There are more notable African Americans with Kentucky roots and ties than any one person knows about. Very little has been written about many of them and it is a challenge to find what was written in the past. For some, their stories have only been told by word of mouth. The Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (NKAA) has been developed as a finding aid to bring together a brief description of pertinent names, places, and events, and to list the sources where additional information may be found. This is not currently an all inclusive database, but we are working toward that goal and suggestions are welcomed.

Recently Updated/Added

Alleyne, Delores Gordon

Delores Gordon Alleyne was the first African American woman admitted to the University of Louisville Medical School; she graduated in 1957. Dr.…

Lee, Everett, Jr. and Sylvia Olden

Everett Lee (1916- ), from Wheeling, WV, was the first African American to direct a white orchestra, the Louisville Philharmonic in 1953; the audience…

Early School in Louisville, KY

Jerry Wade, described as a mulatto, was a barber at the Galt House in Louisville, KY. He had purchased his freedom and that of his family. Wade was…

Gaylord, Harry A.

Over more than a century, Harry A. Gaylord was one of the very few African American Kentuckians to become a law librarian; the first was Issac E.…

Cotter, Joseph S., Jr.

Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. was born in Louisville, KY, to Maria F. and Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. A graduate of Louisville Central High School, he was enrolled…

Caroline (escaped slave) [Donnell v. State]

Caroline was a runaway slave from Trimble County, KY, who made a daring escape with her four children in 1847. Escorts in the Underground Railroad…

Colored Union Benevolent Society No.1 and No.2 (Lexington, KY)

According to author Jacqui Malone, the Union Benevolent Society was formed in 1843 by free African Americans in Lexington, KY, to bury the dead, care…

United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten

The United Brothers of Friendship, originally a benevolent order established in 1861 in Louisville, KY, had both freemen and slave members. The…

Taylor, James T. "Big Jim" [Harrods Creek, Kentucky]

James T. Taylor developed the Harrods Creek community in Jefferson County, KY. He purchased the land in 1919 and sold lots to African Americans. The…

Gay, Tyson

Tyson Gay is an outstanding track star from Lexington, KY, the son of Daisy Gay Lowe and Greg Mitchell. He is a graduate of Lafayette High School in…