Skip to main content

Nicodemus Historical Society collection - original donations

Call Number: RH MS 545


Nicodemus, Kansas was founded in 1877 by African Americans who migrated from the southern United States, primarily Kentucky and Tennessee, shortly after the Civil War. The town became an historical landmark in 1976. This collection is comprised of donations from the Nicodemus Historical Society, as well as other individual Nicodemus citizens and their families, and documents the town's history and legacy.


  • Creation: 1880s-2007, undated (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.

History of Nicodemus, Kansas

The town of Nicodemus in Graham County, western Kansas, was founded in 1877 by African Americans migrating primarily from Kentucky and Tennessee, before the time period of the Exodusters. The town reached its most prosperous years by 1886, with the maturation of area agricultural production. However, the community began a long decline when a rail line, built in 1888, bypassed Nicodemus, instead linking through the neighboring town of Bogue.

The population is thought to have peaked in 1910, when the federal census reported 595 inhabitants in Graham County. By 1950, only 16 residents were counted, and the Post Office station closed in 1953.

Nicodemus was designated a National Historic Landmark by the federal government in 1976, and became a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service in 1996 in large part thanks to Angela Bates, a prominent citizen. The town is known for its long history, noteworthy citizens, and the Homecoming Emancipation celebration that takes place each July.


7 Linear Feet (16 boxes + 5 oversize boxes, 3 oversize folders, 1 audio cassette)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The original donations from the Nicodemus Historical Society collection date from the 1880s to 2007 and are divided into series named according to the donor of the material: Nicodemus Historical Society, and individual citizens of Nicodemus who have donated materials from their life, family, and the community of Nicodemus. Each series includes personal papers of individuals and families, as well as collected articles relating to Nicodemus or national events of interest to those individuals. The Nicodemus Historical Society series consists chiefly of the organization's records.

The collection's photographic material located at RH MS-P 545 is organized into series that mirror the collection's mansucript materials, divided by individual donor or photographs from the Nicodemus Historical Society or related entities. The Nicodemus Historical Society images are further divided into a number of subseries: Nicodemus, KS; Other Cities, KS; Miscellaneous; Nicodemus Families (organized by family name); Oversize and Fragile items; Albums; and Original negatives.

Oversize textual materials are located at RH MS Q124 and RH MS R125. One audio cassette is located at RH Cass. Tape 45, and one panoramic photograph is available at RH MS-P 545(ff).

Physical Location

RH MS 545

Physical Location

RH MS Q124

Physical Location

RH MS R125

Physical Location

RH MS-P 545, RH MS-P 545(ff)

Physical Location

RH Cassette Tape 45

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Angela Bates, 1996, 2003, 2008, 2010; Angela Bates and A. Gillan Alexander, 1991, 1998; Charlesetta and James Bates, 1996; Blanche White, 1996; Ola Wilson, 1996.

Separated Materials

Later additions to the Nicodemus Historical Society collections, including notably donations from private individuals whose families came from Nicodemus, can be found at Nicodemus Historical Society - Later additions, RH MS 1425, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Processing Information

A finding aid focusing on the digitized materials and original donations of the Nicodemus Historical Society materials was separated by Spencer staff in spring 2022 in order to make these materials and the later additions to the collection at RH MS 1425 and related call numbers more accessible and easier to navigate for patrons.

Guide to the Nicodemus Historical Society Collection - Original Donations
Nicodemus Historical Society collection - original donations
Finding aid prepared by bkm, 2006; mbw, 2008. Finding aid encoded by mwh, 2022. Finding aid revised by cl, 2010; skt, 2010; mbw, 2012; mwh and cd, 2022.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Nicodemus Historical Society collection - original donations, RH MS 545, 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