Friday, April 28, 2017

Preservation Week Tip: Sticky Tape is Evil

By Carol Roberts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Preservation Week Tip: Caring for Old Photographs

By Carol Roberts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

Preservation Week Tip: Caring for Old Books

By Carol Roberts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Historical maps of all 95 Tennessee counties now online

By Sara Horne and Zach Keith

Finally! Maps of all of Tennessee’s 95 counties (not to mention the so-called "lost" counties that are no longer in existence) can be found in our Tennessee Virtual Archive collection. Our map collection is always growing as our staff continuously works to discover, select and digitize a wide variety of maps for the public. Over the past three years, the Library & Archives has been digitizing the largest and most significant collection of historical maps in the state available for public use.

Individual Tennessee county maps can contain a wealth of detail and can be especially useful for genealogical and local historical research. What kind of maps can you expect to find for your county?

Rural Free Delivery (RFD)

Rural free delivery maps were most likely created for use by postal carriers. Many of them are blueline or blueprint maps created from 1900 to 1940. They are very detailed down to individual houses and buildings and may contain names of homeowners and landowners.

Soil Maps and Geological Surveys

These late 19th to early 20th century maps show counties in incredible detail, including the most significant economic and demographic features. They also colorfully indicate the soil types and geological attributes of each county, which was important for agriculture and mining.

Civil Districts

These maps were drawn to establish new civil districts after the ratification of the 1835 state constitution. They show the early features of each county and sometimes include landowners' names, election precincts, roads and boundaries.

Rural Electrification

These maps give electricity-related details, residences, churches, schools, filling stations, stores, industries, tourist camps, garages, airports and geographic features. They were drawn as part of New Deal public works projects in rural Tennessee.

These historical county maps show many bygone features and are indispensable guides to the rural landscape of Tennessee before modernization. The Library & Archives preserves many other maps and map types. If you see any you would like digitized, please contact our staff.

The Library & Archives is adding new items to the digital collection monthly so check back regularly to see our new additions! We also provide monthly updates on our Facebook page. There are currently more than 400 maps online in our historical map collection:

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

Free Library & Archives Workshop on the Historical Importance of Embroidered 'Samplers' May 6

Documents made with pen and paper aren't the only important records of Tennessee history. In some cases, the stories of the state's early days are stitched together in embroidered cloth patches known as samplers. On May 6, the Tennessee State Library & Archives will host a free workshop describing what these samplers can reveal about the lives of our ancestors.

A family register made by Elizabeth Jane Hunter of Knox County in 1836.
Photo by Jennifer C. Core for the Tennessee Sampler Survey

Samplers, once made by schoolgirls learning how to embroider, can be valuable primary sources for genealogists. Family registers were usually copied directly from family Bibles, listing names, births and death dates. When compared to public records, the dates on samplers are often more accurate. For example, if a girl was born and died unmarried before the 1850 census, her sampler might be the only proof of her existence. Some samplers also included details such as the name of a girl’s school, her teachers and the town where she lived.

Janet S. Hasson, the former curator at Belle Meade Plantation, will conduct the workshop from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. May 6 in the auditorium of the Library & Archives building. The Library & Archives is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, directly west of the Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville. Although the event is free and open to the public, registration is required due to seating limitations in the auditorium.

To reserve seats, please visit Free parking is available around the Library & Archives building.

"The history of our state is told in many different mediums," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "The tradition of making samplers dates back thousands of years, which of course includes the era in which Tennessee existed as a frontier territory before statehood. I believe this workshop will offer tips on a fun and informative way to study history that's quite different from digging through reference books and maps. I encourage people to make reservations as early as possible for this event."

Hasson is the genealogist for the Tennessee Sampler Survey, a nonprofit organization she founded in 2004 with her colleague Jennifer C. Core. The organization is dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Tennessee’s needlework. The group has documented approximately 240 samplers so far. The authenticity of those samplers has been verified by extensive genealogical research, most of it done at the Library & Archives. Hasson will share the fun and frustration she experienced in solving some of the sampler makers’ stories. When the group's project is complete, all research materials will be donated to the Library & Archives for public use. For more information on the samplers and their stories they tell, visit the Tennessee Sampler Survey website,

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Andrew Jackson Collection Now Available Online

He was the first Tennessean to serve as president of the United States – and his legacy remains hotly debated to this day. Andrew Jackson was a larger-than-life figure in American politics, a war hero who rode a wave of populism into the White House. Yet the soldier-turned-statesman known as “Old Hickory” is also a polarizing figure, primarily because of his sometimes prickly disposition and his treatment of Native Americans.

