Kentucky Maps

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This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott, Ph.D., FUGA, for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Kentucky Family History Research series.
History of Kentucky
Kentucky Vital Records
Census Records for Kentucky
Background Sources for Kentucky
Kentucky Maps
Kentucky Land Records
Kentucky Probate Records
Kentucky Court Records
Kentucky Tax Records
Kentucky Cemetery Records
Kentucky Church Records
Kentucky Military Records
Kentucky Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Kentucky Archives, Libraries, and Societies
African Americans of Kentucky
Kentucky County Resources
Map of Kentucky


One of the earliest known maps printed of Kentucky is John Filson’s for 1784. A later detailed map of Kentucky watercourses (22 x 46 inches) is published and sold by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Maps and Publications Office, Division of Research, 133 Holmes St., Frankfort, KY 40601. This office maintains a large collection of maps and atlases available for purchase. Helpful in locating early land grants is Luke Munsell’s map printed in 1819 entitled “Map of the State of Kentucky together with parts of Indiana and Indian Territories.” A copy of this map can be obtained from the Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service, Washington, DC 20540.

The Kentucky Libraries and Archives (see Kentucky Archives, Libraries, and Societies) houses a collection of Kentucky maps for the period 1784–1818, including agency-sponsored late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century maps, but this collection is largely unprocessed. Maps for the state are also available at the Kentucky Historical Society, University of Kentucky Library, and the Filson Library. These collections include state, county, and city maps. For historical maps of Kentucky counties, see www.abraxis.com/beegee/Genealogy/Kentucky/Maps/kymaps.htm.

Cadastral maps show landowners, drawn from official registers, and used in conjunction with the appropriation of taxes, which list quantity, value, and ownership of real estate. Maps are included in:

  • DenBoer, Gordon. Atlas of Historical County Boundaries: Kentucky. Edited by John H. Long. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1995. Contains data on 126 counties and includes 629 maps.
  • Field, Thomas P. Guide to Kentucky Place Names. Revised edition. Lexington: Kentucky Geological Survey, 1991. This updated edition replaces Rennick’s 1984 compilation.
  • Rennick, Robert M. Kentucky Place Names. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984. A survey of Kentucky places was undertaken in 1971. This volume was published to publicize and stimulate interest in the survey. It catalogs approximately one-fourth of presently known places, usually only the largest, best known, and/or most important.
  • Stephenson, R. W. Land Ownership Maps. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1967. Contains maps of thirty-five Kentucky counties.

U.S. Geological Survey Maps (see page 5) for Kentucky are helpful in locating cemeteries.

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