Most Kansans can trace their heritage to another part of the world. Some came in search of a better life for themselves or their children—many came to join families or friends. Between 1865 and 1880, Kansas attracted immigrants at a faster pace than anywhere else in the United States. The state’s population grew from 107,205 in 1860 to 1,428,108 in 1890—thanks to the irresistible promise of a better life through land and jobs. In 1870, 13% of Kansas’ total population was foreign-born. Today, 6% of all Kansans are foreign-born.
This is the unique story told in Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration & Citizenship in Kansas, a new permanent exhibit at the Robert J. Dole Courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas. In this exhibit, ten large multi-dimensional graphic panels with maps, photographs, documents, text and quotes convey the personal struggles, sacrifices and accomplishments along the path to U.S. citizenship for many Kansans. Take an interactive “citizenship test” and see a documentary video where new citizens describe what it means to be an American.
The exhibit was commissioned by the United States District Court for the District of Kansas in 2011 in conjunction with its 150th anniversary and to commemorate its role in the naturalization process. The Kansas federal court hosts more than 20 such ceremonies throughout the district each year where an average of 2,400 petitioners become naturalized U.S. citizens.
6th Floor, Robert J. Dole United States Courthouse
500 State Avenue
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
Parking is available across the street on the corner of 5th and Washington. Please do not bring cell phones or other electronic devices in the courthouse.
Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for federal holidays.
To view the documentary video, “The American Dream in Kansas: In Their Own Words” click here.