JCPS History

40 Years

April 1, 2015 is the 40th anniversary of the 1975 merger of the former Louisville Public Schools district (known as the city schools) and the former Jefferson County Public Schools district (county schools) into the present Jefferson County Public Schools district. The new district became one of the largest school districts in the United States.

The city district dated its origin to 1829 when it was administered by the Louisville city council. The Louisville Board of Education began to meet in 1834. Jefferson County schools traced their origin to an act of the legislature of Kentucky, which established a system of common schools in the state in 1838. The first county superintendent was elected by popular vote in 1884. County schools were administered with the aid of trustees until the Jefferson County Board of Education began to meet in 1908.

Smaller districts and independent schools were gradually merged or incorporated into the city and county districts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. City-county schools merger was studied and discussed in the 1950s and 1960s. Against a backdrop of financial exigencies and federal litigation to desegregate metro Louisville schools, the merger finally came to pass in 1975. County superintendent Ernest Grayson became the first superintendent of the merged district. Acting city superintendent Milburn Maupin became the last superintendent of the Louisville Public Schools and he became deputy superintendent of pupil services in the new JCPS district.

Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.

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Finding Classmates

We occasionally receive inquiries about finding classmates.

We suggest the use of social media such as Facebook to search for fellow students. Groups can be created for schools and/or classes. Ask friends about other classmates with whom they stayed in touch. Each individual may choose to join or not - it is voluntary.

The JCPS Archives does not have contact information for former students. Student privacy laws restrict information that school districts may release.

We wish all good luck with their searches!


Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.

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Correcting the Record

In the course of research concerning the early agents and superintendents of the Louisville Public Schools (city district), records have been found that shows the list we posted for superintendents contained an incorrect entry.

The Archives' records includes an unsigned and undated list of the superintendents stating that a C. F. Johnson held the post from June 1849 to 1852. This list has been re-published in various forms and places, perpetuating the error.

Research and examination of the official minutes of the Board of Education, however, has led to the discovery that the superintendent was actually Gabriel Johnston, sometimes listed as G. F. Johnston. Other sources use middle initials of I or J.

Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.


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Superintendents

The Archives and Records Center is providing biographical entries for the individuals who served as superintendents of the Jefferson County Public Schools prior to merger, the Louisville Public Schools (city system), and the merged Jefferson County Public Schools.

The Louisville list includes individuals who served as agents for the Louisville Public Schools prior to the creation of the post of superintendent.

Biographical entries are now included for the three districts. The Archives is interested in any further information others may have about our superintendents. If images of the superintendents are extant and available, they have been added to these entries.

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Nature of This Resource, Links to Other Information

Hi, just a reminder:
We occasionally receive comments that users can't find information about school supplies, uniform policies or other current student information.
This is a history resource about our schools and public school district. Links are provided in entries about current schools to the school profile pages. These pages provide you with descriptions of each school and links to school websites, where current information is frequently found.
Links to current school pages are also found at the Schools button on the main JCPS web site at http://www.jcpsky.net .

Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.


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Queries

Specific queries such as questions about archives holdings should be sent via e-mail to the Archives coordinator, Mary Margaret Bell, at marymargaret.bell@jefferson.kyschools.us . Please provide contact information so that we can e-mail or otherwise contact you to respond.

If you post your e-mail address or contact information in a comment and the comment meets our comments guidelines, we will review it to determine if you are wishing to share your information so classmates may contact you. If there are questions, we will contact you prior to accepting the comment for publication.

Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.


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Comments Guidelines

Guidelines for visitor comments for this wiki and blog:
  • Visitors have the option to leave comments for possible publication after review by the moderator. All comments are moderated, meaning they are initially held for publication and appear only if approved.
  • Remember, this is a school district-sponsored resource, not an unrestricted Internet forum. Comments should be appropriate for school settings. Language must be appropriate reading for all ages. Comments not meeting these standards are not accepted for publication and are deleted.
  • Comments which add to the historical data provided here are accepted. Comments with less substance or specifics are less likely to be accepted.
  • By accepting comments, we do not vouch for their accuracy. Typographical errors and other mistakes may be possible.
  • Keep comments friendly and refrain from disparaging or questionable remarks about others.
  • We hope visitors enjoy the site and the memories of the schools which have served our community.
A special note about comments: From October 31, 2017, until further notice, there will be a delay, possibly for several weeks, in reviewing posted comments for approval due to Archives staff transition. We appreciate your patience.

Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.

