Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tennessee State Library and Archives Breaks Ground on New Building

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, along with Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill, officially broke ground on the new home of the Tennessee State Library and Archives Monday.

L to R: Rep. Bill Beck (D-Nashville); Larry Hart, TMPartners, PLLC; Kem Hinton, Tuck Hinton Architects; Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads); Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro); Gov. Bill Haslam; Secretary of State Tre Hargett; Chuck Sherrill, State Librarian and Archivist; Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin); Ann Toplovich, Tennessee Historical Society


The new 165,000 square foot facility will include a climate-controlled chamber for safely storing historic books and manuscripts as well as a state-of-the-art robotic retrieval system. There will also be classrooms for teaching students and meeting space for training librarians and archivists.

“Tennessee has a strong and rich history and it is important to preserve our past to pass on to future generations,” Gov. Haslam said. “We have significantly outgrown the space that currently houses Tennessee’s most significant and historic documents and vital records, so I thank the General Assembly for working with us to make this much-needed new Library and Archives facility a reality.”

The site is on Bicentennial Mall at the intersection of Sixth Avenue N and Jefferson Street. The facility will be a major upgrade in capacity, preservation and public access from the current 1950s era building which sits directly west of the State Capitol.

The $123.8 million project, which started in 2005, received substantial funding this year after being included in the governor’s budget and approved by the General Assembly. To date, roughly half of the project is funded and the remainder will be recommended in the upcoming budget.

“The new building ensures Tennessee’s history will be preserved for generations while making it more accessible. This world-class facility will blend the necessity of historic preservation with the ever-increasing demand for digital access. I applaud Gov. Haslam and the entire General Assembly for making this a reality so we can better serve Tennesseans,” Secretary Hargett said.

The new building will also feature a conservation lab for the treatment and restoration of books, photographs and documents. There will also be dedicated exhibit spaces for Tennessee’s founding documents and rotating exhibits, as well as a grand reading room with seating for 100 readers and scholars.

Other features include a vault for storing photographic negatives, an early literacy center designed specifically for children with a visual disability and a recording lab to produce oral histories and audio books on Tennessee history.

The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019.


Read this press release and view additional images at: https://sos.tn.gov/news/tennessee-state-library-and-archives-breaks-ground-new-building


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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Remembering Pearl Harbor

By Ellen Robison

Dec. 7, 1941, began just like any other quiet Sunday morning for the Pearl Harbor naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii. The United States battleships were moored in the harbor in what was known as Battleship Row, along with a majority of the Pacific fleet. The United States had not yet entered World War II, which had been raging in Europe for over two years. Soldiers and sailors stationed on the island were training for a war that seemed like only a distant possibility to their tropical paradise. That all changed by 8 a.m. when the Japanese military began a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, hoping to strike a crippling blow to the U.S. fleet. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described Dec. 7 as “a date which will live in infamy.” His words could not have been truer. Today, the Tennessee State Library and Archives honors Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day by highlighting the firsthand account of Clifton E. Blankenship, who witnessed the whole scene from his position on the U.S.S. Tennessee’s No. 6 gun mount.

Japanese planes attacking Pearl Harbor. A printed caption filed with this photograph states, “Japanese planes (circled) dive on U.S. military forces at Pearl Harbor, fighting back with anti-aircraft fire – seen at right – on the opening day of the U.S.-Jap war, Dec. 7. Heavy column of smoke at left rises from burning USS Arizona.”
Tidwell, Cromwell, Collection, 1794-1976
Tennessee Historical Society (THS 680).



Clifton Ezro Blankenship was born in Campbell County, Tennessee in 1918. He enlisted in the Navy in 1937 and served his four-year enlistment term aboard the U.S.S. Tennessee. He had worked his way to the rank of Boatswain’s mate, second class, and was due to be honorably discharged in mid-December 1941. In his account, Blankenship recalls having just “settled back to read my paper,” when he heard the first explosions. Thinking it was the Army conducting target practice, he was stunned to see the Japanese flag painted on the aircraft as they swarmed the harbor.

Blankenship account describing the attack on Pearl Harbor, pages 3-4.
Tennessee World War II Veterans’ Survey 1996, Record Group 237
Tennessee State Library and Archives




Blankenship recounts his first taste of combat in an under-manned anti-aircraft battery as “chaos and disorder prevailed.” He describes seeing the torpedoes and bombs fall, ripping apart the U.S.S. West Virginia and U.S.S. Oklahoma, and watching as both ships began to tilt to the side and sink under the water. The oil that had leaked into the water covered the harbor in a sheet of flames as sailors who abandoned ship tried to escape. He felt the explosion of the U.S.S. Arizona’s powder magazine rock his own ship and the thick smoke made it difficult to aim the anti-aircraft guns.


Blankenship account describing the attack on Pearl Harbor, pages 5-7.
Tennessee World War II Veterans’ Survey 1996, Record Group 237
Tennessee State Library and Archives




Blankenship found inspiration in the survivors they rescued from the sinking ships. He recalls, “… they were battered and beaten, but still they came out of the burning water aboard the Tennessee, and asked ‘What can I do to help?’” These were the lucky ones. A total of 2,403 people died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Half of the fatalities were sailors assigned to the U.S.S. Arizona. Their remains still lie entombed in the wreckage at the bottom of the harbor. Blankenship was discharged on Dec. 18, 1941, and re-enlisted the next day for another full term. The war had only just begun for the United States, but as the U.S.S. Tennessee sailed out of Pearl Harbor, repaired and ready for a more equal battle, Blankenship “was thinking of my shipmates, and the thousands of other sailors, soldiers, and marines who had made the supreme sacrifice for their country on the ‘Day of Infamy.’”



