The Filson Historical Society is the oldest and largest privately-supported historical society in Kentucky. The Filson offers one of the most extensive research libraries in the region with nearly two million documents and a collection of 50,000 books. The Filson also maintains a gallery space that preserves and shares the history of Kentucky and the Border South region with interpretive exhibits drawn from their collection of historic artifacts, portraits, manuscripts, and rare books. Of special interest to historians, the Filson's Special Collections Department preserves thousands of archival collections that include one-of-a-kind and original historic letters, maps, portraits, diaries, and photographs. The Society publishes a quarterly journal and also offers a variety of programs such as reading groups and lectures. Of special interest to historians who appreciate whiskey, the Filson offers a Bourbon Academy--a one day educational program that explores the history of Kentucky's signature libation.


  • The Filson acquired the Ferguson Mansion in 1986. This Beaux Arts mansion was built in the 1920s for the family of Edwin Hite Ferguson, a leading industrialist. The building later became a funeral parlor in the 1920s.
    The Filson acquired the Ferguson Mansion in 1986. This Beaux Arts mansion was built in the 1920s for the family of Edwin Hite Ferguson, a leading industrialist. The building later became a funeral parlor in the 1920s.

The organization was established by a group of history enthusiasts in 1884. The group decided to name their new organization after Kentucky historian John Filson, author of the 1784 book, The Discovery, Settlement, and Present State of Kentucke.