Research in Kentucky

Cover of Research in KentuckyOnce part of Virginia, Kentucky became a state in 1792. In its earliest days, it offered one of the primary passageways for settlers traveling west. Though Daniel Boone did not discover the Cumberland Gap through the Appalachian Mountains, he is credited with blazing the Wilderness Road to Boonesborough. Settlers bound for lands farther west took the Wilderness Road to where it joined Warrior’s Path, which led to Louisville and the Ohio River. Most of those who settled in Kentucky were English, German, Irish, Scots, Scots-Irish, and Swiss. African Americans also number among the state’s largest ethnic groups.

Kentucky has an abundance of records and repositories with information about those settlers. Research in Kentucky offers family historians and genealogists a comprehensive guide on where to find those records and much more. The author provides an overview of the state’s prominent archives, libraries, and societies as well as major resources, including atlases; censuses, church, county and court records; maps and newspapers; and vital records. Also covered is information about military, tax, and probate records.

For those researching their African American ancestors, Research in Kentucky provides valuable guidance. It also includes an extensive account of Kentucky’s land records including the different types of warrants and the nine categories of patents—all of which present unique challenges to the family historian.

Published by NGS, Research in Kentucky is one volume in the Research in the States series edited by Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FUGA, FVGS. It is available for purchase in the NGS online store in both PDF and print versions.


Bettie Cummings Cook, CG (EMERITUS), is a former trustee and secretary of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. With her late husband, Michael L. Cook, she compiled the Kentucky Record Series, thirty-six books of abstracts of the earliest original records of Kentucky.