Tuesday, June 11, 2019

All-New 2019 Summer Reading Program now available

By Maria Sochor, Director, Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Media

We are excited to introduce you to our all-new, totally reimagined 2019 Summer Reading Program! Like before, we have three distinct programs tailored for children, young adults, and adults.

Head over to https://sos.tn.gov/tsla/labm where you can listen in, download, and subscribe (via the free Stitcher app) to automatically receive future programs as they’re released. Topics run a wide gamut from supporting our friends and relatives who are on the autism spectrum, to practical tips for surviving a zombie apocalypse. It’s truly a Universe of Stories!

A few of the offerings available through the Library for Accessible Books and Media's Summer Reading Program.


New episodes will be released every Wednesday, for the next 10 weeks. Here’s where this gets really fun – because these programs are already recorded, you can use any of the released episodes at any time to host your own program for patrons in your library. Play an episode for your patrons, then have a discussion and maybe book-talk some related items from your collection (including the Tennessee Electronic Library!). You can also send the link out to our website – we would LOVE for you to share it on your social media.

We want as many people as possible to enjoy these portable programs, so we encourage you to spread the word far and wide! No need for someone to have a visual impairment to join the fun. This is for everyone.

We can’t wait for you to hear the amazing stories that our hard-working staff have created for you this year! Please listen in, share on social media, and let us know what you think. Happy listening!


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

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

100 years ago on this day...

Today we remember an important moment in our nation's history. #OnThisDay in 1919, a federal suffrage amendment was passed by the U.S. Congress and sent to each state for ratification. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee provided the 36th and final vote needed to ratify this important amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women nationwide the right to vote.

"Women's suffrage ratification in the Tennessee Senate chamber" This photograph from the "Ratification Issue" of the Nashville Tennessean, Sunday morning, August 29, 1920, depicts the Senate chamber at the moment that the clerk counted the historic vote on women's suffrage. Women flood the gallery and floor as the clerk counts the votes. Young Senator Harry T. Burn from McMinn County cast the deciding vote for the 19th Amendment. With this vote, Tennessee became the 36th and deciding state to approve the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote.


Look for future posts on the Library and Archives social media channels chronicling the history of the women's suffrage movement during this centennial season of remembrance. In the meantime, we encourage you to view our "Women’s Suffrage in Tennessee" online collection at: https://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/customizations/global/pages/collections/suffrage/suffrage.html


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

Library and Archives staff tour construction site of our new building...

Library and Archives staff members recently received a behind-the-scenes hard hat tour of our new building under construction near the Bicentennial Capitol Mall. We’re excited to see the progress that has been made thus far. It’s history in the making!


Library and Archives staff touring our facility included L to R: Gordon Belt (Public Services), Chuck Sherrill (State Librarian and Archivist), Bessie Davis (Regional Libraries), Jami Awalt (Preservation and Digitization), Myers Brown (Archival Technical Services), Renee Register (Library Technical Services), and Peter Heimbach (Director of Special Projects, General Services)








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

Friday, May 17, 2019

State Library and Archives Celebrates Statehood Day with Original Constitutions and Special Lecture

Tennessee celebrates its 223 birthday Saturday, June 1! The Tennessee State Library and Archives will put all three of the state’s original constitutions on display to the public in commemoration of Statehood Day. The constitutions are typically protected in a vault, but all three versions will be in the Library and Archives’ lobby for viewing May 30 to June 1 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT.



As part of the celebration, the Library and Archives will also host a free lecture on Tennessee’s constitutional history. On June 1 the Honorable Judge Andy D. Bennett of the Tennessee Court of Appeals will present the history of each of Tennessee’s constitutions. Patrons can expect to learn details about the historical documents and what they meant for Tennesseans during that time in history.

"I'm thrilled the Library and Archives will again display our three state constitutions during the Statehood celebration, said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. "We're honored to have Judge Bennett join in the festivities for a lecture on the purpose of these documents, the impact they had on the earliest settlers of Tennessee and how they continue to influence state lawmaking today."

