Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Library and Archives Hosts Free Workshop on Land Platting

Locating the land of an ancestor can uncover a wealth of knowledge. On Sept. 23, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will host a free workshop about land platting. It will be a basic review of the steps in locating the description of property in Tennessee and platting that description onto a map.

Plat of Hiwassee District. Tennessee Virtual Archive.
Presenter J. Mark Lowe is a certified genealogist and fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association. He’s also a renowned author and lecturer who specializes in original records and manuscripts throughout the South. His expertise has been featured on several genealogical television series including African American Lives 2 (PBS), Who Do You Think You Are? (TLC) and The UneXplained (BIO).

Lowe will demonstrate how platting a property tract map may help identify many important features of a community, including ferries, mills, cemeteries, trails, historic homes and many other landmarks. With the aid of a few inexpensive tools, researchers can construct their own plats of land tracts as described in deeds, wills, court records or land grants.

"This workshop allows us to see and interpret history through our greatest natural resource: land. Lowe’s insight will serve as a valuable tool for Tennesseans looking to discover more about their heritage," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "I look forward to this event and encourage people to reserve their seats as soon as possible."

The workshop will be 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. CDT Saturday, Sept. 23, in the Library and Archives auditorium.

The Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Ave. North, directly west of the Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville. Free parking is available around the Library and Archives building. Although the workshop is free and open to the public, registration is required due to seating limitations in the auditorium. To reserve seats, please visit

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

Viewing the Eclipse through the eyes of the Rose Music Collection

By Dr. Kevin Cason

According to NASA, today’s total solar eclipse is the first to sweep across the United States in nearly a century. As the largest U.S. city in the eclipse’s path, Nashville will watch day turn to night as the moon completely blocks the sun from the sky for about two minutes. In honor of this celestial event, we highlight some sheet music from the Rose Music Collection that features the “sun” as a theme.

“Sunrise, Sunset.” Composed by C.A. White. Rose Music Collection.

Kenneth Rose was an accomplished violinist and oversaw the violin department at Ward-Belmont College. In addition to being one of Nashville’s preeminent musicians, he was a collector of sheet music.

“Sunbeam Scottisch.” Composed by Ferdinand Lellner. Rose Music Collection.

The Kenneth D. Rose Sheet Music Collection contains first editions and imprints of sheet music pertaining to a variety of subjects, including the Civil War, politics, presidents, wars, ships, sports, minstrels and comic songs.

“Sunset and Dawn” from Moods: A Series of Songs, Composed by E.L. Ashford. Rose Music Collection.

The collection has more than 20,000 pieces of music, most of which was acquired by the Tennessee State Library and Archives before 1956. The remainder of the collection was bequeathed in 1956.

For more from the Kenneth Rose Music Collection see:

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Library and Archives Celebrates National Aviation Day

By Will Thomas

The Tennessee State Library and Archives celebrates National Aviation Day (August 19) with photographs from the Puryear Family Photograph Albums collection. Gallatin natives George W. Puryear and his older brother Alfred I. Puryear both served in the U.S. Army Air Service during and after World War I. Their photograph albums document the early days of aviation.

Unidentified Army Air Service pilot standing in front of a Caudron G.4, France, 1918.

The Caudron G.4 was a French bomber and reconnaissance plane that entered service in November 1915. Although it quickly became obsolete as a bomber, it was also used to provide the initial flight training to Allied pilots.

George W. Puryear sitting in the front cockpit of a Donnet-Denhaut DD-2 flying boat, France, 1918.

George W. Puryear standing next to a Nieuport 28 fighter, France, 1918.

George W. Puryear was a fighter pilot in the 95th Aero Squadron in World War I. Most of the aircraft flown by the U.S. during the war were of French design and manufacture. The French-built Nieuport 28 was a fast and nimble fighter plane, but it had the unfortunate habit of shedding the fabric of its top wing during a steep dive.

Unidentified Army Air Service pilot standing next to a Voisin V bomber, France, 1918.

Packard-Le Père LUSAC-11 fighter plane in flight, March 15, 1919.

The Packard-Le Père LUSAC-11 was based on a French design but was built in the U.S. during World War I. The Army Air Service had ordered 3,525 of the airplanes built but the order was canceled at the end of the war. Only 30 were actually built. On Feb. 27, 1920, Major Rudolph W. Schroeder set the flight altitude record in an LUSAC-11 by climbing to 33,113 ft.

Unidentified Army Air Service observer pilot sitting in the rear cockpit of a JN-4 in flight, San Diego, Cal., 1919

North Island, Coronado, and the San Diego Bay are visible behind the tail of the airplane.

Three Fokker D.VII fighters being prepared for takeoff, Crissy Field, Presidio, San Francisco, Cal., April 12, 1919.

George W. Puryear was a pilot with the No. 3 (Far West) Flight of the Victory Loan war bond drive during April-May 1919. The Far West Flight traveled through California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, and Arizona putting on air shows to encourage people to buy war bonds. Its commanding officer was Carl Spaatz (who would later become the first Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force in 1947). On April 13, 1919, a photograph of Puryear flying a Fokker D.VII in the air show appeared in the "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper.

