Kentucky Archives and Libraries
Many archives and libraries have maps, gazetteers, and other place-finding aids about Kentucky. They frequently have collections of previous research such as family and local histories and biographies. Many have record-finding aids such as guides to their own collections or inventories of records housed elsewhere. Archives and libraries located near state boundaries usually collect records relating to the adjacent states. The following archives, libraries, and societies have collections and services useful to genealogical researchers:
The Department for Libraries and Archives is the central repository for city-, county-, and state-level records. It has two facilities of particular interest to genealogists.
- The state library has printed materials.
- The state archives maintains original Kentucky government records and other historical documents. Many of these repositories’ records are being microfilmed, and copies are being sent to the Family History Library.
The Department of Libraries and Archives responds to genealogical requests but prefers that requests be sent on a form available on its Internet site or through the mail.
Department for Libraries and Archives
Public Records Division
300 Coffee Tree Road
Frankfort, KY 40601
Toll Free Phone: 800-928-7000
P.O. Box 537
Frankfort, KY 40601-0537
National Archives-Southeast Region (Atlanta)
5780 Jonesboro Road
Morrow, Georgia 30260
A resource for locating archives in Appalachia is:
- Archives in Appalachia: A Directory. Boone, North Carolina: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1985. (Family History Library book 975 A3a.) The record covers the states of Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The record is arranged alphabetically by state, then by the name of the repository. Each entry lists the archive, its address, phone number, inclusive dates of the collection, the records of the collection, what subjects are covered by the collection, and the size of the collection. There are two indexes: Record type, and Subject, with reference numbers corresponding to the repository. Also included is a list, under “Coming Attractions,” of agencies that do not currently collect manuscript materials but plan to do so in the future.
Located on the second floor of the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, the Kentucky Historical Society Martin F. Schmidt Research Library is a beautiful facility featuring more than 16,000 rolls of microfilm, 90,000 books and periodicals, and 30,000 vertical files focused primarily on Kentucky history and genealogy. The library is a FamilySearch Affiliate, and as such, library patrons may order microforms from the vast collection held by the Salt Lake City-based Family History Library for temporary use at the Kentucky Historical Society. The library is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
The card catalog for the Martin F. Schmidt library is available on-line, as is the Society's digital collections database, which includes images of manuscripts, maps, photographs and finding aids for the collections at Kentucky Historical Society. The Society also hosts an on-line database of cemetery records that contains over 150,000 names transcribed by volunteers from gravestones across Kentucky.
For more than a hundred years, the Society has been collecting research materials which help shed light on the lives of Kentuckians in earlier times. These collections are noncirculating, and researchers are encouraged to visit the facilities located in the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.
Special Collections Reading Room
The Society's Special Collections of 1,900 cubic feet of manuscripts, 2,000 maps, 8,000 oral history tapes, 200,000 historic photographs, and 9,100 rare books provide clues to the past to genealogists and scholars. The Special Collections Reading Room, located inside the Martin F. Schmidt Research Library, is open from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; advance appointments are encouraged, but not required.
Margaret I. King Library
Department of Special Collections and Archives
University of Kentucky
179 Funkhouser Dr.
Lexington, KY 40506-0039
While the Margaret I. King Library does not specialize in genealogical records, the Department of Special Collections and Archives maintains many items that lend themselves to the study of family and local history. The materials include church records; genealogical collections; historical manuscript collections; the Draper manuscripts, described in the "Genealogy" section of this outline; county and local histories; county, state, and federal records; and a biographical file.
Western Kentucky University Library
1906 College Heights Blvd., #11067
Bowling Green, KY. 42101-1067
Phone (270) 745-6125.
Fax' (270) 745-6422
The Kentucky Library has significant genealogical records, church histories, and biographical files relating to south central Kentucky.
Eastern Kentucky University Library
Special Collections and Archives
521 Lancaster Ave.
Richmond, KY 40475
E-mail: University Archives Website firstname.lastname@example.org
This university library has many records about Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina, with an emphasis on Kentucky records.
The Kentucky Room of the Lexington Public Library houses many secondary sources on state and local history and genealogy, family histories, census indexes, and some census microfilm. It also has an excellent collection of Lexington newspapers and the Local History Index, an extensive index to newspapers. More detailed information on the collection can be found on the library’s web site.
Forrest C. Pogue Special Collections Library
Murray State University
208 Waterfield Library
Murray, KY 42071-3307
Telephone: 270-809-4295 or 866-774-6612
The Pogue library has records on all areas of Kentucky, with an emphasis on the western portion of the state.
The Kenton County Public Library has extensive statewide, local, and family history materials and in-depth collections for northern Kentucky. It has a local newspaper index for the years 1835 to 1931 and 1984 to the present. This includes an obituary index. The catalog of the Kenton library is available on its web site. You can also access the Kenton County Historical Society from the Library’s web site.