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Johnson County Museum

Phone: 913-715-2550

8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS 66212

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Donate to the Collection

Donate an Item

living roomThe Johnson County Museum relies upon the generosity of the community to donate objects, photographs and printed materials which document our local history. Anyone may offer an item for the Museum to review for acceptance to the permanent collection. Items collected may be used for exhibit, research or educational programs. If you have an item you would like to donate, please call 913-715-2550 or contact us to make an appointment.

Collection Criteria

Items offered must have a direct connection to Johnson County, Kansas, its residents, business community, or political or social life. The more information you can provide with your donation, the better. Who used the item, how did they use it, photographs of the person using the object – all that information is helpful in the evaluation process.

Time Period
The Museum is interested in materials from all time periods in the County’s history, up to and including the present. The current focus is on items from the mid-1960s through the present and items connected with the lives and businesses of immigrants to the county since the mid-1960s, but all items will be fully evaluated.

Items offered to the Museum should be in good to excellent condition. Exceptions include items of significant historical value to Johnson County’s history which warrant conservation. Once accepted, all items are stored, protected and preserved under conditions that insure their long-term preservation.

Rejected Items
On occasion, items which meet all the criteria above are rejected for a variety of reasons such as duplication or storage considerations. We appreciate all opportunities to evaluate potential items for our collection and sincerely thank you for your support of the Museum’s collection initiatives.

Historic Properties

The Collection: Johnson County's Built Environment

historic siteHistoric structures dot Johnson County’s landscape, and over the years, a number of efforts have been made to document their existence and preserve the county’s architectural resources.

From 1991-2008, the Johnson County Museum surveyed a large percentage of the pre-1950 architectural resources in the county. The survey and resulting data provides a basis for comprehensive preservation planning and for education about the county’s historic resources. An executive summary details the highlights, and the full 150-plus page report is available by request. Photographs of each individual property surveyed – all 9,213 of them -- are also accessible via the online database www.JoCoHistory.org. For more information about the Johnson County Museum's historic building survey project email or call 913-715-2550.

Johnson County properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

The following properties are on the Kansas Register of Historic Places:

Museum Exhibits: Online

Margot PeetWith Grace and Wit: The Paintings of Margot Peet - The Johnson County Museum of History presented this exhibition With Grace & Wit: The Paintings of Margot Peet, 1903-1995 from May 15 - August 22, 1999. Johnson County, Kansas, is a part of the Metropolitan Kansas City area.



Overland TrailOverland Trails: Focus on Johnson County - Focus on Johnson County was originally developed to complement the California Exhibition Resources Alliance traveling exhibit Overland: The California Emigrant Trail of 1841-1870.



South ParkSouth Park: One School's Integration Story - In partnership with South Park Elementary School, the Johnson County Museum created this exhibition recounting the 1948-49 struggle for equal education at South Park. Their efforts resulted in the integration of schools in Northeast Johnson County -- five years before the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education. The exhibit was dedicated in 2002 at South Park Elementary; when the school closed, the exhibit was moved to the new school Merriam Park Elementary where it remains on view. The online version is an exact replica.


What Is Modernism? Driving TourJohnson County Museum's award-winning temporary exhibit, What Is Modernism? was on display at the museum from November 21, 2014 until January 2, 2016.  The exhibit garnered many accolades, including the Kansas Museums Association's 2015 Award of Excellence.  While the exhibit is no longer on display, you can still use the map below to take our What Is Modernism? driving tour of Johnson County.


Non-digitized Records

The Johnson County Museum will not be taking in-person research requests after September 3, 2016 due to our impending move to the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center.

The Johnson County Museum holds over 3,000 cubic feet of archival material that document Johnson County.  Materials range from published and non-published family histories, secondary resources on local history, Kansas state history, and books relevant thematic topics like western migration, the railroad, and suburban development. These findings aids are designed to assist researchers in understanding what the records include. They are available for researchers to use at the Museum by making an appointment. Please call 913-715-2550 or email  to schedule a visit.

Organizational Records:

Future Farmers of America, Shawnee Mission (1934-1960):
The Shawnee Mission Future Farmers of America Records is a collection of 15 annual scrapbooks documenting activities of the Shawnee Mission Mission Rural High School chapter of the Future Farmers of America. The scrapbooks were created annually as entries in the "National Better Chapter Contest of Future Farmers of America" in Washington, D.C.

Fourth Wednesday Study Club (1939-2009):
The Fourth Wednesday Study Club was an active social club for Johnson County women in the Shawnee Mission School District. They reviewed books, discussed current events, and read poetry.

Johnson County American Revolution Bicentennial Committee (1973-1978):
A collection of papers relating to the Johnson County American Revolution Bicentennial Committee (J.C.A.R.B.C.). Established in June 1974, it met at the Antioch Library and was operated by 13 volunteers.

Merriam Homemakers Club (1921-2005):
A collection of materials relating to the Merriam Homemakers Club. This is an active social club for Merriam women started May 13, 1913 by Lorena L. McShane.

Northeast Johnson County Republican Women's Club (two sets) (1936-2001):
Donated by the club, the collection includes scrapbooks, minutes, newsletters, and treasurer's records. Set 1 or Set 2

Shawnee Mission Co-Operative Club/Shawnee Mission Sertoma Club (1935-1999):
The records of the Shawnee Mission Co-Operative Club/Shawnee Mission Sertoma Club document the clubs' activities and membership.

Shawnee Optimist Club (1954-1993):
The records of the Shawnee Optimist Club document the club's membership.

Primitive Baptist Church of Shawnee (1924-1988):
The records of the Primitive Baptist Church of Shawnee document several decades of the small congregation. The small frame church building is at 10921 W 57th Terrace in Shawnee.

Soroptimist International Club of Shawnee Mission (1947-2001):
The Soroptimist International Club of Shawnee Mission was chartered in 1947. The records document the club's membership.

Western Star Rebekah Lodge #12 (1901-2000):
The Western Star Rebekah Lodge collection documents the history of the lodge located in Olathe, from its founding in 1882 to 2000.

Governmental Records:

Johnson County Property Abstracts (1855-1985)

Olathe Urban Renewal Project (1965-1975):
The Olathe Urban Renewal Project chronicles the plan undertaken by the Olathe Urban Renewal Agency and the community of Olathe to revitalize business and residential areas in Olathe.

Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (1942-2003):
The papers of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant document the plant's long production of Army ordnance and decades as a major employer in Johnson County and eastern Kansas. The plant manufactured Army ordnance during World War II, and the Korea and Vietnam conflicts.

School Records:

Sharon Bagg Research, Prairie Elementary School (1862-2000):
The research papers of Sharon E. Bagg primarily focus on Prairie Elementary School, a school which opened in Mission, Kansas in 1866. The largest series in the collection is Series 2: School Files which contains documents related to the Prairie School District #44 and other schools in Johnson County. Smaller series contain documents, printed materials, and objects related to the Prairie school district and general history of Johnson County.

Corinthian Nutter (1937-2002):
The papers of Corinthian Nutter document her profession as a teacher and her involvement with the Webb v. School District 90 case.

Parent Teacher Associations (1922-1953):
The records of the Parent Teacher Associations document the activities of a group of the associations in Johnson County.

Somerset Elementary School (1949-2004):
Somerset Elementary School opened in 1953 in Prairie Village, Kansas. Grades in attendance were Kindergarten through sixth grade.

Student Congress, Shawnee Mission East (1958-1975):
The records of the Student Congress, Shawnee Mission East High School, primarily document the activities of this student organization in the first decade of the school's existence, 1958-1968.

Family/Personal Papers:

Harkey Family (1863-1930):
The papers of the Harkey family primarily relate to D.Z.A. Harkey(1845-1924), a long-time resident of Marysville Township, Miami County (just south of Spring Hill, Johnson County). Harkey was a Confederate veteran who in 1868 married Mary Elizabeth Barkley and settled two miles east and two miles south of Gardner. D.Z.A. Harkey was the father of Dr. William C. Harkey.

Hodges Family (1899-1968):
A collection of papers relating to and produced by George H. Hodges and his family. The collection was originally donated by Murray Hodges to the Johnson County Museum in 1984 and was processed in 1988. The papers contain material relating to George Hodges' political, business and personal life.