Lt. Leland Miller, a photographic officer for the Far West Flight of the Victory Loan war bond drive, standing in the front seat of an airplane and holding a box camera used for aerial photography, April-May 1919

U.S. Army Airship TC-3, Brooks Field, San Antonio, Tex., November 1923.

The TC-3 entered service around late September 1923 and was stationed at Scott Field, Belleville, Illinois, it left for Brooks Field Nov. 16, 1923, to participate in the Kelly Field Air Carnival for Army Relief and arrived at Brooks Field Nov. 17, 1923. Alfred I. Puryear was a student pilot aboard the TC-3 for the trip. He completed his initial pilot training at Ross Field, Arcadia, Cal., in July 1921 and was transferred to Scott Field in August 1922.

The Dayton-Wright RB-1 at the 1920 Gordon Bennett Cup race, Étampes, France, September 1920

The Dayton-Wright RB-1 (or Dayton-Wright Racer) was developed specifically to participate in the 1920 Gordon Bennett Cup Race and was piloted by Howard Max Rinehart. It had several design features which were advanced for its day. It had a monocoque fuselage (in which the skin of the airplane provides the main structural support) and retractable landing gear. It used a 250 horsepower Hall-Scott L-6A motor and had a maximum speed of 190 mph. It was forced to withdraw from the race due to mechanical problems.

Verville-Packard R-1 Racer at the 1920 Gordon Bennett Cup race, Étampes, France, September 1920

The R-1 Racer was piloted by Rudolf W. Schroeder (visible standing on the other side of the fuselage). Printed on the tail is: "U.S.A. Verville Racer Air Service U.S. Army McCook Field Dayton, Ohio." It was forced to withdraw from the Gordon Bennett Cup Race due to an oil pump failure. Alfred I. Puryear served as the supply officer on Schroeder's team.

Breguet 14.T with the call sign F-CMAI belonging to Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes, Étampes, France, September 1920

Looking like a shipping crate with wings, the Breguet 14 was a French bomber and reconnaissance airplane produced from 1916 to 1928. The 14.T was produced after the war and was a variant modified to carry 2 passengers. Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes was a French airline founded in February 1919 by Louis-Charles Breguet. The airline merged with Grands Express Aériens to form the Air Union January 1, 1923. On Oct. 7, 1933, Air Union merged with four other French airlines to form Air France. According to the Sept. 16, 1920, issue of "Flight" magazine, this particular Breguet 14.T was flying between Paris and Cricklewood Aerodrome (located in northwest London adjacent to the Hadley Page aircraft factory).

To learn more, visit the Finding Aid to the Puryear Collection, and discover even more images from the Puryear Family Photo Album on the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA).

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Meet the Staff - Trent Hanner

Welcome to "Meet the Staff," our newest feature on the Library and Archives blog. Today, let's meet Trent Hanner. Trent is a reference librarian and supervisor with Public Services.

How long have you worked here?

My first day at the Library & Archives was Sept. 25, 2006.

What are some of the things you do as a librarian/supervisor?

In addition to my supervisory duties like scheduling our librarians and attending meetings, I spend at least half of each day working on one of our public desks: the Tennessee Room, in Legislative History or on telephone reference. I also serve on our Collection Development Committee, which selects books to purchase for the library.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love working with the public. It’s fun and a joy to field questions from folks who visit us in person, online or on the telephone. My fellow reference librarians and I delight in helping individuals discover their lost ancestors or hidden family secrets. Working in Public Services also allows me to build relationships with staff from other state agencies and with people in the local history community. I enjoy fostering those connections.

Do you have a favorite collection?

My colleagues in Public Services know that I’m proud to oversee our massive surname and subject vertical file collection. Since the 1920s, our librarians have been collecting clippings and ephemera to facilitate research for genealogists and other seekers of the past. We have over 6,000 files on Tennessee families and prominent people, and over 2,000 files on places, events, and other subjects unique to the Volunteer State. Although the internet has made clipping newspaper articles nearly obsolete, our backlog of files contains a wealth of information that’s not available anywhere else. And these files continue to grow. Today I focus on adding pieces of ephemera that I think will be of interest to researchers in the future, but which may not be collected anywhere else. For instance, I’ve recently created files on hot chicken and on the new 505 skyscraper in Nashville. We’re always happy to accept family Bible records and other uncatalogued genealogical donations for the surname files as well.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

I’m grateful we have a Secretary of State and a legislature that recognize the vital role the Library and Archives plays as a cultural center and repository of state history. Like other libraries and archives across the country, our presence symbolizes the value we place on preserving and providing access to our history. Our new home on Bicentennial Mall will serve as a state-of-the-art destination for Tennesseans to gather in a dedicated place to discover that history. But just as important as the physical structure, our team of librarians and archivists serves as expert resources for the Tennesseans who are researching their history. As information continues to be digitized, the public will increasingly need professionals to help navigate that information. Librarians and archivists are trained and experienced in knowing exactly where to find information, and we know how to discern what is true and authoritative and what is not.