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Diane Sawyer

Congratulations to Diane Sawyer, Seneca High School class of 1963, on being chosen to be the anchor of ABC World News, beginning in January 2010.

Below is a yearbook prophecy.


Diane Sawyer - Most Likely to Succeed image 1963 Seneca yearbook

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Mr. Lincoln

As noted in the previous entries concerning schools named for U. S. Presidents, more than one school has been named for two Presidents considered native sons of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

As the nation commemorates the bicentennial of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, born in (what is now) Larue County, Kentucky, we take note of schools named in his honor.

In the early years of the twentieth century the Louisville Public Schools named a newly constructed school for African American children the Lincoln Colored School. It is possible that the school system intended to honor the memory of Abraham Lincoln, but this is not documented. It may be that the system was honoring President Lincoln as the Great Emancipator by naming a school for black children for him.

Lincoln Colored School was located at 1501 Bland Street (Morgan and Bland streets). It opened in 1910, succeeding another school, the Shelby Street Colored School. This Lincoln school was closed in 1958, as the old “colored” schools were closed following integration of Louisville city schools in 1956. When Lincoln closed, the property was leased to the city Department of Parks and Recreation until 1963. Ahrens used the facility in 1964 while its building was renovated. In 1966 the property was sold to the state of Kentucky and was later demolished.

The Louisville system did officially name a school for President Lincoln. Lincoln Elementary opened as Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in 1966. This was a new school constructed as the successor to three older schools in its area, the Margaret Merker, George Washington, and Hiram Roberts Schools. Lincoln became part of the merged Jefferson County Public Schools District in 1975 and remains an elementary school in the JCPS system.

Another school named for Abraham Lincoln was in the adjacent county of Shelby but educated Jefferson County students. The Lincoln Institute of Kentucky in Simpsonville opened in 1912 as a private school founded by Berea College. It eventually became a state-operated public school in 1947. Lincoln educated many black students from areas across Kentucky which did not provide high school facilities for African-Americans. Prior to integration of Jefferson County Public Schools in 1956, JCPS did not operate a high school for African-American students. Black students who wished to enroll in high school went to Central High School in Louisville, under an arrangement with the Louisville Public Schools, or they could attend the Lincoln Institute. The Lincoln Institute closed in 1965. The property is now the Whitney M. Young Jr. JobCorps Center, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Presidential Echoes, part two


President Dwight Eisenhower

Presidents, generally

As noted previously, many schools here, past and present, have honored Thomas Jefferson. In large part, that reflects the current and former districts’ tendencies to name schools in relation to their geographic areas – which happened to be named for President Jefferson.

In the early twentieth century, the Louisville Public Schools shifted toward naming schools for individuals rather than places or streets. About 1910 many schools were renamed. Some schools with geographical names received new names. Other schools were renamed due to a change in policy that no longer allowed the naming of schools for living individuals. When new names were selected, historical national leaders and authors were frequently chosen for honors.

So in 1911 Louisville decided to honor the nation’s first president, George Washington, when the district renamed the First Ward School. Another school with a place name, the Duncan Street School, was renamed in honor of Theodore Roosevelt in 1920, one year after former President Roosevelt’s death. This school’s name lives on in the current Roosevelt-Perry Elementary School.

The renaming of two other elementary schools in Louisville and Jefferson County were tied to commemoration of former Presidents after their deaths. The Young Street Elementary School was renamed in honor of President John F. Kennedy in 1964, not long after his assassination in 1963. It is now John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School.

A new school in Jefferson County opened in the fall of 1969 as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School, following the death of former President Eisenhower in March of that year.

Of special notice here are U. S. Presidents who have strong ties to the area. One has two current schools bearing his name. General Zachary Taylor became the twelfth President. Born in Virginia, President Taylor was raised in the Louisville area. His boyhood home, “Springfield,” still stands and President Taylor was buried in the family cemetery on that property. That cemetery became the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery. Zachary Taylor Elementary School opened as a new school in Jefferson County in 1959.

During World War I the U. S. Army opened a camp in Louisville and named it Camp Zachary Taylor in honor of the former military leader. A school was created in the camp in 1917 which is the original version of today’s Camp Taylor Elementary School.

A native son of Kentucky, President Abraham Lincoln, has both a current and a former school in this metropolitan area named in his honor, but more about that next month.

One other school in our history might have been named, indirectly, in a President’s honor, but thus far we cannot determine the origin of the name. Meyzeek Middle School was once Jackson Street Junior High School, named for the street on which it sits. Was Jackson Street named for President Andrew Jackson?

