Kentucky Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections

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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


Periodicals

Several statewide, regional, and local genealogical publications are available for Kentucky. Most can be found at the Kentucky Historical Society, the University of Kentucky Library, the Filson Library, regional libraries, or the FHL. The Durrett Collection includes numerous rare books, manuscripts, published sources, and documentary records concerning settlement of Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley; it is a must for any researcher with early Kentucky roots. The Filson Club, founded by Reuben T. Durrett and others, is part of the Durrett collection, which was created to collect and maintain primary source materials on the state of Kentucky and its people. This material has been digitized and is available through the American Memory website of the Library of Congress: The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750–1820 at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award99/icuhtml/fawhome.html. Some local libraries maintain copies pertaining to their area. Many genealogical publications are maintained in the Kentucky Genealogical Society’s collection housed at the Kentucky Libraries and Archives online at www.kdla.ky.gov.

Statewide or regional publications include the following:

  • Bluegrass Roots (1973-present). Frankfort, Ky.: Kentucky Genealogical Society.
  • The Bulletin (1968-present). Newsletter only. Owensboro, Ky.: West-Central Kentucky Family Research Association.
  • The East Kentuckian: Journal of Genealogy and History (1965–95). Lexington: published privately by Clayton R. Cox.
  • Filson Historical Quarterly (1926-present). Louisville: Filson Historical Society.
  • Kentucky Ancestors (1965-present). Frankfort, Ky.: Kentucky Historical Society.
  • Kentucky Family Records (1969-present). Owensboro, Ky.: West-Central Kentucky Family Research Association.
  • The Kentucky Genealogist (1959–86). Louisville: James R. Bentley, ed.
  • Kentucky Kinfolk (1985–94). Lexington: Kentucky Tree-Search.
  • Kentucky Pioneer Genealogy and Records (1979–85). Evansville, Ind.: Cook and McDowell Publications.
  • The Longhunter (1978-present). Bowling Green, Ky: Southern Kentucky Genealogical Society.
  • The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society (1903-present). Frankfort, Ky.: Kentucky Historical Society. A subject index is available for the first forty-three volumes.
  • South Central Kentucky Historical and Genealogical Society Quarterly (1974-present). Glasgow, Ky.: South Central Kentucky Historical and Genealogical Society. Changed name to Traces in 1982.
  • Tree Shaker (1982-present). Ashland, Ky.: Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society.

Two sources combine information from noted periodicals for Kentucky:

  • Klotter, James, ed. Genealogies of Kentucky Families from the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society and the Filson History Quarterly. 4 vols. Frankfort, Ky.: Kentucky Historical Society, 1981. This indexed set includes all genealogies printed in the publications since 1903.
  • Trapp, Glenda K., and Michael L. Cook. Kentucky Genealogical Index. Vol. 1. Evansville, Ind.: Cook Publications, 1981. Every-name index to individuals mentioned in leading Kentucky genealogical publications through 1980.

Newspapers

The University of Kentucky Library is the major state repository for newspapers for the state. It participates in the United States newspaper project with holdings available from an online database. The Kentucky Union List of 14,000 titles of early Kentucky papers, identified by a recent project, is presently being microfilmed. When complete, all titles will be available through interlibrary loan. Many old Kentucky newspapers are archived at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. A reliable Internet resource for modern newspapers is Kentucky Newspapers at www.usnpl.com/kynews.html.

The Kentucky Gazette, a Lexington newspaper, published news for most early Kentucky counties. Microfilm copies are available at many libraries in and out of the state and at the University of Kentucky Library in Lexington.

The Louisville Courier has been indexed for the years 1917 to 1977.

Some original and microfilmed newspapers are also available at the Kentucky Historical Society, the Filson Library, Louisville Free Public Library, and the Lexington Public Library. The FHL and some regional libraries also have copies on microfilm.

Other helpful sources include:

  • Clift, G. Glenn, comp., ed. Kentucky Obituaries, 1787–1854. Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1984. Compiled from publications of The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, from newspapers housed in the Lexington Public Library, from The Kentucky Gazette, and from The Reporter. Arranged chronologically.
  • Green, Karen Mauer. The Kentucky Gazette: Genealogical and Historical Abstracts. 2 vols. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1983–85. Volume 1 covers 1787–1800; volume 2 covers 1801–2000. These volumes are extracts of names, events, and dates from The Kentucky Gazette and include entries for people from many Kentucky counties. Volumes are individually indexed; each has separate indexes for persons and places.

Manuscripts

The largest collections of manuscripts, many on microfilm, are at the University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky Historical Society, University of Kentucky Library, and the Filson Library. Manuscript collections pertaining (all or in part) to Kentucky and Kentuckians include, among many, the following:

The Ardery Collection contains abstracts of Kentucky and Virginia court, land, and Bible records as well as family history and correspondence. It is housed at the University of Kentucky Library, has been microfilmed, and is available through the FHL. See also:

  • Ardery, Julia H. Kentucky Records. 2 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1969.

The Barton Collection is also housed at the University of Kentucky Library. Most material in this collection pertains to Pendleton County, although other counties and states are represented. It is available on microfilm at the Kentucky Historical Society, the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, and through the FHL.

The Draper Manuscripts, located at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (see Wisconsin Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collection for a guide), contain a wealth of information concerning Kentucky and Kentuckians. This exceptional collection of historical material has been microfilmed (134 reels) and is available for purchase or for interlibrary loan from that repository. Locally, the entire Draper collection is available on microfilm at the Kentucky Historical Society, the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, and the University of Kentucky. The FHL has a complete set on microfilm.

The DAR Collection includes transcriptions of Bible, cemetery, church, marriage, death, obituary, and probate records. It is housed at the DAR Library (see page 13) with microfilm copies of the originals available through the FHL.

The Shane Manuscript collection is available at the Western Kentucky University and Kentucky Historical Society.

In addition to The Guide to Kentucky Archival and Manuscript Repositories, cited under Archives, Libraries, and Societies, see also:

  • Brookes-Smith, Joan E. Kentucky Historical Society: Microfilm Catalog: Excerpted Manuscripts. 2 vols. Frankfort, Ky.: Kentucky Historical Society, 1975.
  • Clift, G. Glenn. Guide to the Manuscripts of the Kentucky Historical Society. Frankfort, Ky.: Kentucky Historical Society, 1955.
  • Talley, William M. Talley’s Northeastern Kentucky Papers. Fort Worth, Tex: American Reference Publishers, 1971.
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