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Douglas County, Kansas, poll books and tally sheets

Call Number: RH MS Q49


Poll books and tally sheets--Printed forms.


  • Creation: 1940 - 1970


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

History of Douglas County and the Election Office

Douglas County was established on August 25, 1855 as one of 33 original counties founded in Kansas after the Kansas-Nebraska Act opened Kansas Territory, previously territory that Indigenous groups had been forcibly removed to by the United States government, for settlement. The county was named for Senator Stephen Douglas, who was the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It housed the territorial capital, Lecompton, until Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861 and Topeka, in adjacent Shawnee County, was made the state capital.

During the early years of Kansas settlement, Douglas County was the recurring site of violence between proslavery and anti-slavery forces in the fight to make Kansas a free state. The two major sites of historical significance were Lawrence and Lecompton. The New England Emigrant Aid Society, run largely by antislavery activists, helped sponsor the founding of and emigration to Lawrence (named for Amos Lawrence, an anti-slavery financier of the New England Emigrant Aid Society). In 1856, the proslavery Douglas County sheriff Samuel Jones, along with other proslavery forces, sacked the town and destroyed several free-state businesses. The territorial government met in Lecompton in 1857 to draft a state constitution, and proslavery delegates played their hand in drafting the Lecompton Constitution, which allowed slavery. However, this constitution was ultimately rejected and Kansas was officially admitted to the Union as a free state.

In 1863, Lawrence was raided by William Clarke Quantrill and his ‘Raiders,’ a group of proslavery guerrillas. In a four-day siege, Quantrill and his forces destroyed the town, looted homes and business, and executed boys and men in front of their families, targeting free black citizens and free-state leaders. Between 160 and 190 people were killed in the raid. Guerilla warfare raged along the Missouri-Kansas border for years before and during the Civil War, and Douglas County was a hotspot in Kansas due its large number of Free State leaders and supporters. After the end of the Civil War, the violence largely died down, though Douglas County remained a popular spot for settlement.

Today, Douglas County hosts three universities and has a population of almost 120,000 people, making it the 5th most populous county in Kansas. The state university, the University of Kansas, was founded in Lawrence in 1866, one year after the end of the Civil War. It was one of the first universities in the nation to admit both men and women. The county seat of Lawrence also hosts Haskell Indian Nations University, a public tribal university that serves Indigenous students from all over the United States representing over 140 tribal nations. Baker University, a four-year private university founded in 1858, is situated in Baldwin City. Douglas County is home to four cities: Lawrence (the county seat), Lecompton, Baldwin City, and Eudora; as well as several unincorporated communities.

In the 21st century, the Douglas County Clerk’s office serves as the department in charge of voting and elections and is responsible for all election administration in the area. Candidates for elections must file for candidacy through the Clerk’s office, and the county-wide registration database is maintained by the County Clerk as well. It is responsible for all paperwork and records-keeping regarding elections, such as the poll books and tally sheets.

[Information retrieved from the US Census Bureau, the Kansas Historical Society, and the Douglas County website.]


24 Linear Feet (33 boxes) : Printed forms

Language of Materials


Physical Location


Related Materials

Douglas County records - County Election Office, RH MS 451, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Douglas County, Kan. poll-book of the election, RH MS P327, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Guide to the Douglas County Collection
Douglas County, Kansas, poll books and tally sheets
Finding aid prepared by js, 17 May 1978. Finding aid encoded by mg, 2004. Finding aid revised by kls, mwh, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Douglas County, Kansas, poll books and tally sheets, RH MS Q49, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States