Lawrence, Kansas, (population 81,604) is located in Douglas County in the northeastern part of the state. In 1854, the Kansas Territory was opened to settlers in accordance with the concept of "popular sovereignty," by which the residents would decide for themselves whether to become pro- or anti-slavery. The New England Emigrant Aid Society, a group of abolitionists, moved to Kansas from Massachusetts and founded the town of Lawrence that same year.
When Kansas became the 34th state in 1861, the town of Lawrence became known as the headquarters of the Jayhawkers, anti-slavery activists. Though Kansas was a free state, violence escalated. In 1863 William Quantrill, a Confederate guerilla leader, assembled a group of men to sack the city, destroying many homes and most of the business district.
Lawrence rebuilt itself and continued to grow. Today, the city is part of the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area, a section of eastern Kansas and western Missouri that seeks to interpret the shared history of the region.
The private, nonprofit Douglas County Historical Society operates the Watkins Community Museum of History, located in historic downtown Lawrence. The group's mission is to collect and preserve historical materials, to interpret local history, and to encourage research. The museum houses a city and county archives.
The Lawrence Preservation Alliance (LPA) is another nonprofit organization whose goals are to preserve historically significant buildings and natural environments and to educate the community on the benefits of preservation. Each year, the LPA joins with the city of Lawrence to proclaim May as National Preservation Month. The month is marked by tours and events, including the LPA's awards of achievement, given to people and places that exemplify the principles of historic preservation.
Designated a Preserve America Community in February 2010.