Before you get started, please check this post for updated information, quick tips, and information on how to obtain historical records.
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Cover photographs on the main page are from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives or from Special Collections via the University of Kentucky. Photographers and copyright holders retain the rights to these photographs. All other photographs, media, and illustrations not authored by KHI belong to their respective authors/owners/copyright holders and are used here for educational purposes only.
Kentucky Historic Institution’s mission is to preserve memories, advocate for the forgotten patients and employees, and to educate the public about the individual histories of Kentucky’s historic asylums, hospitals and institutions.
In 2016, five ambitious and dedicated advocates came together to preserve the diverse histories of Kentucky’s historic asylums, hospitals and institutions. Many of these facilities, long demolished and forgotten, have decades or even centuries of untold stories waiting to be uncovered. As researchers, we rely heavily on primary sources and have uncovered a range of photographs, documentation, and oral and visual histories. We also aim to provide a historiographical picture of how historians have approached institutional histories, particularly in the Appalachian region of the United States.
As diverse as the institutions we research and archive, the founding members of Kentucky Historic Institutions, Phil Tkacz, Jay Gravatte, Hope Bryant, Robin Rider-Osborne and Shawn Logan, have years of combined experience ranging from field and clinical/social service work to extensive research in special collections, archives, and libraries across the Commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond. Over the years, our members have connected with former patients, employees, and their families to gain a better understanding of what life was like and how these facilities operated. At this time, our members work entirely on a volunteer basis and do not receive any monetary donations or compensation.
The main page of this website is also home to a blog which will be updated on a regular basis providing educational posts and other information related to the institutions featured on the website. Please remember that the website is a work in progress and we will be providing updates as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you would like to contact us or to provide additional information, photos and/or stories then please click here. You can also visit and participate in our Facebook groups.
Searching for Historical Records?
We have a limited number of historical records available. The majority of these have been transcribed and posted in the appropriate links on this website. If you would like physical copies of records, we can guide you on the process of obtaining those records. Please remember that not all historical records are available. KHI has no control over the availability of records.
Please visit our dedicated page regarding records.
Historical Perspective and Bias
” Please remember to keep a historical perspective when…”
We think it is important to always peruse historical information in a historical (not modern) perspective. In the 21st century, we see how unconventional (or even life-threatening) some of these treatments and interventions were. However, historically, many of them were groundbreaking then. Though that does not singularly negate any of the “dark history,” one could argue that those treatments and interventions laid the foundation for modern medicine and psychiatry. The physicians, nurses, scientists, and other researchers, mentioned throughout this website and history in general, are often hailed as pioneers–and rightly so. Let us also not forget the patients who helped those pioneers unravel some of life’s mysteries; sometimes at the greatest cost of all… with their life.
In addition to historical perspective, we would like to point out that, while we try to avoid historical bias there will be times when bias leaks through, particularly regarding controversial topics. It is not our goal to sway one’s personal beliefs nor is it our goal to make anyone feel as if their own beliefs do not matter. We encourage a healthy and respectful discussion of these topics in our Facebook groups.
Kentucky Historic Institutions is NOT affiliated with any local, state, federal, national, or international agency. Kentucky Historic Institutions is NOT affiliated with the Commonwealth of Kentucky or any other public or private state, local, or federal agency, organization, sector, department, office, non-profit or charitable organization, healthcare systems or facilities, government or academic facilities or institutions. This includes but is not limited to organizations within or outside of the Commonwealth of Kentucky that are currently active or have ever been active. Please read our disclaimer statement and terms of service.
If you would like to use any information on this website (including text, bios, photos and any other information) we encourage you to contact us. We do not own all of the materials on this website/blog. Many of these materials are courtesy of other sources and the original copyright holders retain all applicable rights under the law. Please remember that information contained on this site, authored/owned by KHI, is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Photographs, text, illustrations and all other media not authored by KHI belong to their respective authors/owners/copyright holders and are used here for educational purposes only under Title 17 U.S. Code § 107.