Blankenship account describing the attack on Pearl Harbor, Pages 10 and 14.
Tennessee World War II Veterans’ Survey 1996, Record Group 237
Tennessee State Library and Archives


Clifton E. Blankenship’s World War II veteran survey and memoir of Pearl Harbor can be found in the Tennessee World War II Veterans’ Survey Collection, 1996: https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/world-war-ii-veterans-survey-1996

For more resources on World War II located at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, visit: https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/tennessee-world-war-ii-guide-collections-tennessee-state-library-and-archives


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

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Doing Their Bit: Tennesseans and the Great War" exhibit opening to the public

By Caroline Voisine

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is proud to announce the installation of its latest exhibit, Doing Their Bit: Tennesseans and the Great War.

Opening to the public on Dec. 5, 2017, this exhibit features materials from the Library and Archive’s extensive collections. This exhibit focuses on both the Tennesseans who fought overseas and those who contributed to the war effort on the home front throughout the First World War.

Colonel Luke Lea and other officers wearing gas masks, 1918
Luke Lea Papers
Tennessee State Library and Archives


The first half of the exhibit touches on the soldiers who fought on the front lines; Gold Star recipients, Medal of Honor heroes and the brave individuals who served their country in a war for human rights. The second half of the exhibit explores the activities and citizens who made victory possible right here in Tennessee. This includes women who volunteered as nurses or went to work in local factories, mothers who endured the deaths of their children, and children who saved their pennies and sold war bonds.

The Library and Archives is proud to exhibit not only its visual walled displays but also a curated selection of original archival material. Five exhibition cases will be filled with material from different manuscript and government records collections. One such display will be from the Library and Archives World War I Poster Collection.

Two Red Cross volunteers “Serving their country,” 1918
Over Here, Over There: Tennesseans in the First World War
Tennessee State Library and Archives


Doing Their Bit: Tennesseans and the Great War will be open to public beginning Dec. 5, during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST. Visitors can view the exhibit in the front lobby of the Library and Archives building, located at 403 7th Avenue North in Nashville.


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

Friday, December 1, 2017

December: A Month of Holidays

By Ruth Hemphill



 The month of December is a time of festival for many people all over the world. 

In 2017, the first of many holidays starts at sundown Nov. 30 and extends to sundown Dec. 1. The holiday of Mawlid-al-Nabi celebrates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad for many Muslims. Celebrated with processions and sermons, Mawlid is designated as an official holiday in Muslim countries throughout the world. The date of the celebration is calculated according to the moon calendar.

For those interested in knowing more about this, the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) has several biographies, including:

Muhammad, by Michael Cook, available in audio and braille formats; Muhammad, by Demi, for grades 3-6, available in audio format; Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, by Karen Armstrong, available in audio and braille formats; Muhammad of Mecca: Prophet of Islam, by Elsa Marston, for grades 6-9 and older readers, available in audio format.


Bodhi Day commemorates for Buddhists the day the Buddha achieved enlightenment and, is thus, considered to be the founding of Buddhism. In 2017, Bodhi Day will be celebrated Dec. 8. Due to the austere nature of the Buddha’s quest for enlightenment, Bodhi Day is usually celebrated in a low-key fashion, with chanting and meditation. Some Buddhists do decorate a ficus tree and provide sweets for children.

Books related to Buddhism in the TLBPH’s collections include: The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, by the dalai lama XIV and Howard Cutler, available in audio and braille formats; An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life, by the Dali Lama XIV, available in audio and braille formats; and Buddhism, by I.G. Edmonds, for grades 5-8 and older readers, available in audio and braille formats.


Hanukkah begins at sundown Dec. 12 this year, lasting eight days until nightfall Dec. 20. Commemorating the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem, after a small tribe of Hebrews defeated a much larger Greek army, this “festival of lights” is celebrating with nightly menorah lightings, special prayers and a variety of foods. Only one candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah with additional candles lit each night until all candles are lit. While many children are given gifts, the original tradition was to give children money to reward good behavior and devotion to studying the Torah. The money also allowed the children to practice charity.

Hanukkah books available from TLBPH include: Hanukkah in America: A History, by Diane Ashton, available in audio format, and The Story of Hanukkah, by Amy Ehrlich, for grades K-3 and older readers, available in audio and braille formats.


While dates for the previous festivals vary for each year, Christmas is always celebrated Dec. 25. For Christians, the celebration is a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many Christians celebrate with decorated trees, church services and special foods. Others celebrate a more secular holiday with Santa Claus and gifts, and many celebrate a combination of both.

TLBPH has many Christmas books, including: The Physics of Christmas: From the Aerodynamics of Reindeer to the Thermodynamics of Turkey, by Roger Highfield, available in audio format; A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit, by Mike Huckabee, available in audio format; Where Did Christmas Come From? by Al Remson, available in audio and braille formats; and Christmas Around the World, for grades 2-4, by Emily Kelley, available in audio and braille formats.


Kwanzaa begins Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 and goes through Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, marking the 51st annual celebration. It is a celebration of the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. A combination of African “first fruit” celebrations, with candle lightings, drumming, storytelling, poetry reading and food.

