Kentucky Genealogy and History Guide

Kentucky Genealogy Resources:





Kentucky quick facts:

  • Statehood:
    June 1, 1792
  • State Capital:
  • State Nickname:
    The Bluegrass State
  • State Bird:
  • State Song:
    "My Old Kentucky Home"
  • State Flower:
  • State Tree:
    Tulip Tree
  • State Motto:
    "United We Stand, Divided We Fall"


Kentucky Genealogy Research Guide:

Kentucky Census Records:

The first Federal census for Kentucky was taken in 1790 and census enumerations occurred every 10 years thereafter.  When performing census research in KY, it should be noted that not all census years are available.  The earliest census records 1790-1840 schedules only listed the name of the head of household in each family and recorded only  numerical statistics for all other family members.  Starting with the 1850 census, all names in each family were listed, making them a better resource for genealogical study, however be sure to review earlier census records as they will often reveal important information.  The census chart below will help you learn what census is available for Kentucky genealogy research.

Kentucky Federal Census Years:

  • 1790 Although Kentucky was part of Virginia in 1790, the Federal government did enumerate Kentucky separately form Virginia.  Unfortunately for researchers, the 1790 KY census was lost during a fire in the War of 1812.
  • 1800 Kentucky census was also lost by fire during the War of 1812.
  • 1810 Kentucky census is the first Federal census which survived.
  • 1820
  • 1830
  • 1840
  • 1850 - Includes Slave Schedules, important for black family research.
  • 1860 - Includes Slave Schedules, important for black family research.
  • 1870
  • 1880 - Kentucky soundex index is available on microfilm.
  • 1890 census schedules were lost in a warehouse fire, however the KY 1890 Veterans and Widows schedules for this census year did survive and may be helpful as a census substitute.
  • 1900 - Kentucky soundex index is available on microfilm.
  • 1910 - Kentucky soundex index is available on microfilm.
  • 1920 - Kentucky soundex index is available on microfilm.
  • 1930 - A partial soundex index is available on microfilm for Bell County, Floyd County, Harlan County, Kenton County, Muhlenburg County, Perry County and Pike County.

Other KY census schedules besides the regular population schedules we are familiar with include Slave Schedules (1850 & 1860), Mortality Schedules (1850-1880) list people who died during the census year, Agricultural Schedules (farms), Manufacturing Schedules, Social Statistics Schedules, and Dependent, Defective, and Delinquent Schedules.  Some states took their own state census but Kentucky was not one of these  There are no Kentucky state census records.

Kentucky census substitutes: Early Kentucky tax lists have been compiled as census substitutes for the lost 1790 and 1800 census records.  These have been published in books and are a valuable resource for genealogy research in Kentucky, although not as good as the real census records would have proved. The 1890 Federal census schedule of Veterans and Widows survived a warehouse fire and is used as a census substitute for 1890, however it lists Union soldiers and their widows only so it is limited.

1810-1890 Kentucky Census at Ancestry

Free Census Extraction Forms - Use these census extraction forms to record information in the same format as the census year it was taken.

Kentucky Military Records:

US Military service records can be obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Your Kentuckian ancestors may have fought in the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI, or WWII.  Some helpful information about KY genealogy research and finding Kentucky military records can be found at Kentucky in the Military

Helpful Links:

Kentucky Vital Records:

The Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics holds vital records including birth, death, marriage and divorce records.  Kentucky birth and death records begin in 1911.  Marriage and divorce records begin in June 1958.  The certificates are on file at the office from these early dates to present time.  The University of Kentucky offers some Kentucky vital records indexes online.  These include searchable databases for 1911-1986 and 1987-1992 KY death records, plus 1973-1993 marriage and divorce records for KY.

Some earlier KY vital records are available from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives.  They comprise vital records for Louisville, Lexington, Covington and Newport, cities which established vital records prior to 1911.

Kentucky Genealogy Subscriptions Online:

Many websites with genealogy resources for Kentucky are available online. Some offer free KY genealogy databases and other information for the online researcher, but the paid subscription websites offer a much more consistent amount of quality data and offer free trials to that genealogy data.

1. Kentucky Genealgoy Databases at Ancestry

          Get the Free Trial when you register!

2. offers genealogy databases, a library and U.S. Census Collection.

         FREE TRIAL of

Kentucky GoldenrodCondensed History of KentuckyKentucky Goldenrod

KY history coming soon.....

KENTUCKY HISTORY FACT: The word Kentucky comes from an Iroquois Indian word "Ken-tah-ten" which means "Land of Tomorrow".

Goldenrod graphics courtesy of Santa Lady