McAnany Family (two sets)(1871-1980):
The McAnany Family Papers is a collection of the correspondence of a Johnson County family and documents related to the genealogy of the family from 1871-1980. Set 1 or Set 2

Robert H. Meneilly, Sr. (1962-1995):
Robert Meneilly was the founding pastor of the Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, retiring in 1994 after 47 years of service. He delivered sermons that were rather progressive for the times, speaking on topics such as race relations, sexuality, religion, and war.

Roe Family (1887-1968):
Collection of Roe Family Papers, one of the early Johnson County families. The papers primarily document the finances of the John Roe family.

Sharp Family (two sets)(1854-1980):
A collection of family memorabilia from 17854-1976. The papers of the Sharp family document several generations of an Oxford Township farm family. Set 1 or Set 2

Joseph H. Vaughan (1993-2005):
Joseph H. Vaughan, Johnson County business owner, civic leader, and politician, born 1948.


All-Electric House:
The Johnson County Museum's 1954 All-Electric House was a model home built by Kansas City Power and Light in Prairie Village, Kansas. The home was billed as the "House of the Future".

John Cameron (1953-2001):
John Cameron was a real estate investor in Johnson County, Kansas. His collection consists of information regarding a land development venture and a subsequent lawsuit filed against the City of Olathe concerning rezoning.

Richard N. Wakefield (two sets)(1954-1983):
The papers of Richard N. Wakefield, a long-time Kansas City architect, document a number of architectural projects undertaken by him in Johnson County. Set 1 or Set 2

Online Resources

The Johnson County Museum’s holdings include secondary resources and unique permanent collection items: artifacts, archival documents, maps, photographs and manuscripts related to the history of Johnson County, Kansas from the 1820s to the present. On-site research facilities are not available, however every effort will be made to facilitate your research needs. A number of our materials are accessible online, as are finding aids and indices for select collections. Requests for information may be made by email, telephone or writing to the attention of the Curator of Interpretation. If an on-site visit is necessary, arrangements can by made by appointment only.

Museum Online Resources

logo joco historyThe Johnson County Museum partnered with the Johnson County Library to create an online, searchable resource about all things historic in Johnson County. Funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund, the partnership has grown to include the collections of many local and city-based historical societies in Johnson County.

Historic Atlases of Johnson County, Kansas
A collection of maps of Johnson County dated 1860, 1874, 1902, and 1922

Aerial Photograph Collection
A Collection of more than 8,000 color slide transparencies of aerial views of Johnson County. The collection consists of 45 dated sets from 1990-2002.

Johnson County’s Built Environment
A collection of over 9,000 images of Johnson County’s pre-1950 architectural resources taken between 1991-2008.

The Squire Collection
A collection of scanned issues of The Squire newspaper from 1961-1972. The Squire was published in Johnson County by Tom Leathers.


Oral Histories

image of the back outdoor patio at the museum's 1950s All-Electric House MuseumThe Johnson County Museum conducts oral history interviews with local residents in an effort to capture firsthand accounts and stories from the past. Most interviews were collected to support a specfici project; others relate to more general themes on Johnson County’s history.

Alphabetical List of Oral Histories (by last name)

