Archives—Research Using School Records

Public school records and access to them are governed by federal and state laws. Statutes of particular importance are the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) at the federal and state levels, the Kentucky State Archives and Records Act, and the Kentucky Open Records Act. 

Some records preserved by the JCPS Archives and Records Center are open for public research—others are restricted. 

Records and items open for public research are school yearbooks from high, middle, and elementary schools; commencement programs from schools; and history folders of miscellaneous material collected on all schools past and present. The Archives may have other historical and accessible materials from some schools, such as Parent Teacher Association (PTA) scrapbooks, some old photographs, and other general historical documents. 

There are gaps in the Archives' yearbook collections. Contact the Archives in advance before visiting to be sure the Archives has a particular volume. Yearbooks are non-circulating and are used on-site in the Archives' research facilities. The Archives does not have any copies to sell. Users may make photocopies of a few selected pages using the Archives' photocopier for a nominal charge.

The Archives serves as a public access point in fulfilling access to records under the Kentucky Open Records Act. For more information on access to JCPS records under the Kentucky Open Records Act, contact Amanda Herzog, the district's open records coordinator, at (502) 485-3584. For general information about citizens’ rights under the Kentucky Open Records Act, see Protecting Your Right to Know: The Kentucky Open Records and Open Meetings Acts (PDF) from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office.

FERPA prevents the opening of student records without the student's or his/her guardian's release. Persons seeking their own student records should contact the Transcripts Office.  

Research questions should be directed to the coordinator of the Archives and Records Center, Mary Margaret Bell, by phone at (502) 485-3098 or email at marymargaret.bell@jefferson.kyschools.us.

Visits are scheduled in advance to ensure access to materials from closed storage so that accessible and topical materials can be identified and to ensure availability of staff. 

For information on scheduling visits and the Archives’ location, see Visiting the Archives. Check our guidelines for visiting as well.

Archives staff can only do limited checks for researchers not able to visit. See Research Resources and Links for information on alternatives for persons unable to visit to conduct research.

Keep the following in mind when doing archival research: 

  • Archives hold large quantities of records. Usually the records are described or cataloged at the collection or record group level and are not indexed by item. A researcher may need to identify materials according to broader subject topics rather than specifics, such as particular names. Archival research is frequently time-consuming.
  • The Archives receives many requests for contact information for former students and/or employees. See Finding People for advice on searching for information.