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Presidential Echoes, part one

Mr. Jefferson

As the United States of America has inaugurated its 44th President, we note that many of the holders of that distinguished office have been honored locally in the names of our public schools.

One presidential name dominates all the rest: the 3rd U. S. President, Thomas Jefferson. This is partly due to the fact that we pay tribute to Mr. Jefferson in the name of two major localities here.

Our district itself reflects the name of the county in which it is located. Jefferson County was named in 1780 for Thomas Jefferson. At that point Mr. Jefferson wasn’t president yet, the fledging United States of America was still fighting the American Revolution, and Kentucky wasn’t a state!

Our county was named for Governor Thomas Jefferson of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Kentucky was then part of Virginia. Kentucky became a state, also choosing the title Commonwealth, in 1792. Governor Jefferson rose to the offices of Secretary of State and Vice President before becoming U. S. President in 1801.

The Jefferson County Public Schools district traces its origins to an act of the Kentucky General Assembly in 1838.

The city of Jeffersontown is also named in honor of Thomas Jefferson and its seal bears his image. The city became incorporated under the name of the Town of Jefferson in 1797, when Mr. Jefferson was then Vice President.

Schools in the Jeffersontown area were the earliest in our history that bore a Presidential name, even if it was indirect. The current Jeffersontown Elementary, a second school named Jeffersontown School, and Jeffersontown Colored School all began in the nineteenth century.The area has also been the home of two separate Jeffersontown High Schools, a Jeffersontown Special Education Center, and a Jeffersontown Vocational School.

Seven schools, all of more recent vintage, have borne the Jefferson County name: Jefferson County Vocational, Trainable, Trainable (Melbourne Heights), Traditional Elementary, Traditional Middle, High School, and the Virtual School campuses.

On three occasions we honored Mr. Jefferson directly with the Thomas Jefferson School (1910), the Thomas Jefferson High School (1962) and the latter’s successor, the Thomas Jefferson Middle School (1981).

The origin of the Jefferson part of the name of Jefferson Jacobs Colored School is unclear. The school succeeded Jacob Colored School and Prospect Colored School. It seems possible that this is also related to the county’s name.

Another post will consider schools named for other Presidents.

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Would This Be American Idol Now?


performance flyerA recent addition to the holdings here at the JCPS Archives and Records Center is this flyer from the former Okolona High School for an amateur musical performance in November 1935.

Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour was one of the most popular radio shows of the 1930’s and 1940’s and was radio’s best known talent show. A school putting on a show today might emulate the popular “American Idol” instead.

Using an inflation calculator, we see that the 10 cent entrance fee of 1935 would be the equivalent of $1.50 in 2007 dollars. Costs may have been held down – it seems unlikely that such a show today would only cost $1.50 to enter. Times, of course, were very hard in the middle of the Great Depression.

The prizes sound minimal but the same inflation calculator translates the first prize of $3.00 into $44.89 and the second prize of $1.50 into $22.44 in 2007 dollars.

Thanks to Nancy Ray, library media specialist at Southern High School, for transferring this item and some related material to the JCPS Archives and Records Center. Entry originally posted December 4, 2008.

Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.


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Comments

A further note about comments that will appear on our wiki: As our opening note on the front page of this site says, "The wiki and blog allow the community at large to share their knowledge and memories, which add to the information provided here. This is an education resource open to all ages. All comments are moderated."

Comments are reviewed to see if they contain language which would be appropriate reading for all ages and if they include information which adds to the historical data here. By accepting comments, we do not vouch for their accuracy. Typographical errors and other mistakes may be possible. We hope visitors enjoy the site and the memories of the schools which have served our community.

Mary Margaret Bell
Coordinator, Archives and Retrieval Systems,
Jefferson County Public Schools
See Comments Guidelines for further guidance on visitor comments.

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Retrospective Calendar

Calendars are on our minds as the calendar governing the traditional school year is altered to make up the days lost last week due to the September 14 windstorm and the year-round schools are on fall break. The calendar length and August start date for the traditional calendar are subjects of regular debate, so a calendar note from 1892 is of interest.

The Louisville Board of Education report for the year 1892-1893 itemized the school calendar as follows:

“These schools shall commence annually on the first Monday in September and end on the last Friday in June. There shall be a vacation from Christmas to New Year’s day, inclusive, Washington’s birthday, Mayday (which shall be the last Friday in May) and Thanksgiving and Fast days appointed by the general and State governments. The Trustees of a school may grant a vacation of a single day to any school in the case of the death of a teacher in that particular school.”

