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Community Research and Preservation


      For those who are interested in conducting research in their communities, information on using primary and secondary sources, bibliographies, and/or steps to follow in the documentation process are available from:

An application for a grant to support research, public information, and preservation is available from the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission.

Dr. Anne Butler with the Center of Excellence for the Study of Kentucky African Americans at Kentucky State University is interested in compiling oral histories related to the fugitive slave movement and can also provide some assistance in seeking grants.

National Park Service

The National Park Service has begun to document sites along the Underground Railroad. Two sites in Kentucky (Mammoth Cave National Park in Edmonson County and Old Washington in Mason County) were identified in a previous NPS study, but there was insufficient documentation to include them in their 1998 theme study Underground Railroad Resources in the United States although sites across the border of Kentucky have been identified. See a map of the sites the NPS is studying as potential nationally historic Underground Railroad sites. The theme study encourages researchers to investigate other sites and provides an historic context, sources of documentation, and a review of published sources for the study of the Underground Railroad.

NPS advice to potential researchers includes the following caveat: "When researching a subject that is the stuff of legend, keep in mind that all information, especially those accounts that were produced many years after the events that they recount occurred, should be corroborated. The researcher must also always be mindful of the biases of the person keeping the record, and the social, historical, or political context in which he or she is writing." (NPS Theme Study, pg.36)

Kentucky Heritage Council

The mission of the Kentucky Heritage Council is to identify, preserve, and protect the cultural resources of Kentucky. After a historic site has been identified, a survey form is needed to begin the preservation process. A useful place to start may be a with brief overview of historic architecture in Kentucky, written by Julie Riesenweber, excerpted from Our Kentucky: A Study of the Bluegrass State, edited by James C. Klotter, copyright 1992, by permission of the publishers.

Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives

The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives has a list of available African American genealogical sources that can be useful in documenting oral histories. In some cases, the Archives Research Room of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (502) 564-8704) may have local records including legal instruments; tax, probate, and judicial records; and birth, death and emancipation records. But a great deal of local research will need to be carried out at county courthouses or by reading old newspapers.

Kentucky Virtual Library

The Kentucky Virtual Library has a collection of Web sites and references on Kentucky and the Civil Rights Movement.

Kentucky Historical Society/Oral History Commission

The Kentucky Historical Society provides grants to teachers interested in using local heritage resources in their classrooms and published the two-volume book A History of Black in Kentucky. The Oral History Commission maintains a collection of thousands of oral histories that can be used for research.

University Press of Kentucky

The University Press of Kentucky has published several excellent books on the Underground Railroad including Delia Webster and the Underground Railroad by Randolph Paul Runyon, 1996; and The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad, by Larry Gara, 1961,1996.

Kentucky African American Heritage Commission

The Kentucky African American Heritage Commission has grant funds available to support public education and preservation projects. Grant applications for 2000-2001 are available now.

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Last Updated: Tuesday, 09-May-2006 10:39:17 Eastern Daylight Time