For the past decade, Boone County, Kentucky has been moving towards a greater awareness of enslavement and the struggle for freedom within its history. As a slave-holding county in a border state, Boone County's records are replete with information regarding enslavement; however, the information was not acknowledged.
Through the African Americans of Boone County Initiative, launched in 2014, several projects were developed to connect the community to Boone County's African American History. The Underground Railroad in Boone County project has produced several interpretive materials including: a bus tour; classroom presentations and fieldtrips on enslavement, the Underground Railroad, and abolitionists; and an Underground Railroad of Boone County website. Additionally, the African Americans of Boone County Resource Collection has advanced several projects including, but not limited to: the Private Daniel Goff Revolutionary War Memorial project; Out of Kentucky: African American Migration project; and the Barkshire Family of Rising Sun, Indiana roadside marker project.
Most importantly, BCPL's Local History Department recognized the need for a comprehensive initiative to compile and disseminate African American and UGRR history in Boone County, Kentucky and to give voice to a population within the community who were silenced for centuries. Through the African Americans of Boone County Initiative, BCPL has brought to light the issues of enslavement within Boone County's history and helped the community to acknowledge its past and those who were enslaved both in Boone County and throughout the Kentucky borderlands.
Now with the construction of this database, the BCPL Local History Department is making their research into enslavement in Boone County and the rest of the Kentucky borderlands accessible to others.
To meet all of the community's genealogical and local history needs, BCPL's Local History Department regularly seeks out community and government partners to collaborate with a wide-range of programming and project activities. African Americans of Boone County Initiative partners include, but are not limited to:
- Boone County (Kentucky) Fiscal Court/Boone County Historic Preservation Review Board
- Boone County (Kentucky) Historical Society
- Daughters of the American Revolution
- Big Bone Lick State Historic Park
- Ohio River National Freedom Corridor
- Rising Sun (Indiana) Historical Society
- Kentucky Educational Television (KET)
- U.S. National Park Service Network to Freedom
In 2017 BCPL was recognized as a National Park Services Network to Freedom affiliated member, both as a research facility and as a program (UGRR tour). BCPL has received two Network to Freedom-funded grants: The Underground Railroad: Boone County and the Flight to Freedom Teacher Workshop Curriculum Project (2018); and The Boone County African American Resource Survey Project (2019). In 2018, BCPL was recognized by the NAACP Northern Kentucky Chapter for outstanding community service with a Community Empowerment Award. Finally in 2019, BCPL's African Americans of Boone County Initiative was honored to receive the Best in Class Achievement Award for the National Association of Counties' (NACo) Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation category.