Items of note:

This applied to the Louisville Public Schools (former city school system).

The first Monday in September became the federal holiday Labor Day in 1894. It was not being observed as a holiday at this time.

A school year as planned here is approximately 191 days long, compared to 175 days for students on our current calendars.

Washington’s birthday, of course, memorialized the first U. S. President, George Washington, and was observed on or near February 22.

Mayday in this sense may have been a day observing the arrival of summer, rather than the May Day observances associated with workers. The workers’ commemoration of May Day is usually observed on May 1. This holiday is marked on the last Friday of May. This is prior to the wider adoption of Memorial Day, formerly Decoration Day, as a late May holiday.

The reference to “Thanksgiving and Fast days” may be a general reference to the concept of a governmental holiday for a day such as we note as Thanksgiving Day today.

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Junior Highs and Middle Schools


Russell Junior High library

Students studying in the Russell Junior High Library, n. d.

We frequently receive questions relating to the distinction between middle schools and junior high schools and the existence of junior highs in our current and former school districts.

Near the turn of the twentieth century, educators in the United States began to favor a change in the structure of the educational system to assist students in making the transition to high school. This led to the creation of junior high schools around the country.

E. O. Holland and O. L. Reid, superintendents of the Louisville Public Schools, did not wish to adopt the junior high model initially. Under Superintendent Holland, the former city school system created departmental schools for seventh and eighth graders in 1911 and 1912. Departmental schools reflected the organization of schools around the teaching of one subject or group of related subjects by specific teachers.

The former city system began to open junior highs in the late 1920’s and departmental schools were ended. The Louisville schools had twenty junior high schools over the years. Junior high schools contained three grades: seventh, eighth, and ninth. This complemented the schools we now identify as high schools but were then actually senior high schools. Over the years the city district operated seven senior high schools: Ahrens, Atherton, Central, duPont Manual, Louisville Girls, Louisville Male, and Shawnee High Schools. These high schools then contained the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades.

In the county system (Jefferson County Public Schools) seventh through twelfth grades were generally provided at each high school, in one building that served as both a junior high and a senior high under a high school name. One exception to this pattern was Frost Junior High which opened in 1966.

The systems merged in 1975. Around the same time, a movement away from the junior high model was emerging around the country. Middle schools became separate entities, removing younger students from those high school facilities where junior and senior highs had operated together. Middle school student bodies became the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Sixth grades were removed from elementary schools. The ninth grade became part of high school and the term senior high disappeared from general use.

Junior highs in the newly merged Jefferson County Public Schools were converted to middle schools in the 1976-1977 school year. Some newer middle school facilities have also been constructed since that time.

Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.

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Linked Information

Hyperlinks are underlined in each entry but appear in the same color font as other text.

Look in the various fields for hyperlinks. Only the first reference to another entry is hyperlinked.

Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.


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Moderator

As I respond to comments and make other notes on the entries and blog, this information is a reminder of my identity as the moderator of the JCPS History wiki and blog. I am Coordinator, Archives and Retrieval Systems for the JCPS Archives and Records Center and have served the District since 2002.

For contact information beyond the comment functionality on this wiki and blog, see the main JCPS Archives web site at http://lms.jefferson.k12.ky.us/lms-archives/ .

Thank you,

Mary Margaret Bell

Coordinator, Archives and Retrieval Systems

Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky

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Hazelwood Elementary School Entry

As we begin general use of this wiki and blog, I will occasionally respond via the blog to queries if no other means of response is possible.
A reader made a note on one of the entries for the two Hazelwood Colored Schools that she believed that the current Hazelwood Elementary is omitted. See the link in the previous sentence - such an entry is present.

I suspect the question may come from the search functionality. The built-in quick search can quickly guide you to an entry but if a reader enters a keyword and presses return, you will get a fuller response to the search. See the home page for the wiki and blog for more information on search.

We appreciate your visits and comments.

Mary Margaret Bell
Coordinator, Archives and Retrieval Systems
Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Kentucky

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School Entries Methodology and related information

Records of public schools throughout the area have been preserved by the Jefferson County Public Schools District. The information provided here is a product of efforts to compile basic facts about schools past and present from those records. The primary purpose is to place the schools and give brief historical notes, such as information about their origins and names. Information about what may have happened to previous sites and/or facilities is also provided, if known.

Profiles provided on the JCPS web site give much more information about the current programs of the schools now operated by JCPS, so links to those resources are included. In many cases, further links to web sites operated by the schools themselves may also be found in the profiles.