TLBPH has books for all ages describing this holiday, including:

It’s Kwanzaa Time!, by Linda Goss, for grades 4-7 and older readers, ; Kwanzaa, by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate, for grades K-3, available in audio and braille formats; and Kwanzaa: An African-American Celebration of Culture and Cooking, by Eric V. Copage, available in audio format.”



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

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Hidden Gem: Other State Resources at the Tennessee State Library and Archives

By Dr. Kevin Cason

At the Tennessee State Library and Archives, a researcher can find a wide variety of southeastern state related books that might help with their genealogical and historical research. The southeastern states that the Library and Archives has a strong collection of resources on include: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri.



For genealogical research, the Tennessee State Library and Archives has publications that have been compiled by genealogists and historical societies that can guide researchers to relevant primary sources. The books feature references for deeds, marriages, wills, court records and cemeteries. For example, with Virginia, some of the resources are broader in nature such as the Virginia Genealogist while others are more county specific like Lancaster County, Virginia Marriage References and Family Relationships, 1650 - 1800. Similarly, the North Carolina collection includes state resources such as The Colonial Records of North Carolina and county specific books such as The Heritage of Old Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, 1763 - 2003.




Other useful southeastern genealogical books in the collection pertain to land research such as Family Maps of Calhoun County, Alabama and Family Maps of Neshoba, Mississippi. Heritage books on specific counties are also available for southeastern states such as Chester County, South Carolina Heritage and History. In addition, there are a wide variety of books that have cemetery records for a particular county such as Cemeteries of Henry County, Georgia.

In addition to genealogical related books, there are books that provide historical insights about transportation in other states such as A History of Georgia Railroads. Other works appeal to scholars that are interested in cultural and visual studies such as Shot in Alabama: A History of Photography, 1839-1941.

Some books in the Library and Archives southeastern state book collection offer valuable information on women’s history. For example, the Southern Women: Their Lives and Times series features women who are significant for states such as North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky. Furthermore, there are books that offer information about significant historic eras of time in a particular state like Running Mad for Kentucky: Frontier Travel Accounts. There are also resources that can provide general reference to historic people, places and things in a state’s history such as The Mississippi Encyclopedia.




With a wide variety of resources to choose from, the Tennessee State Library and Archives’ southeastern state book collection is a treasure trove for genealogists and historians who want to research outside of the state of Tennessee and connect with the past. For more on the other state resources available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives see the library search catalog: http://tsla.tlcdelivers.com:8080/#section=home


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

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fisk University in the Great War

By Allison Griffey

Like other schools, Fisk University contributed to the war effort during World War I. University leaders promoted the war effort and inspired students to participate. Two professors, Dexter N. Lutz and Leo E. Walker, joined the service not long after war was declared. On the homefront, professor Isaac Fisher coordinated many patriotic events on campus, such as lectures and flag raising ceremonies. He inspired students by linking patriotism with increased civil rights since the war had created new opportunities for African-American at home and overseas. Fisk instituted weekly military training for its male students through the Students’ Army Training Corps and converted its facilities to host over 600 black soldiers on-site.

Odie Falls Jennings, 1918

Tennessee World War I Gold Star Records, 1918-1924

Jennings was a member of Fisk’s Students’ Army Training Corps when he died at age 20 of influenza and pneumonia during the global Influenza Epidemic of 1918. The S.A.T.C. was a popular choice for college-age men, since it allowed them to continue their studies while joining the military and training on the homefront.


Fisk was one of three black institutions, alongside Howard University and Atlanta University that collaborated to establish the first black officers' training camp at Camp Dodge, Iowa. Black college students were instrumental in the formation of this camp, at least in part because of the direct impact the draft had on their lives. The Selective Service Act of 1917 called for draft registration of American men regardless of race. While some African-American were hesitant to support the United States' involvement in the war, many hoped that participation might lead to securing equal rights for the black population. Over 370,000 African-American men were inducted into the army. The military remained segregated and most black soldiers were assigned to service units that performed manual labor, though the army did create two combat divisions for African-American troops.



Letter to Governor Tom C. Rye from F. A. McKenzie, President of Fisk University, April 7, 1917

Governor Tom C. Rye Papers, 1915-1919

These documents describe the willingness of the African-American students at Fisk University to participate in the war effort. McKenzie also suggests organizing a network of African-American schools in Tennessee to create programs for military training and volunteer service in organizations such as the Red Cross.


Women at Fisk also worked industriously to “do their bit.” Their auxiliary chapter of the Red Cross produced 450 bed shirts and 100 knitted items for servicemen. Additionally, black women joined in the war effort by leading liberty loan drives, hosting rallies, registering nurses, and supporting black servicemen through clubs such as the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), Red Cross, and women's auxiliaries for black soldier unit. Ella Brown, dean of women, advocated for food conservation and asked students to take an active role addressing food shortage issues overseas. Professor Fisher also arranged for leading black women in the community to share their views on the war with soldiers. These lectures were given in part because professor Fisher believed women’s’ voices were as necessary to hear as men’s’ and because he hoped that the women would inspire soldiers by reminding them of the women in their lives.

