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African American Primary Resources in the Special Collections Research Center: REFERENCE COLLECTIONS

Sources found in the University of Kentucky Libraries.





(859) 257-8611


(859) 257-6311

Reference Collections

City Directories

  • City directories are shelved in the Breckinridge Reading Room. There are volumes for most of the major cities and towns in Kentucky, starting with the 1806 Lexington directory, and the latest volumes are for 2002.  The more current directories are in Young Library Ready Reference. Notations for African Americans in the earlier directories are (c), (col), (cld), or (col'd).  Some of these volumes also have a "Colored" section that lists the names and addresses of African Americans.

Kentucky Counties - History Books

  • Kentucky has 120 counties and there is a history book for almost every county. Within many of the titles is also a history of the African American presence. The books are located in the Breckinridge Reading Room.

Burt Milward (vertical file)

  • This is a very large collection of biographical information, obituaries, newspaper clippings, type-written and handwritten notices, and a host of other information about events and persons in Kentucky over a span of about 100 years. Three files are labeled "Negroes," and there is even more information within many of the file folders. 

Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky (Civil War Soldiers - Union)

  • A two volume set. Rosters of Kentucky units mustered into the Federal service, U.S. Colored Troops, Kentucky State Troops, Enrolled Militia, an alphabetical list of officers, and general and staff officers from Kentucky.

Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, Confederate Kentucky Volunteers (Civil War Soldiers)

  • A two volume set. Based on surviving muster rolls. Brief histories of confederate units and a list of soldiers with rank and dates of service. There were African American Confederate troops from Kentucky!  (See Peter Vertrees entry in the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database.)

 U. S. Census

  • U. S. Census records, 1820-1930, are available on microfilm in the Breckinridge Reading Room. There is also a microfilm reader.  Free African Americans are listed by name in the Census records. Slaves are listed by age and sex, under the name of their owners. The Slave Schedules were produced for the census years 1850 and 1860. Slaves are not listed by name!  Various terms were used in the U.S. Census to identify African Americans, such as black, Mulatto, Negro, African, and sometimes brown. It was not uncommon for African Americans to be under-counted in the U.S. Census, or to be misidentified as white or some other race, ethnicity, or nationality.    

Kentucky Census

Contact the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center for more information about the many other Reference Collections.


Phone: (859) 257-8611

Fax:  (859) 257-6311


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