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Native American Genealogical Sources

Researching Native American ancestry can be both exciting and frustrating. Locating sources about a non-literate society requires the use of a variety of governmental and unpublished sources. The researcher should read handbooks and manuals concerning the types and scope of sources available to the genealogist. They will explain the time periods and depth and limitations on specific materials. It is also important for the researcher to determine the tribe to which the ancestor was a member.

Most Native American research sources were created by the United States government. These materials are held by the National Archives and its branches. The Center for Historical Research has a limited selection of genealogical and historical documents and published items helpful to the family researcher. They concern tribes which once owned tribal lands in Kansas as well as some residing in Oklahoma.


Selected transcribed or abstracted censuses, annuity rolls and enrollment lists have been published in book form or in magazine articles. Records also appear in the U. S. Serials Set as reports to the United States Congress. Handbooks, manuals and basic reference guides explain the types of existing sources, their repositories and how to conduct a genealogical search. The Library also contains a few recently published Native American family histories.


The manuscript collection includes the original, unpublished papers of early missionaries and government officials who were associated with Kansas tribes. Examples are the Jotham Meeker papers, John G. Pratt papers and James Burnett Abbott papers. Contained in these papers can be found land allotment rolls, tribal censuses, and maps showing assigned lands. Records such as the Jesuit Mission and College records at St. Marys include baptismal, marriage and funeral records. Please consult our "Guide To American Indian Materials in the Manuscript Collection, KSHS" (PDF file) for more information.

Microfilm copies of the Enrollment Cards of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914 and the Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940 are available in the reading room and for interlibrary loan. Tribes represented in these records include the Five Civilized Tribes, Shawnees, Pottawatomis, Kiowa, Quapaw, Kickapoos, Osages, Kansa, Chippewa, Pawnee, Iowa and Sauk and Fox. These microfilm rolls are available through interlibrary loan.

State Archives

The State Archives collects original state, local and selective federal documents related to Kansas. The records and maps of the U. S. Surveyor General shows Native American lands of the pre-territorial, territorial and state periods. The 1857 territorial census contains a tribal enumeration and land allotments of Shawnee tribal members.

Local records from county courthouses occasionally include land records and allotments of native tribes. For example, the Office of the Johnson County Clerk of Courts has information about Shawnee Indian reservations, 1860-1877. The County Register of Deeds maintains Shawnee Indian land patents, 1854-1859, land transfer records, 1859-1870 and Shawnee Indian abstracts, 1860-1874.