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Book Notes – The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia

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the_kentucky_african_american_encyclopediaThe Kentucky African American Encyclopedia. Edited by: Gerald L. Smith, Karen Cotton McDaniel, and John A. Hardin. (2015. Pp. 596. $49.95. Hardcover. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. 663 South Limestone Street, Lexington KY 40508-4008. www.kentuckypress.com) ISBN: 978-0-8131-6065-8.

The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia is the first encyclopedia to record the history of African American Kentuckians and their biographies, events, and locations of interest in one package. The more than 595 pages of biographies, events, organizations and historical records are all well documented, complete with footnotes at the end of each entry. One thing you should notice about this resource is that there are many contributing authors. Not only does this help to explain how this huge resource was created, but displays the long labor of love that took place to produce this marvelous work. This is an invaluable collaborative resource of Kentucky African American History, created by a collective historical knowledge base, as evidenced by the many authors that contributed.

The book is edited by Gerald Smith who is a Lexington, Kentucky native and a professor at the University of Kentucky. He is widely known for his dedication to the history of Kentucky, as well as his activism in promoting the rich nature of African American History. Smith also co-edited a volume of the Martin Luther King Papers. 

Karen Cotton McDaniel is a Kentucky native and a retired librarian. She has been the visiting professor at Eastern Kentucky University and has published several articles for encyclopedias and journals. 

 John A. Hardin was born in Louisville , Kentucky. He was consultant and co-editor of Community Memories: A Glimpse of African American Life In Kentucky. He is an associate professor at Western Kentucky University.

For the researcher, this volume provides a reliable source of information that covers people, places, events, locations, associations, issues, organizations, businesses, religious institutions, and the arts that have been touched or heavily influenced by Kentucky’s African American Community. Again, each entry is well sourced, providing a trail of resources for further research. In the back, a wonderful bibliography and index awaits the researcher or reader. With this informative and wonderfully illustrated work it is worth settling in for a good read, and not just relegated to research – don’t be afraid of the 596 pages – you’ll enjoy every page!

Reviewed by: Pam Reaves, KHS Library Technician

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