Research and Collections
Search Our Collections
The catalog includes descriptions of books, manuscripts, photographs, oral histories, microfilm, and other genealogical resources.
The Digital Collections is a searchable database of digital images and files from the Kentucky Historical Society’s collections.
The object collections include everything from fine china to military weaponry. Please be aware that this database does not contain every artifact in the KHS museum collection and that records are updated frequently.
A comprehensive collection of audio and video interviews and over 10,000 pages of electronic transcripts. All material is full-text searchable and can be sorted by county, subject or by decade.
Pass the Word serves as a centralized database for oral history collections publicly accessible through Kentucky libraries, museums and archives.
Located on the second floor of the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, the Kentucky Historical Society Martin F. Schmidt Research Library is one stop shopping for over 90,000 published works, over 15,000 reels of microfilm, over 10,000 cubic feet of archival records including genealogical vertical files, manuscripts, photographs, maps and atlases, and over 9,000 oral history interviews.
For general information, contact library staff by calling 502-564-1792, ext. 4460, or e-mailing KHSrefdesk@ky.gov.
The policies for using the KHS Library are in accordance with other special libraries and archives. Nonetheless, these policies differ from what most researchers would experience at a public or school library. These policies are important for the preservation of our materials for future researchers.
- Purses, briefcases, waist-packs, backpacks, etc. are NOT allowed in the Reading Room. Lockers are available outside the library for patrons to store personal items. A quarter is necessary to operate lockers, but it will be returned.
- Paper, research notes, electronic devices, and three-ring binders are allowed at tables in the Reading Room. Books, magazines, and original manuscript documents must be stored outside the research rooms. Exceptions to this rule can be discussed with Reference staff on a case by case basis.
- Please use pencils only in the Reading Room. No pens, scanners, or personal copiers are allowed. Pencils are available at the Orientation and Reference Desks.
- Hand-held cameras and electronic devices with camera capabilities may be used in the Reading Room without flash and/or tripod/stand. These images are to be used for personal reference only. You may not reproduce, publish, or exhibit these images without the permission of the Kentucky Historical Society. To request permission to publish, please contact the Kentucky Historical Society for a Use Agreement. Additional fees may apply.
- Photocopy machines are located in the Reading Room. Researchers are responsible for obtaining necessary publication rights and/or copyright clearances before publication.
- Patrons can purchase a Venda-card for use in photocopy machines and microfilm printers. Photocopies are $0.15 per page and microfilm copies are $0.30.
- Research materials may not be removed from the Reading Room. All materials should be returned to designated re-shelving carts. Please do not re-shelve materials.
- There are a limited number of microfilm reader-printers. During especially busy periods, KHS staff reserves the right to ask patrons to limit their use of these machines to copying only, and may request that those reviewing microfilm move to a reader.
- Cell phones should be set to vibrate or at lowest volume. Please be considerate of the researchers around you. Calls should be taken outside the Reading Room.
- Please do not mark or damage KHS collections with pencils, other writing implements or unsafe handling.
- Smoking, food, and drinks are not allowed in the Reading Room.
As a precaution, all materials leaving the library are inspected by library staff.
Online Genealogy Resources
The Martin F. Schmidt Research Library maintains subscriptions to the following sites that can be accessed from the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.
The popular genealogy subscription site, with access to a comprehensive and diverse collection of genealogical databases, including U.S. Census images. From ProQuest.
Subscription site containing millions of historic documents and photographs, now with an emphasis on military records. The Library Plus edition includes additional databases for African-American, Native American, Revolutionary War and World War II records.
Digitized from the popular UMI: Genealogy and Local History collection on microfiche, this online database is an essential collection of unique material for both genealogical hobbyists and professionals. Includes online census images and over 7.5 million pages from imaged texts. From ProQuest Information and Learning.
Kentucky Ancestors Online (a free publication of the Kentucky Historical Society) features a wide range of article topics and is designed to appeal to family historians of all levels.
At the Center for Kentucky History, users have online access to the full text of this important reference work. Online subscriptions are currently available only to libraries, schools and other organizations. Users outside the Center for Kentucky History can contact their local public or school librarian for help accessing this service.
Users in the Center for Kentucky History have access to all KYVL databases. Users outside the Center for Kentucky History can contact their local public or school librarian for help accessing this service.
