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Chester Owens collection

Call Number: RH MS 1549


This collection consists of materials Chester Owens has gathered about the Kansas City, Kansas region and the history of African Americans in the region, as well as materials regarding his own political career as a Kansas City, Kansas city councilman. Much of the collection concerns H.W. Sewing, businessman and founder of Douglass State Bank.


  • Creation: 1923-2010 (bulk 1950s-1980s)


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biography of Chester Owens

Chester Owens moved to Kansas City, Kansas in the 10th grade, graduating from Sumner High School at a very young age. At the age of 16, he was already attending Sumner Junior College, which was based at Sumner High School.

H.W. Sewing, successful businessman and community leader, told Owens that if he furthered his education, he would hire him. Owens therefore went to Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS and received his bachelors in business administration. Thereafter, Sewing hired Owens, who remained with H.W. Sewing and Company for the rest of his career. He retired as president of the company in 1998.

Chester Owens has been an active community member in a variety of ways, including memberships in the Northeast Business Asociation, Economic Opportunity Foundation, and Sumner High School Alumni Association. In 1983 he was elected the first African American to serve on the KCK city council, serving two terms.

Owens has also actively collected and donated materials to history organizations regarding the history of the African American communities in KCK and the surrounding region, including regarding Sumner High School and Bishop John Gregg. He lives in a home where Bishop Gregg once lived, and he serves as local historian and archivist for Sumner High School and for the Kansas City, Kansas African American community.

Owens has received a variety of awards for his service, including the NAACP Civil Rights Award, United Way Volunteer of the Year, and Friends of Yates Black Man of Distinction.

[Information retrieved from Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, "Chester Owens: 2012 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll,"]


.5 Linear Feet (1 document case + 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

Over half of the collection consists of materials from and about H. W. Sewing, a prominent Kansas City, Kansas businessman and founder of Douglass State Bank in the mid-1940s. This material includes photographs, news clippings, certificates, and other items regarding Sewing's professional life and particularly focused on the bank.

The rest of the collection includes materials related to Sumner High School alumni, African American poetry, community members of Kansas City, Kansas, and KCK politics in the 1980s. This latter material is focused mostly on Chester Owens' own career as a city councilman. These items mostly consist of newspaper clippings and photographs.

Physical Location

RH MS 1549

Physical Location

RH MS R496

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Chester Owens, 2019.

Related Materials

Douglass State Bank records, RH MS 638, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Separated Materials

Two items related to Bishop John A. Gregg that came with this donation were moved to his collection at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, which can be found at RH MS 579 and other call numbers.



Guide to the Chester Owens Collection
Chester Owens collection
Finding aid prepared by mwh. Finding aid encoded by mwh.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Chester Owens collection, RH MS 1549, 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