When University Libraries at Wichita State University accepted their latest volume in its research collection, it wasn’t just any ordinary document.
The latest volume, the two millionth volume in its collections, is an original printing of the Wyandotte Constitution – the document later accepted as the Kansas constitution.
That constitution would eventually make Kansas a free, or slavery-prohibiting, state when it entered the Union on Jan. 29, 1861.
The constitution also had many firsts for the nation:
• It authorized the first state-run university that allowed women to attend classes with men.
• It protected the rights of women in court long before most states did. That meant, for example, that women could buy and sell their own property and retain custody of their children in cases of divorce.
• It allowed women to vote in school district elections, nearly half a century before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
Funding for the Wyandotte Constitution volume, printed in 1859, was made possible by Michael Heaston, a rare-books dealer from Eastborough.