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Digital Archives - Collection
The League of Women Voters of Lexington, Kentucky, was established in 1920. It is the local chapter of a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization that encourages informed and active participation of citizens in local, state, and national government. 
In January 1920, Lexington’s Leader reported, “The Fayette County Equal Rights Association will become the Fayette County League of Women Voters when thirty-six states have ratified the Federal suffrage amendment or the Kentucky Legislature grants presidential suffrage to women.”  The 19th amendment to legalize women’s voting rights had been approved by both the House and Senate in July, 1919, and was submitted to the states for ratification, requiring 36 for adoption. Tennessee became the 36th state on August 18, 1920. On August 26, 1920, the nineteenth amendment was signed into law. 
Kentucky was the 24th state to ratify on January 6, 1920, and the local chapter of the League of Women Voters was formed, seven months before national ratification. In addition, on March 29, 1920, Kentucky passed and signed a separate bill ensuring that Kentucky women would have the right to vote, in case ratification was not reached. 
At the time, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge of Ashland was the president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, and Mabel Sawyer McVey was the president of the Fayette County chapter. These and many other organizations had lobbied for national suffrage, and women were able to vote for the first time in the 1920 election between Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox.
Since its creation, the League of Women Voters has played an active role in encouraging voter registration and civic engagement in the community.
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The Lexington Public Library’s Digital Archives provide open access to researchers and students to learn more about the rich history of Lexington and Fayette County. It contains a fraction of the Library’s physical holdings, which are housed and available for reference in the Kentucky Room at the Central Library. New material is being digitized and added constantly, so there's always something new to find.

The archives have a simple keyword search, and it is possible to browse the collections by subject, area, or decade. The Lexington Public Library actively reviews and labels materials in our archives with statements that indicate how you may reuse the images, and what sort of permission, if any, you need to do so. Please check the information for each image to determine its legal status.

The Lexington Public Library has made an effort to ensure that all of our digital collections are public domain, or that we have gotten approval from the copyright holders to display their work. Most - but not all - of these collections, to the best of our knowledge, have no known US copyright restrictions. Some items in the collection are under copyright but qualify for online display by libraries under Section 108(h) of United States Copyright Law. Some of the collections provided in the Library's Digital Archives are made available under an assertion of fair use, which does not necessarily apply to an individual's use of them.

Digital Archives - Collection - Group
group of children in Grade 5B at Constitution School
The Community Collections consist of objects shared from local community residents and organizations. Individuals have lent items of local significance to the library to give the larger community awareness and access. The original objects are not owned by the Lexington Public Library. 
Submissions for the Community Collections are open. If you are an individual or organization interested in possibly lending items to be digitized by the library, please contact elibrarian@lexpublib.org. We consider item age, location, content, relevance, privacy considerations, and item condition when determining items to add. Content donors must be the legal copyright holders if the item is not in the public domain.
Kentucky History Awards Icon noting this collection received the award in 2019.


Digital Archives - Collection
The Junior League of Lexington (JLL) is a local nonprofit organization of women committed to improving community through volunteerism. The first Junior League was established in 1901 in New York, and Lexington followed in 1924. Lexington’s chapter began with ten women, whose numbers grew to build the foundation of community service for which today's League is known. Its first years established the Junior League as a founding contributor for Baby Health Services in 1938 and the Lexington Children's Theatre in 1939, nonprofits which both still exist today. In the 1960’s, the JLL also founded the Opportunity Workshop of Lexington (OWL) and the Living Arts and Science Center, which are also both still in operation serving the Lexington community. The also contributed support to many local organizations, with everything from community revitalization to crisis intervention.
The event most closely associated with the Junior League is the annual Junior League Horse Show each July, which began in 1937 and was the organization’s only fundraiser for 70 years. It is the first leg of the Saddlebred Triple Crown, and attracts international attention. The event is still volunteer run and generates enormous local impact. In 2007, the JLL began its annual Holly Day Market as well, which runs in November as another fundraiser.
JLL currently resides in the historic Bodley-Bullock House downtown, and continues its tradition of community support and engagement.  

