist’s and historian’s gold mine.

First (and these are in no particular order)  is the recently relocated site for the National Archives at Kansas City. It’s in the dynamic Union Station District of the city at 400 West Pershing Road.  The Archives is now featuring an exhibit in Kansas City on the 1918 flu epidemic.  The new facility also includes the Kansas City Store where one can shop for books, photos, gifts for children and other items.  The store is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm.

NARA Kansas City

NARA's Central Plains headquarters next door to Kansas City Union Station

The Greater Kansas City area also hosts two other NARA facilities.  The records center at Lee’s Summit, Missouri (200 Space Center Drive, about eight miles from downtown KCMO) has, among other documents, records from U.S. Veterans Affairs offices around the nation.  And just across the Kansas state line at 17501 West 98th Street in Lenexa, records from the Internal Revenue Service offices in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. [By the way, where else in the country could one find on the eastern most border of a city an address like 17501 West 98th Street?!]

The National Archives also operates the Harry S Truman Presidential Library  at 500 West U.S. Highway 24, Independence, Missouri.

The Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library at 14 West 10th Street (10th & Baltimore) houses the Missouri Valley Special Collection which includes historical documents about the history of the Kansas City area, the Civil War, Native Americans and African Americans.  In the Missouri Valley Room, a comfortable space, I found the diaries of Daniel Carpenter (1825-1920), the prominent Kansas City businessman who is the presumptive father of my great-great-grandfather, Ezekiel Johnson (1847-1933).

Kansas City Public Library

Exterior of Kansas City Public Library

The University of Missouri-Kansas City  has a fabulous library system with an extensive and diverse set of special collections in  a number of different libraries.  Go the University Libraries website before you visit to help guide your on-site research.

In 2008, the Midwest Genealogical Center opened at 3440 South Lee’s Summit Road in Indepence.   A facility of the Mid-Continent Public Library, it boasts 52,00 square feet of genealogical research resources, the largest free-standing public genealogy library in the United States.  This is a must-do when in the Kansas City area!

Kansas City is one of two county seats for Jackson County, Missouri (the other being Independence).  There are county vital records in both locations.  Fortunately, Jackson County has one of the best local government websites in the USA, and searching it for marriage licenses, for example, is easy and quick.

Kansas City itself is located mostly in Jackson County, but the city limits extend into Clay, Platte, and Cass Counties.  And Kansas City area research may take one into Ray, Lafayette, and Johnson Counties, Missouri.

Then  there’s Kansas!

The Kansas side of the Greater Kansas City area is  centered around Kansas City, Kansas “KCK” (which has been consolidated with Wyandotte County) and suburban Johnson County. In KCK, one will find the modern remnants of the Free-Stater, abolitionist town Quindaro, Kansas.

KCK has a good public library system with decent genealogical resources.

I’ve also written about Kansas City here:

The Florence Crittenden Homes,  November 2009

Rise Above the Noise and Confusion . . . The Civil War Starts in the Heartland, November 2007

A Kansas City Follies Girl, August 2007

Other Kansas City Area Historical and Genealogical Resources:

Clay County Archives, Liberty, Missouri

The Black Archives of the Midwest, Kansas City, Missouri

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Kansas City, Missouri

Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas (about 45 miles west of downtown KCMO)


September 2010
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