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Local History Index of Johnson County

The Local History Index of Johnson County is about to reach a major milestone.

What is the Local History Index of Johnson County?  Well, let’s take a look!

Before computers, researchers needed a quick way to get at local information.  A common solution was to clip local newspaper articles and store them in a vertical file.

file folders

Since the founding of the Johnson County Library in the 1950s, newspaper articles have been clipped for reference and kept at branches in vertical files.  In recent years, these clippings have slowly found their way to the Central Resource Library’s Regional Reference Collection.

Regional Reference cabinets

In October 2011, newspaper clipping was ceased and Regional Reference volunteers began the process of indexing these newspaper articles into a simple, easy-to-use digital format.  This format is built on research regarding information seeking behaviors.  The “short explanation” is that most researchers come to a project with pre-conceived ideas of what they are looking for.  In numerous studies, names, dates and locations have shown to be among the most common pre-conceived search subjects.

Our records follow a simple pattern:  Title, Author, Type, Sources, Date, Locations of Subject, Subject Headings, Subject Names, Local Keywords, and Keyword Names.    Names are recorded as both a Keyword and a Subject to ensure researcher success.  The subjects are culled from a in-house developed subject list.  This mirrors efforts at the Missouri Digitial Heritage project:

An example record:

Title Color and drama in the passing interurban
Author Manon, Calvin
Type Newspaper
Source Kansas City Times
Date 1961-08-31
Location Kansas City, KS
Bonner Springs, KS
Kansas City, MO
Lawrence, KS
Topeka, KS
Leavenworth, KS
Olathe, KS
Zarah Township, KS
Overland Park, KS
Clay County, MO
Liberty, MO
Parkville, MO
Platte City, MO
North Kansas City, MO
Independence, MO
Subject Railroads
Subject – Local Names   Taylor, W.R.
Davis, Fred
Sparling, Ivan
Keywords Kansas City Kaw Valley Railroad
Trolley Car Line
Kansas City Public Service Company
Country Club Trolley Line
Interstate Commerce Commission
Kansas Highway Department
Kansas Highway 32
Lone Star Cement Plant
Kansas City & Independence Interurban Line
Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph Interurban Line
Kansas City, Leavenworth & Western Interurban Line
Missouri & Kansas Interurban Line
Strang Line
Kansas City, Lawrence & Topeka Interurban Line
Hocker’s Grove Amusement Park
Merriam Lane
Kansas Highway 10
Kansas City, Kaw Valley & Western Interurban Line
Union Pacific Railroad
The Interurban
Savannah Interurban
St. Joe Line
Springs Line
Missouri Pacific Freight Train
Keyword Names W.R. Taylor
Fred Davis
Ivan Sparling

This data was collected (and continues to be collected) in Excel files by Regional Reference Volunteers.  Thanks to funding from both the Johnson County Library and the Johnson County Museum, was expanded in 2012 to unlimited capacity, allowing us to convert this data into ContentDM and share the Local History Index of Johnson County on    If you are unfamiliar with the Index, it can be located at:  and appears as such:

screen shot of Local History Index landing page

After two years of indexing work, the Johnson County Local History Index is about to reach 20,000 records.  We anticipate reaching this milestone by the end of October.  During the past two years, we have indexed the entire Johnson County Library Archives Promotional Holdings along with all clippings from the 1950s and 1960s.  There are many articles from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and all articles published in local newspapers since September 2011 appear in the index.  In addition, articles pertaining to Johnson County included in Kansas City Spaces, Kansas City Homes and Gardens and Kansas City Magazine have also made it into the current index.

We owe a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the project over the past two years.  Without their assistance and without the wonderful Regional Reference Volunteers, climbing this mountain would never have been possible.

If you have any questions about the Local History Index of Johnson County or Regional Reference, please feel free to contact the Johnson County Library.


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