Charter members of Fisk University Auxiliary, Nashville Chapter, American Red Cross, circa 1918

Davidson County Women in the World War, 1914-1919

Members of the group (alphabetical): Misses Abigail Jackson, Chairman, Instructor in Mathematics, Felina G. Blaine, Velda T. Brown, Lucy Brewer, Helen M. Burrell, Grace B. Broyles, Mabel E. Campbell, Emmie F. Drake, Tommie Sue A. Fosta, Pearl C. Haynes, Flay M. Henderson, Arah L. Horton, Florence B. Jackson, Clara W. Johnson, Clara L. Langrum, Ada B. Lewis, Ferris W. Lewis, Andrades S. Lindsay, Alma A. Oakes, Manila L. Owens, Roselyn L. Purdy, Nellie A. Randolph, Altamese C. Roberts, Ruth I. Rowan, Valda E. Sanders, Margaret A. Slater, Moirselles M. Stewart, Ethelynde J. Sutton, Alice M. Thomas, Isabel B. Walden, Annie G. Quick, Mrs. Ella W. Brown, Dean of Women and Mrs. M. S. Crosthwait, Registrar.



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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Meet the Staff - Jennifer Randles

Meet Jennifer Randles. She is the Digital Materials Librarian with the Digital Workgroup.

How long have you worked here?

A little over one year, since August 2016.

What are some of the things you do as Digital Materials Librarian?

I lead the Digital Workgroup (DWG), which is the go-to group in the building for digitization and consulting on digital projects. We work mostly with other staff, although we do regularly talk to patrons who order hi-resolution scans or professional prints of our materials. You may not see the members of the DWG very often, but you’ve seen the results of our efforts. We collaborate with other groups in the building to digitize the fascinating items in the Library and Archives and make them available to the public. Whether it’s in the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA), online exhibits or even our website pages—if you’ve seen it online, it has most certainly come through DWG at some point.

In addition to supervising staff, I manage the library’s digital collections and consult on digital projects. Somedays I am busy uploading new items to TeVA, and other days I’m consulting on how to best set up a new database or plan a digitization event. I also consult and guide other organizations who want to start digitization on how to start and maintain digital project and collections.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Often I tell people my favorite part is touching cool old stuff! I really love working with original materials and making them accessible to the public through the digital collections. It is such a thrill to take an item through the digitization and uploading process, then get feedback from people who are actually using what we’ve put online. I love hearing we have provided resources that assist someone in making progress in their research or learning more about their family history. It’s very satisfying to know you’ve helped make someone else’s life better in some way. I also must say I love working with the members of the Digital Work Group, as they are an awesome group of co-workers who can always make me smile.



Do you have a favorite collection?

I’m still learning about the collections here, but I think my current favorite is the Grassmere Collection. Several of us are working with Tori Mason from the Nashville Zoo to publish part of the collection on TeVA in the spring of 2018. It is a long process, but it has been so much fun! I’ve actually been able to do research on this project, which is something I don’t get to do very often so I’m having a ball.

Elise and Margaret Croft, who owned the Grassmere historic home and the land the Zoo is currently on, willed it all to the Nashville Children’s Museum to be used as a nature learning center after they passed on. The sisters were very proud of their connection to their land and passionate about sharing that love of nature and animals with the city. This collection has a great variety of materials, including photographs, recipe books, correspondence and oral histories. It also encompasses so many interesting topics, such as Nashville family history, agriculture, animals and even life in Cuba. It is exciting to get to know the sisters better as we go through the materials. I’ve become very fond of them through this process and I feel proud to be involved in sharing their story with the world.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

The public needs libraries and archives more than ever, so we can sort through and make sense of all the information we are barraged with these days. The Library and Archives provides access to original historic materials and teaches others how to discover more about Tennessee and its people. I believe the more exposure you have to historic materials, the more you can see the same issues repeating themselves over time—and the better you can interpret the present and plan for the future. To me, providing access to materials that help people understand the world is extremely important and relevant. Luckily, in my job, it also happens to be a lot of fun.


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

Friday, November 10, 2017

"Books for the Blind" program honors World War I veterans

In 1930, the "Books for the Blind" program was established within the Library of Congress to provide library service to wounded U.S. veterans returning from World War I. To this day, libraries for the blind and physically handicapped across the country still give veterans priority in their service.





The Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped honors patrons who are veterans each year by sending them a card thanking them for their service, designed by art students at the Tennessee School for the Blind. This year's card recognizes the 100th anniversary of the World War I by using the image of the red poppy.

Traditionally, according to the Smithsonian, poppy seeds need light to grow, so when they’re buried in the earth, they can lay dormant for 80 years or even longer by some accounts, without blooming. Once soil is disturbed and the seeds come to light, poppies nobody knew existed can then bloom. This happened in Flanders Field, Belgium, after a particularly fierce World War I battle and poppies have been worn in remembrance of a war that, overall, resulted in more than 38 million casualties.


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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Secretary of State's Offices to Close for Veterans Day

The Tennessee Secretary of State's office and all of its divisions will be closed Friday, Nov. 10, in observance of Veterans Day.

U.S. Marines Corps Women’s Reservists pictured in 1943. From the Sadie Warner Frazer Papers.
Tennessee State Library and Archives: Tennessee Virtual Archive


This includes the Division of Business Services, Division of Elections, Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming, Division of Administrative Procedures, Division of Publications and the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The Library and Archives will remain closed on Saturday, Nov. 11 in observance of the holiday.

All divisions will reopen at 8 a.m. CST Monday, Nov. 13, except the Library and Archives which is always closed on Mondays.

If you have business with any of the divisions, please plan accordingly.


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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Library and Archives Hosts 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.



