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WKU Archives: Research

Links to WKU Archives sources by creator, subject and graduating classes.

Research in WKU Archives

Use the tabs across the top of the page for quick links into a variety of topics.

To find a person / family use our search engines:

Use databases - available to all students, faculty & staff on and off campus. Available to all researchers who visit University Libraries.

  • JSTOR - journals published by a variety of historical societies including:
    • Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia & Wisconsin
    • Journal of African American History
    • Journal of Southern History
    • Journal of the Southwest
    • The Pacific Northwest Quarterly
    • The Scottish Historical Review
    • The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
    • William & Mary Quarterly
  • EBSCOhost - indexes to journals such as:
    • Journal of Family History
    • Journal of Negro History
    • American Nineteenth Century History
    • Black History Bulletin
    • Women's History Review
    • Journal of Military History
    • German History
    • Naval History
    • American Jewish History
    • Indiana Magazine of History
  • EBSCO Historical Abstracts - bibliographic records and links to full-text documents, selected:
    • America's Obituaries & Death Notices
    • American Civil War: Letters & Diaries
    • Biography & Genealogy Master Index
    • Bowling Green Daily News
    • Chicago Tribune 1849-1988
    • Kentucky Newspapers 
    • Los Angeles Times 1881-1986
    • Washington Post Historical 1877-1996

KenCat Research Strategies

KenCat - online catalog has books, photos, objects, posters, manuscripts, etc. Most are Kentucky related materials 

Choose Keyword Search to open the search screen. 

Enter keyword and click on Search button, use quotation marks when using more than one word:

  • "Butler County"
  • "Clark family"
  • "civil war"
  • Lexington
  • "surname, firstname"
  • "firstname surname"

The number of results will appear at the top of the page.  35 results for "Clark family".  The results are in catalog number order which is generally an accession number of three parts and the creator when that field is populated:

SC2015.2.54 - Clark Family = 2015 = year received, 2 = 2nd set of records received in 2015, 54 = 54th item within the 2nd accession, created by the Clark family.

WKU Archives catalog numbers are made up of the record group and series numbers assigned to the creating offices. Lists of record group numbers are available online: WKU Archives - Collection Inventories

Advanced Search

You can narrow the types of records to be searched:

  • Objects - three-dimensional objects & paintings held by the Kentucky Museum
  • Archives - can include manuscripts, personal papers, organization records, WKU Archives
  • Creators - authors, artists, photographers, compilers, etc.
  • Containers - these are folder level descriptions of WKU records housed in the WKU Archives.
  • Photos - broadsides, photographs, postcards, negatives, slides, digital images
  • Library - can include books, sheet music, scrapbooks, microfilm
  • People - authors or subjects of collections, some people records include brief biographical and genealogical information

Catalog Number - enter a specific catalog number when known. Can be used to search for items received in a specific year: 1940* will return items received in 1940. 

Object Name - enter a type of object or record, e.g. announcement, book, broadside, blueprint, card, certificate, correspondence, daguerreotype, diary, diploma, documents, drawing, film, illustration, invitation, journal, license, manuscript, music, negative, newspaper, pattern, postcard, poster, print, scrapbook, slide, transparency, yearbook are some examples.

Title - full titles of books and other published materials. Use series titles for WKU records held in WKU Archives.

Author/Artist/Photographer/Maker - enter the name of the creator of the records if known. Use both "surname, firstname" and "firstname surname" searches to find everything attributed to a particular individual. Creators can also be companies such as "Franklin Studio."  Use Authors/Creators for items in WKU Archives.

People/Family Name - this is a subject search where the person or family is the subject of the records, books, images, etc. Search "Clark Family" "firstname surname" and "surname, firstname"

Place - town, county, state or country where the object, book, document, image was created. Also includes birth and death place for people records.

Search Terms - keywords used in indexing, includes place names - use Class of and Student Organizations for items in WKU Archives

Subject - Library of Congress terms for indexing - use Subjects for items in WKU Archives

Medium / Material / Composition - what the object is made of, this is generally used for the Kentucky Museum objects in the database.

Call Number / ISBN / ISSN - enter the Library of Congress call number designation

  • CS71 for published genealogies
  • "LD7501.*" for yearbooks
  • KY REF for reference collection
  • use exact ISBN or ISSN number for a book
  • Check OneSearch (see above) for published books held in University Libraries

Description -

  • Objects - a brief description of the object(s) which may refer to former owners.
  • Photos - a brief description of the contents of the photograph which may include people's names, activities and location.
  • Library - a brief physical description of the book, e.g. 165 leaves: ill., coats of arms, map; 28 cm.
  • Archives - a brief description of a single item, records series, manuscript collection or record group.

Collection - There are currently 18 named collections that can be searched:

  • Allen Trout Collection
  • Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Burchfield Collection
  • C. Perry Snell Collection
  • Dorothy Grider Collection
  • Duncan Hines Collection
  • Elizabeth Richardson Collection
  • Instruments of American Excellence
  • Jonathan Jeffrey Flour Bag Collection
  • Manuscripts
  • Rather-Westerman Political Collection
  • Robert Penn Warren Library
  • Southern Kentucky Music Collection
  • Sue Lynn Stone Funerary Collection
  • University Art Collection
  • Whitey Sanders Cartoon Collection
  • William H. Natcher Collection
  • WKU Archives

Event - used mostly for Kentucky Museum objects, some examples: Civil War, Election, Wedding, Inauguration

Container Title - used for WKU Archives folder level descriptions. Examples:

  • Awards
  • Correspondence
  • Film/Video/Audio File
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Negatives
  • Photographs
  • Posters
  • Slides
  • Speeches
  • Subject/Correspondence File

Container Description - used for WKU Archives folder level descriptions. An index list of people and topics referred to in the documents within the folder. 

General Search Tips

  • Search both maiden and married names of women
  • Records are uploaded every week, so the totals will change as new data is entered
  • Look for links to full-text online collection inventories or original documents under the heading Finding Aids
  • Container lists appear at the bottom of the records as links. For large collections these can be quite long. Each entry gives the following information:
    • Title - folder title
    • Creator - author or originating office 
    • Description - description of items in the folder, generally a list of people and search terms
    • Date - single date or range of dates
    • Subjects - relevant subject terms
    • Container - box number, can also be oversize box, map case, etc. 
    • Folder - folder number, can also be a drawer number
    • Archive Record - link backs to main entry, use this number as a call number when requesting materials

TopScholar Research Strategies

TopScholar - WKU Institutional Repository - includes theses, dissertations, journal articles, departmental records, primary source documents created by and about WKU, professors, students, links to wider digital common repositories around the world.

Search engine is in the upper left corner at every level. Enter keyword or name, choose "In this repository" to search WKU related resources or "across all repositories" to search resources from around the world  Click on Search button.

Or search within a specific community to narrow the search results.

Browse Colleges, Departments, Units

  • History - includes Bowling Green Civil War Round Table Newsletter & History department theses
  • Library Special Collections - includes collection inventories, oral histories, original documents and journals
  • WKU Archives - includes collection inventories, personal papers, yearbooks, individual oversized images, maps, organizational records

Reference Correspondence Policy

WKU Archives staff are able to do a limited amount of research regarding holdings, genealogy and university history. Please note the staff cannot engage in extensive research for correspondents. Patrons requesting more in-depth research will be provided a list of professional genealogical researchers.

Reproduction Services / Fees


  • 8 1/2 x 11 = $.10
  • Oversize = $.25
  • Personal scanners prohibited 

Images obtained for social media outlets should have a resolution of less than 100 dpi. WKU Archives should be cited as appropriate and include #wkuarchives hashtag.

Photograph/Scanning Fees:

  • Images (300 dpi or less) - $5 per image
  • Images (300 dpi or higher) - $10 per image
  • Images on CD - add $1 + postage / handling 
  • Documents will be evaluated as to size and scanning time and a fee will be assessed.

Publication Fees:

Audio Tape Reproduction Fee - $10 per audiotape digitized

Make checks or money orders payable to WKU Archives.  Cash and interdepartmental transfers are accepted.  WKU Archives does not accept credit card or online payments. Payment should be sent to:

WKU Archives, 1906 College Heights Blvd., #11092, Bowling Green, KY 42101-1092

Fees & policies subject to change without notice.