Major General Andrew Jackson, 1820. Sir Emil Hurja Collection, Tennessee Historical Society.
Online at:

Now the Tennessee State Library and Archives has an online collection of materials that will make it easier to learn about the nation’s seventh president. The 109-item collection includes digitally scanned copies of many of Jackson’s personal letters, original maps from the War of 1812, political cartoons, campaign broadsides, engravings, lithographs and a rare photograph of him. Also included are papers from some of Jackson’s chief associates, including John Overton, John Coffee, James Winchester, William Carroll and William B. Lewis.

“The Library and Archives has two equally important roles – preserving historical documents and making those documents accessible to the public,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “The physical documents featured in this collection have been preserved and made available to those who want to inspect them at the Library and Archives for years. However, this digital collection now makes the same records available, free of charge, to people who are unwilling or unable to visit the Library and Archives building in downtown Nashville. This is part of our ongoing efforts to put as much of Tennessee’s rich history online as quickly as our resources allow.”

To view the Andrew Jackson collection online, please visit:

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tennessee History Scholars Advance to National Competition

Seventy-three students qualified to represent Tennessee at National History Day later this summer. Those students placed first or second in their categories at Tennessee History Day held in Nashville on Saturday. History Day is a competition in which high school and middle school students compete by submitting projects about people and events of historical significance.

Participants enter projects in one of five categories: documentaries, exhibits, performances, websites and papers. While projects must relate to the annual theme, students were encouraged to be creative when choosing their topics. This year’s theme was “Taking a Stand.” One hundred and seven students received medals for their efforts, 20 students were awarded special prizes and two educators were recognized as teachers of the year Saturday.

National History Day will be held June 11 through June 15 on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland.

“I am certain that the students who are advancing to the competition in Maryland will represent Tennessee well,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “I hope all of Saturday’s participants gained a lot from the experience. Studies have shown that students who participate in History Day learn skills that can benefit them during their academic careers and even later in life after they enter the workforce. Also, History Day participants tend to be more involved in civic activities after they reach adulthood.”

“I am proud of all our students,” added Tennessee History Day Coordinator Jennifer C. Core. “I'm impressed by how they turn themselves into experts on their selected topics and how they incorporate constructive feedback into each revision of their projects. They are learning how to examine sources critically and how to present their findings to a sophisticated audience.”

The judges at Saturday’s competition – including university professors, graduate students, high school teachers, librarians, archivists and other public historians – picked the winners from 154 submitted projects. The Tennessee Historical Society coordinates Tennessee History Day with the support of the Tennessee Department of State, Humanities Tennessee, First Tennessee Foundation, the Memorial Foundation and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

Since 1974, History Day has grown from a small local competition in Cleveland, Ohio with about 100 students into an event that attracts about a half million students nationwide each year. For more information about the program in Tennessee, visit the National History Day website or contact Jennifer Core at (615) 741-8934 or via e-mail at

To view a list of the medal winners from Saturday’s Tennessee History Day, visit:

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

Friday, April 7, 2017

Helping to Preserve the Great Smokies: Paul Jay Adams

By Dr. Kevin Cason

On Sept. 2, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived at Newfound Gap to dedicate the Great Smoky Mountains as a national park. In front of crowds of people, Roosevelt came to the podium and stated: “Here in the Great Smokies, we meet today to dedicate these mountains, streams, forests to the service of the American people.” While the celebration was a momentous occasion, it had taken many years and many people’s efforts to reach that point. One of the people who played a significant role in promoting the conservation and appreciation of the Great Smoky Mountains region was Paul Jay Adams.

View of Mt. Le Conte at the Great Smoky Mountains
Paul Jay Adams Papers, Box 8, Folder 9
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Adams was born in Paxton, Illinois in 1901 to Nittie Elizabeth Vanderhoff and Rev. Clair Stack Adams. As a young boy, his father encouraged him to explore outside and take notes in journals of what he observed. In 1914, his family moved to Burnsville, North Carolina. While living there, Adams began to develop his interest in wildlife and exploring the mountains. By 1918, his family moved to Knoxville and his attention turned to the Great Smoky Mountains after he hiked to the summit of Mount Le Conte.