Before joining the Court of Appeals in 2007, Judge Bennett served in the Tennessee Attorney General’s office for 25 years, the last ten as Chief Deputy. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Bicentennial Foundation, 1993-1997, which put together the festivities for Tennessee’s Bicentennial celebration. Besides being a member of the Tennessee Bar Association, Judge Bennett is a past president and the current president-elect of the Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society, and is the current president of the Tennessee State Library and Archives Friends organization. He has authored several legal and historical articles and received numerous awards during his distinguished career. Judge Bennett also helped create the Tennessee Judiciary Museum in 2012. He has had a long interest in the Tennessee Constitution, not only lecturing about it, but litigating about it as well.

The lecture will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. CDT Saturday, June 1, in the Library and Archives auditorium. The Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Ave. N., directly west of the Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville. Free parking is available around the Library and Archives building.

Although the lecture is free and open to the public, registration is required due to seating limitations in the auditorium. To reserve seats, please visit https://tnstatehood2019.eventbrite.com.

Viewing the state constitutions is free. No reservation is required.


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

Monday, April 22, 2019

Library and Archives Hosts Free Workshop on Civil War Research

The Civil War has touched the life of almost every U.S. citizen but connecting families with complete records can present challenges. On Saturday, May 4, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will host a free workshop entitled, “Cross Connections to the Civil War.”

Presenter J. Mark Lowe will demonstrate how to search and use the wide variety of records available through the Tennessee State Library and Archives – including records from the Grand Army of the Republic, United Confederate Veterans, United States Colored Troops, Confederate and Union Army pensions, Southern Claims Commission, court martials, newspaper accounts, unit histories, letters to governors and presidents, diaries and more. Participants can expect to leave with knowledge and tools to draw a more complete picture of their Civil War ancestor and family history.

J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, is a certified genealogist who has been researching family history for more than 50 years. Lowe is a renowned author and lecturer specializing in original records and manuscripts throughout the South. He grew up in Tennessee but has extensive family roots in Kentucky. He has traveled both states and enjoys sharing his love of genealogy and the joy of research with others.

Lowe has served as president of the Association of Professional Genealogists and is past president of the Friends of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. His expertise has been featured on several genealogical television series including African American Lives 2 (PBS), Who Do You Think You Are? (TLC) and Follow Your Past (Travel).

The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m to 11 a.m. CDT Saturday, May 4, in the Library and Archives auditorium. The Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Ave. N., 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 limited seating. To make a reservation, visit https://crossconnections.eventbrite.com.


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

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Meet the Staff - Debra Mattingly

Meet Debra Mattlingly. She is the Assistant Director with the Clinch River Regional Library.

How long have you worked here?

I’ve worked for the Clinch River Regional Library since January 2016. In the previous 37 years, I worked in business, academic and public libraries in Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Colorado, Tennessee, Maryland and Florida. I love all types of libraries. I also really love Tennessee, so we returned when we had the chance 3.5 years ago.

What are some of the things you do as an Assistant Director? 

As an Assistant Director of one of the 9 regional libraries across the state, I think of my job as a librarian to librarians. I work with 33 libraries in 9 counties, primarily providing support and training to the staff in these libraries. I attend board meetings, prepare and present training, and encourage libraries to continue to improve their good work in their communities. I work on reports that libraries can use to advocate for more funds from their local funding bodies or that provide more ideas for them to use in their communities. I miss the day to day interaction with the general public from my previous positions, but I love what I am doing now.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Meeting and working with all the wonderful people in Tennessee libraries is the favorite part of my job. The library staffs in our 33 libraries and the other assistant directors across the state are fabulous colleagues with whom to work and from whom I am continually learning.



Do you have a favorite collection?

