The Kansas Historical Society announced that an original copy of the 1855 Topeka Constitution recently discovered by the National Archives is now available on Kansas Memory. The Topeka Constitution is most notable as the first of three free-state constitutions to prohibit slavery in the territory. At the time it was drafted, the original was to have been filed in the office of the executive committee of Kansas Territory, but it was never in the holdings of the State Archives. The location of the original is unknown, and it was only recently discovered that an 1855 handwritten copy was found in the records of the United States Congress.
The National Archives placed the first page online and the Friends of the Free State Capitol from Constitution Hall Topeka discovered its existence and notified the Historical Society. The Friends of the Free State Capitol made a presentation about the document's discovery at the Kansas Historical Foundation Annual Meeting in November 2013. The National Archives provided images of the 26-page document to the Historical Society, which are available at the Kansas Memory website.
About the archives
The State Archives holds original documents for the other three constitutions written for Kansas: proslavery Lecompton (1857) and free-state Leavenworth (1858) and Wyandotte (1859), which became the state constitution. Kansas Memory is the Historical Society's online digital archives.
The Friends of the Free State Capitol preserve the history of Constitution Hall Topeka where the original document was signed.
The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency that operates the Kansas Museum of History, State Archives, Kansas State Capitol Visitor Center, and 16 state historic sites. For more information, visit the Historical Society website.