Paul Jay Adams and his dog Smoky Jack, Sept. 1926
Paul Jay Adams Papers, Box 8, Folder 9
Tennessee State Library and Archives

During the 1920s, the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association was organized with the mission of advocating for the establishment of a national park in the Great Smoky Mountains. Adams, who was a member of the organization, was appointed as custodian of Mount Le Conte. After learning of his appointment, he purchased a large German shepherd that he named “Smoky Jack.” The dog served as his only constant companion on the mountain. During his nine-month tenure as custodian of Mount Le Conte, Adams made some improvements to the area, such as building a camp and cutting a path to the popular scenic view known as Cliff Top.

With many people supporting and promoting the conservation of the Great Smokies, the region eventually became an official national park. Today, the Great Smoky Mountains continues to attract a wide variety of visitors who want to view the natural beauty and landscape of the mountains.

Cover Drawing of Mt. Le Conte book by Paul J. Adams
Paul Jay Adams Collection, Box 8, Folder 8
Tennessee State Library and Archives

The Library & Archives is fortunate to house the Paul Jay Adams collection that provides photographs, personal journals and booklets pertaining to his experiences as custodian of Mount Le Conte. In addition, his self-published accounts entitled Mt. Le Conte and Smoky Jack: The Adventures of a Dog and His Master on Mount Le Conte are part of the library collection.

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tennessee History Day Competition Draws Students From Across Tennessee

Following months of research and competitions at the local and district levels, more than 300 students from across the state will present their projects at the annual Tennessee History Day competition in downtown Nashville Saturday. The competition allows students to showcase their creativity and researching skills by developing projects with historical themes. The students with the projects judged best in the statewide competition will advance to the National History Day finals - held in College Park, Maryland June 11 through June 15 - with prestigious awards and scholarships awaiting the top finishers there. 

Middle and high school students created projects based on topics of their choosing, all of which related to this year’s theme, “Taking a Stand in History.” Students compete in five categories: papers, exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances. Tennessee History Day helps participating students learn the importance of history and critical thinking through the use of primary source documents, in-depth research and analysis.

"Each year, there are so many great projects related to the selected theme for History Day," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "This year's theme is particularly inspiring because it focuses on people who have made courageous stands that have helped our state, our country and our world become what they are today. I wish all of this year's participants the best of luck in what I'm sure will be an exciting competition. I am sure Saturday's winners will represent Tennessee well at the national competition in College Park."

“We look forward to hosting this special group of talented young scholars at the capital this year,” added Ann Toplovich, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Society, which has sponsored the competition since 2009 with grant support from the Secretary of State’s Office and Humanities Tennessee. “Their History Day projects bring amazing insights into the history that shapes the world we live in today.”

Nationwide, the History Day program includes more than a half million students annually from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa and Department of Defense Schools. Each fall, students and teachers nationwide begin work on the yearlong curriculum, which starts with competitions held in individual schools. The winners there advance to district competitions. In Tennessee, those district competitions take place in Knoxville (sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville), Greeneville (sponsored by Tusculum College), Cleveland (sponsored by the Museum Center at 5ive Points), Clarksville (sponsored by Austin Peay State University), Murfreesboro (sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University) and Memphis (sponsored by the University of Memphis). The district winners qualified for Saturday's event, which will be held at various buildings in downtown Nashville.

For more information about Tennessee History Day, please visit

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

‘Virtual Story Time’ Offers a New Way to Experience Books

Story time is a popular tradition at public libraries throughout the country, but story time events at the Tennessee State Library and Archives have a special twist: instead of performing with groups of eager children crowded at her feet, the librarian administering the program at the Library and Archives is reading books aloud in mostly empty rooms.

The audience – children with vision impairments or other disabilities that make reading standard print books difficult – listen to the stories each month via telephone conference call. While they are listening, the children prepare crafts that relate to the stories they are hearing.

The Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (TLBPH), a division of the Library and Archives, developed the first-of-its-kind program last fall as a way to reach disabled people who might never visit a public library. “Virtual story time” is a program that libraries in other states could eventually adopt in their own communities.

Maria Sochor, TLBPH’s director, said the goal was to give the library’s patrons with special needs access to a service readily available to people with sight at most community libraries. “The feedback we’ve gotten has been wonderful,” Sochor said. “The children are engaging with us during the calls. Children who never would have had a chance to interact with each other have that opportunity.”

That was true for Christian Buchanan, a 6-year-old Woodbury resident who participated for the first time in March. While Christian listened to the story “You Nest Here With Me” being read aloud during the session, he built a bird’s nest out of materials TLBPH sent to him and shared the experience with others on the call.