"I invite Tennesseans looking to discover more about their heritage. This event is a wonderful opportunity for families to come together to reflect and be thankful for each other and their ancestors," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "I encourage people to reserve their seats as soon as possible."


Gordon Belt, director of the Library and Archives’ public services section, will present a genealogy workshop for beginners entitled, "Genealogy A to Z," which will provide tips and guidance for anyone interested in starting their family history research. The workshop will also include advice on researching Library and Archives' collections, which can offer a wealth of information for those researching their ancestry. After the workshop, Library and Archives staff members will be on hand to help visitors with their research.




The session will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, 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 genealogy101.eventbrite.com. Please note that Library and Archives will be closed Thursday, Nov. 23, and Friday, Nov. 24, 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

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween books for all ages

By Ruth Hemphill

Each fall, as the days get shorter and nighttime comes earlier, it’s the perfect time for Halloween! For those who like to scare themselves reading books, the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) has many Halloween books for all ages. Here are a few:



Ray Bradbury is famous for writing science fiction, horror and mystery novels, so, of course he has a Halloween novel. Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities, is a satirical account of a science fiction screenwriter and a 20-year-old mystery, set in the 1950s movie industry at the height of its glittering power. It is available in audio format.

Bradbury also wrote a Halloween story for children. The Halloween Tree, for grades 4-7 is available in both print and braille. It’s the story of eight boys in Halloween costumes who visit a haunted house on Halloween night. When one of them gets swept away by a dark and cadaverous being, the other seven boys travel through space and time to find him.

What happens when two mice choose the same pumpkin in the garden but have opposite goals for it? The Biggest Pumpkin Ever, by Stephen Kroll, explores how to resolve the problem when one mouse wants to enter the pumpkin in their town’s pumpkin contest and the other wants to carve it into a giant jack-o’-lantern. For grades 2-4, this title is available in braille.

And, of course, for large print readers, TLBPH has The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer, set in Wagtail, Virginia, the top pet-friendly getaway in the United States. In The Wicked Witch Murder, by Leslie Meier, is the new resident of Tinker’s Cove a psychic or a witch?



To find out more about who is eligible to borrow books from TLBPH, or what is available, go to: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/library-blind-and-physically-handicapped.

Take a look at some other ‘Haunted Tennessee’ themed books, newly available at the Library and Archives: http://tsla.tlcdelivers.com:8080/list/static/625936185/rss


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

Friday, October 27, 2017

Land Platting Workshop video now available online...

On Sept. 23, Presenter J. Mark Lowe, a certified genealogist and a renowned author and lecturer who specializes in original records and manuscripts throughout the South, delivered a presentation on 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.

Registration for this lecture drew a full house, so due to high demand we are making a video of Lowe's lecture available to the public. If you missed it the first time, or if you attended and wanted to revisit the lessons learned in this informative session, we encourage you to view the video at: https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/library-and-archives-workshop-land-platting



On Saturdays, the Tennessee State Library and Archives periodically hosts free "Workshop Series" lectures, featuring experts from our staff and researchers from outside our institution. The goal of the "Workshop Series" is to share information about materials and services offered by the Library and Archives and to provide opportunities for scholars, genealogists and historical researchers to share their work. Each lecture draws upon the resources of the Library and Archives and informs our audience about the historic value of our vast collection, and how they may use it in their own research.

See the entire "Workshop Series" video catalog here: https://sos.tn.gov/tsla/library-and-archives-workshop-series


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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Effort to Digitize World War I Artifacts Heads to Chattanooga

Every Tennessean has a story and preserving that history is an important part of sharing it.

Join us Nov. 1-2 in Chattanooga as we work to digitize WWI records and artifacts as a part of our “Over Here, Over There” digitization program.



Read more: https://sos.tn.gov/news/effort-digitize-world-war-i-artifacts-heads-chattanooga


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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Meet the Staff - Erin Lankford

Meet Erin Lankford. She is a Reader Advisor with The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

How long have you worked here?

I made the move to Nashville in January 2016, and have been right here ever since.

What are some of the things you do as a Reader Advisor?

I take the calls of the patrons, meaning I am on the phone all day long! I take patrons requests and make sure they get some great reads shipped right to their door. If they don’t know what to read next we suggest great titles based on their interests. I also handle most of the programming for our library including our call in Storytime for children with a Visual Handicap. This unique program has a great following and happens once a month. Check out our awesome Youtube video about how our story time is changing little readers’ lives!

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love making this library known to the public and meeting people who need our services who didn’t know we were out there. Could you imagine not just losing your vision, but also having to give up your reading? That is simply a world I could not live in. Luckily I get to tell people every day that books are still completely within their reach. The joy that our books bring to people’s lives makes the craziest days worth it in the end.

Do you have a favorite collection?

My favorite collection here is the print braille collection that is run by us! I believe in reading. And seeing these books made with both print for sighted children and braille for visually impaired children reminds me that everyone is entitled to literacy. Audio books are wonderful inventions; we ship about 10,000 titles on audio a week! But to be able to read the book for yourself means so much more. And seeing these tools for early literacy for braille readers in a society that calls braille a dying art, gives me hope that braille will never die.

Erin hosts "Virtual Story Time," a new way to experience books. Click HERE to read more.


What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

I have been working in a library since 2005 and I believe that librarians are super heroes. Librarians are there for your whole life too! We help you become a reader, educate you and entertain you. Google can give you an answer, but a librarian can give you the right answer and tell you how to use it.


