The University Press of Kentucky (UPK) is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and was organized in 1969 as successor to the University of Kentucky Press. The university had sponsored scholarly publication since 1943. In 1949 the press was established as a separate academic agency under the university president, and the following year Bruce F. Denbo, then of Louisiana State University Press was appointed as the first full-time professional director. Denbo served as director of UPK until his retirement in 1978, building a small but distinguished list of scholarly books with emphasis on American history and literary criticism.
Since its reorganization, the Press has represented a consortium that now includes all of Kentucky's state universities, five of its private colleges, and two historical societies. Each constituent institution is represented on a statewide editorial board, which determines editorial policy.
UPK's editorial program focuses on the humanities and the social sciences. Its commitment to film and military studies has earned it a national reputation in recent years. Since the formation of the consortium, the press has broadened its appeal to readers in Kentucky and Appalachia with publications of special regional interest. In the 1970s it produced the Kentucky Nature Series and the forty-seven-volume Kentucky Bicentennial Bookshelf. The press publishes classic novels by Kentucky authors including Harriet Arnow, Janice Holt Giles, John Fox, Jr., James Still, and Jesse Stuart. More recent publications include The Kentucky Encyclopedia (1992), A New History of Kentucky (1997), Atlas of Kentucky (1998), and Encyclopedia of Louisville (2000).
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