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Feb 23

The Kansas Biennal Reports, 1960-1980

Posted on February 23, 2018 at 10:20 AM by Bill Sowers

For some beginning Kansas government history researchers there is a point in time when the well seems to go dry and heads are scratched wondering what the heck happened to about two decades of information on the operations of government in the Sunflower State. Agency biennial/annual reports issued for decades, some starting in the 1800s, come to an invisible wall in 1958 where the individual reports seem to end entirely.

Further poking around in Legislative journals and Session Laws in the late 1950s brings forth the answer to "Where did they go?"... The Kansas Biennial Report.  These thick volumes, issued by the Kansas Secretary of State's Office every two years for the fiscal years, 1959/60 to 1979/80, became a sort of "Readers Digest" providing basic information on the operations of state agencies.  In the 1960 report Secretary of Paul R. Shanahan states:

"The consolidated report has been prepared under a directive of the 1959 session of the legislature and supplants a longstanding statutory requirement for individual reports from the various agencies. In addition to fulfilling a legal requirement, this report also fills a moral obligation for agencies of the state government to make an accounting of their activities to all the people of Kansas. If through presentation in a consolidated volume, these individual reports bring new understanding and thus new order, efficiency and economy to the processes of the state government, the consolidated report will have served its purpose."

The State Library of Kansas has scanned and set up online the 11 volumes of the Kansas Biennal Report hopefully bridging the information gap of agency reports before 1959 and after 1980 for researchers.  You can view these reports at the KGI Online Library at:

Currently the State Library is creating short catalog records for each of the agencies within the Biennial Reports.  It's a slow process but we hope it will assist people in locating the reports for a particular agency of interest.