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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Effort to Digitize World War I Artifacts Heads to Chattanooga

Over a five-year period, World War I ravaged Europe, the Middle East and parts of North Africa, overturning governments and costing millions of lives. The United States joined the battle in 1917, eventually mobilizing more than 4 million soldiers and countless civilians who provided support for the war effort on the homefront.



The Tennessee State Library and Archives launched Over Here, Over There: Tennesseans in the First World War, a major effort to collect digital records of how World War I affected Tennesseans. Archivists travel throughout the state to digitally scan and photograph documents, maps, photographs, uniforms and other artifacts related to World War I that are owned by private citizens.

“We were overwhelmed by the response to our request for Civil War items, so we hope this project will help us create a rich record of World War I history as well,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Creating digital records of historical artifacts makes them easily available to anyone with internet access. It’s important that we do this now before more of these century-old items are lost or damaged beyond repair.”



The next event will be held at the Chattanooga Public Library, located at 1001 Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga. Items will be digitally recorded from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Nov. 1 and from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Nov. 2. The archivists will not actually take possession of the items from the owners but will provide tips on how to care for these rare treasures.

People living in East Tennessee are encouraged to bring in letters, photographs, diaries, military records, maps, sketches, weapons, uniforms and other items related to the war. All items must be original (no photocopies or reproductions) and owned by the person bringing them to the event.

To reserve time with an archivist on one of those dates, email WorldWarI.tsla@tn.gov or call (615) 741-1883.

This is the fifth of several digitization events being held around the state, and the second in East Tennessee. Find more information about the project and upcoming events at sos.tn.gov/tsla/OverHere_WWI.

This event is part of the fall 2017 Great War Symposium.


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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Launches New Online Ordering System

The Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (TLBPH), a division of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, has a new online ordering system offering unprecedented access to patrons. The system is available 24/7 and can be easily accessed on a computer or mobile device.



Audio, braille and large books are available for free shipment directly to patrons' homes. Patrons can search by title, narrator, author and more. They can also browse new releases, staff recommendations and view their personal reading history.

“This new user-friendly system will create greater access to books for people with blindness or visual impairments, which is a principal goal of the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. I am proud we can create equal access to books and educational resources for all Tennesseans,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

The service works with the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service allowing users to download books with one click.

“This fills a fundamental need in our community,” said Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Director Maria Sochor. “We hope that the new system will encourage people with visual disabilities to take advantage of this invaluable resource.”

To access the system, visit accessiblelibrary.org or contact library staff regarding online ordering at 800-342-3308.


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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Folklife artists share their craft...

Please join us at the Library and Archives on Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon to learn more about the soon-to-be-released digital collection and learn more about folklife in Tennessee.

We are excited that peach pit carver Roger Smith will be present as a featured artist at the upcoming event. Roger R. Smith of Culleoka, Tennessee, is a cattle farmer and retired meter reader for the Duck River Electric Company.



While he doesn’t consider himself an artist, he carves amazing figures out of peach seeds using only his pocket knife. Mr. Smith creates animals, reptiles, people and even an entire baseball stadium complete with peach pit players, spectators and automobiles. He estimates that each figurine takes about four to eight hours to complete. Mr. Smith’s work has been on display at the Tennessee State Museum as well as the White House where his Santa carving was displayed on the tree as part of Christmas at the White House before becoming a permanent part of the White House ornament collection.

In addition, former Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission Folklife Program, Robert Cogswell, will speak about the collection and old-time buckdancer Thomas Maupin will be performing. 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 folklifetsla.eventbrite.com.


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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New World War I digital collection in the Tennessee Virtual Archive

By Allison Griffey

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has launched a new digital collection, Record of Ex-Soldiers in World War I, Tennessee Counties, 1917-1919. Visit the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) to view the records of over 130,000 soldiers and sailors from Tennessee who served in the Great War: http://bit.ly/RG36TeVA.

Graeme McGregor Smith, Governor McCord and Mary Daniel Moore, State librarian and archivist, at the signing of the bill to build the new Library and Archives, 1947.


Service record information is arranged by county and includes age, place of birth, residence, unit in which the soldier served, enlistment and discharge dates. These service abstracts fill a gap left by the 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire, which destroyed the majority of Army personnel records between 1912 and 1960.

World War I service abstract for Sgt. Alvin C. York from the Record of Ex-Soldiers in World War I, Tennessee Counties, 1917-1919.


This collection began as an American Legion Auxiliary project spearheaded by Graeme McGregor Smith, mother of two World War I veterans. She mobilized Tennessee’s women to collect the records of soldiers and sailors to ensure that every Tennessean who served in the Great War would be remembered. In 1937, the legislature granted these compiled service records status as official public records of Tennessee and allowed for certified copies to be used in all courts.

“After all the History of a State is but the history of her people and when the Records of the ninety-five Counties of Tennessee are completed, Tennessee will have available a complete survey of its industrial and military man-power.” —Graeme McGregor Smith

Visit Record of Ex-Soldiers in World War I, Tennessee Counties, 1917-1919: http://bit.ly/RG36TeVA


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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Library and Archives Hosts Free Folklife Event

In partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will host a free event about folklife Oct. 14. Folklife is a multifaceted tradition which values oral stories, songs, art and many other cultural aspects.



