Friday, May 26, 2017

Honoring Tennessee's World War I veterans on Memorial Day

By Allison Griffey

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, has been celebrated for over 150 years. Initially, only Civil War dead were honored on this day; however, this tradition changed almost a century ago at the close of World War I. Over 53,000 Americans died in World War I and around 4,000 of those servicemen were Tennesseans. After sustaining such a great loss, Americans began to honor those who gave their lives in military service on Memorial Day.

Crowds line the streets as returning World War I soldiers parade up Capitol Boulevard. Between March 31 & April 6, 1919, a temporary victory arch was installed at the intersection of Capitol Boulevard and Union Street, and returning soldiers marched through the arch toward the Capitol.
Library Collection. Tennessee State Library and Archives


Likewise, World War I added to the Memorial Day tradition as the American Legion Auxiliary encouraged citizens to purchase and wear red poppies made by veterans in remembrance of the war dead. The poppy was popularized by the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrea, written in 1915 after presiding over the funeral of his comrade, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



According to the American Battle Monuments Commission, there are four Tennesseans buried in Flanders Field American Cemetery. One of these soldiers, Private Fred C. Guth, has a file in the Tennessee Gold Star Records, available on the Tennessee Virtual Archive. Pvt. Guth served in Headquarters Company, 119th Infantry Regiment as a part of the famed 30th Infantry Division, also known as the “Old Hickory” Division because it was composed of National Guard units from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Fred C. Guth, United States Army Infantry, 30th Division, 119th Regiment
Tennessee World War I Gold Star Records, Tennessee Virtual Archive


In the last letter his mother received, written “Somewhere in France” Aug. 4, 1918, Pvt. Guth wrote “I know you are worrying but Mamma you must think about you are one in millions, and be glad that you do not have to worry for all of us, and have faith and hopes of me getting through safe and I will do my part.” Though Pvt. Guth never returned from Flanders Field, Americans have continued to “hold the torch high” on Memorial Day by honoring those of us who have made the supreme sacrifice.

American Legion Auxiliary's Poppy Poster Contest shows children with posters, circa 1950.
Library Collection. Tennessee State Library and Archives


To learn more about Tennessee's role in World War I, we encourage you to visit our "World War I" page on the Military Records section of our website. From there you can view our Resource Guide to World War I records. You can also view digital images from the First World War on the Tennessee Virtual Archive, including Tennessee's Gold Star Records.



The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State

Monday, May 8, 2017

Agriculture and Commerce: Training Future Tennessee Farmers

By Heather Adkins

Springtime is finally upon Tennessee and the flowers are in bloom. While some Tennesseans may hide away from the newly-released allergens, others are preparing their gardens. Before you head to the local store for a fresh supply of seedlings, check out your local high schools. Many Tennessee high schools have Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs. The FFA offers students instruction in vocational agriculture and training in farmer citizenship. Some FFA chapters host spring fundraisers selling student-grown flowers, vegetables and herbs to the community.

Commissioner J. Warf, Department of Education (left), during presentation of a poster for National Future Farmers Week



The FFA organized nationally in November 1928, during a time when boys were losing interest in farming as a profession. This movement away from farming professions deeply impacted states like Tennessee, with its economy largely dependent on agriculture. Walter S. Newman, the Virginia state supervisor of agricultural education, had proposed in 1925 forming an organization for farm boys that offered “a greater opportunity for self-expression and for the development of leadership. In this way they will develop confidence in their own ability and pride in the fact that they are farm boys.”

A constitution and bylaws were drafted, and the Future Farmers of Virginia was formed in 1926. By 1928, the idea of future farmers programs gained national traction. At the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City, Missouri, 33 young students from 18 states gathered that year to form the national FFA. In 1950, Congress granted the FFA a federal charter, making it an integral part of public agricultural instruction under the National Vocation Education Acts.

Governor Browning proclaims Future Farmers of America Week in Tennessee, 1952



The Future Farmers of Tennessee was organized in September 1927, almost a year before the national FFA. The first state convention was held in Nashville on April 20, 1928. At the time, there were only 1,000 members in 41 local chapters across the state. Today, the Tennessee FFA Association consists of more than 14,000 members and 220 chapters. The local chapters uphold the mission of both state and national levels, including leadership and character development, sportsmanship, cooperation, service, thrift, scholarship, improved agriculture, organized recreation, citizenship and patriotism.

In 1935, a national agriculture organization for African-American boys called the New Farmers of America (NFA) formed in Tuskegee, Alabama, although the group had its beginnings in Virginia. The NFA and FFA had many common beliefs and similar missions. These similarities, along with the state and local desegregation of schools, prompted the consolidation the two groups under FFA name in 1965.