As the oldest schools and others in the District each trace an unbroken history under a given name, even if they have been located at various addresses, these entries use school names as the criterion to differentiate one from another. Thus, schools under specific names are considered closed when their facilities were reopened under new titles. There are a few exceptions to this rule where more than one name is associated with a particular school and it is undetermined when or why one name was used instead or preferred to the other. Names were documented from official school directories or historical material produced by the District. Some school names from previous eras include characterizations which would not be used today.

Schools sometimes bore temporary names during construction phases, prior to their openings. These names might be cited as other names for schools, with explanatory references, but separate entries do not exist for names not associated with schools during their actual operations. A few schools opened under particular names and were quickly renamed for various reasons; entries are included for the schools under the first names they used when they opened.

These entries intend to document schools (with the exception of night schools) throughout the history of JCPS. (The Louisville Public Schools, known as the city school system, and the previous county system also known as the Jefferson County Public Schools merged in 1975 to form the present District. Several other smaller districts were also absorbed over the years.) As records are sometimes sketchy and incomplete, however, this is not definitive. Many dates are not precise.

The period of early school development in what became the city system illustrates the difficulty in establishing what schools existed. Minutes document the hiring of teachers for up to eighteen schools at a time in the 1840’s. What might be considered individual classes today under the tutelage of separate teachers were frequently called separate schools in these records and thus multiple schools could be found at one address. Frequently these early schools are grouped in this publication at their particular addresses. The schools also used rented facilities and moved often. The adoption of a new city charter in 1851 ushered in an era of construction of new schools in Louisville’s twelve wards and the closing of most of the schools established since 1829. Where it seems indicated, tracings and linkages between early schools and successors are attempted but the scarcity of records frequently prevents such connections.

In order to limit the scope of the project, night schools were not included, since more than 500 schools have been identified and because many night schools were extensions of the conventional schools.

Information on dates of first and last graduations is provided as appropriate for high schools.

For information about current or former private schools in this area, contact the schools, their successors, or related organizations such as local churches.

The information provided here is chiefly derived from minutes of the boards of education of the Jefferson County Public Schools and the former Louisville Public Schools, newspaper clippings, school directories, publications, dedication programs and other ephemera from schools, and additional documentation compiled in history folders kept at the JCPS Archives and Records Center. Other sources include early histories of Louisville, The history of Louisville, from its earliest settlement till the year 1852, by Ben Casseday, (1852), History of the Ohio falls cities and their counties (1882), and Memorial history of Louisville from its first settlement to the year 1896, by J. Stoddard Johnston (1896), as well as the recent Encyclopedia of Louisville (2000). The valuable collection of Louisville city directories held at the University Archives and Records Center at the University of Louisville also served as an important reference, as did the map collection at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort.

Sources sometimes conflict so this is as accurate as could be determined. The JCPS Archives and Records Center is interested in any further information about public schools in the Louisville Metro area.

Entries include a “school common name." This is the name usually used to describe the school in a short reference by the community at large. Official names are listed for schools currently operated by JCPS. “Other Name” entries may include full names of honorees for whom schools were named, e.g., Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School for Eisenhower Elementary. The “Other Name” field may also include names of other schools operated prior to or after the school identified in the particular entry or schools otherwise associated with the school itemized in the entry.

Images provided here are from District publications or photographs held in the Archives and Records Center, unless otherwise noted.

Resource Information

This resource is provided by the Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky. See JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information for contact information.


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JCPS History Wiki and Blog Information

The JCPS History Wiki and Blog is hosted by the Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville, Kentucky). Major content and site moderation is provided by the JCPS Archives and Records Center. The Archives' main web site address is https://www.jefferson.kyschools.us/archives-and-records-center. Contact information for Archives staff is provided at that web site.

The wiki contains hundreds of listings providing searchable identification of public schools past and present in the JCPS District and predecessor districts in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Additional information includes lists and biographical sketches for superintendents and identification for board members since the creation of the merged district in 1975.

As of May 2008, the wiki began with more than 560 entries. As of December 2015, there are more than 750 entries.

Information and any images above the Resource Information credit line in the various pages are provided by the JCPS Archives unless otherwise cited. Click JCPS History at the top of any page to go to the front page of the wiki and blog. Use of this resource should provide the credit line "Courtesy Jefferson County Public Schools Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky."

Any comments below the Resource Information credit line have been accepted from site visitors. We welcome comments that add to the historical information about the school or JCPS history but we cannot vouch for comments. Questions to Archives staff should be emailed to archives@jefferson.kyschools.us .

Thank you for your interest.

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