The Library and Archives' abundant resources assert Tennessee as a premier resource for national folk studies. This upcoming event will highlight the publication of a large digital image collection consisting of approximately 22,000 photographs, slides, and negatives. Over 300 of these images will be released on the Tennessee Virtual Archive to coincide with the event, with the rest of the images to be published over subsequent years.

Dr. Robert Cogswell will speak about the collection he developed over three decades during his tenure as Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission Folklife Program. Dr. Cogswell retired from the Commission in 2014. Thomas Maupin, winner of the National Education Association’s National Heritage Fellowship award and renowned old-time buckdancer, will also perform. In addition, Roger R. Smith of Culleoka, Tennessee, will be on hand to talk about his craft. Smith carves figures from peach pits, including animals, reptiles, people, and even an entire baseball stadium complete with players, spectators, and automobiles. Smith’s work has been on display at the Tennessee State Museum as well as the White House. Free children’s craft activities will also be available during the event.



The event will be 10 a.m. until noon CDT Oct. 14 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: https://folklifetsla.eventbrite.com.


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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Meet the Staff - Susan Gordon

Welcome to another installment of “Meet the Staff.” Today, let’s meet Susan Gordon. She is an Archivist in Archival Technical Services (ATS).

How long have you worked here?

Since 1999.

What are some of the things you do as an archivist?

Aid in processing, evaluating, and analyzing manuscripts and preparing them for placement in the collections; I am part of a large team that summarizes court transcriptions for our Tennessee Supreme Court data project; I research historical events and participate in several of our very active committees. I identify historical context for letters, diaries, court cases, state legislation, and keep up on current events. (Nothing worse than an uninformed historian!)

What is your favorite part of your job?

It’s a hackneyed old answer, but I enjoy (nearly) all facets of my work. Processing family papers is at the top of the list. I very much enjoy the research required to assess the historical value of a collection. It’s an endless learning experience.

Another of my favorite responsibilities is editing finding aids, which our talented ATS folks write. These are guides to manuscript collections, state records, and governors’ papers. We assess their significance to Tennessee history. One has to be a little nosy to be a historian since you must summarize collection content. (Reading diaries and period correspondence--some intimate--is like reading other people’s mail.)

I serve on several committees. A committee such as Archives Review decides if donations and potential purchases will complement/widen the breadth of the collections. It keeps me aware of incoming documents. Exhibits Committee work is pretty obvious: we research, illustrate, and write copy for displays on topics as diverse as women’s suffrage, prohibition, and children. Great fun. Let me plug the upcoming exploration of Tennessee’s role in the Great War--that’s World War I.

Education Outreach gives us the chance to share our holdings with teachers and students. We have a remarkably able Outreach staff--they are a vital part of carrying out our institutional mission.

I’m biased, but I think my department (ATS) is one of the most important in our building. We take in manuscript donations, process collections and write their finding aids, and deliver documents to the Public Services Manuscripts Section for public viewing, the Digital Work Group for digitization, or to other archivists doing research. They count on ATS not only for delivery but also for helping to locate related collections. Access to manuscripts, state record collections, and governors’ papers originates in ATS.



Do you have a favorite collection?

Of course, I do! The Oliver Caswell King and Catherine Rutledge King Papers. Dozens of intimate letters tell the story of two East Tennessee lovers (yes, they get married) who get caught up in the Civil War. Their exchanges provide a social, political, and domestic framework of the times through correspondence, essays, and poetry. Anyone interested in antebellum/wartime courtship practices, college experiences, Civil War camp life, and life on the home front will find plenty here. The letters are not unlike those written in the next century: they reveal humor, sympathy, pain, jealousy, and intellect.

(View them online: http://tsla.tnsosfiles.com/digital/teva/sites/kingpapers/index.htm)

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

Libraries and archives exist to preserve and share the records that document our history. The State Library and Archives is a custodian of our state’s past, and that means preserving legislative records, governors’ papers, personal and family papers, books, atlases, and maps. Fulfilling our mission is a balancing act. May patrons handle historic documents? Or, do we strictly preserve the records of times gone by? Both. Often a researcher feels a connection to an original document. We are sensitive to that, so in certain situations and under strict supervision, a patron may work with originals. To keep us in the modern age, we are digitizing countless numbers of these documents. Making them available to the public in this way allows us to preserve them and share them at the same time.

For more than 10 years, I worked as a manuscript archivist in Public Services. I considered it important work. Soon after I moved to ATS, I realized how essential to our mission my new work was. Maybe in some small way I am helping scholars and family historians contribute to the historical literature.


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

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Remembering and Celebrating a Rural Heritage: The Tennessee Century Farms Program

By Dr. Kevin Cason

The popular 1960s television comedy Green Acres introduced viewers to New York lawyer Oliver Wendell Douglas who longed for a simpler way of life. As a result, he purchased a farm and moved there to live off the land, despite the opposition of his socialite wife Lisa. To express his appreciation of the rural life Douglas declared in the opening theme song: “Green Acres is the place to be. Farm living is the life for me. Land spreading out, so far and wide. Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside!” While the song provided a memorable tune for television viewers, the love of the countryside and farm living is something that still resonates with people. For many Tennesseans and other Americans farming has been an important part of their lives.

