About the Project

Learn About the Border War

Read our Mission and Vision statements.

This website engages Civil War buffs, scholars, students, and local residents in research and discussion on the Missouri-Kansas Border War that shook the region from 1854 to 1865. Through a collaborative effort among libraries, museums, and historical societies across the greater Kansas City region, the project provides free access to selected primary source materials and adds unique interactive features and a thematic layer of original scholarly essays and topical encyclopedia entries. For a topical overview read the Foreword on the Civil War in Kansas City, by Rick Montgomery, and explore the rest of the original scholarship, primary sources, timeline, and map.


Project History

This project is made possible by generous grant funding from the Missouri State Library as a part of its collaborative statewide Missouri Digital Heritage initiative; as well as from the William T. Kemper Foundation - Commerce Bank, Trustee for the creation of this website.

The State Library’s Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) planning grant provided funds for a massive inventory of 20,000 pages of primary sources at 25 Missouri and Kansas archives. Utilizing the expertise of our Project Partners, the sources were rank-ordered according to historical significance, preservation concerns, and potential interest to researchers. More than 5,000 pages were selected for the initial round of digitization, with the rest to be added in the future.

The initial round of digitization occurred under a second LSTA grant from the Missouri State Library. The second phase of the project lasted nearly a year and involved digital preservation standards training at the Kansas Historical Society, travel to dozens of locations, digitization of the documents, and creation of transcriptions and metadata to organize the content. By the end of the second phase, more than 6,000 pages of primary sources had been digitized.

Finally, a grant from the William T. Kemper Foundation allowed for the third phase of the project -- the creation of a standalone website to showcase this unique collection, build a complementary timeline and map, and solicit the contextual scholarship that ties everything together into a comprehensive resource on the Civil War on the Western Border.

This funding allows us to showcase the latest in library content management technology (underpinned by VTLS-VITAL, from Innovative) and serve as a useful resource for researchers, educators, students, and anyone with an interest in the Civil War era on the Missouri-Kansas border.


Advanced Features

Thanks to generous external funding, collaboration with our Project Partners, and the tireless efforts of dozens of individuals, the Civil War on the Western Border website is proud to offer:

  • A research library of more than 6,000 pages of digitized primary sources from 25 Missouri and Kansas archives, fully cataloged and searchable
  • Eight original contextual thematic essays, authored by some of the top scholars of the Missouri-Kansas border war
  • A growing list of encyclopedia entries that offer descriptions and analyses of significant people, places, and events (also commissioned from top scholars and their graduate students)
  • A cutting-edge relationship viewer that allows site visitors to browse the connections among those who endured the border war and left a legacy in our document collection
  • A comprehensive interactive timeline on the border war, with associated event descriptions and links
  • A comprehensive interactive border war map with location descriptions, links, and multiple thematic layers
  • Rotating featured document blog that highlights unique or otherwise significant documents in the collection
  • Foreword by Rick Montgomery, enterprise reporter for the Kansas City Star, describing the legacy of the border war in the Kansas City metropolitan area
  • Searchable PDF transcriptions for a majority of the digitized primary sources. Our team utilized a semi-normalized transcription convention, developed by the Missouri Valley Special Collections, to present the original texts as searchable PDF files
  • A dynamic, high-resolution image viewer with mobile-compatible zoom and pan features for all items in the digital collection
  • Website pages that are responsive to mobile devices and variable browser settings


The Civil War on the Western Border website has received a number of recognitions and awards since its launch in August 2013, including: