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.
Membership in the Douglas County Historical Society supports the museum and offers inside information and members-only programs. Join Today!
The Watkins Museum’s public spaces are fully accessible.
Civil War on the Western Frontier
Historical agencies throughout Douglas County commemorate our area's Civil War history with programs in August and mark the 10th anniversary of Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area. Presenting organizations include: Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park, City of Lawrence Parks and Recreation, Eudora Community Museum, Territorial Capital/Lance Museum in Lecompton, Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum at Clinton Lake, and Watkins Museum of History in downtown Lawrence Read More »
Saturday, August 20
A Day of Programs Honoring Civil War on the Western Frontier
The Watkins remembers the Civil War in Lawrence with a day of programs, exhibits, presentations, music, walking tours, and bus tours. Some programs require tickets/ advance registration. DCHS members receive a discount on ticketed events. Read More »
Support Watkins Museum
Use the convenient PayPal button below, to help support the programs provided by the Watkins Museum.
The Museum is housed in the historic Watkins Building in downtown Lawrence, Kansas.
Fresh local brews and old local history were united at Beer Night on January 19, 2013.
The Community Room
The Community Room is often used for receptions, reunions and family gatherings.
See a rare Milburn electric car on display in the exhibit area of the Watkins Museum.
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.
A crowd gathers to test their knowledge at one of the Watkins’ Trivia Night events.
Taking you behind the scenes at the Watkins
Cole’s Cam takes you behind the scenes at the Watkins Museum. For more inside info on Watkins Museum programs, exhibits, and collections, visit our YouTube page.
Three Grants Make New Interactive Exhibit Possible
May 31, 2016
Lawrence and Douglas County have a long and storied past as champions of social justice and civil rights. Visitors to the Watkins Museum will soon have a new opportunity to explore the more recent past in a new interactive exhibit examining activism from the 1960s to the 1990s.
This ground-breaking exhibit, scheduled to open in early 2017, will feature photos, digitized documents, videos, and audio clips drawn from the museum’s collections. It was inspired by recent gifts of materials from local LGBT groups and the papers of the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice. Generous grants from the Douglas County Community Foundation, Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, and the Douglas County Heritage Conservation grant program, along with support from the City of Lawrence and DCHS members, will make it possible to provide this opportunity to experience this important era through the eyes of those who lived it. The exhibit will be on permanent display on the museum’s second floor.
Architect’s rendering of civil rights interactive exhibit
Exhibitions Now on View
Freedom Day: The History of Juneteenth Second Floor Bank Lobby, June 7–July 12, 2016
Faster, Higher, Stronger: Douglas County Olympians Second Floor, opens July 27
Campgrounds & Battlefields: The Lives of Civil War Soldiers Second Floor, opens August 13, 2016
Gathered Nations: The 1926 Haskell Pow Wow Second Floor, through August 6.
Hidden Forces: The Kansas People’s History Project Second Floor, through July 17, 2016
Watkins: The Couple, the Building, the Legacy First Floor Lobby