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Kansas Memory has been created by the Kansas State Historical Society to share its historical collections via the Internet. Read more.

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Objects and Artifacts - Furnishings - Household Accessory - Key

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Dodge City jail key

Dodge City jail key
Date: 1884
Large symmetrical-shaped steel skeleton key. This key, dated to 1884, was reportedly the key to the Dodge City Jail.


Iron Key from the Jotham Meeker Farmstead, 14FR308

Iron Key from the Jotham Meeker Farmstead, 14FR308
Date: 1845-1865
This lock key was recovered from the Jotham Meeker farmstead site in Franklin County. The key was recovered from the area of the print shop at the site. The key consists of a bow (the portion which is gripped and turned) and a blade (which slides into a keyway, also called a key hole). The site was excavated in 1985 at a Kansas Archeology Training Program field school. Jotham Meeker served as a Baptist missionary among the Ottawa on their reservation.


Key from 14HM310

Key from 14HM310
Date: Unknown
This key was collected from a multicomponent (multiple occupations) camp site in Hamilton County and donated in 1975 to the Kansas Historical Society. Shown is a luggage key meant to hang on a key ring or chain. It is from a much later occupation than the rest of the donation.


Key from the Iowa and Sac and Fox Mission, 14DP384

Key from the Iowa and Sac and Fox Mission, 14DP384
Date: 1845-1905
This key was recovered from an excavation at the Iowa Sac and Fox Mission in Doniphan County by Kansas Historical Society archeologists and Kansas Anthropological Association volunteers. he key consists of a bow (the portion which is gripped and turned) and a blade (which slides into a keyway, also called a key hole). The Presbyterian Mission was built in 1845 and closed in 1863. After that part of the building was razed, the rest was used as a residence until 1905. The State of Kansas acquired to property in 1941.


Key from the William Young Site, 14MO304

Key from the William Young Site, 14MO304
Date: 1850-1950
This key was recovered from the William Young site, a Munkers Creek phase Archaic period site in Morris County, by Kansas Historical Society Archeologists. The brass key, slightly bent, but otherwise in good condition, represents household activities occurring at the site long after the Munkers Creek people had left.


Keys from Fort Hays, 14EL301

Keys from Fort Hays, 14EL301
Date: 1867-1889
These four brass keys were among the many that were recovered during excavations at historic Fort Hays in Ellis County by Kansas Historical Society archeologists in 1966. A key consists of a bow (the portion which is gripped and turned) and a blade (which slides into a keyway, also called a key hole). Some of these keys were painted with green paint at one time. Fort Hays was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and is a State Historic Site.


Keys from the Last Chance Store, 14MO367

Keys from the Last Chance Store, 14MO367
Date: 1857-1971
These keys are just two of the many that were recovered from excavations at the Last Chance Store in Council Grove during the 2016 Kansas Archeology Training Program. The larger skeleton key would have unlocked a door. The small brass key would have unlocked a trunk and was recovered from between the two floors within the store. The Last Chance Store was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.


Lock Key

Lock Key
Date: Unknown
This lever-type lock key arrived in the collections of the Kansas Historical Society with either no or lost provenience, its record of ownership. While this is disappointing it does not mean the key has lost all of its utility and value. It can still be used for teaching purposes as an example of an early historic artifacts in Kansas. The key consists of a bow (the portion which is gripped and turned) and a blade (which slides into a keyway, also called a key hole). The manufacturer added the numbers "358" to blade.


Mortise Locks and Keys from the Plowboy Site, 14SH372

Mortise Locks and Keys from the Plowboy Site, 14SH372
Date: 1840-1950
These locks and keys were collected from the Plowboy site in Shawnee County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 2017. Each of the locks has the key that opened it. The lock on the left is a mortise lock, which was placed within a mortise in a door. The lock on the right is a surface-mount lock, which was screwed onto the exterior of a door. The Plowboy site was home to the Kansa, the Potawatomi, and Euro-Americans. At various times, the site contained a farm, a trading post, and a post office with nearby military trails, Mormon routes, a railroad and the California-Oregon trail.


Padlock and Keys from the Plowboy Site, 14SH372

Padlock and Keys from the Plowboy Site, 14SH372
Date: 1840-1950
These padlock and keys were collected from the Plowboy site in Shawnee County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 2017. Padlocks have been used since the Roman era, though the style shown here were much more common to post 1840. The keys shown do not unlock the padlock. The Plowboy site was home to the Kansa, the Potawatomi, and Euro-Americans. At various times, the site contained a farm, a trading post, and a post office with nearby military trails, Mormon routes, a railroad and the California-Oregon trail.


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