The Project

Early Township Maps of Sedgwick County, Kansas, is a digital project of Special Collections and University Archives, Wichita State University Libraries. Through this web site we provide researchers anywhere in the world a new digital way to explore the early development of the county. The aims are to expand access to our holdings and to preserve fragile original materials through digitization. We have developed an online digital tool to two rich local cartographic resources: (1) the Sedgwick County portion of the United States General Land Office surveys which chiefly date from the 1860s, and (2) the Historical Atlas of Sedgwick County, Kansas, published by noted Philadelphia map maker John P. Edwards in 1882. Aware that no existing digital collection offered access to historical geographic resources dealing specifically with Sedgwick County, we selected these two sources because they provide the first official government surveys and the first published atlas of the county.

This project joins the ranks of earlier online digital collections of Special Collections, most notably A Collection of Digitized Kansas Maps which comprises more than 325 digitized Kansas maps dating from 1556 to 1900. Building on our experience creating online digital collections, we have developed a web site that provides dynamic detailed views of all the townships within Sedgwick County. This collection is a unique opportunity to combine our knowledge of archival sources with state of the art technology to empower users to learn about local history from the ground up.

Utilizing web programming and viewing software, Early Township Maps of Sedgwick County, Kansas, enables users to browse and search overviews and enlarged detailed views of all the townships within the county as well as to browse and search the introduction to Edwards' Historical Atlas of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The web site also enables viewers to download and print copies of all of the maps and text on the web site as pdf files. Presentation of these historical cartographic materials in a current digital format ensures their continuing availability and preservation.

The digital universe is uniquely suited to make history come alive for users of all ages and experiences. This web site provides users with a hands on opportunity to learn and apply key historical concepts, e.g., to compare and contrast how human actions over time modify the physical environment, how existing land features affect human settlement patterns, and how geography provides a window to interpret the past. Through their exploration of this digital collection, we hope that students and researchers will gain a firmer grasp of the application of these concepts to the history of Wichita and Sedgwick County, Kansas. To help teachers utilize this web site in their classes, we have included six lesson plans for middle and high school students which were contributed by two teachers from Wichita USD 259, Jonathan Goering and Paul Kitchen.

No project of this magnitude could have come to fruition without the combined help of many people. We take this opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of the following individuals: Dean Pal Rao and Senior Associate Dean Kathy Downes for their continuing guidance throughout this project; Adeel Amin, Abdul Basit, Josh Cooper, Sai Deng, Baseer Khan, Jason Kruse, Zaki Shah, Shahzeb Shamim, Muhammad Usmani and Tse-Min Wang for their technical assistance; Jonathan Goering and Paul Kitchen of USD 259 for their lesson plans; and Special Collections' student assistants Kelly Dyer, Laurel Houk, Tracy Langley, and Hugo Marquez and volunteers Heather King and Al Stephens for their work on the project. We appreciate the support of the Wichita Community Foundation for funding this project and the Wichita State University Foundation for applying for the grant on our behalf.

Dr. Lorraine Madway, Curator of Special Collections
Mary Nelson, Special Collections Library Assistant

Source Documents

United States General Land Office Surveys

In the mid-1850s, government surveyors came to the area of Kansas Territory which became Sedgwick County, Kansas, to designate the 5th Standard Parallel and the 6th Principal Meridian. The first survey map of a township was completed in 1860. Official U.S. government surveys continued in the county until the late 1880s when surveys were completed on islands in the Arkansas River in Wichita. The Federal government's actions in treaties with the Osage Indians caused much of the land north of 45th Street North to be surveyed prior to 1867 and all of the land south of 45th Street North officially surveyed between 1867 and 1888.

Historical Atlas of Sedgwick County, Kansas

The Wichita Beacon reported on Wednesday, January 26, 1881 that "Mr. John P. Edwards, a map maker, of Philadelphia, is in this state with a corps of assistants making maps of the principal cities and counties of the state. . . ." Just over a year later, on March 15, 1882, the Beacon reported that "we have received our copy of John P. Edwards' township map of Sedgwick County. It is elegantly bound and the paper is of the best quality. It contains a map of each township with every farmer and owner's names, every school house, church, post office, and village. There are also separate maps of the entire county, the state, and of each town and city in the county. The historical sketch of the city and of the several townships was compiled by D. B. Emmert, and is very full."

Content and Scope

The contents of the website includes 81 digitized maps and 14 pages of Sedgwick County history and reference material. Of the 81 maps, 49 originate from the United States Government Surveys, chiefly dating from the 1860s. The remaining 32 were published in the Historical Atlas of Sedgwick County, Kansas, the earliest published plat atlas of the county. The pages of historical and reference material also were published in the 1882 atlas.


The survey maps and atlas maps were scanned at high resolutions. The survey maps are digitized versions of microfilm. The majority of the atlas maps were digitized via digital camera. The jpeg files and their corresponding thumbnails were created for web delivery. Each thumbnail is linked to a large access image which provides a detailed view.

The collection was built using Microsoft Access, and the website was created with ASP and XHTML for web browsing and search. The metadata was created using a modified Dublin Core metadata standard.

Financial Support

Special Collections is very thankful for the support of the Wichita Community Foundation. We appreciate the willingness of this funding source to invest in new ways to access, view and study historical maps and text.

Project Team

Overall Direction

Web Design

Technical Assistance

Lesson Plans

Student Assistants