About Us

About the Douglas County Historical Society

The Douglas County Historical Society is a non-profit organization committed to preserving Douglas County heritage and encouraging civic engagement by sharing stories of the people and events that have shaped our communities. It was started in 1933 when a group of concerned citizens were motivated to preserve the community’s early history. Through their efforts, important artifacts from the city’s early days were collected and preserved, and in the 1970s DCHS members played a crucial role in preserving the iconic Watkins National Bank Building itself, partnering with Douglas County Government to secure ownership of the building and raise funds for its restoration.

About the Watkins Museum of History

In 1975, the DCHS opened the Elizabeth Miller Watkins Community Museum in the newly refurbished building. Today, operation of the Watkins Museum of History is the society’s primary activity. Since then WMH has managed the expansion and care of the permanent collection. It also provides programs and public events, educational resources and activities, research support, and changing exhibits that explore the heritage of Douglas County and connect the past with issues that affect our communities today.

The Watkins Museum is proud to be a member of the Douglas County Heritage Alliance, a cooperative effort of the historical societies in Douglas County to share resources and preserve county historic places, and a partner organization in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. The Watkins Museum of History gratefully acknowledges the operational support provided by Douglas County through its annual outside agency allocation process.

Land Acknowledgement

The Watkins Museum of History — headquarters of the Douglas County Historical Society—stands on land that at various times was home to the Kaw/Kansa, Wazhazhe (original tribal name, Ni-U-Ko’n-Ska)/Osage, and Shawano/Shawnee peoples. Lawrence and Douglas County have hosted other Native American nations as well, including the Lenape/Delaware, Wandat/Wyandot, and Kiwigapawa/Kickapoo. As an organization committed to preserving local history and facilitating civic engagement in our community, the Douglas County Historical Society recognizes the need to acknowledge and tell the stories of these and other Native American peoples. Additionally, we acknowledge that actions of the state and federal governments and citizens throughout the years have robbed Native Americans of their lands, cultures, and often lives. We support the efforts of Haskell Indian Nations University, Native American tribes and nations, and other institutions to protect Native Americans, their cultures, and rights.

Strategic Plan