From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Migration from Kentucky to Kansas

The first significant migration of African Americans from Kentucky to Kansas took place between 1860, when there were 64 migrants, and 1870, when there were 1,776. The majority lived in either Leavenworth, Shawnee, or Wynadotte Counties. In Topeka, most of the African American residents had come from Missouri, and the next largest number come from Kentucky. By 1877, there was a small concentration in Nicodemus. The 1885 Kansas State Census shows that more than half the African Americans living in Nicodemus were Kentucky natives. Nicodemus was only one of the rural communities that promised opportunity and hope for African Americans seeking a better way of life in the West. According to the 1900 U. S. Federal Census, African Americans born in Kentucky and living in Kansas had increased to 5,600. The numbers would start to fall with the onset of the Great Black Migration to urban locations in the north and west. By 1920, the number of Kentucky-born African Americans living in Kansas had declined to little more than 2,500. For more see "Quite a number of Colored people from Kentucky...," Western Recorder, 12/14/1883, p.3; "Coming to Kansas," Western Recorder, 04/18/1884, p.2; Black Towns and Profit, by K. M. Hamilton; The Great Migration in Historical Perspective, by J. W. Trotter; K. J. C. White, et. al., "Race, gender, and marriage: destination selection during the Great Migration," Demography, vol. 42, issue 2 (May, 2005), pp. 215-241; and T. C. Cox, Blacks in Topeka, Kansas 1865-1915: a social history.




Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Nicodemus, Kansas
NKAA Source: The Western recorder (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Black towns and profit : promotion and development in the trans-Appalachian West, 1877-1915
NKAA Source: The Great migration in historical perspective : new dimensions of race, class, and gender
NKAA Source: Demography (periodical)
NKAA Source: Blacks in Topeka, Kansas, 1865-1915 : a social history

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  From Kentucky to Linn County, Kansas [Henderson Graham, Sr.]

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“Migration from Kentucky to Kansas,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 22, 2019,

Last modified: 2018-04-30 22:44:15