Lacey Buchanan, Christian’s mother, said TLBPH’s story time sessions help her son learn about the outside world. “Having the phone call and the interactiveness, they are made for him,” Lacey Buchanan said. “It’s not that their disabilities are highlighted, but their needs are highlighted. A need is getting met. For him to get to be conversational, to me, that’s the best part of it.”

The Tennessee program has no age limits and there’s no cost to participate. Sochor said “children and the young at heart” are welcome to join the calls each month.

While participants are learning and developing socialization skills, the program has another obvious benefit. “The thing that makes it work as far as getting children engaged is that we make it fun,” Sochor said.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett, whose office oversees TLBPH and the Library and Archives, said he hopes Tennessee’s program can be a model for other “virtual story times” across the country.

“I am constantly inspired by the creativity of the people who make up our department. They saw an opportunity and created this program to address the specific needs of our patrons. This may not impact a massive population of Tennesseans, but I know this initiative is benefiting the lives of those who call in every month,” said Secretary Hargett said.

Lacey Buchanan is also hoping the idea will catch on, for Christian and other children like him. “I think it would be great if every state had this program,” she said. “This would be a sort of communal thing.”

For information about how to sign up for the program, please visit:

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Library and Archives Can’t Afford More Funding Delays

In a recent op-ed, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett expressed the critical need for a new Library & Archives facility...

As the legislative session winds down, I am cautiously optimistic that the General Assembly will include funding for a new Tennessee State Library and Archives building in the next state budget. I am optimistic because I have heard from many House and Senate members who support funding for the new building. But I am also cautious because I believe there are some lingering misconceptions about this project.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that the Library and Archives should focus on creating electronic versions of its records instead of trying to find space for them in a new building. There are several points to make about that.

First of all, the Library and Archives already has an active program in which digital copies of records are being created and made available online. This effort is a very important part of our ongoing strategy to ensure access to records for people who might not be willing or able to travel to the Library and Archives building in downtown Nashville.

However, it’s also important to understand that the Library and Archives has millions of pages of documents, photographs and maps that haven’t yet been electronically scanned. Making digital copies of all of them within a reasonable time would be cost prohibitive costing in the hundreds of millions, far more than what a new building is expected to cost. Scanning of documents would have to continue forever since the Library and Archives receives more records from state agencies and private donors every week.

There’s also a widely-held belief that digital records would last forever. This simply isn’t true. Digital files are susceptible to becoming corrupted. As anyone who has dealt with corrupted files on a personal computer knows, it isn’t always possible to retrieve them once they’re lost and other technical elements become obsolete including software that is no longer supported.

Just for the sake of argument, though, let’s say we could digitize all of the Library and Archives’ records quickly, cheaply and without fear that they might turn into unreadable gobbledygook within a decade or less. Would you really want to get rid of the original historic documents? I think most of us have seen a digital copy of the Declaration of Independence at some point in our lives, but that doesn’t mean that priceless originals are ready for the paper shredder.

Another misconception is that the Library and Archives simply has a storage problem that could be fixed by renting warehouse space. Most warehouses don’t have the type of temperature and humidity controls needed to preserve sensitive old records. Then there are security considerations to ensure valuable documents don’t grow legs and end up appearing on an online auction website.

A bigger issue concerns public access. If you were to walk into the Library and Archives building and request any record there, the staff could produce what you wanted within a matter of minutes. The same wouldn’t be true if some records were kept in an off-site warehouse, where it might take a day or more to find them and make them available.

A warehouse wouldn’t fix the problems at the existing building, anyway. The building, on Capitol Hill, which is 65 years old, has only 15 public parking spaces available to patrons. Additionally, the building has a major handicapped access problem which causes wheelchair users to use a back door by the loading dock and to be escorted into the building’s public space by security. The building is too small for many tour groups to visit, especially student groups. And the records already being stored there are at risk of mold and mildew damage because of the building’s declining condition.

The most damaging misconception of all is that a new building is just a “want,” not a “need.” The Library and Archives is required by state law to store official state records and make them available to the public. The staff there doesn’t have the option of hanging up a “no vacancy” sign when more records arrive at its doorstep.

In fact, the need and value of our holdings hit home in a meaningful way to the families who lost everything in the tragic Gatlinburg wildfire last fall - including marriage certificates needed to prove their legal statuses. Those records have been preserved because copies were available at the Library and Archives.

Funding for a new building has been in limbo for almost a decade so we need a solution. A famous Tennessean named Elvis Presley once sang: “It’s now or never.” This is where we are with regards to this important and worthy project. Without action now, current and future Tennesseans will lose accessibility to our state’s valuable and historic records and our ability to preserve these documents will continue to be diminished.

Tre Hargett is Tennessee’s Secretary of State. His office oversees the operations of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. 

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Complete Set of Tennessee Gold Star Records Available Online as World War I Anniversary Approaches

Group of soldiers at Camp Sevier in Greenville, S.C. on November 7, 1917 in the gold star record of Corp. Joseph Warren Kyle, Co. C, 105th Fld. Sig. Bn.
Pictured (left to right): Hurst (Sevierville, Tenn.); Kyle (Hollow Rock, Tenn.); Creson (Fayetteville, Tenn.); Lamox (Winchester, Tenn.); Marshall (Ky.)
Tennessee World War I Gold Star Records: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)

The United States’ entry into World War I led to tragedy for the West family from the East Tennessee community of Oliver Springs. Newspapers of the time reported that infantryman and Oliver Springs resident George Edward West carried his dying 17-year-old brother Thomas from a battlefield in France, only to be killed himself a little more than a month later.

The stories of the West brothers – and hundreds of others like them – are immortalized in the records of Tennessee’s Gold Star collection. As the United States prepares to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the date the country joined the conflict known as “the Great War,” the Tennessee State Library and Archives is pleased to announce that a complete set of those records is now available online.

“The U.S. entry into World War I was a somber time in our country’s history,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “As we near the 100th anniversary of that date, many people may wish to learn more about the brave soldiers from Tennessee who lost their lives while serving overseas. This online collection should make it easier for people who may not be able to visit the Library and Archives building in person to review these records and discover the heroic stories they document.”

The United States officially entered World War I April 6, 1917. About 130,000 soldiers from Tennessee went off to battle – many of whom did not return. During the war, families of soldiers hung small flags with blue stars on them to signify that they were contributing to the war effort. The families of soldiers who were killed in action changed their blue stars to gold.

Two months after the armistice was signed to end the war, Tennessee began collecting data about the state’s gold star honorees. Spearheaded by then-State Librarian and Archivist John Trotwood Moore, people throughout the state began sending information about deceased World War I veterans, including photographs, letters, service records, obituaries and mementos.

Those records, which have been stored at the Library and Archives, are now available through the Tennessee Virtual Archive. The files, documenting the service of 1,169 Tennessee soldiers, can be viewed at:

Visitors to the site can look up soldiers by their names, home cities or counties, or the branch of the service in which they served. These records may be of particular interest to genealogists since they contain information about soldiers, their parents and other family members that may have been destroyed in a 1921 fire that obliterated records from the 1890 U.S. Census.

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Nannie Hereford: Missionary and Prisoner of War

By Ellen Robison

The Tennessee State Library & Archives’ collection of Tennessee newspapers on microfilm is an excellent source for researchers to get an overview of events in Tennessee history. Among the stories found within these records is that of Nannie Hereford, a former missionary in Japan who was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines during World War II. She later returned to Japan to work for 33 more years serving the people by whom she was held hostage.

Nashville Tennessean article, dated May 3, 1945, entitled “Local Woman, Free of Japs, Returns to U. S.”

Hereford was born in 1908, in Osaka, Japan to Presbyterian missionaries, Dr. and Mrs. W. F. Hereford of Lebanon, Tennessee. She grew up in Hiroshima, Japan, but returned to Tennessee during her high school and college years. In 1932, she followed in her parents’ footsteps and accepted her own appointment for missionary work in Japan. There she worked as a teacher in Hokkaido until 1941, when tensions between Japan and the United States forced her to transfer to the Philippines. She was still working there when war broke out in the Pacific.

Nashville Tennessean article, dated April 11, 1942, entitled, “25 More State Servicemen, Civilians Believed in Philippines.” Pages 1 and 2.

An article on the April 11, 1942, front page of the Nashville Tennessean reported that 25 more individuals were added to the list of Tennesseans last known to be in the Philippines when the Japanese took control of the islands, bringing the total to 55. Among these was Hereford. Those who remained in the Philippines were taken as prisoners by the Japanese. In March of 1943, the prisoners were transferred to Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila, which held more than 4,000 civilians from several countries. Additionally, more than 60 U. S. Army nurses were also interned at Santo Tomas. In July of 1944, The Nashville Tennessean reported that Hereford’s parents had received a cablegram from her, which read: “Family welfare? Disappointed no recent mail. Nt [No] loss weight during internment. Love, Nannie Hereford.”

Nashville Tennessean article, dated July 21, 1944, entitled “Daughter Writes Parents From Jap Prison Camp.”

On Feb. 3, 1945, American troops liberated Santo Tomas Internment Camp during the month-long battle for the city of Manila. In an interview decades later, Hereford recounted that the camp was caught in the middle of the battle for about a week. At one point, she took shelter in her cooking shed, putting her cooking pan over her head. Upon emerging, she found a piece of shrapnel that had fallen on the counter quite close to where she had been. In late February of 1945, the Nashville Tennessean reported that the Hereford's family received a telegram from the war department informing them that she had been among the survivors of the camp and was in good health. She returned to the United States in May of that same year and was in Lebanon with her family when the U. S. dropped the first atomic bomb that decimated her childhood home of Hiroshima.

Nashville Tennessean article, dated Feb. 25, 1945, entitled “State Woman Freed From Manila Prison.”

Only a year passed before Hereford returned to the Philippines to continue her mission work. Several years later, she transferred back to Japan where she worked until her retirement in 1973. After retirement, Hereford kept herself busy by volunteering with various organizations including the Nashville Peace Links, where she worked as an anti-nuclear activist, and the Nashville Crisis Center, where she served as a telephone helpline operator. She was a chairperson of the legislative committee for the American Association of University Women, where she worked on important issues such as food taxation.

Tennessean article, dated May 19, 1985, entitled “77-Year-Old Promotes Peace.”

In 1985, Nashville Peace Links awarded to Hereford its annual Peace Award for her activism against nuclear weapons. In an interview with the Nashville Tennessean, she said that she had visited Hiroshima after World War II and toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The article quoted her as saying: “I’ve seen the museum with their horrid pictures… I don’t believe in more and more munitions. If you prepare for war, you’ll use it.”

Until her death in 1999, Hereford continued to speak out to support peace - in hopes for a world with “No more Hiroshimas, ever.”

"If you prepare for war, you'll use it." -- Nannie Hereford

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Making the case for a new Library & Archives building...

In case you missed "Inside Politics" on NewsChannel 5 over the weekend, Secretary of State Tre Hargett outlined the case for a new Library & Archives building and Archivist Dr. Tom Kanon offered a presentation about a few of the many historical treasures the Library & Archives houses.

To view the program online, please visit:

#saveourpast #buildourfuture #tnlibarchives #archives

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Effort to Digitize World War I Artifacts Heads to Williamson County

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 on April 6, 1917, eventually mobilizing 130,000 soldiers from Tennessee. Countless other Tennesseans helped relief organizations like the Red Cross, organized scrap metal drives, manufactured war materials and provided other support for the war effort on the homefront.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has launched a major effort to collect digital records of how World War I affected Tennesseans. Archivists will be traveling 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.

The project, called “Over Here, Over There: Tennesseans in the First World War,” is similar to one the Library & Archives has conducted to digitally record Civil War memorabilia.

“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 Williamson County Archives, located at 611 W. Main St. in Franklin, on the 100th anniversary of the U. S. entry into the war. Items will be digitally recorded from 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 6. During the event, 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 Middle 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 people bringing them to the event.

Reservations are strongly encouraged. To reserve time with an archivist on one of those dates, email or call (615) 741-1883.

This is the fourth of several digitization events being held around the state and the second in Middle Tennessee. The schedule of upcoming digitization events and other information about the project will be available at

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Public Service Announcement Featuring Former Governor Winfield Dunn

When Winfield Dunn took office as governor in 1971, the current Tennessee State Library & Archives building was almost 20 years old. Now the building is 65 years old - and Gov. Dunn believes it is time for a replacement to be constructed. The existing building has reached its storage capacity and has a number of other issues that make both preservation of records and public access to those records very difficult. The Tennessee General Assembly may soon decide whether or not to include funding for a new building in next year's budget.

We hope you'll consider joining us in supporting this important project.

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

LBJ visits Tennessee to celebrate Andrew Jackson's 200th birthday

By Heather Adkins

On March 15, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a day-long trip to Nashville. The Tennessee General Assembly invited him to speak at a joint session to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of President Andrew Jackson. His one-day tour resulted in trips to the Hermitage and the Polk House, as well as the Tennessee State Capitol, where he gave a stirring speech about America’s involvement in Vietnam.


Audio 1 – A house joint resolution is read, inviting LBJ to speak.

“We Heard You Were Coming…” by Jack Knox, Nashville Banner, March 15, 1967.

