Grant from Kentucky Bar Foundation Helps Liberty Hall Create Senator John Brown Library

Liberty Hall Historic Site received a 2014 grant of $20,000 and a 2015 grant of $22,000 from the Kentucky Bar Foundation. These funds are being used to support the first phase in the creation of The Senator John Brown Library & Archives. The library is part of a $1.2 million ongoing restoration project and is to be located on the second floor of the 1796 Liberty Hall, a National Historic Landmark.

The library, previously inaccessible to the public, is home to more than 4,000 books collected by the Brown family in the 19th century as well as photographs, letters and journals kept by the family. 

John Brown’s legacy is extensive.  He was one of Kentucky’s first lawyers, moving from Virginia to Danville, Kentucky in 1783.  Prior to moving to the West, he studied law under George Wythe and lifelong friend Thomas Jefferson.  He became the youngest representative to the Continental Congress, and was selected to be Kentucky’s first senator – primarily in recognition of his leadership in Kentucky’s separation from Virginia to become the 15th state in the Union.  Brown’s tireless fight for statehood earned him the recognition of a Kentucky founding father.  This was recognized during his lifetime. 

For the first time, the library will create a physical place where researchers will be welcome to study the early legal and political history of the state using primary documents and books of the 19th century.  Many of these books are very rare and not accessible through other libraries and repositories in the state or nation.  Liberty Hall Executive Director Julienne Foster notes, “We believe this library may hold the only known examples of some very early books published in Kentucky, as well as some of the only surviving examples of books and pamphlets related to our nation’s early foundation.”  Allowing researchers access to these rare publications holds great potential for increasing scholarship about America’s legal history, John Brown and his family, and Kentucky.

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