Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives

Frequently Asked Questions


​1. What records are available at the State Archives?

The State Archives is the repository for the public records of Kentucky, or those created by state and local government agencies. We maintain about 125,000 cubic feet of original paper records and over 70,000 rolls of microfilm. These records include deed books, marriage records, will books, tax lists, circuit and appellate court case files, census and military records, and records from many state agencies, including the Governor’s Office. All of the records in the State Archives have a permanent retention, which means that they will never be destroyed. The State Archives Center is a secure and environmentally controlled area.

2. If I am unable to visit the State Archives, can I accomplish any research by mail, phone, or the Internet?

Yes, Archives staff can respond to specific information requests, for a fee. Please see our Records Request Forms page.​

3. What are your fees?

Our fees are currently $10 for requests from Kentucky residents and $15 for out-of-state requests. Postage is included. Additional copies, as well as those made by on-site customers, are 25 cents per page (50 cents for microfilm). Our Fiscal Office requires pre-payment before any copies can be mailed, faxed, or scanned. Requests for documents needed for legal purposes (i.e. filing for Social Security, remarriage, etc.) are given priority, but we still must receive payment before mailing. We can fax or scan and e-mail documents up to a certain size for a fee, but faxed or scanned records cannot be certified. If a case is larger than the number of pages covered by the research fee, we will contact you in order to obtain additional copy and postage charges. We accept payment by credit or debit card, check, or money order. Cash is accepted in the Archives Research Room.

Check or money order should be payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer. Do not send cash.

4. Are records available on your website?

A limited but growing number of digital records are available in the Kentucky State Digital Archives. At this time, these collections are mainly composed of minutes of boards and commissions, publications created by state agencies, and speeches, press releases, photographs and other records from the Office of the Governor.

5. Does the State Archives hold any church records, cemetery records, published genealogies, or newspapers?

The State Archives holds only state and local government records. For non-governmental sources, researchers can contact the Kentucky Historical Society​. The Archives does maintain a small collection of historic newspapers on microfilm, mainly from Louisville, Lexington and Frankfort. Contact the Archives Research Room ( , 502.564.1770) for more information.​

6. What kinds of records are restricted and how do I obtain access to those records?

Most of our records are open to the public, but some records, particularly adoptions, juvenile records and paternity cases, are restricted. You must contact the appropriate Circuit or District Court in order to gain access to these records.

Some state agency records from the Cabinet Health & Family Services and the Department of Corrections are also restricted. Please contact the Records Officer (click here for records officer listing) for that agency for instructions on gaining access to those records. ​

7. Can the State Archives help me find a missing person?

We do not possess a personal name index to our holdings. In addition, our records typically do not contain current information. There are, however, a variety of resources and commercial websites for finding missing persons available on the Internet. The Salvation Army Missing Persons Service can also help in some cases.

8. Can the State Archives perform criminal background checks?

We cannot perform criminal background checks. We can search for particular felony cases on an individual for certain counties and within specific time frames, but for background checks please contact Pre-Trial Services at (800) 928-2350 or the Kentucky State Police at (502) 227-8700.

9. What years of civil and criminal case ​files do the State Archives maintain?

Generally speaking, the State Archives maintains civil and criminal case files for counties from statehood through 1977. However, we do not have records for all counties, and due to courthouse disasters we may have gaps in the collection. Also, we do maintain some case files up into the mid-1980s. You can see our listings for available years for the counties here​. We do not have any indexes available after 1977. If you need a case after 1978, you will first need to contact the Circuit Clerk's Office to obtain the case number. Our State Records Center also maintains case files for many, but not all, counties from 1978 through as late as the mid-2000s. The State Records Center can be contacted at (502) 564-3617 or (502) 564-1715.