Manuscript Collections

Manuscript Collections

There are approximately 2.1 million items in the Filson’s manuscript collection, which includes personal and family papers and diaries, business and organization’s records, scrapbooks, architectural records, and autograph collections.

The Filson began collecting historical material soon after its founding in 1884, when few other Kentucky institutions were doing so. With many of its early members belonging to Kentucky’s oldest and most prominent families, the Filson was able to begin assembling an important collection of original letters, diaries, business records, and other primary sources. Its holdings for the late eighteenth through mid nineteenth centuries are unrivaled in Kentucky.

The collection focuses on Kentucky, the Ohio Valley, and the Upper South, but is national and even international in scope, with researchers from across the nation and abroad visiting each year. Our unique holdings are an essential primary source for scholars.

Highlights include the Pleasant Hill Shaker records, Lewis and Clark Expedition letters, Henry Clay letters, George Rogers Clark’s Mason letter, and the two earliest known documents written and signed by Daniel Boone. To these must be added hundreds of other collections documenting America’s economic, military, political, and social history which give the Filson Historical Society the finest collection of pioneer, antebellum, and Civil War manuscripts in Kentucky. In addition, excellent collections containing information on women’s studies, African-Americans, and Louisville journalism dating up to the present day are also available to the research community.

The manuscript collection has three main access points, the Manuscript Database, which provides subject-level descriptions to content from each manuscript collection, the Finding Aids, which provide folder lists for some of our larger collections, and the Library Catalog, which provides collection level descriptions.

If you have a research question pertaining to manuscripts, please contact us at gro.l1638812479aciro1638812479tsihn1638812479oslif1638812479@hcra1638812479eser1638812479

Venue Rental

Spaces Available for Rent Beginning 2022

The Filson Historical Society is a unique venue that blends the historic with the modern and provides a stunning background for any event. Several areas of the campus are available to be rented for dinners, retreats, meetings, receptions, parties, or weddings. The venues have access to 74 free parking spaces and wifi, as well as small catering areas. All of the Filson’s facilities have accessible parking.

View a virtual tour of our spaces!

Visit the Filson

1310 S. 3rd St., Louisville, KY 40208
(502) 635-5083

The Filson will reopen to the public on September 1st, 2021 – Read More! All events are currently being held virtually; to register for our live virtual events, please visit our Events Page; for information on recorded lectures and other activities, please visit us online at Bringing History Home.

We are resuming in person research, and suggest reserving a seat – learn more here.  The research library is open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4:30 pm.  Please note: For the remainder of 2021 the Filson’s Research Library will be closing at 12:30 pm on the third Friday of each month.  Holiday Schedule: We will be closed to the Public from December 24th, 2021 through January 3rd, 2022.

We also continue to provide remote research services; please email gro.l1638812479aciro1638812479tsihn1638812479oslif1638812479@hcra1638812479eser1638812479.


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