The Digital Studio provides people of all skill levels the tools for filmmaking, photography and digital art, music making, and media preservation.

The Materials Selection Policy was initially adopted February 25, 1987 by the Lexington Public Library Board of Trustees and was revised March 24, 1993. The Materials Selection Policy was updated and renamed the Collection Development Policy which was approved by the Board on January 14, 2009. The Board of Trustees assumes full responsibility for all legal actions which may result from the implementation of any policies stated herein.

Digital Archives - Collection

Tina Belle Green Winters Simpler Young (1880-1930), was born in Elmville, Kentucky. Known as Tiny, she was believed to be a sex worker in the 1920s and 30s, and sent $5.00 a week home to support her sister. For a time she worked in the Crawl section of Frankfort, then she moved to Lexington, and finally lived the rest of her life in Cincinnati. The queerness of sex work, a marginalized woman using sex to support family, provides context both to this collection bearing her name and to the LGBTQ+ community that has historically formed families on the sexual margins.



Digital Archives - Collection
The Brown-Hocker Collection is a community collection of photos and realia from African American events and people in Lexington and Kentucky history. 
The objects in the collection are primarily for events in African American schools and churches. However, there are several items pertaining to civil rights activism in Kentucky. The 1964 March on Frankfort, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson, attracted over 10,000 marchers. The two volumes of “The Kentucky Club Woman” were published by the Kentucky Association of Colored Woman’s Clubs, which represented over 100 Kentucky clubs. There are also several objects honoring the life and legacy of Whitney M. Young, Jr.
The Constitution School and Booker T. Washington Elementary School were both segregated schools for African American children in Lexington. Constitution closed in 1972. 
Digital Archives - Collection
David Franklin “Frank” Milam (1918-2000) was born on January 9, 1918 in Charleston, West Virginia.  He married Zelda Bias in September of 1937.    
When the United States entered the war, Frank Milam was married with two preschool-aged children.  Since drafting was almost inevitable, he signed up in order to choose his preferred branch, the Navy. After the war, Frank farmed, and later worked for over 20 years for the Monsanto company in Nitro, WV, as an electrician. Frank and Zelda had six children together, five surviving to adulthood. Like many veterans of World War II, Frank rarely talked about his time on the Yorktown. After his death on June 25, 2000, he was buried in Cunningham Memorial Park, in Saint Albans, WV. His remaining family lives in West Virginia, Kentucky, and scattered through the U.S.
The Milam family has given permission for open viewing of the diary, but these images are not in the public domain. For Milam family permission to use images from the Milam diary, contact georgia111 at twc dot com.
Learn more about Fayette County and our rich history with the Kentucky Room's Digital Archives. Search photo collections, historical newspapers and publications, and community collections with a simple search. New material is continually being scanned and added.
Digital Archives - Collection

The Lexington History Museum began in 1999, and opened its doors in the Old Courthouse in 2003. Its purpose is to educate Fayette County about its rich history, and preserve pieces of that history for future generations. The Old Courthouse closed in 2012 for extensive renovations. The History Museum still creates exhibits and works on school and film collaborations to create an understanding and appreciation of local history.

The History Museum's Community Collections currently contains part of the exhibit "Our Fair City: The 1999 Lexington Fairness Ordinance," which was displayed in the summer of 2019 at the Lexington Public Library, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ordinance's passage.

Digital Archives - Collection - Group
Sample directory page

The library has a variety of directories and yearbooks with local information. In the library's current digital collection, there is a selection of residential and street directories, yearbooks, school directories, and organizational directories. These are all fully word-searchable.


Digital Archives - Collection
The Bath County Memorial Library was founded in 1949 by the Owingsville Women’s Club, and opened in January, 1950. It expanded into a bookmobile in 1953, and in 1963 moved into the old Farmer’s Bank Building at 24 W. Main St. Community response was high; a 1965 survey showed resident usage at 70%, and the library expanded again in 1996. 
Both of those collections are owned by the Bath County Memorial Library, and held in their local history collection.
Digital Archives - Collection

St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church was formally created in the Covington Diocese in 1868, by Father John Bekkers. Still an active parish, the church has celebrated its 150th anniversary and is still in its original building in downtown Lexington.