“More Charity When Needed,” The Tennessee Future Farmer, Feb. 1947, RG 92



In 1930, the FFA national convention delegates voted to deny membership to girls. In Tennessee, girls were encouraged to join the Future Homemakers of America (FHA), which aimed to help with forging family bonds, career preparation and participation in the community. This co-curricular organization continues today as the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. Both the FFA and the FHA were featured in the monthly magazine The Tennessee Future Farmers. It wasn’t until 1969 that girls gained full FFA membership privileges, recognized for the integral role women have played on farms and in agriculture. Today, females represent more than 45 percent of membership and about half of all state leadership positions.

[P. Warner Frazier to Sadie Warner Frazier discussing a Florida FFA Forestry Camp, Sadie Warner Frazier Papers



From the local level up to the FFA national convention, students are encouraged to participate in agricultural activities that not only expand and test their knowledge, but help spread that knowledge in their communities. FFA events host various competitions in different fields to evaluate students’ skills and knowledge of agriscience. Summer camps and special skills camps are arranged for students to attend (Tennessee’s FFA camp is now open for registration). Outstanding members are awarded for their work. Applied learning is emphasized through classroom education and supervised hands-on agricultural experiences. FFA programs help members develop public speaking skills, conduct and participate in meetings, manage finances, strengthen problem-solving abilities and assume civic responsibility.

Future farmers judge a class of corn at the West Tennessee Crop Judging contest in Humboldt. Cover of The Tennessee Future Farmer, Feb. 1947, RG 92



You can support local FFA chapters by attending FFA competitions and activities, supporting fundraisers and making donations. If you don't know if your community has an active chapter, you can find out here: https://www.tnffa.org/page.aspx?ID=55. You can also support FFA by talking to the Tennessee FFA Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to help support students seeking personal development and careers in agricultural fields. The foundation publishes a newsletter, which reports on financial updates, fundraising opportunities and FFA scholarships: https://www.tnffa.org/foundation.aspx.

Tennessee state motto: Agriculture and Commerce

FFA motto: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve

Learn more about Future Farmers of America:



The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Celebrate Statehood Day at the Library and Archives

When Tennessee became a state June 1, 1796, only about 77,000 people lived here. Tennessee was the country's 16th state and the first to be created from territory that had been under federal jurisdiction. Since its humble beginnings, Tennessee has become home to millions of people and shares borders with eight other states - tied with Missouri for most in the nation.



People of all ages can learn more about Tennessee's rich history during a special event June 3 at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The free event, called "Tennessee Celebrates Statehood," will give visitors the opportunity to view all three of the state's original constitutions, see presentations by historical interpreters and listen to music from the 1700s. There will be lots of activities for children, including early American games on the Library and Archives lawn and stations where kids can get temporary tattoos of the state flag or make birthday cards for Tennessee. And, since it's a birthday celebration, of course there will be cake!

Historical interpreters will tell visitors what it was like to be a fur trapper on the Tennessee frontier, an early land surveyor or a civil rights activist. The state's constitutions - the first adopted in 1796 and revisions adopted in 1834 and 1870 - will all be on display in the Library and Archives lobby.

The Library and Archives will be open for normal business from 8 a.m. until noon June 3. Then the building will temporarily close while the staff prepares for the "Tennessee Celebrates Statehood" event, which will be 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. that day.

"Part of our mission is to make our state's history accessible to a wider audience beyond scholars and researchers," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "This event will be fun and educational for the whole family. We are also very pleased to make all three of the original constitutions available for display. History truly comes alive when you see those documents up close."

The Library and Archives typically keeps the constitutions stored within its vault, but this is the first time all three documents will be publicly displayed at the building. For people who cannot attend the event June 3, the constitutions will also be on display June 1 (the actual anniversary of Tennessee's statehood) and June 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They will also be on display from 9 a.m. until noon before the "Tennessee Celebrates Statehood" event begins June 3.

Although "Tennessee Celebrates Statehood" is free and open to the public, reservations are required due to space limitations in the building and on the grounds outside. To make a reservation, please go to: https://tnstatehood2017.eventbrite.com


The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day! The bakers are gone…

By Heather Adkins

May 1 is commonly thought of as a holiday to celebrate spring. But did you know that it is also International Workers’ Day? In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions set May 1, 1886 as the date by which the eight-hour work day would become standard, and as the date approached, labor unions prepared for a general strike in support of the eight-hour day. A peaceful rally in Chicago at Haymarket Square began on May 4. During the proceedings, police tried to disperse the crowds when an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police, killing one. The police responded by firing on the workers, killing four. The Haymarket affair was a setback for the American labor movement and yet it also strengthened the resistance of workers. May Day became a time to remember the affair and the anniversary remained a popular date for workers to strike.

