Between 1865 and 1880, the state of Kansas attracted immigrants at a faster pace than anywhere else in the United States.
Who were they? Where did they come from? And how did they end up in the Sunflower State?
Those questions are examined in the new exhibit Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration and Citizenship in Kansas running August 15, through September 30, 2012, at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Drawing from photographs, documents, quotes, interactive elements, and a documentary video of citizens describing what it means to be an American, the exhibit illustrates the paths to citizenship taken by Kansas settlers from around the world.
Some came in search of a better life for themselves or their children. Many came to join families or friends already settled in the Midwest. Others responded to advertising and immigration societies that painted Kansas as a new Eden.
Americans by Choice provides context while personalizing the facts and figures.
Why leave your homeland? (The bulk of these new Kansans were German-Russian, Swedish, and Norwegian.) Why go to Kansas? (Hint: It involves land, jobs, and education.) Where did these newcomers settle? And what path to citizenship did they take?
These questions are answered in the exhibit, which was developed as part of the 150th anniversary celebration of the U.S. District Court of Kansas and is permanently on display in the Robert J. Dole Courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas. A traveling version of the exhibit is coming to the Library.
Admission is free. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.