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Kentucky: State Resource Guide

Digital Collections

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of primary source materials related to the state of Kentucky, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, motion pictures, photographs, sheet music, and sound recordings. Provided below is a link to the home page for each relevant digital collection along with selected highlights.

Written materials in the Library's digital collections include books, government documents, manuscripts, and sheet music. Examples of written materials related to Kentucky are provided for most of the collections listed below.

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 20,000 documents which include incoming and outgoing correspondence and enclosures, drafts of speeches, and notes and printed material.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection

The collection presents a panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, spanning almost one hundred years from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

This collection documents the life of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) both through writings by and about Lincoln as well as a large body of publications concerning the issues of the times including slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and related topics. Browse the collection by location to locate thirty-two items pertaining to Kentucky.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets

This collection spans the period from the turn of the nineteenth century to the 1880s, although a majority of the song sheets were published during the height of the craze, from the 1850s to the 1870s.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals, ca. 1490 to 1920

A collection of over 200 hundred social dance manuals at the Library of Congress published from about 1490 to 1929. Many of the manuals also provide historical information on theatrical dance.

Selected highlight from this collection:

American Notes: Travels in America, 1750 to 1920

This collection comprises 253 published narratives by Americans and foreign visitors recounting their travels in the colonies and the United States and their observations and opinions about American peoples, places, and society from about 1750 to 1920.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 to 1938

The collection contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves.

Selected highlight from this collection:

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection consists of a linked set of published congressional records of the United States of America from the Continental Congress through the 43rd Congress, 1774-1875.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920

This collection documents the historical formation and cultural foundations of the movement to conserve and protect America's natural heritage, through books, pamphlets, government documents, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and motion picture footage drawn from the collections of the Library of Congress.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher.

Selected highlight from this collection:

George Washington Papers

This collection consists of approximately 65,000 items (176,000 pages). Correspondence, letterbooks, commonplace books, diaries and journals, reports, notes, financial account books, and military papers accumulated by George Washington from 1741 through 1799 are organized into nine series.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859

The James Madison Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress document the life of the man who came to be known as the "Father of the Constitution" through correspondence, personal notes, drafts of letters and legislation, an autobiography, legal and financial documents, and miscellaneous manuscripts.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1870 to 1885

This collection consists of over 62,000 pieces of sheet music registered for copyright during the nineteenth century.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection

This collection is a library of nearly 800 books and pamphlets documenting the suffrage campaign that were collected between 1890 and 1938 by members of NAWSA and donated to the Rare Books Division of the Library of Congress on November 1, 1938.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820 to 1910

This collection portrays the states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries through first-person accounts, biographies, promotional literature, local histories, ethnographic, antiquarian, and colonial archival documents, and other texts drawn from the Library of Congress' General Collections and the Rare Books & Special Collections Division.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

This collection comprises 28,000 primary source items dating from the 17th century to the present and encompassing key events and eras in American history. Browse the geographic location of printing to locate more than 150 items printed in Kentucky.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Slaves and the Courts, 1740 to 1860

This collection contains just over 100 pamphlets and books published between 1772 and 1889 concerning the difficult and troubling experiences of African and African-American slaves in the American colonies and the United States.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827

The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents ranging in date from 1606 to 1827. Correspondence, memoranda, notes, and drafts of documents make up two-thirds of the Papers.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The visual material collections at the Library of Congress contains thousands of images documenting the history of Kentucky. Selected images of Kentucky are provided for each collection listed below. Search on terms such as or names of cities, towns, and sites, etc. to locate additional images.

Baseball Cards

This collection presents 2,100 early baseball cards dating from 1887 to 1914. Search the collection on Louisville to locate baseball players in Louisville.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Daguerreotypes

The Library's daguerreotype collection consists of approximately 600 photographs dating from 1839 to 1864. Portrait daguerreotypes produced by the Mathew Brady studio make up the major portion of the collection.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Detroit Publishing Company

This collection of photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company Collection includes over 25,000 glass negatives and transparencies as well as about 300 color photolithograph prints, mostly of the eastern United States. The collection contains more than sixty images of Kentucky.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives

The images in the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection are among the most famous documentary photographs ever produced. Created by a group of U.S. government photographers, the images show Americans in every part of the nation. The collection contains more than 1,900 black-and-white photographs of Kentucky.

Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs

The images in the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection are among the most famous documentary photographs ever produced. Created by a group of U.S. government photographers, the images show Americans in every part of the nation. The collection contains more than sixty photographs of Kentucky.

Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) collections document achievements in architecture, engineering, and design in the United States through a comprehensive range of building types and engineering technologies. Browse the collection by location to locate more than 400 items for Kentucky.

Horydczak Collection

This collection documents the architecture and social life of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, including exteriors and interiors of commercial, residential, and government buildings, as well as street scenes and views of neighborhoods.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Panoramic Photographs

This collection contains approximately 4,000 images featuring American cityscapes, landscapes, and group portraits. The collection contains more than thirty images of Kentucky.

Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978 to 1996

This collection represents a wide range of quiltmaking techniques, from highly traditional to innovative. The quilts pictured exhibit excellent design and technical skill in a variety of styles and materials.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Library of Congress has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5.5 million maps, 80,000 atlases, 6,000 reference works, over 500 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats, including over 19,000 CDs/DVDs.

American Revolution and Its Era: Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750 to 1789

The maps and charts in this online collection number well over two thousand different items, with easily as many or more unnumbered duplicates, many with distinct colorations and annotations. Almost six hundred maps are original manuscript drawings, a large number of which are the work of such famous mapmakers as John Montrésor, Samuel Holland, Claude Joseph Sauthier, John Hills, and William Gerard De Brahm.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Cities and Towns

This category includes maps that depict individual buildings to panoramic views of large urban areas. These maps record the evolution of cities illustrating the development and nature of economic activities, educational and religious facilities, parks, street patterns and widths, and transportation systems.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Civil War Maps

This presentation contains approximately 2,240 Civil War maps and charts and 76 atlases and sketchbooks that are held within the Geography and Map Division, 200 maps from the Library of Virginia, and 400 maps from the Virginia Historical Society. Browse the collection by location to locate more than thirty maps for Kentucky.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Panoramic Maps

The panoramic map was a popular cartographic form used to depict U.S. and Canadian cities and towns during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Known also as bird's-eye views, perspective maps, and aero views, panoramic maps are nonphotographic representations of cities portrayed as if viewed from above at an oblique angle.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Rochambeau Map Collection

This collection contains cartographic items used by Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807), when he was commander in chief of the French expeditionary army (1780-82) during the American Revolution. The maps were from Rochambeau's personal collection, cover much of eastern North America, and date from 1717 to 1795.

Selected highlight from this collection:

Sanborn Maps

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online Checklist provides a searchable database of the fire insurance maps published by the Sanborn Map Company housed in the collections of the Geography and Map Division. The online checklist is based upon the Library's 1981 publication Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress and will be continually updated to reflect new acquisitions. Browse the collection by location to locate more than 500 maps for Kentucky.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Transportation and Communication

These maps document the development and status of transportation and communication systems on the national, state, and local level. Transportation maps can depict canal and river systems, cycling routes , railway lines and systems, roads and road networks, and traffic patterns. Communication maps illustrate the location and distribution of telegraph routes, telephone systems and radio coverage.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Library oversees one of the largest collections of motion pictures in the world. Acquired primarily through copyright deposit, exchange, gift and purchase, the collection spans the entire history of the cinema. The following moving image collections contain materials related to Kentucky.

Civil Rights Oral Histories

On May 12, 2009, the U. S. Congress authorized a national initiative by passing The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-19). The law directs the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to conduct a survey of existing oral history collections with relevance to the Civil Rights movement to obtain justice, freedom and equality for African Americans and to record new interviews with people who participated in the struggle, over a five year period beginning in 2010.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

The Songs of America presentation allows you to explore American history as documented in the work of some of our country's greatest composers, poets, scholars, and performers. From popular and traditional songs, to poetic art songs and sacred music, the relationship of song to historical events from the nation's founding to the present is highlighted through more than 80,000 online items. Browse the collection by location to locate more than 750 items for Kentucky.

Selected highlight from this collection:

The Library of Congress holds the nation's largest public collection of sound recordings (music and spoken word) and radio broadcasts, some 3 million recordings in all.

American English Dialect Recordings: The Center for Applied Linguistics Collection

This collection contains 118 hours of recordings documenting North American English dialects. The recordings include speech samples, linguistic interviews, oral histories, conversations, and excerpts from public speeches. Browse the collection by place to locate forty-eight recordings from Kentucky.

Selected highlight from this collection:

Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry

This collection comprises correspondence, articles, lectures, speeches, scrapbooks, photographs, catalogs, clippings, experiment notes, and rare sound recordings.

Selected highlight from this collection:

Voices from the Dust Bowl: the Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940 to 1941

This collection is an online presentation of a multi-format ethnographic field collection documenting the everyday life of residents of Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps in central California in 1940 and 1941.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes: