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Lincoln High School Class Photo, Circa 1899 (Hattie Brown Collection, McCracken County Public Library)

August 4, 2020 | Nathan Lynn

Black History and Genealogy Resource Guide

August 8th is a time of celebration, remembrance, and fellowship within Paducah and the surrounding area. While the specific day has numerous origin stories, the week surrounding the date remains a moment to reflect on our past. Below are several links to resources that will hopefully allow generations to explore their history and genealogy.  

McCracken County Public Library Digital Collections  

Browse or search numerous collections relating to McCracken County and Paducah, KY Black history. Including funeral home records, directories, photos, yearbooks, and more.  


Or utilize this curated media group featuring items from different collections: 


AncestryLibrary, HeritageQuest, MyHeritage, and More 

The McCracken County Public Library Local and Family History Department provides access to both physical and digital collections. Browse the card catalog, archives, or genealogical databases by visiting the link below. AncestryLibrary, HeritageQuest, MyHeritage,Fold3, Sanborn Maps,  Family Search and more are available for discovering your history, along with links for the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives, Kentucky Historical Society, Murray State Digital Commons and other repositories collections. 

Blogs by Library Assistant Matt Jaeger  

JAZZ HANDS: Fate Marable, Paducah’s Musical Pioneer 

PAST PADUCAHANS: Who Was A.W. Watkins? 

Paducahan Quote of the Week #15 

FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD: Paducah’s Musical Connection to the Underground Railroad 

PAST PADUCAHANS: Charles H. Brooks – Advocate, Author, and Odd Fellow 

Paducah Life Articles 

Berry Craig’s Notebook: African American Ancestry 

Researcher, Pam Smith talks with WKCTC Professor Emeritus Berry Craig about researching her family history in Livingston and Crittendon County, KY.  

University of Kentucky Notable Kentucky African American Database 

There are more notable African Americans with Kentucky roots and ties than any one person knows about. Very little has been written about many of them and it is a challenge to find what was written in the past. For some, their stories have only been told by word of mouth. The Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (NKAA) has been developed as a finding aid to bring together a brief description of pertinent names, places, and events, and to list the sources where additional information may be found. This is not currently an all-inclusive database, but we are working toward that goal and suggestions are welcomed. 


University of Kentucky’s Oral History Archives  

UK’s Special Collections Research Center offers a series of oral history recordings from the 1960s featuring interviews conducted by Kentucky aurethor Robert Penn Warren with several prominent civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and Paducah’s own William Stuart Nelson. 


Pass The Word 

Pass the Word is a discovery tool for oral history collections throughout the state of Kentucky, hosted by the Kentucky Oral History Commission. With over 100 archives participating by contributing their collections information, new content continues to be added Check back frequently for new discoveries. 


Library of Congress 

Today’s Library of Congress is an unparalleled world resource. The collection of more than 170 million items includes more than 39 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 73 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings. 


National Archives Guide to Black History  



This online reference center makes available a wealth of materials on African American history in one central location on the Internet. BlackPast.org is dedicated to providing the inquisitive public with comprehensive, reliable, and accurate information concerning the history of African Americans in the United States and people of African ancestry in other regions of the world. It is the aim of the founders and sponsors to foster understanding through knowledge in order to generate constructive change in our society. 

New York Public Library Digital Schomburg 

Relying on the expertise of distinguished curators and scholars, Digital Schomburg provides access to trusted information, interpretation, and scholarship on the global Black experience 24/7. Users worldwide can find, in this virtual Schomburg Center, exhibitions, books, articles, photographs, prints, audio and video streams, and selected external links for research in the history and cultures of the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora. 


Family Search African American Genealogy Guide 


National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel From the Vault 

Access blogs highlighting the museums artifacts and holdings.  


If you have any questions, please call us during operating hours at (270) 442-2510 ext. 124, or send us an email at [email protected]