Kentucky Archives and Libraries

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These repositories house sources, lists, and indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in Kentucky.

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Major Repositories in Kentucky[edit | edit source]

Wiki Articles on Major Repositories in Kentucky

National Society of the Sons of the American RevolutionNational Archives at Atlanta · Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives · Filson Historical Society Library · Kentucky Historical Society · Boyd County Public Library · Daviess County Public Library · Eastern Kentucky University Library · Kenton County Public Library · Lexington Public Library · Murray State University Pogue Library · University of Kentucky King Library · Western Kentucky University Library Special Collections · Allen County Public Library · Bristol Public Library · Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library · Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown · University of Chicago Library · Virginia Historical Society · Wisconsin Historical Society

Online Records of Kentucky[edit | edit source]

Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.
  • Kentucky Digital Library—daybooks, journals, letters, and manuscripts.
  • Kentucky Digital Library, Search digital images of more than a million items from the Bluegrass State, including books, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, oral histories, yearbooks and pictures.

Advantage Archives - Currently seven Kentucky counties (Adair, Clark, Clinton, Green, Meade, Russell, and Wayne) have partnered with Advantage Archives to offer free digital archives of their historical community newspapers. In addition to newspapers, Meade County also has a court orders book, a deed book and a will book

National Repositories[edit | edit source]

Sons of the American Revolution (SAR)[edit | edit source]

National SAR Genealogical Research Library in Louisville, KY

National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Genealogical Research Library
809 West Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: 502-589-1776
Contact form

This national genealogical research library houses over 55,000 items, including family histories, local, county and state records. The Library also houses an archival collection containing both institutional and Revolutionary period items. The SAR Library is a Family Search Affiliate library and also provides onsite patrons with FREE access to Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest, Fold3, and American Ancestors (NEHGS). The online catalog allows you to see what is available - with many titles connected to e-book editions through their corresponding catalog record.

The library is open, M-F, 9:30am-4:30pm, and every 3rd Saturday of the month, 9am-4pm.

The Library is open to the general public for $5 admission per day with FREE admission to Friends of the SAR Library (FOL); SAR members and their spouses; members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Children of the American Revolution (CAR), and Sons of the Revolution (SR). The SAR Library is a non-circulating, reference facility only.

Search the Patriot Research System (PRS)

The SAR Patriot Research System (PRS) database can be accessed freely by anyone and consists of a combination of the previous SAR Patriot Record Index, the SAR Revolutionary War Graves Registry, and information from the SAR Patriot Index CD (2002), plus additional information and updates from various state grave registry databases and patriot biographical sketches submitted to tell the story of our patriot ancestors. This link will take you to order forms where you can order previously verified SAR membership and supplemental applications using their Record Copy service. has an index to U.S. Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 with digital copies of the applications available to view on their website.

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

National Archives at Atlanta (in Morrow)

National Archives at Atlanta
5780 Jonesboro Road
Morrow, Georgia 30260 USA
Phone: 770-968-2100
Fax: 770-968-2547

National Archives at Atlanta has records from over 100 federal agencies and courts in Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Also includes Vice Admiralty Courts of SC, evolution of federal courts, Revolutionary War, Civil War, reconstruction, World Wars I and II, and space exploration. Microfilms for censuses, diplomatic missions, military service records, bounty-land applications, passenger arrivals, naturalizations, American Indians, and African Americans.[1]

Statewide Repositories[edit | edit source]

Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA)[edit | edit source]

Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives
Public Records Division
300 Coffee Tree Road
P.O. Box 537
Frankfort, KY 40601-0537
Toll Free Phone: 800-928-7000
Telephone: 502-564-8300
Fax: 502-564-5773

The Department for Libraries and Archives is the central repository for original city-, county-, and state-level records.[2] 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 Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives responds to genealogical requests but prefers that requests be sent on a form available on its website or through the mail.