President Johnson’s first appearance that day was at the Hermitage. He remarked on the contributions of Andrew Jackson, noting that “his greatest contribution to the life of the young Republic was the political transformation of our democracy….” President Johnson observed that Jackson believed in the ideal of the citizen-participant. At the time, the country was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, a social movement constructed around the right to participate. President Johnson said in his speech, “We are still attempting to eliminate all the discriminatory barriers that deny any citizen a part in the process of [t]his government…We are still striving to involve the poor, the deprived, the forgotten American, white and Negro, in the future of their society.”

Speech at the Hermitage, March 15, 1967, Lyndon B. Johnson Visit to Nashville Photograph Collection.

“Welcome to the Hermitage, Lyndon” by T. Little, Nashville Tennessean, March 15, 1967.

At noon in the Tennessee House of Representatives chamber, President Johnson gave a 32-minute address to a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly, which was broadcast live on television. The president remarked on Texas’ historical connection to Tennessee and praised the qualities of leadership Andrew Jackson possessed. However, the bulk of the speech detailed President Johnson's policies regarding Vietnam, including concerns raised about financing, leadership and civilian casualties as a result of bombings. The speech itself served to address the questions of general public and to put at ease any confusion during that turbulent time. He acknowledged that hard decisions must be made in war and expressed his belief that “Andrew Jackson would never have been surprised at the choice we made.”


Audio 2 – In this segment, LBJ explains America’s purpose in Vietnam.

“LBJ Message” by Jack Knox, Nashville Banner, March 16, 1967.

President Johnson spent the afternoon in Columbia, where he made remarks at the dedication of Columbia State Community College. This engagement was part of his wife's tour of education facilities in Tennessee, West Virginia and North Carolina. The President remarked on the education revolution in America, where “education cannot be only for a few, any more than health can be only for those who can afford it or national parks only for those able to travel great distance to reach them.” This one statement spoke volumes about his political agenda designed around his “Great Society” legislation. First Lady Lady Bird Johnson spoke as well, describing education as a territory for a new age of national expansion. After the dedication, the president and first lady toured the Polk home and then returned to Nashville.

Lady Bird Johnson at Columbia State Community College, March 15, 1967, Lyndon B. Johnson Visit to Nashville Photograph Collection.

Polk house, March 15, 1967, Photographer Vic Cooley, Lyndon B. Johnson Visit to Nashville Photograph Collection.

Governor Buford Ellington and his wife hosted an education forum and reception honoring the president and first lady that night at the governor’s mansion. President Johnson spoke before 100 educators from seven southern states. He mused about how many geniuses had been lost because of a lack of educational opportunities, stating his goal of making possible for every child “as much education as she or he can take, regardless of church, wealth or skin.” This again spoke to his ambition to form America into an equitable “Great Society.” Afterward, he answered questions from several publishers, principally concerning Vietnam. He then ate dinner with the governor and guests before leaving to board Air Force One.

Mrs. Ellington, Governor Ellington, First Lady Johnson, President Johnson, March 15, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson Visit to Middle Tennessee Photograph Collection.

The trip to Tennessee, while largely successful, was not without some commotion. In particular, while President Johnson was in the capitol building, there was a peaceful anti-bombing demonstration on the front lawn of the Library & Archives. Several demonstrators scaled the hill and wall separating Seventh Ave and the capitol building. When the presidential motorcade was leaving Capitol Hill, it reportedly had to swerve around several youths who were squatting in the road in protest. The youths were removed by Tennessee state troopers.


Audio 3 – In this segment, LBJ addresses the issue of bombing.

“Whenever North Vietnam is Ready” Nashville Tennessean, March 16, 1967.

President Johnson’s administration was rife with social struggle, as evidenced in policies comprising his “Great Society” legislation. His speech before the Tennessee General Assembly in 1967 further codified his stance on the war and his response to the atrocities happening as a result of bombings. His speeches that day also solidified his stance on the issues of race, education, poverty and health care. President Johnson’s visit coincided with the release of the Andrew Jackson postal stamp, commemorating Jackson’s 200th birthday. Both Johnson and Jackson put their stamp on American history.


Audio 4 – LBJ reaffirms the national stance that America would stay in Vietnam until peace is negotiated.

Full transcripts of President Johnson’s speeches can be found in the Nashville Tennessean, March 16, 1967 issue.

His full recorded speech before the General Assembly is available at the Library & Archives.

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

In Memoriam: Dr. Edwin S. Gleaves

By Chuck Sherrill

Dr. Edwin Sheffield Gleaves, who served as our State Librarian and Archivist for 18 years, passed away Tuesday following a long illness. He had just marked his 81st birthday. We mourn the passing of a gentleman and scholar who provided leadership for Tennessee libraries and librarians during a long and productive career.

Dr. Edwin S. Gleaves
1936 - 2017

Dr. Gleaves grew up in West Nashville and descended from Tennessee pioneer stock. His father died when he was a teenager, and Ed was raised by his mother and his Gleaves grandparents. As a boy, he took delight in studying birds, which became a lifelong pursuit. Because he was color-blind, he learned to identify birds by their calls and habits and became a local expert on the subject. Another early passion was tennis, which he continued to enjoy well into retirement.

But, most of all, Eddie Gleaves was a boy who loved books and reading. It was that love that led him to pursue a career in libraries, and to become the talented speaker and writer that we remember so well. Always ready with an apt quotation or clever turn of phrase, he was erudite but gracious, brilliant but approachable, a man of both lofty ideas and practical action.

Following a bachelor’s degree in English from David Lipscomb College, Ed Gleaves earned his M.A. in Library Science and his Ph.D. in English Literature from Emory University in Atlanta. Once, when I was at a low point, he told me that he had been fired from his first library directorship. I was astonished, and listened to his story with growing admiration. He helped me to accept that success is always balanced by setbacks, and overcoming adversity makes us stronger.

For 20 years he taught Library School students at Peabody College in Nashville, and was serving as Dean of the program when it became part of Vanderbilt University. Through these years he guided and encouraged many up-and-coming librarians. He was greatly admired, and in later years it was rare to go anywhere with Dr. Gleaves without some former student coming up to greet him.

As Ed himself once wrote, in 1987 he “left the ivory tower of higher education for the bullring of state government,” becoming Tennessee’s State Librarian and Archivist. He soon became the foremost champion for the use of technology in libraries and one of the earliest adopters of email, databases and the Internet. The Tennessee Electronic Library, an indispensable resource in libraries today, was his conception and he worked with state and federal officials to make it a reality.

I first met Dr. Gleaves when he led a seminar about computers in libraries in 1986; the concepts were brand new to me and most of the seminar went right over my head. But I admired his intellect and enthusiasm, and he inspired me to learn more. In subsequent years he became my boss, my mentor and my friend. He and his beloved wife Janey befriended me and my family, and he encouraged me at every step of my career. Tennessee was blessed to have such a fine librarian and leader; knowing and working with him enriched my life, and I know many others can say the same.

Chuck Sherrill
State Librarian and Archivist
Tennessee State Library & Archives
March 8, 2017

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

LBPH honors Women's History Month

By Ruth Hemphill

The National Women’s History Project designates March as Women’s History Month. Once treated as second class citizens, women are now widely recognized for their contributions to the advancement of civilization. Joining in this annual recognition, the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) is pleased to offer these audio titles recommended by the National Women’s History Museum as a tribute to the accomplishments of women throughout history:

Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, by Richard Rhodes. Best as a Hollywood movie star, Lamarr was also an inventor who worked with avant garde composer George Antheil to invent spread-spectrum radio, the technology behind wireless phones and GPS devices.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War, by Karen Abbott. This book profiles the contributions of four women living during the Civil War - two supporting the Union side and two supporting the Confederate side - who made secret contributions to their chosen causes. The featured women are: Elizabeth Van Lew, a southern lady who was an abolitionist and spy for the Union cause; Rosie O’Neal Greenhow, a well-known Washington, D.C. socialite and spy for the Confederacy; Emma Edmonds, a native Canadian who dressed as a man and enlisted in the Union Army as Frank Thompson; and Belle Boyd, known as “Cleopatra of the Secession.”

Martha Washington: An American Life, by Patricia Brady is a biography of the wealthy widow and plantation owner, Martha “Patsy” Custis, who married the young soldier in the colonial British forces and Virginia plantation owner who eventually became the first president of the United States. Martha Washington’s wealth from her first marriage enabled her husband to greatly enlarge his Mount Vernon estate. Martha Washington managed Mount Vernon as well as the five plantations she brought to the marriage for her husband during his many absences from home, first as commander of the Continental army and then as president.

Book discussion questions for these three titles are available on the National Women’s History Museum’s website:

These titles and others about famous women and their contributions to history are also available from public libraries across the state of Tennessee. TLBPH is a division of the Tennessee State Library & Archives, which is part of Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office. For more information about TLBPH, see

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