RESOURCE: Lexington’s Early Marriage Indexes of African Americans Available Online

The University of Kentucky News points to the release of a new digital collection developed in partnership with the University of Kentucky Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center and the Fayette County Clerk’s Office. The project provides “access to the Colored Marriage Indexes dated 1866-1882 and 1958-1968. The purpose of the project is to provide researchers with greater online access to early primary documents pertaining to African Americans in Kentucky.”

The four volumes of the Colored Marriage Indexes are the original finding aids used to locate the early marriage bonds of African Americans in Lexington. The indexes contain the name of each bride and groom, and the page number of the actual marriage bond held at the Fayette County Clerk’s Office. As the marriage indexes and bond books have been in continuous use by the public for many years, some are in fragile condition.

The digitized versions of the indexes are now freely available to the public on ExploreUK, UK’s digital library. The originals were scanned in full color at a high resolution that surpasses the national standard for digital preservation. The typed indexes have been run through optical character recognition (OCR) and are searchable.

Those planning or developing digital projects in partnership with municipal institutions or local historical organizations will be interested to read about the collaboration. Additionally, the story details a locally-developed manuscript transcription tool, Libscribe, used to bring the earliest, handwritten volumes of these important primary documents online and make them accessible.

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This post was produced through a cooperation between Katherine Ahnberg, Leigh Bonds, Kevin Gunn, Christie Hurrell, Jenna Freedman, Hailie Posey, and Alycia Sellie. (Editors-at-large for the week), Patrick Williams (Editor for the week), Sarah Potvin (Site Editor), and Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Caro Pinto, and Roxanne Shirazi (dh+lib Review Editors).