From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Giles, Yvonne Y.

(born: 1944) 

Born in Lexington, KY, Yvonne Giles was the first African American woman elected to the La Grange City Council, in 1986, and then re-elected in 1987. She was the director of the Isaac Hathaway Museum, which was located in the Lexington History Center [the old court house] in Lexington. In July 2011, the Museum moved to Georgetown Street in the Robert H. Williams Cultural Center that is housed in the building that served as the Lexington Colored Orphan Industrial Home. The museum is now closed.

Yvonne Giles is also known as the "Cemetery Lady" because she is one of the leaders in the effort to preserve the history and integrity of African American cemeteries in Lexington. She has received numerous awards for her work and dedication to history in general and African American history specifically. She is the author of Stilled Voices Yet Speak, a history of African Cemetery No. 2 in Lexington. Giles has published many brochures on African American history in Lexington and made significant contributions to Lexington tourism publications.

In 2021, Yvonne Giles received the John Wesley Hunt Award from the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation. The organization also established the Yvonne Giles Award that was presented to Brenda Jackson.  

For more see "Hopkinsville has 3 blacks on city council," in 1988 Kentucky Directory of Black Elected Officials, Seventh Report, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, p. 25; Y. Giles, "African American Burials; Fayette County's storied past," Ace Weekly (April 26, 2007), p. 9; and M. Davis, "Search for the dead," Lexington Herald-Leader, 4/6/2002, Main News section, p. A1. Also, see entries for the Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum and African Cemetery No. 2; "Preserving Kentucky African American roots with Yvonne Giles," 2/26/2020, a UK College of Health Sciences website; "Local historian Yvonne Giles honored by her alma mater Univ. of KY," Key Newsjournal, 5/19/2019 (online); and Brittany Sams, "Blue Grass Trust presents first Yvonne Giles Award for research in Black history," Lexington Herald-Leader, 7/26/2021, p. A7; Linda Blackford, "'You have to have the passion.' Lexington's Black history guru never stops exploring," 2/11/2021, at the website

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
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Kentucky Place (Town or City)

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Read about La Grange, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Giles, Yvonne Y.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-02-09 18:08:10