Local History

"This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it's the family stories that are worth the storage."

-- Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe

About Our County and Town

Whitley County was formed Jan. 17, 1818 from the county of Knox. It was named in honor of William Whitley, noted pioneer.

The Genealogy and Local History Room is located on the main (upper) floor of the Library near the front desk and public workstations. For times when a staff member is available to help with research, please call or email the Library.

Williamsburg was first known as the Spring Ford after a nearby ford crossing the Cumberland River. On 19 April 1818 the first meeting of the Whitley County Court was held at Samuel Cox's own home. This first court appointed local officials as well as constables to work with the county militia. The town was then known simply as Whitley Courthouse. This name would be changed in 1882 to Williamsburgh, and later changed in 1890 to its current Williamsburg.

The town's initial growth was fueled by three fresh water springs in the area and then by coal and lumber industries. This growth was greatly accelerated by the introduction of the L&N railroad coming to the town in 1883, opening the town to far flung markets and greatly easing the flow of population. Shortly thereafter in 1886 the town would elect W. H. Parker as its first mayor.

Online Resources

Ancestry Library Edition - A database with thousands of records on people of the past. Currently, this database is only accessible from within the Library. Click [HERE] to visit Ancestry. ** Please note you must be located inside the Library to have full access to Ancestry's Website. If you are not located inside the Library, you will be limitid in what you will be able to do on Ancestry.

MyHeritage - Family Tree Builder that helps you figure out how to get started.

Heritage Hub - A premier collection of US obituaries and death notices for genealogical research. An extensive editorial review of all newspaper sections ensures thorough selection for easy access. Click [HERE] to visit Heritage Hub.

In-House Resources

Funeral Home Death Records - Records from Ellison, Croley, Harp and Jones Funeral Homes.

Oral Histories - We are in the process of collecting oral histories with plans to make recordings available via our website.

  • Whitley Republican / News Journal - June 1934 to Present
  • Williamsburg Times - 1891 to 1910 (spotty issues)
  • Corbin Times - 1919 to 1934 (Excludes 1922)

You can contact us by phone or email for Microfilm research. Items can be scanned or mailed (if postage is provided). Please provide month and year.



Donation Options

Please share your Whitley County photographs of family or places. We also welcome yearbooks and copies of your family research.

Old Photographs - The Library accepts old photographs of places and individuals from the area in both physical and digital form. If you have any information about any of the old photographs on display in the Genealogy Room, please let us know!

Make a Monetary Donation

One of the most immediate ways of supporting the work and services of The Genealogy Center is through monetary contributions to the Center's endowment fund. Every dollar earned from the endowment fund's interest directly supports our collections and programs. Annual gifts and planned gifts are great complements to regular gifts given in appreciation of experiences at the Center. The library's Communications and Development office can provide assistance in crafting a planned gift that works best for your personal situation. Contributions can be mailed, or dropped off at the library.

Share Your Research

Another immediate way to support the work of The Genealogy Center is to share your research. We welcome your contributions of papers, books, and disks of data. In print or in digital formats, your work will not only benefit great numbers of researchers, it will also be preserved for generations to come on our shelves and webpages. Whether it's research articles, images of military veterans in your family history, completed books, indices to record groups large and small, or copies of the family record pages in your family Bible, all will find a good home in The Genealogy Center. Contributions can be mailed or sent electronically directly to The Genealogy Center.

Volunteer Your Time

We also welcome your gifts of talent. There are many volunteer opportunities in The Genealogy Center. From preservation photocopying and bindery preparation to computer and microtext assistance, all play an important part in providing a top-shelf experience for our customers.

For more information you may contact us at.

  • 606 549 0818 ext.101 and ask for Patricia Jones
  • Stop by our office
  • Email us at
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