My favorite collection at the Library and Archives is the Library for Accessible Books and Media. What’s not to like in a free library program of recorded, large print, and braille materials that is available to all ages of residents of Tennessee who are not able to use standard print materials due to visual or physical disabilities? I encourage all of our libraries to become familiar with their services and share with their communities. I especially like the quarterly Adult Book Club and the children’s programs offered to eligible participants. Children are mailed the craft materials in advance so everyone can participate in a story and craft, no matter where they live in Tennessee.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

Libraries and archives are one of the few places in our society which serves ALL ages, races, creeds, religions, political affiliation, and economic status. Everyone who abides by our rules and policies are welcome to enjoy free materials, programs, research assistance, internet access, or just a place to BE either alone or with others. Libraries offer materials in many formats to meet the educational and recreational needs to those in their communities, from birth until death.


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

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Beyond High School – Using TEL’s Testing & Education Reference Center to Practice for AP/CLEP and Career Tests

By Andrea Zielke

High school students: You may have already decided on what you are doing after graduation from high school, but there are a number of things that you can do now to get you off to a great start at college or your entry into the working world! The Tennessee Electronic Library has a number of free resources that can get you ready!

Most schools will give you credit for Advanced Placement (AP) classes and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). If you want to do some extra practice in preparation for those exams, check Testing & Education Reference Center (TERC). Every credit earned through AP and CLEP scores can help to reduce the amount of general credits and can help to get you started on the classes in you want to take. Take some time to go through the practice tests so you know what to expect when you take the tests.




Through TERC, you can find two practice exams and study guides for 19 different AP exams.


  • Advanced Placement (AP) Biology 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus BC 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) European History 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Macroeconomics 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Microeconomics 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Physics 1 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Physics 2 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Physics C 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Statistics 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. Government and Politics 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) World History






For the CLEP exams, you can take four practice exams for each of the 30+ exams available:


  • CLEP American Government Practice Tests 
  • CLEP American Literature Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Analyzing and Interpreting Literature Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Biology Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Business Law Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Calculus Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Chemistry Practice Tests 
  • CLEP College Algebra Practice Tests 
  • CLEP College Composition Practice Tests 
  • CLEP College Mathematics Practice Tests 
  • CLEP English Literature Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Financial Accounting Practice Tests 
  • CLEP French Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Human Growth & Development Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Humanities Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Information Systems Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Introduction to Educational Psychology Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Introductory Psychology Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Introductory Sociology Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Natural Sciences Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Pre-Calculus Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Principles of Macroeconomics Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Principles of Management Practice 
  • CLEP Principles of Marketing Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Principles of Microeconomics Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Social Sciences and History Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Spanish Language Practice Tests 
  • CLEP U.S. History I Practice Tests 
  • CLEP U.S. History II Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Western Civilization I Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Western Civilization II Practice Tests





Beyond AP and CLEP assistance, there are e-books for the LSAT, GMA, GRE, HiSET, TOEFL and US Citizenship exams.

If you are going directly into working world, there are still a number of practice tests and e-books available that can help you start your career. This includes practice tests/ and e-books for the following professions: accountant/auditor, American Foreign Service officer, corrections officer, cosmetology, medical assisting, nursing, pharmacy technician, police officer, postal worker, military, civil service caseworker, court officer, firefighter, parole officer, teachers, probation officers, real estate, state trooper and U.S. Border Patrol.

To take a practice exam or read an e-book, you will need to sign up for a TERC account, which is free for all Tennesseans. Go to Testing & Education Reference Center on TEL to start practicing today!


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

Friday, April 5, 2019

From a Circuit Rider’s Home to a Tennessee Century Farm: The Story and Legacy of Isaac Conger’s Beech Lawn Farm

By Dr. Kevin Cason

During the early 1800s, Tennessee was still in its early stages of development. As people began to establish new communities and lives in the newly created state, religious denominations began to filter into the new frontier. For Methodists, the most effective way to grow the denomination and establish new members was to have circuit riders who traveled to different places to preach. The system of having circuits was ideally suited for Tennessee’s scattered population during the 1800s. A circuit involved as much as 500 miles and took five to six weeks for a minister to cover. The services were held in a variety of places including cabins, sheds, taverns, and even in the outdoors under trees.

Circuit Rider, Harper's Weekly, October 1867.


