Helping preserve the rich history of Douglas County, Kansas

The Douglas County Historical Society, a non-profit organization established in 1933, preserves the heritage of Douglas County and encourages civic engagement by sharing stories of the people and events that have shaped our communities. Since 1975, the Society has operated the Watkins Museum of History. The Watkins Museum, housed in the 1888 Watkins Land Mortgage and National Bank Building, provides educational resources and activities, programs and public events, and changing exhibits that explore the heritage of Douglas County and connect the past with issues that affect our communities today.

Watkins Museum of History
Admission is Free!

Museum and Book Shop Hours

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday:
10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m.–4 p.m.
Tuesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Closed Sunday, Monday and Holidays

Coming Events

Support Watkins Museum

Use the convenient PayPal button below, to help support the programs provided by the Watkins Museum.

Membership in the Douglas County Historical Society supports the museum and offers inside information and members-only programs. Join Today!

How to Find Us


View Watkins Museum of History
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Freedom's Frontier Heritage Area
The Watkins Museum is a partner in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area
  • New Permanent Exhibit Opens


    A new permanent exhibit, installed on the museum’s second floor opened August 17 to record crowds.

    New Exhibit Rendering
  • Quantrill’s Raid Artifacts


    View an exhibit of artifacts from Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence.

    Raid Artifacts
  • New Permanent Exhibit Opens


    Another view of the new permanent exhibit exploring Douglas County heritage that opened August 17, 2013.

    New Exhibit Rendering
  • The Watkins Building


    The Museum is housed in the historic Watkins Building in downtown Lawrence, Kansas.

    Watkins Building
  • Beer Night


    Fresh local brews and old local history were united at Beer Night on January 19, 2013.

    Beer Night
  • The Community Room


    The Community Room is often used for receptions, reunions and family gatherings.

    Community Room
  • The Milburn


    See a rare Milburn electric car on display in the exhibit area of the Watkins Museum.

    The Milburn
  • More than a Game: Basketball and Community Spirit


    Visitors explore the exhibition and discover basketball as a source of community pride and a force for social change in Douglas County..

    More than a Game
  • The Community Room


    The Community Room is often used for receptions, reunions and family gatherings.

    community room
  • Trivia Night


    A crowd gathers to test their knowledge at one of the Watkins’ Trivia Night events.


DCHS Receives Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area Interpretive Grant

November 5, 2014
The Douglas County Historical Society was recently awarded a grant of $4,950 by the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area’s Interpretive Grant Program.  The grant will support the expansion of "Maggie Herrington’s Lawrence," the Watkins Museum’s popular program for third-graders, based on the journal of student in 1860s Lawrence.  Through the medium of local history, students learn concepts about community that fulfill social studies core curriculum requirements. The program can be held in the museum or in the classroom.  Activities include reading excerpts from Maggie’s journal and handling authentic artifacts relating to life in the 1860s.  The FFNHA Interpretive Grant will also support the development of hands-on gallery activities based on the Maggie Herrington program.  The family-friendly activities will related to the museum’s new second floor permanent exhibit and will be housed in the original 1888 bank tellers’ counter.

bank teller’s counter
The original 1888 bank teller’s counter will house new hands-on activities on the second floor of the museum.

Exhibitions Now on View

Doing Our Part: Lawrence During the Great War
Third Floor

La Catrina Speaks: Political Discourse and Dia de los Muertos
Second Floor

The Eldridge Dining Table:  A Relic from Early Lawrence
Second Floor

Reel Lawrence: Our Community’s Cinematic Past
Third Floor

Mass Street Merchant: The Leo Beuerman Story
Third Floor

Watkins: The Couple, the Building, the Legacy
First Floor Lobby

More than a Game:Basketball and Community Spirit
Third Floor

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Community Room

Community Room is available for your receptions, birthday party or reunion. Call 1-785-841-4109 for more information.
Read more here.