Local History

A historic photograph from the Library's collections of downtown Wichita

Location and Hours

Our Local History and Kansas Reference collections are located in the Edward & Elizabeth Burns Historical Research Pavilion on the second floor of the Advanced Learning Library.

Our Collections

Local History Collection

Items in the collection are often the only existing copy and complement other collections such as those at Wichita State University or the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum.

Common topics of research done by customers include house histories, biographical research on prominent Wichita citizens or local families, business and government history, and the history of particular events or incidents.

Example materials in Local History:

  • Thousands of photographs. More than 300 of these photographs can also be found on the Wichita Photo Archives website.
  • Books by local authors, regional histories, short-run local newspapers such as Negro Star (1920-1953), city directories, and telephone books
  • Original and reproduction maps for Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas, and the region
  • Historical atlases and microfilm of Sanborn fire insurance maps

Kansas Reference Collection

The Kansas Reference collection, which is very closely related to the Local History collection, consists of books about Kansa and the Great Plains, or books by Kansas authors, including both fiction and non-fiction.

The collection features books on pioneers and cowboys, Kansas trail and railroad development, aviation history, agricultural history, and other subjects that have shaped the Wichita and Kansas of today.

Using the Collections

  • The wide range of research topics possible within the collection and the uniqueness of the materials often require one-on-one assistance. Setting up an appointment or making a phone call before your visit, although not necessary, may make your research easier. You can reach the Manager of the Genealogy/Special Collections Center by calling (316) 261-8566.
  • Since many of these books are rare or fragile, we may ask that you provide a library card or ID, and work in a supervised area
  • Local history collection books may be found by using the Library's online catalog
  • Microfilm rolls of Kansas newspapers that the library does not own may be interlibrary loaned from the Kansas State Historical Society.
  • Copies from microfilm or microfiche are $0.25 each
  • There are two digital microfilm reader/scanner machines that can scan microfilm into digital formats such as JPG and PDF. You can then save or email these files at no cost.
  • Some Kansas Reference or Local History books may not be photocopied due to their age and condition. Ask the librarian for permission to photocopy.
  • All Kansas Reference and Local History Collection items are reference materials and do not circulate. Some duplicate items exist in the general circulating collections.

Research Assistance

A limited amount of research may be possible via email and mail queries.

Typical research requests include:

  • Obituaries
  • Brief local history information on people, buildings, companies, etc.
  • Date and fact verification for Wichita and Kansas history

Library staff do not provide census research.

A fee of $5 per half-hour for research will be charged, with a one-hour limit of research time spent per inquiry. Photocopies are an additional 25 cents each. Customers will be billed regardless of results. Invoices will be sent out with any results found; timely payment is appreciated.

Customers are requested to be as thorough as possible when writing a request; exact dates, names, and other details are almost always necessary to find information. These requests will be filled as staff time is available.

Send email queries to: reference@wichitalibrary.org.

Send mail queries to:
Wichita Public Library
Attn. Mail Research
711 W. 2nd
Wichita, KS 67203

The library prefers that you include a business-size self-addressed, stamped envelope with your request.

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