UK and KEEP Provide Funds for Kentucky Horse History Project

Edited press release

In cooperation with the Kentucky Historical Society, the University of Kentucky Libraries' Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History has initiated a project to document the history of Kentucky's horse industry.

With start-up funds provided by the Kentucky Equine Education Project and UK, the Nunn Center has started collecting first-hand experiences and stories of veteran horsemen in the Blue Grass state.

Though horses are a signature Kentucky industry, in the 6,500-plus interviews currently housed in the Nunn Center oral history collection, less than 75 are focused on horse-related topics.

The documentation project will collect a minimum of 150 interviews over a three-year period. The history of Thoroughbreds will be one focus of the interviews, but the project will include all breeds in Kentucky and the various occupations that are a part of the industry.

"It is very exciting to finally begin a project that is long overdue," said Terry Birdwhistell, associate dean of Special Collections and Digital Programs in a release. "The financial support from KEEP and their enthusiasm for the project have enabled us to take the first steps to making this collection a reality."

The KEEP board has formed an advisory committee for the project comprised of Dan Kenny, chair; John Long, Misdee Wrigley, and Gene Clabes. The committee will offer suggestions regarding prospective interviewees and will also help UK seek additional financial support for the multi-year project.

"To be successful, we need the industry to appreciate how priceless these stories are," said Kenny. "While there are immediate uses for the collection in exhibits, media productions, and publications, the value of these interviews will only increase with time. A century from now, the stories we record today will still be heard."

For more information about this project, contact Jeffrey Suchanek, director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, at (859) 257-8634 or by e-mail at