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tennessee State Library and Archives Services

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has an important job, but offers a lot more services than some people realize. This video, produced by the Tennessee Secretary of State's office, highlights some of its many services.

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Remembering Jane Austen...

By Ruth Hemphill

The 200th anniversary of the death of world-renowned novelist Jane Austen is July 18, 2017. Author of only four novels published in her lifetime, her impact on Western culture is phenomenal.

The Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) has all of Austen’s major works available in audio, braille and large print formats. TLBPH also has many of the lesser-known works in audio and braille format, some of which are incomplete and were found in her papers after her death.

Adaptations of Austen’s work continue into the 20th and 21st century, including popular movies, starring well-known names such as Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightly, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant. In addition, the 1995 movie, “Clueless,” set in modern Beverly Hills, is loosely based on Austen’s book, “Emma.”

In 2009, a parody of Austen’s most famous novel, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” by Seth Grahame-Smith, was published, starting a trend of “mash-ups” of classical works or historical figures with horror, including “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters,” by Ben H. Winters, and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” also by Seth Grahame-Smith. TLBPH has these parodies available in audio format, plus “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is also available in large print.

For a woman who only lived to be 31 years old and died 200 years ago, Austen’s work fulfills the definition of a classic that “withstands the test of time.”

For information on who can borrow audio, braille and large print books from TLBPH, see the library’s website at:

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Immaculate Mother Academy

By Zachary Keith

Plate 131 of 1897 Sanborn Atlas of Nashville (updated 1911) that shows Immaculate Mother Academy, including the 1907 addition.
Tennessee State Library and Archives Map Collection

Nashville’s street names reveal much about its past. Drexel Street, a seemingly insignificant side street that runs between Seventh and Eighth avenues, is a remnant of an important half-century of our city’s history. It was named for Saint Katharine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and the second American canonized by the Catholic Church. After a plea from the head of Nashville’s Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop Thomas Byrne, Drexel agreed to establish a private Catholic school for Nashville’s African-American youth. In February 1905, she purchased the property between Stevenson (Seventh Avenue) and Ewing streets across from Central Street (Drexel Street) from Samuel J. Keith for $25,000, without disclosing her purpose.

The Nashville American, Feb. 14, 1905.

Samuel J. Keith, Colonial Dames of America Portraits in Tennessee Painted Before 1866
Tennessee State Library and Archives Photograph Collection

Keith discovered Drexel’s plan for the property from the Nashville American article. Outraged, he attempted to buy back his land and house from Drexel, even offering a $2,500 charitable donation in addition to the purchase amount. The white neighbors also reacted poorly to the idea of an African-American school nearby, ardently protesting its construction and nearly filing an injunction in the county court.[1] The residents petitioned the city council to open Central Street (present-day Drexel), effectively condemning the purchased building, stating “that they would do all in their power to prevent the establishment of the school.”[2]

Drexel stood her ground and the Academy of the Immaculate Mother opened Sept. 5, 1905, to a class of 50 female students. In 1907, the student population grew to 195 and the school needed to expand, thus a new building was constructed next to the original house. By 1908, over two hundred students packed the halls and by 1921, the then coed school boasted eight grade levels, 4 teachers and 235 students.[3]

From 1905 until 1954 the Academy of the Immaculate Mother served as an educational institution for African-American boys and girls as well as a normal school for aspiring African-American teachers.  In 1954, Nashville Catholic schools became some of the nation’s first to adhere to Brown v. Board of Education and the students of Immaculate Mother Academy transferred to Father Ryan and Cathedral School and the school closed.[4]   Immaculate Mother’s alumni included Robert E. Lillard, one of Nashville’s first African-American city councilmen, lawyer and judge.[5]

Addendum: The back of a postcard of the academy owned by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament contained the inscription "Our first Im. Mother's convent (the frame bldg.). It had been a slave market, as shown by sign-boards we found in the cellar." However, an exhaustive search has not been able to corroborate this fact other than uncited mentions in various publications.

Immaculate Mother Academy students sitting on the front steps of the 1907 addition
Courtesy of the Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

1907 addition to the Immaculate Mother Academy
Courtesy of the Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

Students standing in front of Immaculate Mother’s Academy, approximately 1941
Courtesy of the Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

For further reading on Drexel see Katharine Drexel: The Riches-to-Rags Life Story of an American Catholic Saint by Cheryl C. D. Hughes.

For further reading on Immaculate Mother Academy and development of that neighborhood see Steven Hoskins dissertation: A Restless Landscape: Building Nashville History and Seventh and Drexel

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


[1] “Ready for opening.” The Nashville American, Sept. 4, 1905.
[2] “Petition Council: Neighbors want Central Street opened through Keith land.” The Nashville American, May 26, 1905.
[3] Ryan, James. Directory of Catholic colleges and schools. Washington: National Catholic Welfare Conference. Bureau of Education, 1921.
[4] Hoskins, Steven (2009). A Restless Landscape: Building Nashville  History and  Seventh and  Drexel  (Doctoral dissertation) Middle Tennessee State University.
[5] Wynn, Linda T. “Robert Emmett Lillard” Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.