Kentucky Historical Society

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The Kentucky Historical Society was formed in 1836 by a group of prominent Kentuckians intent on preserving the history of the commonwealth. It was chartered as the state society in 1838 and began to collect books and printed materials. The Society became an agency of Kentucky state government in the early 1950s.

The Society, an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, has more than 3,900 members and more than 1,300 junior members to whom it provides support and educational services. Outreach programs collaborate with more than 430 local historical organizations. The Society, administered by an Executive Committee, is also supported by the KHS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.

The Kentucky Historical Society collects, preserves, conserves, interprets, and shares information, memories, and materials from Kentucky’s past to assist those interested in exploring and preserving that heritage. The museum collection houses 120,000 artifacts. 

Martin F. Schmidt Research Library

Located on the second floor of the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, the 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 open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

The card catalog for the 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.

Special Collections Reading Room

The Society's Library and Special Collections of 1,900 cubic feed 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. 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.