Friday, November 16, 2018

Tennessee’s Turn-of-the-Century Automobiles

By Andrew McMahan

Automobiles gained traction relatively quickly in the United States. Tennessee was no exception. However, good roads were largely confined to urban areas in the Northeastern U.S. Like other southern states, Tennessee’s roads were largely insufficient to handle automobile traffic at the beginning of the twentieth century. In fact, rural southern roads were often ill-equipped to handle horse and foot traffic. The Tennessee State Highway Department did not yet exist. Instead, these roads were often overseen by county officials and badly maintained by convict or statute labor. Statute labor in the South involved local governments requiring citizens to provide labor for public works projects. This system was largely unsuccessful and resulted in poor quality of work. According to House Bill 839, passed by the General Assembly in 1899, all males between the ages of eighteen and fifty were subject to road labor for a period of four to eight days out of the year. However, Tennesseans subject to road duty were permitted to pay fifty cents per day they were required to work to the local commissioner, freeing them from the labor obligation.

A muddy dirt road near Cookeville, 1912. Library Collection.

The lack of good roads in the United States was not due to the absence of the means or expertise to build them, but because many people felt there was no real need for the improved infrastructure. Travel by railroad was faster and more economical than any form of highway transportation at the turn of the century. As a result, rural roads had long been neglected in favor of railroads. By the beginning of the twentieth century, Americans, especially those in rural areas, had grown tired of the railroad’s dominance of overland transportation. Farmers in the South were often isolated by their roads, which often only connected them to the nearest railroad station.

Lucy G. Drane in a Buick automobile on West Avenue in Clarksville, ca. 1909. Looking Back at Tennessee Collection.

Despite the poor state of the nation’s roads, Tennesseans and other Americans began purchasing automobiles. Technological advancements and developments such as Ford’s Model T made automobiles increasingly affordable, enabling more people to purchase them. The total production output for American automobile manufacturers in 1900 was 4,192 units, most of which were built by numerous small shops around the country. In 1908, the year in which the Model T was released and General Motors was founded, production rose to 65,000 units. Additionally, almost 400,000 automobiles were registered in the U.S. As more and more Americans purchased automobiles during the early decades of the twentieth century, the Federal and state governments began spending millions of dollars on new and existing infrastructure in order to accommodate increased traffic. This included large-scale road building projects such as the Dixie Highway and, eventually, the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

Automobile being washed in Kettle Creek, Clay County, 1924. Library Collection.

Many Tennesseans were already purchasing and driving automobiles during the first decade of the twentieth century. The Tennessee State Library and Archives houses the Secretary of State Automobile Registrations for the years 1904-1914 (Record Group 111), which is comprised of the earliest automobile registrations in Tennessee. These are organized by year and then by county. They reveal a wealth of information, including who owned automobiles and which counties had the most registrants. Additionally, the registrations record what each individual was driving. The Big Three (General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler) did not yet dominate the American automobile market in 1904. Instead, several smaller manufacturers competed for sales. In fact, both the Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Automobile Club of Michigan compiled a list of around fifteen-hundred manufacturers in the United States producing automobiles in the early twentieth century, though most of them were gone by the World War I. Perhaps your ancestor drove an REO, a Ford Model C, a battery-powered Runabout from the National Motor Vehicle Company, or a steam-powered 1904 Touring Car from the White Sewing Machine Company.

Automobiles manufactured by Marathon Motor Works of Nashville, 1910. Looking Back at Tennessee.

Edward C. Andrews' automobile registration. Record Group 111.

This particular registration was for Edward C. Andrews of Nashville and his 20 horsepower, gasoline-propelled Marmon, built by the Nordyke and Marmon Company. Because Andrews lived in Nashville, we were able to look up his name in the city directory for 1905. Andrews was an executive at the Liberty Mills Company, a manufacturer of flour, meal, and grits. As shown on the back of the form, Andrews transferred the automobile and registration to Goodloe Lindsley (of Lindsley Real Estate) in 1906.

Note transferring the registration from Edward C. Andrews to Goodloe Lindsley. Record Group 111.

