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Episcopal Diocese of Kansas records

Call Number: RH MS 619


The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas was founded in 1859 and split in 1901 into the western half governed by Salina and the eastern half governed by Topeka. This collection contains the records of the entire Diocese prior to 1901 and of the eastern half of Kansas after 1901.


  • Creation: 1850-2008, with single items dating to 1694 and 1768


Conditions Governing Access

Records pertaining to candidates for ordination, postulants, and the clergy will not be open for access until 30 years beyond the death of the individual described in the records without written permission from the Diocese to the curator of the Kansas Collection. Contact staff at or (785) 864-4334 for assistance.

Conditions Governing Use

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

History of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas had its origins in an 1859 convention in Wyandotte, Kansas, led by Bishop Jackson Kemper. Charles Calloway, an early pastor in Kansas, had already started a female student college, eventually called Bethany Place. Due to political uncertainties and the advent of the Civil War, the diocese did not elect its first bishop, Thomas Vail, until 1864.

By the 1880s the diocese had over 80 congregations across the state. Bishop Vail began the Kansas Theological School and Christ Hospital, located in Topeka. Also in the late 19th century, Bishop Elisha Smith Thomas began the Salina St. John's Military School. Frank Millspaugh, the first Kansas bishop consecrecated on Kansas soil, took over the bishopric after serving as the dean of Grace Cathedral in Topeka.

Due to the church's growth, the 1901 convention decided to split the diocese in two, creating the Missionary District of Salina (now the Diocese of Western Kansas). Due to economic troubles in Kansas after World War I and during the Great Depression, Bethany College was sold, some of its land going to the new Topeka High School. Christ Hospital, also in debt, was turned over to the city of Topeka in 1949 and, after merging with another hospital, was renamed as Stormont-Vail.

The diocese flourished post-World War II, building new churches. By 1970 women were allowed to attend conventions as deputies. Richard Grine became the first Kansas bishop in almost a century in 1981, ordaining the first woman and creating Venture House in Wichita, Kansas (now Episcopal Social Services). The Kansas School of Ministry was also created in the late 1980s.

The mission of the Episcopal Diocese is to gather, equip, and send disciples of Jesus Christ to witness to God's reconciling love.

[Information taken from the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas' website,, accessed 8 July 2019.]


231 Linear Feet (329 boxes + 2 oversize boxes, 61 volumes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

RH MS 619

Physical Location

RH MS R121

Physical Location

RH MS 449

Physical Location

RH MS 1038

Physical Location

RH MS 1583

Other Finding Aids

Records located at RH MS 449 are described in greater detail in the following pdf documents: ksrl.kc.episcopaldiocese1-46.pdf, ksrl.kc.episcopaldiocese47-174.pdf, and ksrl.kc.episcopaldiocese175-275.pdf.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposits, Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007. Gift, Father Frank and Mary Cohoon family, 2016.

Related Materials

The Kenneth Spencer Research Library holds collections of records from several local Episcopalian churches in addition to the diocese's records. Consult the library's finding aids and staff for assistance in locating these other collections.

Guide to the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas Collection
Episcopal Diocese of Kansas records
Finding aid prepared by mds/mab, 2005. Finding aid encoded by mds/mab, 2005. Finding aid revised by cl, 2010; skt, 2010; mwh, 2019; cmp and ks, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Episcopal Diocese of Kansas records, Kansas Collection, RH MS 619, 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