Meet the Hubs!: Kentucky Digital Library

Meet the Hubs!: Kentucky Digital Library

Posted by Carly B. Boxer on February 14, 2013 in Blog, Featured.
This is the fifth post in a weekly series highlighting the DPLA’s service hubs

Over the course of a very snowy weekend here in Boston, I spent a few house-bound hours searching through the awesome collection of the Kentucky Digital Library (KDL). The KDL includes some 800,000 pages of historic newspapers, plus digitized photos, maps, books, and letters. The collection has moved into audio files with its inclusion of oral histories of the experiences of Iraq War veterans living in Kentucky and of the state’s notable horse industry. The Kentucky Digital Library began in 1998, and since then has transitioned from an organization dedicated to digitizing finding aids to one focused on converting the state’s wealth of analog records into an accessible digital format and creating metadata.

One of the more unusual collections in the KDL is a series of audio files from the Horse Industry in Kentucky Oral History Project. The interviews, accompanied by transcripts, include conversations with horse owners, handlers, equine veterinarians, and more. Although many of the interviews were conducted over the past few years, several of them date back as far as the 1970s. Altogether, the variety of recordings provides a broad, in-depth look into an industry thoroughly associated with Kentucky.

The title page of Henry Clay’s 1829 address, Courtesy of the Kentucky Digital Library

While browsing through a set of “collection highlights” on the KDL’s homepage, I found an 1829 transcript of “An Address Delivered to the Colonization Society of Kentucky,” a speech given by Henry Clay in Frankfort. At the time, Clay we serving as Senator of Kentucky after his unsuccessful run for president. The KDL contains a considerable assortment of documents from Henry Clay’s life, including links to letters from the 1850s.

A page from a 15th Century Italian Book of Hours, Courtesy of the Kentucky Digital Library

Among the items I browsed through, my personal favorite bears little relation to the history or geography of Kentucky. Instead, I was drawn to a late medieval manuscript. The 1412 Italian Book of Hours consists of 189 pages of script interspersed with gorgeous drawings. I’m especially fond of a series of birds drawn in the margins of an illustrated page near the beginning of the book. This particular Book of Hours is part of a collection of digitized manuscripts from the University of Kentucky, which includes 520 digital images of late medieval manuscripts from the university’s special collection. Although these manuscripts aren’t as specific to Kentucky’s history and cultural heritage as many of the KDL’s other contents, they’re gorgeous nonetheless, and may be my most surprising find from any of my searches through the service hubs to date!

Read more about the Digital Hubs Pilot Project and the service hubs here.

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