Project Reviews

Territorial Kansas Online
Created and maintained by Patricia Michaelis, Sheryl Williams, Kansas State Historical Society, and University of Kansas Libraries

Territorial Kansas Online is a vast and potentially valuable resource for the study of Kansas from 1854-1861. This web resource is much more than a simple retelling of the history of Kansas. This page offers deep resources through an extensive collection of digitized documents, most transcribed for easy access. The collection of documents is supplemented through digitized photographs as well.

Territorial Kansas Online is a production of the Kansas State Historical Society with additional funding from the University of Kansas. The site is produced with help from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, who provided grant money for its development and implementation. As a cooperative and long reaching effort, the result is an impressive collection.

The website features a searchable database of documents, a keyword search, lesson plans for Kansas teachers, timelines and an interactive copy of the Annals of Kansas - a book of the most significant events in Kansas history, day by day. Possibly the most useful feature of the site is the searchable database of information. The documents of the database are categorized in multiple levels including county, dates of documents, authors and keywords. There is also a searchable map by county, so someone interested in only Dodge county can find documents related to the query.

A simple search of "John Brown" gave 464 results. Following the first link, the result is a summary of a letter from John Brown to his wife. Keywords are noted with the letter, as are finding aids for those interested in the actual document. The user also notes the digital reproduction of the letter in two images. There is more information available under "Detailed Item Record" as well. This usability appeals to many levels, from elementary students interested in Bleeding Kansas  to advanced researchers wanting the actual documents.

The most famous aspect of Kansas Territory is "Bleeding Kansas" and that is noted in this page. Bleeding Kansas is one of the highlighted parts of Kansas history as seen through this site. Some researchers might find holes in the information presented here, but the intention of the website is enormous. It is supremely successful as a digital repository, even more so through its extensive bibliography that is constantly accessible through the sidebar.

This page is a good balance between directed history, in this case through summaries of documents, and an archive with no commentary. The users are encouraged to get involved in the texts they are reading - to delve deep into their areas of interest. This is possible through the huge amount of documents and resources available in Territorial Kansas Online.

Robert Voss
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Reviewed: Spring 2007