Kentucky Minorities

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Records and histories of minorities and ethnic groups may provide clues to immigrant origins, migration information, and previous residences. For the most part, research on minorities consists of consulting the same types of records as research for non-minorities. The purpose of this section is to identify a few of those special sources that influence research on minority families in Kentucky.

Some records, histories, and periodicals of Germans, Jews, African-Americans, Poles, Shakers, Huguenots and Walloons, and others are available at the Family History Library. For example:

Smith, Clifford Neal. Early Nineteenth-Century German Settlers in Ohio (Mainly Cincinnati and Environs,) Kentucky, and Other States. McNeal, Arizona: Westland Publications, 1984. (FHL book 973 W2smn no.20.) This book contains abstracts of obituaries, membership records, and articles from the monthly German magazine Der Deutsche Pioniere (The German Pioneer). It includes an index and lists the name of the settler, his or her place of residence and origin, and the reference volume and page number.

Haiman, Miecislaus. Polish Pioneers of Virginia and Kentucky. 1937. Reprint, [Ft. Wayne, Indiana: Allen County Public Library, 198–]. (FHL book 973 B4p v.2.) This book includes notes on the genealogies of Polish families, including the Sadowski family. It is unindexed.

Neal, Julia. The Kentucky Shakers. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1977 (FHL book 976.9 F2n.) This history of the Shakers from 1805 to 1922 is unindexed.

Original Papers Concerning the Huguenot and Walloon Lines. Frankfort, KY: Historical Society, [196–?]. (FHL film 551317.) About half of the early pioneers of Kentucky were descended from French-speaking Protestants, including the Huguenots from southern France and the Walloons from southern Belgium. These unindexed papers contain the history of these two groups of people.


Resources for African-American research fall into two periods: pre- and post-Civil War. Post-Civil War research consists of consulting the same record types as non-African-Americans. Some sets of records such as school censuses and marriages and tax records are segregated by race. Pre-Civil War records consist of slave importation declarations, plantation records, emancipation records, apprenticeship bonds for freedmen, Kentucky hiring practices, census records, slave owner records, church and cemetery records, military records, vital records, and numerous Kentucky court records.

African-American vital records were usually recorded in separate books for many years. For a few years after the Civil War, many African-Americans had their marriages legally recognized and recorded in "declaration" books. Couples could go before the judge and declare that they were husband and wife and how long they had been together. The books are included in the marriage records in Kentucky counties.

For a history of African-Americans in Kentucky, see:

Lucas, Marion Brunson and George C. Wright. A History of Blacks in Kentucky. 2 vols. Frankfort, KY: Kentucky Historical Society, 1992. (FHL book 976.9 F2L.) This history of African-Americans from 1760 to 1980 contains an index and a bibliography of sources.

A source for African-American research in Kentucky can be found in:

Hogan, Roseann Reinemuth. Kentucky Ancestry—A Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, 1992. (FHL book 976.9 A3ho.) This is a guide to African-American records located in Kentucky. Pages 140 to 153, African-American Genealogy and Records in Kentucky, and Appendix 4, pages 369 to 372, African-American Bibliography for Kentucky, provide important information for the African-American researcher.

Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company signature cards or registers may list depositor’s birth date and place, occupation, residences, death information, parents, children, spouses, siblings, or former masters. Kentucky had two branches of this bank at:

  • Lexington, Kentucky 1870–1874
  • Louisville, Kentucky 1865–1874

The signature registers for these branches are listed as:

Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Washington, D.C.) Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, 1865–1874. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0816. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1969. (FHL films 928571–91.) These films are alphabetical by state, then by city. In each city depositors are in order by account number. Films 928581–2 contain the records for Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky.

Slaves were gradually emancipated by Kentucky law, beginning in 1865. Slaves are sometimes mentioned in deeds (see the "Land and Property" section of this outline), wills (see the "Probate Records" section), tax records (see the "Taxation" section), and court order books (see the "Court Records" section). A few parish registers (see the "Church Records" section) list slaves who attended church with their masters.

See also the "Minorities" and "Emigration and Immigration" sections of the United States Research Outline for additional resources.

Other records and histories of ethnic, racial, and religious groups in Kentucky are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:




Or see the Subject Search of the Family History Library Catalog under subjects such as: