Historical Society.This was the first incorporated society in Kansas. At the first session of the territorial legislature an act was passed incorporating the "Historical and Philosophical society of Kansas," which had for its subject "the collection and preservation of a library, mineralogical and geological specimens, historical matter relating to the history of the territory, Indian curiosities and antiquities, and other matters connected with and calculated to illustrate and perpetuate the history and settlement of Kansas." By the provisions of the act the incorporators were to organize within a year, but the time was afterwards extended three years. The incorporators were William Walker, chairman, D. A. N. Grover, David Lykins, John Donaldson, James Knydenhall, Thomas Johnson, William Vaughn, L. J. Eaton and A. J. Isacks.
The turbulent condition of Kansas interfered with the development of the society. In Feb., 1860, after the close of the pro-slavery regime, a "Scientific and Historical Society of Kansas" was organized at Lawrence, with Judge S. A. Kingman as president. William Hutchison, member of the executive committee was a moving spirit. This organization was prosperous for a time, but its library and collections were destroyed in Quantrill's raid, Aug. 21, 1863. Still another attempt that did not prove permanent was made in the formation of the Kansas Historical Society at Topeka, in March, 1867. Chief Justice Kingman was also president of this society. Editors were made exempt from the $5 membership fee, but even with these provisions the society did not prosper, and with its last meeting in Feb., 1868, it ceased to exist.
On April 7 and 8, 1875, the Kansas state editorial convention met at Manhattan. At this meeting, D. W. Wilder offered a resolution providing for the organization of a State Historical Society, and F. P. Baker. D. R. Anthony, John A. Martin, Sol Miller, and George A. Crawford were appointed to carry it out. The committee met and organized on Dec. 13, 1875. "The society was organized on non-partisan lines, independent of changing administrations, subject to the control of those who had a taste for the work, with a single purpose of gathering the records and results of all classes, elements, associations and sympathies." The first appropriation was $1,000 made by th[sic] legislature of 1877. This policy has been affirmed by each succeeding legislature, until the society is one of the most important departments of the state. In 1879 the legislature passed a law governing the historical society, which read in part:
"Section 1: The State Historical Society heretofore organized under the incorporation laws of the state, shall be a trustee of the state, and as such shall faithfully expend and apply all money received from the state to the uses and purposes directed by law, and shall hold all its present and future collections and property for the state, and shall not sell, mortgage, transfer, or dispose of in any manner or remove from the capital any article thereof, or part of the same thereof, without authority of the law; provided this shall not prevent the sale or exchange of the duplicates that the society may have or obtain.
"Section 2. It shall be the duty of the society to collect books, maps, and other papers and materials illustrative of the history of Kansas in particular, and the west generally; to procure from the early pioneers narratives of events relative to the early settlement of Kansas, and to the early explorations, Indian occupancy and overland travel in the territory and the west; to procure facts and statements relative to the history and conduct of our Indian tribes and to gather all information calculated to exhibit faithfully the antiquities and the past and present condition, resources and progress of the state; to purchase books to supply deficiencies in the various departments of the collection, and to procure by gift and exchange such scientific and historical reports of the legislatures of other states, of railroads, reports of geological and other scientific surveys, and such other books, maps, charts, and materials as will facilitate the investigation of historical, scientific, social, educational and literary subjects, and to cause the same to be properly bound; to catalogue the collections of said society for the convenient reference of all persons who may have occasion to consult the same; to prepare biennially for publication a report of its collections, and such other matters relating to its transactions as may be useful to the public; and to keep its collections arranged in convenient and suitable rooms, to be provided and furnished by the secretary of state, as the board of directors shall determine; the rooms of the society to be open at all reasonable hours on business days for the reception of the citizens of the state who may wish to visit the same, without fee, provided, that no expenditure shall be made under this act or expense incurred except in pursuance of specific appropriations therefor, and no officer of said society shall pledge the credit of the state in excess of such appropriations."
Section 3 has to do with the duties of the directors who are appointed by the society, and provides for the exchange and collection of the publications of the state, and of its societies and institutions. The society is not permitted to duplicate the publications in the state library. In 1901 a state law was passed prohibiting the secretary "from permitting or allowing any of the files, documents or records of said society to be taken away from the building where its office and rooms are or shall be located: Provided, "that the secretary in person, or by any duly authorized deputy, clerk or employee of his office, may take any of said files, documents or records away from said building for use as evidence or for literary or historical purposes; the same to be left while so away in the personal custody of said secretary, deputy, clerk, or employee."
The constitution of the society as amended in 1902 decrees that "this society shall consist of active, life and honorary and corresponding members, who may be chosen by the board of directors of the society at any regular or special meeting of the societythe active members to consist of citizens of the state, by the payment of $1 annually; the life members by the payment at any one time of $10; the honorary and corresponding members, who shall be exempt from fee or taxation, shall be chosen from persons in any part of the world distinguished for their scientific and literary attainments, and known especially as friends and promoters of history. County or city historical societies may elect one delegate member, who shall have all the privileges of the state society, and who shall be exempt from the payment of annual dues."
There is a board of 99 directors of the society, elected from the members. No member of the board of directors, or other officer, except the secretary receives pay for his services. The secretary aside from preserving a record of all meetings and conducting the correspondence of the society, collects all moneys and has charge of all books, manuscripts and collections of the society. George W. Martin has occupied this position since 1897. The society has published 11 volumes of Historical Collections, biennial reports, and 1 volume extra in 1886, as well as many pamphlets and circulars. Its collections in 1910 consisted of 36,868 books, 38,816 newspapers and magazines, 115,242 pamphlets, 44,265 manuscripts, 7,555 pictures, 6,428 maps and 9,230 relics.Pages 846-848 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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