One of my goals for 2019 is to take another research trip to Kentucky. My people were from western Kentucky: McLean, Hopkins and Muhlenberg counties, primarily. I’m really fortunate in that Kentucky has many wonderful repositories. I had a brief visit to the Kentucky Historical Society (or was it the State Archives?) in Frankfort when I was there on a bourbon trip with my husband in 2014. Earlier that year, I visited cemeteries and a library in McLean and Daviess counties.
On both those trips, I did do some preparation but I really floundered a bit when I got to the repositories. I don’t want to repeat that feeling of not knowing what to research. I went to a talk on Kentucky resources at the NGS conference, so I have a great list of places I could visit. And I went to a talk on organizing a research trip and have lots of great logistical ideas in terms of the travel.
Here’s what I’m struggling with today: What’s a better way to go about planning what I want to find out? It seems like I have a couple of options:
- Come up with research questions and then figure out which respositories might have the answers
- Research the repositories’ holdings and then figure out what I records I need from each of the repositories
My gut tells me to do the former. Figure out my burning questions and seek out the answers that I can’t find online. But I’m not sure.
These are the places I’m thinking I’ll go:
- Kentucky State Archives (Frankfort)
- Martin F. Schmidt Research Library at the Kentucky Historical Society (Frankfort)
- Office of Vital Statistics (Frankfort)
- Filson Historical Society (Louisville) [I made a connection with a curator there when I was at NGS!]
- Kentucky Room of the Daviess County Public Library (Owensboro)
- Western Kentucky University Manuscripts and Folklife Archives (Bowling Green)
- McLean County Courthouse (Calhoun)
- Various cemeteries in McLean County
That’s kind of a daunting (but exciting!) list.
I’d love to hear comments from any of you who are familiar with Kentucky research or have advice about planning my trip, which I’m hoping to take in late June. If there’s an approach you recommend for preparing or if there are places you’d suggest I go, I’m all ears!