One program that recognizes this rural heritage is the Tennessee Century Farms program. The Tennessee Century Farms program honors farms that have remained in the same family and have had continuous agricultural production for 100 years or more. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture established the “Family Land Heritage-Century Farms” program as a way to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. To gain recognition as a Century Farm, farmers filled out applications that told the history of their farm and provided documentation proving continuous ownership. A county agent or county historian then certified their application. After officially certifying the farms, special ceremonies were held at regional, county and state fairs to recognize the Century Farms where farm families received a certificate and a plaque. In 1979, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture loaned 637 farm files to the Tennessee State Library and Archives for microfilming. Eventually, the microfilmed files became State Record Group 62 and part of the Library and Archives microfilm collection.

Cartwright-Russell Farm, Smith County, Record Group 62, Tennessee Century Farms Microfilm Collection.


In 1984, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture asked the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University to administer the program and maintain the Tennessee Century Farms collection of applications and photographs. Under the guidance of staff at the Center for Historic Preservation, more farms have been added to the collection each year. Over the years, the Center has produced publications, exhibits, and a website to recognize the program.

Commissioner of Agriculture Edward S. Porter with Century Farms certificate and sign, October 1976. Tennessee Market Bulletin, Vol. XLIX, No. 10


Today, people can still apply to be a part of the Tennessee Century Farms program. In order to apply for the Century Farms designation, a person must fill out an application that is provided by the Center for Historic Preservation. In addition, the person must have documentation that shows the continuous ownership of the farm within their family for at least 100 years. Another requirement is the farm must be 10 acres or more of the original farm owned by the founder. The farm also has to produce at least $1,000 in revenue annually. The application then has to be certified by either the county agent or the county historian. On review of the application, the Center for Historic Preservation issues a letter and certificate officially designating the property as a Tennessee Century Farm. In addition, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture issues a yellow outdoor sign to further distinguish the family farm.

Townsend Farm Landscape Scene, Giles County, Record Group 62, Tennessee Century Farms Microfilm Collection.


Across Tennessee, the yellow metal Century Farm signs can be seen prominently displayed on many rural landscapes and historic buildings. The signs serve as a reminder of the important agricultural legacy of farm families who have continuously owned and farmed their land for at least 100 years.

For more on the Tennessee Century Farms Program see:

  • The Tennessee Century Farms website: http://www.tncenturyfarms.org/
  • “Family Land Heritage-Century Farms Collection, 1975-1978.” Record Group 62, Tennessee State Library and Archives. (Microfilm only collection).
  • Carroll Van West, Tennessee Agriculture: A Century Farms Perspective. Nashville: Department of Agriculture, 1986.
  • Caneta Skelley Hankins and Michael Thomas Gavin, Plowshares and Swords: Tennessee Farm Families Tell Civil War Stories. Murfreesboro, TN: Center for Historic Preservation, 2013.

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

James Burney McAlester: The First Native American to Play Football for Vanderbilt University

By Will Thomas

James Burney McAlester was born in North McAlester, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) June 7, 1876*. He went on to become the first Native American to play football for Vanderbilt University. His father, James J. McAlester, served as U.S. Marshal for the United States Court in the Choctaw Nation from 1893 to 1897. His mother, Rebecca Burney, was a member of the Chickasaw nation, and his uncle, Benjamin C. Burney, was Governor of the Chickasaw Nation from 1887 to 1880.

J. B. McAlester, Nashville, Tennessee, 1898. Calvert Brothers Studios Glass Plate Negatives.



J. B. McAlester studied law at the University of Missouri and then at Vanderbilt University. During his time at Vanderbilt, he played left tackle on the 1897 football team. In his book 50 Years of Vanderbilt Football, famed sports writer Fred Russell calls the 1897 team the "Greatest Eleven of the Nineties." He also notes that McAlester was the only Native American to play football for Vanderbilt (at least, as of the time of the book's publication in 1938).

1897 Vanderbilt University football team in Fred Russell's 50 Years of Vanderbilt Football. Library Holdings.


During the 1890s and early 1900s, Vanderbilt's greatest rival wasn't the University of Tennessee – it was Sewanee (now named University of the South). Between 1891 and 1944, Sewanee and Vanderbilt would battle it out on the gridiron 52 times. Vanderbilt won 40 of the games, Sewanee won 8, and there were 4 tie games.


Statements by Sewanee team captain, Oscar Wilder and Vanderbilt team manager, Lester G. Fant (misspelled in the newspaper), about the 1897 game, Nashville American, Nov. 25, 1897. Newspaper Microfilm Collection.


In 1897, the two teams met in Nashville November 25 (Thanksgiving Day). The game, which Vanderbilt won 10-0, received a great deal of coverage in the Nashville American newspaper (later renamed the Tennessean).

List of players on the Sewanee and Vanderbilt football teams with their respective weights, Nashville American, Nov. 25, 1897. Newspaper Microfilm Collection.


One article lists the offensive players for each team and gives their respective weights (although it incorrectly lists McAlester as "J. E." McAlester). Tipping the scales at 190 lbs., McAlester was the heaviest player on Vanderbilt's team. Now, of course, an offensive lineman under 200 lbs. or a 134 lb. quarterback is something you might only expect to see on a junior high school team.

Illustration depicting Vanderbilt scoring a touchdown against Sewanee, Nashville American, Nov. 26, 1897. Newspaper Microfilm Collection.



*There is some discrepancy about when McAlester was born. His World War I draft registration (which he filled out) lists his birth year as 1876. His death certificate, however, lists his birth year as 1874, and his tombstone lists it as 1875. The date he himself gave is most likely the correct one.


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