You are here

Council of Defense Records

The Council of Defense books contain records for Fayette County’s Army soldiers, Navy sailors, Marines, and Army nurses in World War I, and include information regarding the person’s residence, birth place and date, specific units and engagements, commendations, injuries and disabilities, desertions, and discharge or casualty information.

These records are especially distinctive because they include service records from soldiers, sailors, marines, and the Army nurse corps; nurses served throughout various wars in the United States, but World War I became the first time that nurses were given officer ranks and insignia.

At the session of the General Assembly of Kentucky, which convened January 8, 1918, an act was passed and approved on March 15, 1918, creating the Kentucky Council of Defense. This act was approved as the state’s response to the Council of National Defense, which was formed in August, 1916, to support the nation’s war effort in World War I. The Kentucky act gave the state organization the authority and responsibility to coordinate the Kentucky war efforts within the state with the national war effort, for the duration of the war.

Within the act, these responsibilities included appointing representatives through the state ‘to report treasonable acts or utterances;’ coordinate state-wide war efforts; coordinate all voluntary patriotic organizations and committees and supervise donations; acquire its own private donations; encourage support of the war effort through activities and speakers, publishing pamphlets and bulletins; create its own committees for support or advisory boards; and report on its activities to the state governor each year. The lists of committee members are included in the beginning of Volume I.

In addition to the responsibility of supporting the state war effort, the Council was given the authority to investigate questions regarding its responsibilities, through subpoenas of witnesses and petitions when necessary. 

The first state session met in Louisville in March of 1918, and Fayette County’s meeting followed on June 25th, 1918, in the director’s room of the Fayette National Bank in Lexington, on the corner of West Main and North Upper, in what is currently the 21c Museum Hotel.

After the war, each county’s service records were copied, bound, and presented to the county, though many of the Council of Defense books have since been lost. Of 120 counties, the whereabouts of 36 are known. In addition, a Kentucky set is housed in the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs in Frankfort, and the Filson Historical Society houses the entire 144 volume set of the civilian records.


- Information regarding the Council of Defense activities and responsibilities from Report of the Activities of the Kentucky Council of Defense to January 1, 1920, p. 8-23.

- Information regarding the current whereabouts of the volumes from Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front by David J. Bettez, p. 400-402 (2016)

Fayette County Kentucky in the World War 1917-1919 Vol. I. Cover
Fayette County Council of Defense Report, Home Service Section
History of U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 40, the Barrow Unit

Other Archive Collections: 

  • David's Fork Baptist Church

    The pamphlet provides a brief history of the church and bylaws.

  • Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

    The pamphlet gives a brief overview of the history of Shakertown.

  • Lexington Musicians' Association

    The directory contains names and contact information for Kentucky musicians.

  • Ashland McDowell Photograph Collection

    The photo collection contains images from an unknown event circa 1894.

  • Kentucky Mountain Club

    The Kentucky Mountain Club directory contains organizational information about the club’s history, activities, officers, auxiliary, articles of incorporation, and member names.

  • Kentucky Almanacs

    The Kentucky almanac collection contains old regional almanacs.
  • Dunbar High School Class of 1934

    Dunbar High School (1923-1967)

    The Dunbar Echo was the magazine created by the students of Dunbar High School. Yearbook issues include students, alumni, faculty, sports, classes, photos, and clubs.
  • Illustrated Lexington Kentucky Front Cover

    Illustrated Lexington Kentucky

    Illustrated Lexington Kentucky contains photographs, demographics, commerce and financial information about Lexington up to 1919.
  • Page Two of The Lexington Library

    Lexington Public Library History

    The pamphlet contains information tracing the history of the Lexington Library to roughly 1902.

  • Old Homes of the Blue Grass

    A photographic collection highlighting historic homes of the Bluegrass Region.
  • Kentucky Progress Magazine, Spring 1933 cover image

    Kentucky Progress Magazine

    The “Kentucky Progress Magazine” was used by the Kentucky Progress Commission to promote Kentucky, and features local interest stories, photographs of people, places, and activities.

  • Kentucky Suffrage

    The Kentucky Rally Songs pamphlet, published circa 1914 by the WCTU, contains 42 songs advocating women’s suffrage and prohibition.

  • Knowles Postcard Collection

    Images of notable Kentucky locations, such as Ashland, Keeneland, and Mammoth Cave

  • Fayette County Street and Residential Directories

    The Fayette County directories contain local information regarding resident addresses, government and officials, schools, land ownership, businesses, and other local organizations.
  • The Town Branch #2

    The Town Branch

    The Town Branch was presented as a brief history of Lexington and the Town Branch, given as a speech by Maude Ward Lafferty in 1917.

  • Fayette County Postcards

    The Fayette County Postcard collection contains 55 images of sites in central Kentucky.

  • Kentucky Chautauqua

    The brochure for the Kentucky Chautauqua includes information and pictures of presenters and events.
  • High Bridge (Stone Towers), part of the Elmer L. Foote Collection

    Elmer L. Foote Lantern Slide Collection

    The Elmer L. Foote Collection is a group of 190 lantern slides. They were created by Elmer L. Foote, a Cincinnati photographer and library staff member whose pictures appeared in the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune.
  • "Soldier, Soldier Will You Marry Me?" from Mountain Ballads for Social Singing

    Mountain Ballads for Social Singing

    The Mountain Ballads pamphlet is 15 songs originally compiled for English Folk Songs in the Mountains of the Southern Appalachians.
  • Woodcut from the Annual Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Hamilton Female College

    Hamilton Female College Collection

    The Hamilton Female College catalogs list the school’s Board of Trustees, faculty, alumnae, graduates, directory of students, courses of study, and the members of each department.