Kentucky is one of five states making up the Upper South region. The state has 120 counties. The largest city in Kentucky is Louisville (a consolidated local government). Kentucky also has 13 rivers, many mountains (8 that are considered significant), and 44 lakes. It’s easy to see how jurisdictions might be formed from these boundaries and thus impact Kentucky records.
Keep in mind that boundaries change over time. Therefore, as you study the records you may want to refer to historical maps as well.
Kentucky Government Records
The Office of Vital Statistics includes births, deaths, marriages, divorce and stillbirths. This is the office from which you will order certified copies of records. They also have delayed birth certificates.
Kentucky Land Office is the place to search for land acquisitions and information on cities and counties. This website explains how land records are handled in Kentucky, what types of records are available, and online sources that are available as well. It also explains how to order copies of records.
The Kentucky Court of Justice has information for the public as well as helpful links on their website.
Military Registers & Land Records are kept by the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State also maintains a web page for FAQs about Kentucky Cities.
Information about tax lists may also be found on the Secretary of State website.
The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives has records created by both state and local government agencies.
The State Archives has the following records:
County Clerk Records
- Guardian Bonds
- Tax Assessment Books
- Will/Inventory Books
- Circuit Court Records
Circuit Court Records
- Civil Case Files
- Divorce Records
- Criminal Case Files
- Birth Records 1852 – 1910 (very sporadic)
- Death Records 1852 – 1964 (very sporadic)
- War of 1812 Adjutant General’s Report
- Mexican War Adjutant General’s Report
- Civil War Service Records
- Civil War Adjutant General’s Report
- State Guard Roster for Spanish-American War
- World War I Draft Registrations
- World War I Service Cards
- Veteran Discharge
- Federal Census 1820-1940
The Kentucky Historical Society has many catalog and research tools. These include book and archival collections, digitized images and documents, family files, county histories, as well as finding aids for manuscripts collections and much more.
The Kentucky Genealogical Society has a genealogical collection that is housed at the Martin F. Schmidt Research Library at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.
Links to Kentucky County Information