Kentucky Societies

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Kentucky has many societies that have been organized according to peoples’ interests. Genealogical, historical, and lineage societies are especially helpful to genealogists because of the records and resources they collect, transcribe, and publish. Some societies have Internet sites.

Statewide Genealogical Society:

Kentucky Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 54704
Lexington, KY 40555-4704


The Kentucky Genealogical Society was formed in 1973 in Frankfort. Over 60% of its members do not live in Kentucky. It is an all volunteer grassroots organization comprised of over 1200 active researchers located throughout the Commonwealth, in all 50 states, and internationally who offer completely virtual educational events and Kentucky focused research learning opportunities. Members range from new beginners just starting out to professional experts who provide research services to clients. The society offers a digitization grant program to promote the preservation of Kentucky records that have significant genealogical value. Members have access to over 60 on-demand videos to help them research their Kentucky ancestors. Each month the society offers two webinars which are free to members. The society publishes items of genealogical interest in the Bluegrass Roots blog, mentioned in the "Periodicals" section. Research roadtrips to research libraries, archives, cemeteries, and institutions of historical interest are organized for members. The society does not endorse researchers, but does maintain a list of active member Kentucky researchers on its website. While the society maintains a P.O. Box in Lexington, Kentucky, it is operated completely virtually. In 2022, the Society entered into a partnership with FamilySearch to help get more Kentucky records digitized and accessible to researchers.

Major historical societies in Kentucky include:

Filson Historical Society
1310 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40208
Telephone: 1-502-636-0471
Fax: 1-502-635-5086

The Filson Historical Society is a source of many historical and genealogical records of Kentucky. It began as a private society to study Kentucky and Ohio history and culture. Their holdings include portraits, photographs, books, manuscripts, public records, family histories, and artifacts. It is an organization dedicated to providing continuing adult education in the form of quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal, Ohio Valley History, a quarterly magazine, The Filson, weekly lectures, historical tours, exhibits, reading and discussion groups, weekend-long conferences, a field institute, and excursions. Do not underestimate the value of historical societies located in the Commonwealth's major cities as often rural people would migrate to urban areas for employment or other economic opportunity. As a result, family ephemera which belonged to your distant cousins from a family that originally lived in a rural area, may have found its way to a historical society or research library in a major Kentucky city.

Kentucky Historical Society
100 West Broadway
Frankfort, KY 40601
Telephone: 1-502-564-1792

The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) 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. KHS became an agency of Kentucky state government in the early 1950s and is now part of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet. 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 Kentucky Historical Society has the largest genealogical collection in Kentucky. Their holdings include information from all Southern States.

Lineage societies (the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution [DAR], Colonial Dames, and Sons of the American Revolution, for example) require members to prove they are descended from a certain group of people such as colonists or soldiers. The applications for membership in these societies are usually preserved and occasionally published. National lineage societies such as the DAR have a large Kentucky membership. These are described in the United States Societies Wiki article. The Kentucky DAR is located at:

The Kentucky Society, NSDAR
Duncan Tavern Historic Center
Paris, Kentucky 40361

Genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records and maintain a genealogical file for historical families of the area or for ancestors of society members. Most genealogical societies focus on local and regional records, while others concentrate on the records and migrations of ethnic groups or minorities.

Societies may guide you to useful sources, suggest avenues of research, put you in touch with other genealogists who are interested in the same families, or perform research for you. The resources of the society may help in determining immigrant origins. Some societies publish transcriptions of original records and most societies publish periodicals. See the "Periodicals" section for a list of some periodicals published by Kentucky societies.

Some genealogical and historical societies hold conferences in which lecturers discuss genealogical research methods, available sources, and other topics of interest to the genealogist. These lectures may include information on records or research helps on a local, regional, or national level. Transcripts, audiocassette tapes, or syllabuses of the class outlines of these conferences are often made available to the public through the sponsoring society.

A directory to historical organizations in Kentucky is:

Directory of Kentucky Historical Organizations. Frankfort, Kentucky: Kentucky Historical Society, 1992. FHL book 976.9 H24. The organizations are listed by subject and include the address, phone number, hours, collection, membership information, and publications of each organization. There is an index to organizations and counties.

Family associations and surname societies have been organized to gather ancestors or descendants of specific individuals or families. Some seek out information on persons with a specific surname. See the United States Societies Wiki article for a directory and more information about these societies.

Clubs or occupational or fraternal organizations may have existed in the area where your ancestor lived. Those societies may have kept records of members or applications that may be of genealogical or biographical value. Though many of the old records have been lost, some have been donated to local, regional, or state archives and libraries. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) is an example of an organization an ancestor may have joined.

Many counties also have local historical and genealogical societies. You can find local society addresses by using directories cited in the United States Societies Wiki article.

For Kentucky societies, see the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog: