Reckoning, Inc. is 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to examine the legacy of slavery in America, and to create ways for communities to engage with this information through research projects, media productions, educational curricula, online content, and other means.
The Reckoning is a public radio and podcast series which traces the history and lasting impact of slavery in America by looking at how the institution unfolded in Kentucky. Learn more
We are researching the lives of soldiers from Kentucky’s U.S. Colored Troops to create a set of primary source documents for each man and his family, coupled with a detailed family tree. We have created a free, searchable database to house these resources, and have developed educational curricula based on the archival documents. We have also commissioned a series of Soldier Stories from African American writers, many of which feature photographs of individual soldiers and archival documents relating to their military service and their lives after the Civil War.
For many African Americans, it is extremely difficult to learn the identities of their enslaved ancestors. We are pleased to share with you what we believe to be truly a game-changing resource for African Americans with Kentucky roots searching for their ancestry. For the past 12 years, an historian named Charles Lemons has assembled a collection of information about Black people who lived in Kentucky during the early 19th Century. The collection currently contains nearly 85,000 records about Black people, both enslaved and free, who lived throughout Kentucky. It includes data from censuses, wills, tax records, religious records, and military sources. You can begin your search or browse the database here.
During the slavery era in Kentucky, many religious institutions kept records that mentioned the names of enslaved people. To begin this project, we have digitized a set of baptismal records for Catholic parishes in Central Kentucky that were translated from the original Latin. These baptismal records generally include the name of the child, the name of the mother, the name of the mother’s enslaver, and at least one Godparent. So far, our staff has digitized baptismal records for over 2,100 enslaved children from ten Louisville-area churches. These records have been placed in a database that can be searched, both by children’s and enslaver’s names, and browsed by church and by county. You can begin your search or browse the database here.
Reckoning, Inc.’s resources for elementary, middle, and high school educators include a searchable database of over 100 oral histories of formerly enslaved Kentuckians, as well as inquiry materials aligned to the Kentucky Academic Standards for Social Studies. Educators will also find resources to support teaching responsibly with archival oral histories. Learn more
We have compiled a collection of oral histories of people enslaved in Kentucky, which can be searched by keyword and geographic location. You’ll find these oral histories here.