  • Agriculture
    These interviews explore agricultural history, such as truck farming and dairy farming, and the role the Kansas State Grange within the county. Full Summary
  • All-Electric House
    Former owners of the Museum’s 1950s All-Electric House, as well as former neighbors and people who toured the home in the 1950s, are part of this oral history collection. The All-Electric House is a historic house museum available for guided tours at the Johnson County Museum.  The house originally stood at 4602 Homestead in the Indian Fields neighborhood of Prairie Village. It was donated to the Museum and moved 8 miles to the Museum’s property in 1994. The house was then restored to its original 1954 appearance, when it was a Kansas City Power and Light model home. Today the 1950s All-Electric House is open to the public for tours. Full summary
  • Bicentennial Collection
    Johnson County residents were interviewed explore the history and development of Johnson County from settler days to 1977. The interviews were conducted by Johnson County Library staff from 1971-1977 as part of a Bicenntenial initiave. The collection was donated to the Museum in 2008.  Full summary
  • The Story of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant
    These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2013 to gain more information about the history of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “Citizen Soldiers on the Prairie.” The exhibit detailed the history of the Sunflower plant that operated from 1943-1992 and employed tens of thousands of workers in Johnson County. Full summary
  • Civil Rights and Fair Housing
     The interviews include descriptions of discrimination against Jewish and African-American citizens of Johnson County, and how that bigotry was combated and dealt with in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The interviews also shed light on the history of Jewish and African-American organizations and businesses in Johnson County. These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 1994, 1995 and 2007 to gain more information about civil rights and fair housing issues in Johnson County.  Full summary
  • Coming of Age in Johnson County: 1960-1976
    These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2007 to gain more information about the time period of 1960-1976 in Johnson County. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “Coming Of Age in Johnson County: 1960-1976.” The exhibit detailed the trials and tribulations of growing up in Johnson County during that era and focused on topics such as civil rights, the Vietnam War and the counterculture movement. This oral history project was funded by a grant from the Johnson County Heritage Trust. Full summary.
  • Education
    These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 1988, 1989 and 1994 to gain more information about the history of education in Johnson County. Interview subjects include students and faculty of one-room schoolhouses such as Lanesfield, and Prairie School, and the unification of school districts in Johnson County. Full summary
  • Home Building
    This interview was conducted by Museum staff in 1996 to gain more information about the history of home building and development in Johnson County. Full summary
  • Johnson County Communities
    These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in from 1989-1999 to gain more information about the history of different communities in Johnson County. Residents of De Soto, Lake Quivira, Overland Park, Roeland Park, Shawnee, South Park and Westwood were interviewed and shared their personal stories of growing up and living in different Johnson County communities. Full summary
  • New Immigrants and the American Dream
    These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2009 to gain more information about the immigrant experience in the United States and in Johnson County. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “New Immigrants and the American Dream.” The exhibit explored the history of immigration in the United States, how current immigrant populations are redefining the American Dream, and how immigrants are changing the demographics of America’s suburbs. This oral history project was funded by a grant from the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund. Full summary
  • Politics
    These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 1995 with two former governors of Kansas who grew up in Johnson County. The material was used to gain more information about the background of each governor, and their experiences in Johnson County. Full summary
  • Shawnee Family Stories
    Family Stories is a Kansas Humanities grant funded oral history project awarded to Shawnee Town1929 that follows the Story Corp’s approach for interviewing; 28 interviews were conducted in 2007 and 2008; audio and written formats are archived at the Johnson County Museum. The project goal was to become a community listening post for gathering individual and family stories relevant to having lived, worked or played in the City of Shawnee. Sessions were one-hour periods and participants could come with an interview partner or be interviewed by Sandra Reddish, the interview manager for the project. The following 28 individuals were interviewed for the project. Full summary
  • Suburban Bliss: The Political Cartoons of Bob Bliss Exhibit
    This interview was conducted by the Museum staff in 2012 to gain more information about the life and career of cartoonist Bob Bliss. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “Suburban Bliss: The Political Cartoons of Bob Bliss." Bliss drew cartoons for the Sun Newspapers from 1991 until 2002, and the Museum's collection includes original cartoons.  Bliss’ political cartoons satirically detailed issues of concern for Johnson County suburban residents. Full summary
  • Law Enforcement                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2004-2005 to gain more information about the history of law enforcement in Johnson County. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “To Protect and Serve.” The exhibit studied the history of local law enforcement, beginning in frontier days in the mid-1850s to present day. This oral history project was funded by a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council. Full summary
  • White Haven Motor Lodge
    These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2013 to gain more information about the history of the White Haven Motor Lodge on Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park. The White family built the White Haven in 1957 and operated it until the landmark hotel closed in 1957. Full summary

The Album Newsletter

the album newsletter

The ALBUM newsletter is mailed to all active museum members as a benefit of membership. Inside each issue readers are introduced to Johnson County’s history through articles and photographs, as well as the current initiatives at the museum.

If you would like the most recent issue mailed to you, please consider becoming a member of the Johnson County Museum.

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