This record group does not only consist of automobile registrations for individual citizens, but for companies as well. The following registration is for five gasoline-powered Runabouts built by the Ford Motor Company for the Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company (later purchased by the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, which was purchased by AT&T). These were among the first automobiles from the Ford Motor Company registered in Nashville as well as the State of Tennessee.

Registration for the Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company. Record Group 111.

These registrations can yield fascinating information. Come take a look and see where your ancestors fit in Tennessee’s automotive history. Also, for those interested in transportation, be sure to look at TSLA’s other collections, such as the Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works Records, 1913-1972 (Record Group 84).

Sources Cited:

Tennessee General Assembly. House of Representatives. House Bill 839: An Act to Regulate the Working and Laying Out of Public Roads in This State. 51st General Assembly, 1899.

Secretary of State Automobile Registrations, 1904-14, Record Group 111. Tennessee State Library and Archives. Nashville, Tennessee.

Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works Records, 1913-1972, Record Group 84. Tennessee State Library and Archives. Nashville, Tennessee.

Ingram, Tammy. Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900- 1930. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

Rae, John B. The American Automobile: A Brief History. University of Chicago Press, 1965.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Job Hunting & Career Changing with help from the Tennessee Electronic Library!

By Andrea Zielke

One of the most difficult aspects of job hunting or changing careers is figuring out how to begin.  The whole process can seem overwhelming.  When I moved to Nashville and started looking for a job, I forgot how long a job search could take and I had no idea what resources were available to help me. I went to my local library and found that they had free resources to help with my job hunt.  The resources covered the whole job hunting process: doing a career assessment, creating resumes and cover letters, and even practice interviews!  Who would have guessed that the resources I used to start my career in Nashville would help me land a job where I am responsible for those same resources!  The Tennessee Electronic Library ( and your local public library offer many free tools to help get your job search off on the ground!

Online Resources

Career Transitions is a very intuitive, user friendly database that can guide anyone through the major steps of the employment process including choosing a career, job searching, applying and interviewing.  If you have previous professional or military experience, you can match those skills with potential careers. Career Transitions also includes sample resume and cover letters based on experience and industry which is always helpful when you do not know quite how to begin.  The goal is to improve the user’s chance of getting a new job and this tool is very helpful.

Users are not required to sign up for an account to use the resources provided in this database but it is recommended to sign up for an account if you use Career Transitions to track and manage your job search, resumes and cover letters.

Based on the name, you may think that Testing and Education Reference Center is only for high school and college students, but there are many useful tools in the database for all ages.  Testing and Education Reference Center has many professional practice exams, online courses and ebooks for many careers including cosmetology, nursing, civil service and many more. If you are going back to school, there are practice entrance exams for community colleges, undergraduate and graduate programs.  It also includes undergrad and grad school program searches and a scholarship search! There are great articles and checklists for getting ready to go back to school. 

Like Career Transitions, Testing and Education Reference Center also includes a resume builder where you can create and manage multiple resumes during your job search.  It also has a Virtual Career Library with tutorials to walk you through the career-seeking process - from searching for jobs, to preparing resumes and cover letters, and negotiating job conditions. Learn how to find a new career, land the job, and thrive in your new position.

Users are required to sign up for an account to use the resources provided in this database to track and manage your college search, testing scores and resumes.

TEL also provides access to a number of magazines, trade publications and newspapers to help you keep up to date in your current or potential field through the Vocations and Career Collection on TEL.  The database offers hundreds of current and applicable periodicals, from general career guides to highly specialized industry journals.

Computers and WiFi 

If you need computers or WiFi to create resumes and apply for jobs, you can find resources at your local public library (link to: Computers for public use and WiFi access are available in Tennessee public libraries. You can print from these public computers. Laptops and WiFi hotspots can often be borrowed from your public library. If you need help learning how to use computers, many public libraries offer many computers classes or web-based training tutorials. 

The Tennessee Electronic Library is excited to offer these resources for free to Tennessean!  Happy job hunting!