These are frequently recommended websites available from your home.
The department offers comprehensive services which assure Kentuckians access to a broad range of information and educational resources. The KDLA catalog includes descriptions and locations for Kentucky official records sets.
Part of the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office. Includes several searchable databases and many resources for researching land acquisition in Kentucky.
Provides access to extensive genealogical resources gathered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). This site also contains their online catalog and information about local LDS Family History Centers. The 1880 U.S. Census is also available online through FamilySearch.
Includes lists of newspapers available online and those available on microfilm for InterLibrary Loan.
Look for materials in over 10,000 libraries worldwide.
The Kentucky Historical Society library offers several types of fee-based research services to patrons. Upon request, KHS staff will search the Historical Society’s collections of printed genealogies, local histories, vital records, land records, city directories, county records, manuscript collections, military lists, and biographical materials in an effort to answer individual inquiries.
Address all KHS library research requests to:
Kentucky Historical Society
100 West Broadway
Frankfort, KY 40601
Payment in advance is required. Please allow up to eight weeks for a response to your request.
Read about the types of research services available below to determine which is best for your research needs.
Single Record Requests
Library staff will search indexed sources for one person in one record. The fee for this service is $15.00. Submit payment (check or money order only), a self-addressed stamped envelope and a completed Single Record Request Form to the address above. For more information about this service, call 502-564-1792, ext. 4460.
KHS staff will conduct research on an hourly basis. The fee for this service is $25.00 per hour for KHS members or $40.00 per hour for non-members.
Please submit payment for the first hour of research along with a completed Research Request Form.
KHS staff can provide photocopies of cited sources. Please complete the Photocopy Request Form. Policies and fees are explained on the form.
Requesting a Loan From KHS
The document above provides information about borrowing items from the KHS Collections. (Please note that the KHS Loan Program adopted new fees and guidelines on July 1, 2012.)
Rights & Reproductions
Kentucky Historical Society provides digital reproductions of items in the KHS collections upon request. All requests for reproductions will be handled in the order in which they are received, regardless of the contact method used. Turnaround time depends upon the complexity of the order, the need for custom photography and special project workload. For completion of most orders, allow a minimum of three weeks after items have been selected and payment has been received.
We are unable to provide photographic prints.
Select Items for Reproduction
Researchers must cite specific items when requesting photo or digital reproduction. To select items, researchers can access KHS collections through these methods:
- Search the KHS Collections Catalog, the KHS Digital Collections, or the KHS Objects Catalog
- Visit the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History
- Submit a reference request
Place an Order
Rights and Reproductions fees and forms have been updated as of April 2013.
To request a digital reproduction of an item in KHS collections, please use the Collection Duplication Order Form.
Fees for duplication services, including reproduction and use fees, are listed on the RR Fee Schedule 2013.
Submit all forms and associated fees to:
KHS Duplication Services
100 West Broadway
Frankfort, KY 40601-1931
Kentucky Revised Statutes 171.830-.849 Property on Loan to Museums
- KRS 171.830 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/171-00/830.PDF
- KRS 171.833 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/171-00/833.PDF
- KRS 171.836 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/171-00/836.PDF
- KRS 171.840 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/171-00/840.PDF
- KRS 171.843 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/171-00/843.PDF
- KRS 171.846 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/171-00/846.PDF
- KRS 171.849 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/171-00/849.PDF
Kentucky Administrative Regulation 300 KAR 5:010 Museum Unclaimed Property
300 KAR 5:010 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/300/005/010reg.htm
ICOM Code of Ethics
Current Abandoned Property Postings
The Kentucky Historical Society seeks owners of a piece on loan since 1975. If written assertion of title is not presented within six (6) months of final publication of this notice, title shall vest in the museum subject to KRS 171.843. If you are the owner or know their whereabouts, contact: The Kentucky Historical Society, 100 W. Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 502-564-1792, ext. 4418
Property: The “Lexington Trophy,” silver pitcher, engraved “Citizens Stake, won by Lexington, times 3.42 ½, 3.41 ½, 3.49, Spring 1853.”
Owner: The estate of Warren Viley McFerran
Last known address: Anne C. Ensminger, 1305 Handy Pike, Harrodsburg, KY 40330
(Posted October 10, 2013)