April 28, 1920, Nashville Tennessean, page 4.
Tennessee State Library and Archives



Tennessee has seen its fair share of labor strikes. On one particular May Day in 1920, union workers in Nashville called for a “closed shop” policy among electrical companies, tinners, machinists and bakeries. Workers wanted their companies to only employ labor union members. In April 1920, the Electrical Club of Nashville (representing 16 companies) and the Nashville Bakers’ Association (representing 12 companies), with the support of the Nashville Kiwanis Club, issued statements adopting “open shop” policies – that is, not requiring a worker’s support of a union as a condition of employment. By implementing the “open shop” policy, employers affirmed their stances on merit-based treatment for workers.

May 1, 1920, Nashville Tennessean, page 1.
Tennessee State Library and Archives


An estimated 200 union workers left their shops on strike, including more than 60 machinists, about 50 electricians, and around 100 tinners. Despite the call for bakers to strike as well, they weren't part of the initial walkout. Still, union bakers made front page news the following three days. A May 2 headline noted that bakers failed to join the strikes. A May 3 headline assured the public that about 150 union bakers would walk out that day, but on May 4, the bakers were still working. It wasn’t until May 9 when a bakers’ walkout was reported. On the evening of May 8, Nashville’s union bakers had joined the strike.

May 9, 1920, Nashville Tennessean, page 1.
Tennessee State Library and Archives



The bakers’ strike was led by the employees of the American Bread Company. When the workers walked out, factory manager and president E. C. Faircloth requested that police picket the plant. By 1920, the American Bread Company had become well known for its “blue seal” quality bread, which was made by new baking machinery, baked by steam and delivered fresh in self-sealing paraffin wrappers. The family-run bakery established in 1889 by Charles K. Evers had grown by 1899 to hold a capacity of 8,000 loaves and could supply bread within a 300-mile radius in Tennessee and Alabama. The company pioneered recipes and even developed “victory bread” according to a government-issued formula complying with food conservation standards of World War I.

April 6, 1901, Nashville American, page 2.
Tennessee State Library and Archives



The bakers’ strike seems to have ended quickly. Beginning in April and throughout May, companies like the American Bread Company and the Federal System of Bakeries had repeatedly published want ads in local newspapers, although it wasn’t until bakers walked out on May 8 that those ads took on a tone of urgency. For instance, the Federal System of Bakeries placed several ads early in May, but it was not until May 13 that the ads said they wanted bakers “at once.” By May 14, the Federal System of Bakeries issued a statement that all of their bakeries, except for one location, were reopened.

May 13, 1920, Nashville Tennessean, page 14.
Tennessee State Library and Archives


May 14, 1920, Nashville Tennessean, page 6.
Tennessee State Library and Archives




In 1947, the “closed shop” policy was outlawed in the United States under the Taft-Hartley Act. According to the act, an employer couldn't hire only union members, but could require employees to join a union or pay the equivalent of union dues to it within a set period of time after beginning employment. Likewise, unions couldn't demand the dismissal of employees under so-called “union shop” contracts for any reason other than failure to pay union dues. The Taft-Hartley Act amended the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, ultimately restricting the activities and power of labor unions.


The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State

Friday, April 28, 2017

Preservation Week Tip: Sticky Tape is Evil



By Carol Roberts

April 23-29, 2017 marks "Preservation Week" highlighting the importance of preservation awareness. What do you think is one of the most damaging “fixes” for a historic item? It is sticky tape of any kind. Its official name is pressure-sensitive tape, which can be any type of Scotch tape, duct tape, masking tape or even clear contact sheets or shelf liner. The adhesive damages items in several ways.






First, adhesive completely discolors items, leaving dark stains that can completely hide any text underneath.

Second, the tape or plastic part of tape can be stronger than delicate paper and continue to break the paper at the folds or edges of the tape.

Third, tape brings up any surface item if you try to remove it. A photo emulsion is especially damaged by tape and usually the tape cannot be removed.

Finally, the damaging effects of tape usually are not reversible. A conservator will spend many hours and use several chemical solvents when removing pressure-sensitive tape and its sticky residue. Do not try this at home.




Well-intended mends are a bad idea for long term storage or preservation. So what are some of the alternatives?

A simple acid-free folder of any kind will hold the pieces of a torn item together and support them.

A polyester (Mylar or Melinex) sleeve can also hold a delicate item in place. Polyester sleeves have a slight static charge to them and hold torn items in place within them. Also, sleeves are sealed only around the edges and do not stick to anything with adhesives.

Wrap a broken book, Bible or set of records in good acid-free paper.





A torn page in a book can be helped or supported by acid-free tissue paper. However, watch out for too many extra pieces of tissue in a book because that extra tissue will stress the spine and binding.

The best conservation techniques for a family collection - or any historic collection - are to use good storage techniques, create a good environment and avoid anything that cannot be reversed or might be difficult to remove. It is always the basic archival rule that you want to be able to return an original item to the condition in which it was found.

If you do have a valuable historic item with tape on it, store it carefully and consult a conservator.

Remember, anything with the words "pressure-sensitive," "adhesive" or “duct” should never be used in the same sentence with anything related to "conservation," "archival," "historic" or "preservation."

As a good conservator says, “tape is only good with Christmas wrapping paper.”

To read more about archival care for family collections, see these websites:



The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Preservation Week Tip: Caring for Old Photographs



By Carol Roberts

April 23-29, 2017 marks "Preservation Week" highlighting the importance of preservation awareness. Here's another reminder to take care of your valuable historic items. What about all those family photographs that tell the family story? How many shoeboxes full of interesting treasures do you have? Here are a few tips for keeping them safe and well organized.





Don't touch or write on the emulsion side of any print or negative. Touch only the edges. Human oils and perspiration cause damage that cannot be reversed.

Don't write on the back with ink or use rubber stamps. Inks are acidic and may contain sulfur.

Don't use scotch tape or any type of pressure-sensitive tape on or near your photographs or negatives.

Don't use paper clips or rubber bands around prints, negatives or slides. They can rust or imprint emulsion.

Work on photographs in a clean work space without food, liquids or anything that could spill and stain a photo or cause photos to stick to one another.

Keep photographs and negatives in a dry, cool storage place. Keep conditions as constant as possible. Heat and humidity will cause crackling and peeling of emulsion. Daylight and fluorescent light will fade photographs.

Do carefully identify your photographs. Write on the margins on the back of prints with a soft lead pencil or with an acid-free pen that meets ASTM standard D-4236. Be careful not to press hard enough to leave an impression on the emulsion side of the print.

Use archival storage supplies that meet the Photo Activity Test (PAT). The PAT is a new standard that evaluates all storage supplies and makes sure the photographic emulsion does not react in any adverse way with items such as folders, photo albums or framing materials.

Do separate prints and negatives in acid-free paper envelopes with the emulsion sides away from the seams. Remember that the emulsion side of a print or negative can be easily damaged.

Make all your notes and information on the archival storage sleeve or folder rather than putting damaging marks on the backs of the original photos.



There are so many clues to history in photographs. Here are some you can use to learn more about the photos you have:

  • Identify the type of photographic process used to create the photos.
  • Look for the name of the photography studios that took the photos and where in the community they were located, if possible.
  • Study the clothing and styles of people in the photos.
  • All of these steps provide clues about the dates photos were taken.

To learn more about caring for historic photographs, see the following websites:



The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State

Monday, April 24, 2017

Preservation Week Tip: Caring for Old Books


By Carol Roberts

April 23-29, 2017 marks "Preservation Week" highlighting the importance of preservation awareness. For Preservation Week, here's a reminder to take care of your valuable historic items. What should you do with those favorite rare books?

Keep them on book shelves, straight as little soldiers, just like at the library. That keeps the spines and book covers intact and carefully stored. Never pull a book off the shelf by the top edge. The upper edge of the spine breaks when pulling the top down and can break the spine cover off completely. Instead, push in on both sides to remove or replace a book.




Keep books in the best environment possible in the home. Keep them at a constant temperature and humidity because dramatic fluctuations in either of these conditions are stressful on the paper, bindings and covers - especially leather. Cool, dry and stable environments are best.

Avoid direct sunlight and fluorescent light because the ultraviolet radiation causes fading of the paper, ink and book covers.

When handling an old book, be gentle. Hold the book carefully, as if in a cradle. Do not stretch the spine when reading it. Keep the spine and text from stretching and hold it open at a 90-degree angle or less. Do not flatten or force a book down on a copier. There are new overhead copiers around these days that can provide copies without flattening them. Carefully turn the pages when paper is brittle or torn. This is a time when white cotton gloves - and the loss of dexterity you get when wearing them - can harm more than help.




Book collections need dusting like Grandma’s favorite china cabinet. Books can be dusted and gently cleaned by using a basic clean soft cloth. It is not necessary to use any chemicals because cleaning fluids often contain harmful substances. Handle books with washed and clean hands. Cotton gloves can be used when the pages aren't brittle or torn. Always handle a valuable book in a clean area to avoid getting more dirt and stains on the text.

If a book is already broken or damaged, a good acid-free box and acid-free tissue paper will do a great job of protecting it until it can be properly conserved by consulting a qualified conservator.




To learn more about archival preservation and care of books, see these technical leaflets and websites:



The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State