Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and by appointment.
Representative Types of Materials
Presently, the Division houses over 10,000 cubic feet of manuscript material and contains collections of family papers, diaries, church records, business records, papers of Kentucky authors, genealogical collections, 20th century political collections of national importance, nineteenth century manuscripts, and historical materials relating to Kentucky and the Ohio Valley.
Family Papers - The Division houses numerous collections of family papers, ranging from small groups of manuscripts focusing on a single individual to extensive collections documenting Kentucky history through several generations.
Diaries - Diaries of Kentuckians reflect life through contemporary accounts, such as Baptist minister William M. Pratt's extensive daily entries, 1838 - 1891.
Church Records - These materials begin with 18th century Kentucky settlers and continue with representation as recent as the 1980s.
Business Records - These records trace daily transactions of goods and services of such varied enterprises and professions as hotels and taverns, grocers, carpenters, architects, and physicians. We have many trade union records, particularly from the Louisville area.
Kentucky Authors - These collections are well represented by notable writers such as A.B. Guthrie, Robert Penn Warren, Thomas Merton, Ben Lucien Burman, and John Fox, Jr.
Women's Collection - This area includes papers of many Kentucky women, e.g., Laura Clay, suffragist; Mary Elliott Flanery, newspaper correspondent and first woman elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1921; Linda Neville, pioneer in the fight against eye diseases, particularly trachoma; Ellen Churchill Semple, Professor of Anthropogeography; and, Elizabeth Fouse, black educator.
The W. Hugh Peal Collection - This notable collection contains an excellent representation of letters from individuals during the Romantic period of English literature and includes a substantial group of Charles Lamb letters. Photocopies of original letters in the collection have been made for patron use.
Genealogical Holdings - Collections such as the Julia Ardery Papers and the microfilmed copy of the E.E. Barton Collection supplement our county records and the U.S. Census of Kentucky with their surname files.
Accessing the Collections
The following sources should be consulted for listings of manuscript holdings:
The Online Catalog - This resource can be used for selected Kentuckiana material. It is NOT comprehensive.
The Manuscript Card Catalog - This catalog contains separate listings for original papers, microfilmed holdings (Manuscripts on Microfilm), and chronological file listings (the drawers which contain Manuscript Date Cards - these are divided by decades and arranged alphabetically within that time span). The chronological file listings only refer to original papers. The Manuscript Card Catalog is NOT comprehensive.
Inventories - Many inventories (collection descriptions as well as box and folder title listings) are available online.
Many manuscript collections also include audio-visual materials, particularly photographs. These materials have been removed from the manuscript collections and are housed in the Audio-Visual Archives.
Manuscripts are housed in closed stacks areas. Patrons fill out call slips and manuscript usage forms in order to use these collections. Photocopying is permitted, depending on the condition of the original material and restrictions imposed by donors. MANUSCRIPTS WHICH WE DO NOT OWN MAY NOT BE COPIED. See the Special Collections general information page for more details.
(March 31, 2016) The UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center has initiated a new online requests system allowing all our faculty, students, patrons, and visiting researchers to submit requests for materials, schedule a visit, or place digital reproduction and oral history orders through a custom web-based interface.
Create an account to get started. All researchers visiting after March 31st will need to complete registration in their new account.
UK community members can login using their LinkBlue IDs while visitors can create their own login username and password. For more information, visit our FAQ.
The mission of the Special Collections Research Center is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic, and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Materials are acquired regardless of format and include both primary and secondary sources; Kentuckiana is collected comprehensively. Special Collections maintains the records management program for all records generated by the University and serves as its archival repository for permanent records. As part of the mission, the Special Collections Research Center advances and supports the research, teaching, and scholarship of the University and beyond by preserving and providing access to its holdings.