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Lexington Public Library History

The Lexington Public Library opened in its Carnegie building location in Gratz Park in June of 1905, after having received a grant of $50,000 in January, 1902. Materials in this collection contain items that were sealed in the cornerstone of the Carnegie Library on June 8, 1903. The contents were removed April 17, 1989 after the library had moved to its new location at 140 E. Main Street.


"The Lexington Library" Pamphlet

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

The pamphlet itself is not dated, but it is believed to have been written in response to the request of a library board member in November, 1901; Lexington was one of the considered sites for a Carnegie library at the time, and did receive a $50,000 grant in 1902 for the construction of the eventual Gratz Park library building location. The article was published in an issue of the library’s bulletin, date unknown, and then reproduced in the Lexington Herald on January 19, 1902. A copy of the pamphlet was also included in the Carnegie building’s cornerstone, which was buried on June 8, 1903 and opened April 17, 1989.

Mary Katherine Bullitt was appointed the librarian for the Lexington Library from 1898 until her death in 1911. During her time, she oversaw the transition of Lexington from a subscription library to a public library in 1899, and then from the old Methodist Church building to 1905, when the Carnegie building opened.


Title Page of The Lexington Library by Mary K. Bullitt

Other Archive Collections: 

  • A Directory of Lexington and the Bluegrass Title Page

    Lexington Business Directories

    The Lexington Business Directories contain local directories with information about local businesses, horse farms, and professionals.

  • Kentucky Almanacs

    The Kentucky almanac collection contains old regional almanacs.
  • Dunbar High School, Insert Principal William H. Fouse

    The Dunbar Echo

    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.
  • History of U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 40, the Barrow Unit

    Council of Defense Records

    The Council of Defense records contain information about the soldiers, sailors, marines, and nurses who served during World War I.
  • Illustrated Lexington Kentucky Front Cover

    Illustrated Lexington Kentucky

    Illustrated Lexington Kentucky contains photographs, demographics, commerce and financial information about Lexington up to 1919.

  • 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 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 #1

    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.

  • 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.