Kentucky genealogy researchers will have a pretty easy time digging up old documents because there are no privacy restrictions on any vital records in the state. So whether you are looking to get copies of vital records from the state or other sources, there should be fewer roadblocks than in most other states.
Kentucky Vital Records
Vital records is the term used for all birth, death and marriage registrations. Most of this material is held by the Office of Vital Statistics in Frankfort. For birth and death records after 1911, and marriage records after 1958, you need to send your request to this office. They answer most requests in about a month if you send your forms in by mail or you can go to the counter in person and get copies while you wait. To get any marriage records prior to 1958, you will have to contact the local county clerk where the event was registered.
With no privacy restrictions in place, you can make a request for anyone’s certificates regardless of what their relation to you is. It’s a very handy fact for anyone looking into Kentucky genealogy.
The forms for making a request can be printed out at home from the Kentucky Health Services website, and they will require the relevant names, dates and locations to identify the record you want. You also need to provide them with your own contact information.
The current fees will also be listed on the forms and will have to be included with your application. Right now, it costs $6 for a death or marriage record and $10 for a birth record. Pay with a check or money order, made out to the Kentucky State Treasurer.
These fees are not refunded. If your desired record is not found, you get a letter stating that the file wasn’t located, but no money is returned.
Kentucky Archives and Societies
Official state records are only one source of Kentucky genealogy information. The next place you will want to try for further research is the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Their public holdings include census records, military documents, court records, wills and deeds and some older vital records as well.
The reading room is free to enter and is open during typical business hours from Monday to Friday. There are small charges for photocopying.
You can also contact the Kentucky Historical Society for more personal collections of private historical material that may pertain to your Kentucky genealogy needs. Their website offers several online indexes that can be searched. For a group that is more specifically oriented toward genealogy, you could join or contact the Kentucky Genealogical Society. There are also several dozen county-based groups if you are only interested in certain parts of Kentucky in your research.
Joining a group can lead you to hard-to-find documents or just give you the chance to get personal advice from others who may even be looking into other branches of your own family.