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Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration & Citizenship in Kansas

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.

Kansas City Exhibit Location
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.
Hours of Operation
Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for federal holidays
Schedule a Tour
To schedule a group tour contact Kim Leininger at or  to register online, click here! [gallery link="file"]
See Americans by Choice in a Community Near You!

Two sets of a traveling version of the exhibit are now touring the state. Traveling exhibit can be viewed at the following locations. Check host site websites for hours and admissions fees, where applicable, and exhibit related public programming.

Old Depot Museum, Ottawa              


May 8 - July 30, 2012

Kauffman Museum, North Newton        



July 14 - September 2, 2012

Kansas City, Missouri Public Library, Central


August 15 - September 30, 2012

Eisenhower Presidential Museum & Library, Abilene

September 13 - Oct. 21, 2012

University of St. Mary’s, Leavenworth  



October 10 - December 16, 2012

Salina Public Library, Salina                                          



November 1 - Dec. 15, 2012

Forsythe Library, Ft. Hays State Univ., Hays         



January 2 - Feb 20, 2013

Reno County Historical Society, Hutchinson        



March 1 - May 19, 2013

Leonard Axe Library, Pittsburgh State University, Pittsburg             



March 20 - May 12, 2013

Ft. Scott Historic Site, Ft. Scott                                   



May 24 - July 7, 2013

Riley County Museum/Library/Town Mall            



May 30 - July 9, 2013

Wichita-Sedgwick County Museum                


July 15 - September 1, 2013

Stauth Memorial Museum, Montezuma                              



July 21 - September 1, 2013

Kansas State Historical Society Research Center        


September 13 - Nov. 3, 2013

Old Mill Museum, Lindsborg                               


September 16 - Nov. 2, 2013

Immigration Exhibit Documentary

To view the documentary video, "The American Dream in Kansas: In Their Own Words" click here.

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