In his trailblazing monograph Racial Violence in Kentucky, University of Kentucky historian George Wright emphasizes that the personal stories of victims of mob violence have too often been left out of the retelling of the incidents. For instance, Wright documented how, in 1908, an entire African American family of eight people was lynched in one night at the hands of Night Riders. The Walker family owned 21 acres of farmland in Hickman County, Kentucky, and had successfully used the land for fishing and gaming.  A mob of Night Riders, a paramilitary white supremacist group in southern Kentucky, torched the Walker home and shot the Walker family as they tried to escape. The killing of the Walker family was just one of the 353 lynchings between the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 that George Wright chronicled in his monograph.  

Documenting Racial Violence in Kentucky draws its data from Appendix A of Wright’s Racial Violence in Kentucky.  The database below was converted into a spreadsheet of the raw data in Appendix A.  From this data, the DRVK project has crafted biographical summaries and newspaper accounts of lynching victims. 

The DRVK project’s definition of lynching is aligned with the NAACP’s most recent definition of the crime, describing it as “the public killing of an individual who has not received any due process. 

Please click here to view our bibliography and resources on defining lynching and collecting data on lynching.

You can view the original data from Wright’s Racial Violence in Kentucky here.