Kentucky Historical Society[edit | edit source]

Kentucky Historical Society
100 West Broadway
Frankfort, KY
Phone: 502-564-1792, ext. 4460
Contact form

Free Genealogical Publication: Kentucky Ancestors

"They have more family folders than any other library in Kentucky, as well as all known printed genealogies and histories for Kentucky. They have the state's best genealogical collection including newspapers, maps, and city directories."[2]
Located on the second floor of the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. The Library, which provides access to both the General Stacks and Archival Collections, is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission to the library is free for KHS members, or $8.00 per day for non-members. (Included as part of general campus admission.) (Check the main website for current hours of operation) Research Services are available via mail order. 
The Library Collections Catalog for the Martin F. Schmidt library is available online, as is the Society's Digital Collections Catalog, which includes over 20,000 images of original manuscripts, maps, photographs and finding aids for a portion of the Archival collections at the Kentucky Historical Society. Images of over 85,000 museum artifacts can be accessed via the Objects Catalog
Located on the second floor of the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, the Martin F. Schmidt Research Library holds the largest genealogical collection in the state. This beautiful research facility features 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 Society's Archival Collections of 1,900 cubic feet of manuscripts, 2,000 maps, 8,000 oral histories, 200,000 historic photographs, and 9,100 rare books provide unique resources to researchers of the Commonwealth.

The library is a FamilySearch Affiliate, and as such, may contain copies of various microfilms from the vast collection held by the Salt Lake City-based Family History Library for temporary use at the Kentucky Historical Society.

Filson Historical Society Library[edit | edit source]

Filson Historical Society Library
1310 S. Third Street
Louisville, KY 40208
Phone: 502-635-5083

Formerly known as the Filson Club, they have a good collection of early Kentucky history and genealogy manuscripts. Their specialty is migration, especially via Ohio River traffic and steamboats.[2]

Regional Repositories[edit | edit source]

Boyd County Public Library[edit | edit source]

Boyd County Public Library
Ashland Main Branch
1740 Central Ave
Ashland, KY 41101
Phone: 606-329-0518
Fax: 606-329-0578

Near where Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia come together, this library has many sources about West Virginia people, including family folders, biographies, genealogies, and pedigrees.[3]

Daviess County Public Library[edit | edit source]

Daviess County Public Library
2020 Frederica Street
Owensboro, KY 42301
Phone: 270-684-0211

They have one of the best genealogy collections in Kentucky.[2]

Eastern Kentucky University Library[edit | edit source]

Eastern Kentucky University Library
Crabbe Library
Special Collections and Archives
521 Lancaster Ave.
Richmond, KY 40475
Phone: 859-622-1790
Fax: 859-622-1174
TTY: 859-622-6594
Contact form

This university library has many records about Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina, with an emphasis on Kentucky records.

Kenton County Public Library[edit | edit source]

Kenton County Public Library
502 Scott Blvd
Covington, KY 41011
Phone: 859-962-4070

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.

Lexington Public Library[edit | edit source]

Lexington Public Library
Kentucky Room
140 East Main Street
Lexington, KY 40507
Phone: 859-231-5520

The Kentucky Room of the Lexington Public Library houses many 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.

Murray State University Pogue Library[edit | edit source]

Murray State University Pogue Library
Special Collections
208 Waterfield Library
Murray, KY 42071-3307
Phone: 270-809-6152

The Pogue library has records on all areas of Kentucky, with an emphasis on the western portion of the state.

University of Kentucky King Library[edit | edit source]

University of Kentucky King Library
Department of Special Collections and Archives
179 Funkhouser Dr.
Lexington, KY 40506-0039
Phone: 859-257-8611
Fax: 859-257-6311

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 an Appalachian collection, newspapers, church records; genealogical collections; historical manuscript collections; the Draper manuscripts, described in Kentucky History; county and local histories; county, state, and federal records; and a biographical file.[2]

WKU Library Special Collections[edit | edit source]

Western Kentucky University Library Special Collections
Street address: 1444 Kentucky St
Mailing address: 1906 College Heights Blvd., #11092
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1092
Telephone 270-745-6125.
Fax: 270-745-6422

The Kentucky Library has significant genealogical records, church histories, oral histories, and biographical files relating to south central Kentucky, early settlers, and Shakers.[2]