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

Monday, November 12, 2018

TLABM honors Veterans on Veteran's Day

By Ruth Hemphill

The division of the Library of Congress which oversees the services of the Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Services (TLABM) is known as the National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (NLS).

NLS libraries across the country have prioritized library service to veterans since the end of World War I and this continues into the 21st century. In addition, each year the TLABM and the Tennessee School for the Blind’s art students partner to distribute cards to all TLABM patrons who are veterans. The students create the artwork, and the library distributes them through the post office.

This year, the artwork was so wonderful, that it was impossible to select just one card. Six different cards were printed, along with an acknowledgement of gratitude to the veterans for their service. The cards were randomly distributed to 473 active patrons of the library.

Of course, people who are not military veterans may use the services of the TLABM. In fact, we currently have 6,105 active patrons. However, we know there are many other eligible Tennesseans who are not using our service. For information on who is eligible for the library service and how to qualify, go to TLABM’s website at:

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

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day and the Robert Frank Hodge World War I Papers

By Sara Horne

November 11 marks 100 years since the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. Here at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, we are lucky to house many collections that help us understand and honor Tennesseans who took part “Over There.” One such collection is the Robert Frank Hodge World War I Papers.

 Robert Francis (Frank) Hodge was born July 7, 1893, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Frank attended Chattanooga High School and then the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Robert Francis (Frank) Hodge in uniform. Hodge served as a private and clerk for his unit in France.

Shortly after the United States joined the war on the Allied side, the French high command requested 6,000 volunteer Americans to man field ambulances on the Western Front. That call was directed mainly at college men, initially from Ivy League and eastern universities, to join the American Field Service (AFS), an American volunteer ambulance corps under the French Army. In May 1917, while still a student at the University of the South, Hodge joined the 36-man unit recruited from Sewanee. Once in France, the AFS was divided into smaller sections called Sections Sanitaire [Etats-] Unis (SSU). Hodge and the other Sewanee men formed SSU 558, in which he served as a private and clerk.

David Van Alstyne Jr. commanded SSU 558 and kept journals (placed in Hodge’s care as clerk) where he recorded when the unit transfers to a new city or village and his responsibilities and actions during their time in France. On Armistice Day he writes, “we hollered” and it was “the beginning of a perfect day.”

Hodge and SSU 558 were in Etroeungt when they learned of the signing of the Armistice. In one of his journals, Van Alstyne wrote it was “the beginning of a perfect day.”

Stretcherbearers from SSU 558 load an injured soldier into the back of their ambulance.

David Van Alstyne Jr. was commander of SSU 558 and wrote journals that were left in Hodge’s care.

The Robert Frank Hodge World War I Papers are fully available to view on the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). You may also browse some of our other digitized World War I collections such as the Puryear Family Photo Album and Over Here Over There.

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

Friday, November 9, 2018

Veteran's Day spotlight: May Winston Caldwell and the Battle of Nashville

By Megan Spainhour

November 11th is marked on our calendars as a special day to take time to remember and commemorate those who have sacrificed so much for our country. Whether remembered as Armistice Day, Veterans Day or Remembrance Day, the day has a common ground around the world to honor, memorialize, and celebrate military veterans in their heroic and valiant efforts.

This Veteran’s Day, we shine a spotlight on a scrapbook in our collections at the State Library and Archives; the scrapbook of May Winston Caldwell. May Winston Caldwell, born in 1855 in Nashville, was a prominent leader, homemaker, writer and highly active in the historical societies in the area. She was married to businessman James E. Caldwell. When she wasn’t busy maintaining her home “Longview” in South Nashville or caring for her ten children, she served as president of the Ladies Battlefield Association. It was this association, led by the passion and spirit of May Caldwell, that a monument was erected in Nashville to honor those Tennesseans who fought in the Battle of Nashville on December 18, 1864.

Map showing the site of the Battle of Nashville, fought December 15-16, 1864.