Digital Archives - Collection
Johnston Albert Young III, was born on May 25, 1924, to Johnston and Lillian Shrout Young. Johnston Young’s father died on November 30, 1938, when he was 14. He served in the US Army from April 1943 to January 1946. During that time, he was deployed to the Pacific Ocean theater. He married Carolyn M. Cameron in 1949. Johnston Young died on September 26, 1986, and is buried in Owingsville at the Owingsville Cemetery, along with his wife and parents.
This letter collection is a part of the Bath County Memorial Library Community Collection, and was donated to the library by Tatonya Brock for their local history collection. 
Digital Archives - Collection
St. Paul Catholic Church is one of the oldest existing churches in Lexington. The records for the parish go back to 1854. The ledgers are part of the church's historical archive, and contain unique records for Lexington's history. Bishop Stowe, the bishop of the Lexington diocese, has given permission for ledger records 100+ years old to be made public.
Digital Archives - Collection

The Take Back Cheapside Collection is a community collection from DeBraun Thomas. The featured postcard of the historic Fayette County Courthouse at was used as a part of the Take Back Cheapside movement in Lexington in 2017. The old courthouse was originally built in 1898. The photo was undated but taken circa 1905. 

Digital Archives - Collection

The Black Community News Collection compiles searchable newspaper articles and ads for local Black community events, schools, social gatherings, church events, obituaries, and wedding announcements in older local newspapers in the library’s collection. In addition to Lexington news, the articles contain information about people in many surrounding communities, as well.

In 1898, Lexington’s evening paper, the Leader* began publishing specific news columns about the local Black community and society events. Early columns were scattered and not consistently named; they were titled “Weldon” or “Welden” after the first Black columnist, “In Colored Circles,” “In Colored Society,” and later, became a more standard column titled, “Colored News” and “Colored Notes.” The other local paper, the morning Herald, began publishing a similar column in the 1920s. Lexington at that time had a weekly Black newspaper, the Lexington Standard, that ran from 1892-1912, when it briefly became the Lexington Weekly News before it folded.

The first reporter/columnist of Black social news in the Leader was John Weldon Jewett, a local educator later appointed to the IRS; he would often sign announcements with “Weldon” or “Welden” or “JW.” After his death in 1905, columns were contributed by William Henry Ballard, who opened the first Black pharmacy in Kentucky in 1893, and others. In 1925, the Herald appointed a separate department managed by Lucy J. Cochran, which was housed separately from the general newspaper office, and after multiple editors, D. I. Reid took over in 1934 and ran it until his death in 1950.

Community groups began to challenge the term “colored” and the “Colored Notes” being a separate news column in the 1950s, but Black community news was not integrated with the rest of the newspaper until 1969.

The only surviving issues of the Lexington Standard and the Lexington Weekly News can be found on Chronicling America.

Information about the Lexington newspapers and early Black editors was compiled from:

*The Leader began as the Kentucky Leader in 1888, and several years later became the Daily Leader and the Sunday editions labeled as The Sunday Leader. It became the Lexington Leader in 1901, began sharing Sundays with the Lexington Herald in the 1950s, and eventually fully combined with the Herald to become the Lexington Herald-Leader in 1983.

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Discover unique resources in our Digital Archives that tell the story of Fayette County.  Visit cemeteries throughout Central Kentucky using our cemetery maps.  Contact our resident experts in the Central Library's Kentucky Room with questions.

Digital Archives - Collection

The Hamilton Female College catalogs list the school’s Board of Trustees, faculty, alumnae, graduates that year, directory of students, courses of study, and the members of each department. Policies for students and parents regarding boarding, correspondence, school attendance, graduation, and expenses are also included. The included directories cover 1891/1892 and 1895/1896.

