Official vital records in Kansas date to 1911 though some counties maintain their own archives of older material that goes farther back to 1860. Of course, you aren’t limited to vital records when studying Kansas genealogy. There are several other sources for historical information that you can utilize.
Kansas Vital Records
Vital records in Kansas are kept confidential regardless of the time passed, so you will have to be an immediate relation in order to get copies of birth or death records regardless of how old the records are. Marriage records are open to the public and can be ordered from the county district court where the marriage is registered as well as from the central Office of Vital Statistics like the other records.
To get copies of these Kansas genealogy records, you have to submit a form (and a fee) to the Office of Vital Statistics, which is part of the Department of Health and Environment. Their website has the forms, and you have to supply the names, dates and locations to accurately identify the record you are seeking.
There is a $15 fee to get copies of any vital records, and when sending through the mail you should enclose as a check or money order. Don’t mail them cash. The fee should be made out to the “Kansas Vital Statistics”. Going to the office in Topeka will get you while-you-wait service, and mailed applications usually take up to 2 weeks for return.
You can also order your vital record copies over the phone through the Vital Statistics office, but you have to pay by credit card (and there are extra fees for this service).
Other Sources for Kansas Genealogy Material
Since you can only get birth and death records if you are a direct relative, you may have to search elsewhere when researching more distant ancestors.
Your next stop will likely be the Kansas Historical Society. Though they collect all kinds of historical material, they do have a large collection specifically oriented to genealogy research. They have archived newspapers (great for birth announcements or obituaries), military records, census records, agricultural rolls, penitentiary records, old city directories and more. Their website offers several searchable databases so you can do some research before arriving.
To visit their research room, you can come to Topeka during regular business hours, every day except Monday (Sundays have shorter hours as well). There is a small admission fee, though members of the Kansas Historical Foundation can go at no cost.
Joining a historical or genealogy group is another source for Kansas genealogy documents, and sometimes unique documents that are not available anywhere else. There are groups associated with every county, as well as other regional groups (such as the North Central Kansas Genealogical Society or the Topeka Genealogical Society).
These groups not only have their own collections of material but sometimes just getting in touch with other people doing similar research can really help you get past any roadblocks you come to.