Local History Room

Located on the lower level of the library, the Helen Osma Local History Room houses materials relating to the history of Lawrence and Douglas County, as well as resources for genealogical research.  If you need help using these materials or getting started with your research, stop by the Ask Desk, call 785-843-3833, email the reference staff, open a live chat session, or Book a Librarian. We also offer a wide variety of online resources to support your genealogy and local history research. And, the library’s Sound + Vision Studio is a great place to record oral histories!

In the Osma Room, you'll find:


  • Kansas Collection: Lawrence Public Library’s collection of books dealing specifically with Lawrence and Douglas County history and citizens.  These do not circulate, but we may have copies available to check out in our regular collection.


  • Census records for Douglas County, Kansas, and “Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory”
  • Lawrence and area newspapers from 1854-February 2013
  • Marriage records, 1854-1992 with Index

Vertical File

  • Newspaper clippings about the history of Lawrence and Douglas County, with an index

Other Resources for Local History and Genealogy Research

Summary of Local Records Locations: Where to look beyond the Library for various records that might be useful in your research.

Watkins Museum of History: The Watkins Museum of History in downtown Lawrence is a treasure trove of resources for researching family and local history. Their holdings include photograph, manuscript, and map collections, family histories, property abstracts, an obituary index, undertaker records, interment records and cemetery censuses, clippings files, and site files for locations throughout Lawrence.

Spencer Research Library: The Kansas Collection at the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas holds a variety of birth, marriage, death, divorce, and adoption, and school records, as well as census records, a selection of published family and local histories, and manuscript, photograph, and map and atlas collections. 

Thomas R. Smith Map Collection: The Thomas R. Smith Map Collection, located on the first floor of Anschutz Library at the University of Kansas, is among the largest academic map collections in the United States. The map collection includes over 440,000 items, consisting of over 330,000 sheet maps and 120,000 aerial photographs with particular strengths in maps of the U.S.A. and Kansas.

National Archives–Kansas City: The Kansas City branch of the National Archives offers free access to a variety of databases. NARA holdings include census, immigration, military, naturalization, and land records.

Midwest Genealogy Center: The Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri, is the largest free-standing public genealogy library in the United States, and boasts 52,000 square feet of resources for family history researchers.

Kansas State Historical Society: The Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka offers a wide array of resources to genealogists and historians, including map, photograph, and manuscript collections, local and family histories, and microfilmed census records, newspapers and county records from across the state.

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