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Researching African American Slavery in Kentucky: False Leads & Misdirections

Using primary sources and documents to discovery more on the history of those enslaved in Kentucky


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pertaining to


African American Experience 



Phone: (859) 257-1742

Fax:  (859) 257-6311

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Margaret I. King Library Building (map)


Many collections are stored off-site. A phone call or an email prior to your visit will help us to better assist you.

Don't believe the hype!

1. There is NOT a master list of all Africans who were enslaved in the state of Kentucky.

2. There is NOT a master list of all slave owners who lived in the state of Kentucky.

3. There is NOT a comprehensive collection of every slave sale that took place in the state of Kentucky.

4. There is NOT a map that shows the location of all slave graves/cemeteries in Kentucky. 

5. Pictures of enslaved Africans in Kentucky are extremely rare. If a picture is found, the names of the enslaved Africans will probably not be included.

Take a minute to reflect.

1. Enslaved Africans in Kentucky were "chattels personal" (personal property).

2. Enslaved Africans were used as collateral to make payments, wage bets, and could be legally seized for a forced sale to satisfy debt [commissioners' sale].

3. Enslaved Africans many times were given a first name only. That name could change at the discretion of the slave owner.

4. If there was a last name, it may be the last name of the present owner or the last name of a previous owner.

5. Enslaved Africans were owned by one or more persons, by businesses, churches, organizations, and corporations.

6. Birth years and ages will very often not match up. The spelling of names will vary. Go with it until you can't go any further.


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Reinette F. Jones
Rm 403, King Library Building

Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0456

(859) 257-6042