The monument was crafted by well-known sculptor Giuseppe Moretti. It was dedicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1927, and was meant to symbolize peace. The original site of the monument was located near Franklin Road and Thompson Lane in Nashville. However, after a tornado damaged the statue in 1974, it was restored, relocated and rededicated in 1999 at its present day location of Granny White Pike and Battlefield Drive. The original dedication in 1927 drew large crowds and prominent citizens, including Tennessee Governor Henry Horton, Col. Luke Lea, several veterans, and even an invitation to the President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge.

Sculptor Giuseppe Moretti at a marble quarry in Italy, he is standing next to a large chunk of marble presumably used in the monument.

On the base of the monument is inscribed “The Spirit of Youth holds in check the contending forces that struggled here in the first battle of Nashville, Dec. 16. 1864, Sealing forever the bond of union by the blood of our heroic dead of the World War, 1917-1918. A Monument like this, standing on such memories, having no reference to utilities, becomes a Sentiment. A Poet. A Prophet. An Orator to every passerby.”

Postcard photograph of Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti and wife Dorthea in front of their home, addressed to Mr and Mrs Caldwell. The photograph is signed "Merry Christmas and Very Happy New Year from Mr and Mrs G Moretti, 1933."

The base of the Battle of Nashville monument. Represented in the horses is the division of the north and the south, brought together by the spirit of youth.

May Winston Caldwell addressing the gathering at the dedication of the Battle of Nashville Monument, Nov 11, 1927.

Poem titled 'Taps' by Poet Laureate and former State Librarian and Archivist John Trotwood Moore, spoken at the dedication of the Battle of Nashville monument to the tune of ‘Taps.’

Battle of Nashville Monument at its original location on Franklin Road.

Battle of Nashville Monument seen on the side of Franklin Road, its original location before it was damaged by a tornado.

To learn more about this monument and the Battle of Nashville, visit the Tennessee Library and Archives and page through the May Winston Caldwell Scrapbook. The catalog entry for this item is found HERE.

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tennessee Virtual Archive has a new look...

Happy Halloween!

No tricks, all treats! The Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) has undergone a major overhaul and has a new look for the first time since 2012! Visit it at

We have worked hard to create a fun, inviting design that showcases the materials in our collections. The new responsive design features eye-catching images and new ways to discover what we have in our digital collections, such as checking out a random item or exploring the collections by location or format.

Each collection has a new custom landing page that helps tell the story of that collection and connects it to similar materials we have. The new design is more accessible and now mobile-friendly, with better readability and an improved image viewer that works on devices of all sizes. The new and old versions of TeVA will exist side-by-side for the rest of the year, then we will permanently transition to the new TeVA at the end of 2018.

What's your favorite item in TeVA? Find it in the new site at!

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Library and Archives Hosts "Family History Day" and Genealogy Workshop the Saturday after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time when many of us reconnect with family members and share stories. At the Tennessee State Library and Archives, families can also explore stories of their relatives who lived generations ago. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the staff at the Library and Archives is encouraging Tennesseans to visit the library and celebrate “Family History Day” by learning more about genealogical research.

Manuscripts Archivist Darla Brock presents "Genealogical Gold in Tennessee Supreme Court Records" on Nov. 24th.

Beginning genealogists are often surprised at the extent to which ordinary Tennessee citizens appear within Supreme Court records. Manuscripts Archivist Darla Brock will share eye-opening examples of genealogical treasures found in case files and court exhibits and provide tips on making the most of the online Tennessee Supreme Court Cases Database. Ms. Brock will also detail the fascinating journey taken by Tennessee’s Supreme Court records to reach their current home at the State Library and Archives. After the workshop, Library and Archives staff members will be on hand to help visitors with their research.

“The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a great place for families to learn about their ancestors and to study their genealogy, especially during the holiday season when we turn our attention to time together,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “I encourage families to bring generations together by exploring the vast resources found in the state archives. You never know what you might find.”

The session will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Library and Archives auditorium, and research assistance will be available until 4:30 p.m. While the workshop is free, reservations are required due to limited seating. To make a reservation, visit

 Please note that Library and Archives will be closed Thursday, Nov. 22, and Friday, Nov. 23, for the Thanksgiving holiday, so it is important to make reservations beforehand.

The Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, directly west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville. Parking is available around the Library and Archives building.

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