The Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas have been honoring individuals since early 20th century who have made contributions to Kansas, the nation, and the world. The Native Sons was first organized in Topeka in 1902 to unite all native Kansans in “one harmonious body” to labor for the best interests of the state. This early organization dissolved shortly after its founding.
In 1915 the Native Daughters of Kansas was founded by Mrs. Dewitte C. Nellis of Topeka. It was meant to preserve Kansas history, show loyalty to Kansas traditions, honor pioneer ancestors, and instill patriotism in youth. In 1918 the Native Sons became active, and in 1919 the two groups began holding joint meetings. Eventually they merged to form the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas.
One of the combined group’s early projects was championing a bill before the state legislature providing for an appropriation to improve John Brown Park in Osawatomie. The organization has since been involved in a number of projects that include designing a state service flag in honor of Kansas natives who served in World War I, and erecting a monument honoring pioneer women.
Annual meetings are held on the eve of Kansas Day and include the announcement of Kansan of the Year, awarded to notable people born in the state, and Distinguished Kansans, for the previous year. The annual meeting also includes an announcement of the winner of the annual story contest, which was begun about 1931 with a collegiate oratorical contest. In 1936 a high school essay contest was added. Today all Kansans are invited to participate.
Learn more about the Historical Society's Native Sons and Daughter of Kansas manuscript collections. Visit the organization's website at Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas.