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Biographical Information: KY and Local Figures

This guide will show you the best ways to find information about people, be they authors, scholars, historical figures or contemporary newsmakers.

Kentucky Biographical Sources

While any of the sources in this guide will likely contain prominent Kentuckians, there are other resources that specialize in the coverage of Kentuckians.

1. When searching InfoKat Discovery, you can search for the specific person's name as a subject to see if biographical information is available in book or manuscript form.

2. Many varied reference resources containing biographical information are available, including

Biographical collections are also available in the Special Collections Research Center and Young Reference; see, for example, historical biographies in 

  • The Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky (call# F450.B65)
    and
  • Biographical Encyclopaedia of Kentucky (call# F450.B61).

Note, however, that these two books and some other earlier reference works provide no obvious organizational scheme (e.g., table of contents, alphabetical order, indexes) for their biographical entries; however, the Special Collections Research Center has an in-house card file that gives the volume and pagination for entries in these and some 20 other biographical reference tools.

Other books, including histories, encyclopedias and guides, contain biographical information; look for material in the Special Collections Research Center, Reference and the Young book stacks in the F446-456 range.

2. Nearly 3,000 African Americans are listed in Notable Kentucky African-Americans (NKAA); entries include references (and links) to additional information on each person.

3. Some newspapers, which include tributes, general stories and obituaries, can be searched online, including the Lexington Herald-Leader, Courier Journal (Louisville) and others. For older papers, if you know the date of the person's death or a significant event, you can view the newspaper on microfilm (stored at the Periodicals desk in the east wing of the 2nd floor of Young Library).

4. The Special Collections Research Center is rich in information about Kentuckians. You can search a card file in the Special Collections Research Center to locate material, and you can also use its many online resources, including:

These and other resources are available in and through the Special Collections Research Center. Contact them through the website, via this form, or call (859) 257-8611.