Other Repositories Outside Kentucky[edit | edit source]

Allen Co Public Library IN

Allen County Public Library[edit | edit source]

Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Phone: 260-421-1225

This is the second-largest genealogy collection in the United States[4] and the largest genealogy collection in a public library. Its holdings include more than 350,000 printed volumes and 513,000 items on microfilm and microfiche.[5] It has a premier genealogical periodical collection, local histories, genealogies, databases, military, censuses, directories, passenger lists, ethnic sources, and Canadians. They have a great eastern seaboard and Kentucky collection.[6]

Bristol Public Library in Virginia

Bristol Public Libary[edit | edit source]

Bristol Public Library
701 Goode Street
Bristol, VA 24201-4199
Phone: 540-645-8780
Fax: 276-669-5593

They have a relatively small family folder collection. Nevertheless, it is an important resource for settlers coming from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and northern Virginia  along the Great Valley Road into Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina.[7]

Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library[edit | edit source]

Mary B Washington Museum in Lancaster VA

Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library
8346 Mary Ball Road
Lancaster, VA 22503
Phone: 804-462-7280
Fax: 804-462-6107

A small library with a good name index to nearly every history book published in Virginia  or Kentucky, including court records from 1651, indexes and abstracts, Virginia vital records, census records, county histories, biographies, church and cemetery records, family histories, newspapers, obituaries, vertical files, militia records, and fraternal organizations.[8] [9]

Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown[edit | edit source]

Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown
224 Church Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: 831-427-7707, ext. 5794
Contact form

Holds the Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County's library, including the Tina Brayton Collection which is equivalent to the Draper Manuscript Collection  but larger and with a better index, and many compiled genealogies of Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia  families.[8] [10]

University of Chicago Library[edit | edit source]

Univercity of Chicago Regenstein Library

University of Chicago Library
Durrett Collection
Regenstein Library
University of Chicago
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: 773-702-4685
Fax: 773-702-6623
Contact form

The Durrett Collection consists of historical Kentucky and Ohio River Valley manuscripts. The size and content of this collection is comparable to the Draper Manuscript Collection. It includes the earliest people in the Ohio Valley.[11]

Virginia Historical Society[edit | edit source]

Virginia Historical Society in Richmond

Virginia Historical Society
Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Research Library
428 North Blvd
Richmond, VA 23221-0311
Phone: 804-342-9677

County records such as marriages, county court records, wills, censuses, land, militia lists, bounty lands, passenger lists, tax lists, poll lists, genealogies, newspapers, family Bibles, and African American genealogy. They have a card index to 10 million documents of the Old Dominion, that is Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. [12] [13]

Wisconsin Historical Society[edit | edit source]

Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison

Wisconsin Historical Society
Draper Manuscript Collection
816 State Street
Madison, WI 53706
Email: Ask a librarian form

The Draper Collection, consists of 491 volumes of manuscripts, papers, and books collected by Lyman Copeland Draper  about the history of the trans-Allegheny West in the United States, a region including the western areas of the Carolinas and Virginia, all the Ohio River Valley, and part of the upper Mississippi Valley from the 1740s to 1830. This includes New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Guidebook[edit | edit source]

  • Ellen Garrison, Archives in Appalachia: A Directory. (Boone, North Carolina: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1985). WorldCat 12712710; FHL 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.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. William Dollarhide, and Ronald A. Bremer, America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1988), 127-28. WorldCat 39493985; FHL Book 973 J54d.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Dollarhide and Bremer, 49.
  3. Dollarhide and Bremer, 117.
  4. Allen County Public Library in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 28 April 2010).
  5. Genealogy Center in Allen County Public Library (accessed 28 April 2010).
  6. Genealogy Center Collections in Genealogy Center (accessed 27 February 2015).
  7. Dollarhide and Bremer, 105.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dollarhide and Bremer, 113.
  9. Genealogy and History Library in Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  10. The Tina Brayton Collection in Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County (accessed 3 January 2014).
  11. Dollarhide and Bremer, 39 and 49.
  12. Dollarhide and Bremer, 97.
  13. Virginia Historical Society Collections, accessed 5 December 2020.