Kentucky Constitution Collection

Debates and Records of Kentucky Constitutional Conventions 

In numerous cases, the Kentucky Supreme Court has begun an analysis of a section of the Constitution by examining the debates of the constitutional conventions that discussed the provision. Researchers should begin their investigation with the four volumes of debates of the 1890-91 convention that drafted our current state constitution. However many provisions in the current charter have been adopted one of Kentucky's prior 1792, 1799, and 1850 constitutions. In such cases, researchers should examine next the one-volume debates of the 1850 constitution. However, many provisions, including most of Kentucky Bill of Rights, date back to the state’s first constitution. While there are no published debates for the 1799 and 1792 constitutions, researchers can draw on clues from other states adopting constitutions that year. 

Constitutional Convention of 1890-1891. The debates of this body are printed in the four, thick volumes of the Official Report of the Proceedings and Debates in the Convention Assembled at Frankfort, on the Eighth Day of September, 1890, to Adapt, Amend, or Change the Constitution of the State of Kentucky (Frankfort, Kentucky,: E. P. Johnson, printer to the Convention, 1890). The Debates series is a chronological, continuously paginated, transcript of the debates of the convention.  The four-volumes are provided below, named by volume and included pages for researchers checking citations.

One problem with the set is that the index is poorly designed, with overly broad headings and an unduly strong focus on cataloging the comments of delegates. The Legislative Research Commission remedied the problem somewhat with its 1989 publication, Index to the Debates of the 1890 Constitutional Convention. See the Shircliffe-Bush document for those pages with the index. 

Constitutional Convention of 1849. The Report of the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention for the Revision of the Constitution of the State of Kentucky, 1849 ([s.l.: s.n.], 1849) were the first published debates in the state, making it possible to research the intentions of the delegates.

1792 Convention. No debate transcripts exist for the 1792 and 1799 constitutional conventions. However, as Kentucky's first constitution was largely based on Pennsylvania 1790 Constitution (especially its bill of rights), the "Proceedings Relative to Calling the Conventions of 1776 and 1790, the Minutes of the Convention that Forms the Present Constitution of Pennsylvania" can be helpful. See courtesy of Duquesne University School of Law.

Louis D. Brandeis School of Law Library

University of Louisville

2301 South Third Street

Louisville, Kentucky 40208

Google Map

Regular Hours

Mon-Thur. 8am - 6pm 

Fri. 8am - 6pm

Sat. 9am - 5pm

Sun. 1pm - 9pm


tel 502.852.0729

fax 502.852.8906

Social Media

Law Library Facebook pageLaw Library Twitter feedUofL Law Library Instagram