Hamilton Female College began in 1869, named the Hocker Female College after founder James M. Hocker. The name was changed in 1878 after a donation by William Hamilton. The Kentucky University – later Transylvania University – gained control of the school in 1903 and Hamilton became a junior college, the first two-year college in the state of Kentucky. The College closed in 1930, with the building converted to the Lyons-Hamilton Hall dormitory and was razed in 1962.

Information from Lexington: Heart of the Bluegrass by John D. Wright, Jr., 1982.

Digital Archives - Collection

Elmer L. Foote served as official photographer of the Cincinnati Public Library for many years, and produced photographs that appeared in the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune during the early years of the twentieth century. Lantern slides are glass positive transparencies, viewed through a back lit projector. The Lexington Public Library does not have record of when the slides were donated, or the donor’s name. Records do indicate that the library purchased a projectoscope for viewing glass slides in 1912, and a separate lantern slide collection was donated to the library in 1919. The slides contain examples of posed portraiture, scenery from around Kentucky, documentation of the new High Bridge, as well as several historic buildings and homes, some of which are unidentified.

He was born in Glastonbury, Connecticut on February 27, 1863, the son of Edwin Foote and Ellen Hodges Foote, both natives of Connecticut. He came to Cincinnati about 1884 and married Estelle Allee of Cincinnati in 1888. Foote died at age 56 in Norwood, Ohio on September 21, 1919 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio. Foote's obituary in the Commercial Tribune of September 22, 1919 describes him as nationally known, and mentions his "photographic genius." The article further describes Foote's pictures taken among the Cumberland Mountains and outdoor scenic snow views, appearing at intervals in the Commercial Tribune, as photographic classics.

Digital Archives - Collection

Lena Hart Tobey (1869-1939) was born in Mississippi to Thomas and Susan Watson Hart. In the 1890s, she attended school in Lexington, Kentucky. She married Ellis Tobey in 1896 and died in 1939 in Arkansas.

After Lena Hart Tobey's death, her daughter Myrtis inherited a collection of photographs in a scrapbook. The family donated the Lexington, Kentucky marked cabinet cards to the Lexington Public Library in 2001. Some of the young adults in the photos have been named, though most have not.

Digital Archives - Collection

Major Henry Clay McDowell purchased the Ashland Estate from Kentucky University in 1882 with his wife, Anne Smith Clay McDowell, who was a granddaughter of Henry Clay.  The McDowells took great care to revive the grounds to their former glory and made several lasting improvements, including the construction of a glass conservatory adjoining the terrace, which is visible in several of the collection's images. During the period that Ashland was owned by Kentucky University, a large Mechanical Hall was erected on the grounds, which the McDowells converted to a stable and used to reestablish Ashland as a thoroughbred stock farm.  The tenure of the McDowells at Ashland was marked by numerous celebrations and social events on the grounds.  

This photo collection shows one of many gatherings of friends and family, taken circa 1894, which included a parade of the estate’s horses.  Thoroughbreds Impetuous, King Reine, Oratorio, Argentina, and Bracegirdle are all being proudly shown at this event.   Photos also show members of the McDowell family in attendance, including Major McDowell and his wife, and their daughters Nanette, Julia, and Madeline.  The author John Fox Jr. was a frequent guest of the McDowells at Ashland and can be seen in one image playing a banjo on the lawn.

Information on the history of Ashland from Ashland: the Henry Clay Estate by Eric Brooks, 2007.

Digital Archives - Collection

The Knowles Postcard Collection contains images of notable Kentucky locations, such as Ashland, Keeneland, and Mammoth Cave, as well as county courthouses, farms, schools, and many others. The 84 images are both artist-drawn and photographs from the early to mid-20th Century.

The Knowles Postcard Collection was donated to Lexington Public Library by Johnson and Catherine Knowles, along with their son Colin, in 2006.  The Kentucky postcards are part of a larger collection of 14,000 cards inherited from Johnson’s mother, JoAnn Baxter Zeisler, which consisted of images from across the United States.  Upon inheriting the collection, the Knowles family decided to donate sets of postcards to their respective locations in museums, libraries, and historical societies throughout the United States.

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