One of these circuit riders was Isaac Conger who established a homestead in present day Lincoln County in the 1800s. At the time Isaac obtained the land grant for his property in 1808, the land was still part of Bedford County, Tennessee. After obtaining the initial 152.5 acres of land, Conger continued to obtain more land adjacent to the property. According to land grant records, from 1818 through 1827, Conger gradually purchased land and eventually accumulated 1,000 acres. Initially, Conger built a small stone cabin on the property as a place of residence. However, he soon turned his attention to building a two-story Federal style brick house for his wife and family.

Isaac Conger Land Grant, Book Y, page 484, Grant #1905
Record Group 50, Land Grants, Tennessee State Library and Archives


While he was busy with his farm and building his house, Conger also served as a Methodist circuit rider. Conger’s circuit included rounds through Lincoln, Bedford, Moore and Coffee counties in Tennessee. At the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Isaac Conger’s diary provides his personal thoughts and experiences as a circuit rider preaching the gospel to various communities while also enduring long travels and different types of weather.

Isaac Conger Diary, 1813, page 1.
Tennessee State Library and Archives


As a result of the circuit riders like Isaac Conger, the Methodist movement grew and many churches were established in Tennessee. Eventually, William McKendree, Bishop of the Western Conference of the Methodist Church, and Francis Asbury devised a plan to make a general governing organization in Tennessee. In 1812, they officially created the Tennessee Conference of Methodists.

As time moved along, the legacy of Isaac Conger continued as his land, farm and house were passed through several generations. The founders’ only surviving child, Sion Moores Conger, inherited the farm in 1847. In the 1880s, two of Sion’s sons, Dixie and Charles bought out the farm’s heirs and created a stock farm of selling mules, cattle, sheep and hogs. In 1911, Charles died and Dixie continued the farm. In 1929, Dixie’s son John Beall Conger joined him as partner. The father and son continued to work the land together until Dixie’s death in 1953. After Dixie’s death, John Beall Conger continued to manage and live on the farm.

During the 1970s, the farm and homestead received other notable recognitions. In 1973, the “Isaac Conger House” was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance and for its historical connection to Isaac Conger. In 1976, the farm received another distinction by becoming an official Tennessee Century Farm. This program honors farms that have remained in the same family and have had continuous agricultural production for 100 years or more. The “Family Land Heritage-Century Farms” program was established by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as a way to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. Farmers were asked to fill out applications that told the history of their farm and provide documentation that proved the continuous ownership of their farm. In 1979, the 637 farm files that included the Conger’s Beech Lawn Farm were loaned from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture 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.

Beech Lawn Farm, Lincoln County.
Record Group 62, Tennessee Century Farms Microfilm Collection. Tennessee State Library and Archives


Today, the farm that was established by Isaac Conger continues to remain in the family and serves as a reminder of the important agricultural legacy of farm families who have continuously owned and farmed their land for at least 100 years. The farmhouse that was built by Isaac Conger also serves as a significant historical landmark for a notable figure that felt a calling to spread the religious word to people in frontier Tennessee.

Isaac Conger House present day view on Beech Lawn Farm, Lincoln County, Tennessee.
Clipping from Conger Vertical File. Tennessee State Library and Archives



For more related to this topic see:


  • Isaac Conger Diary, Tennessee State Library and Archives.
  • Herman A. Norton, Religion in Tennessee, 1777-1945 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1981).
  • Carroll Van West, Tennessee Agriculture: A Century Farms Perspective. Nashville: Department of Agriculture, 1986.



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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Women’s History Month—A Photo Essay of Tennessee Women

By Beth Cavanaugh

Every year, the month of March is recognized as “Women’s History Month.” At the Tennessee State Library and Archives, women’s papers including diaries, journals, and letters comprise a significant part of our collections. There are numerous documents relevant to Women’s Studies at the local, state, and national levels which cover subjects such as military, suffrage, journalism, politics, and social life. In 1987, Congress expanded National Women’s History Week to a month, and it has issued a resolution every year since then proclaiming March to be Women’s History Month. While recognition of Women’s History Month is a fairly recent phenomenon, the important historical contributions made by women have been chronicled for many years. Many photos at the Library and Archives tell the story of these contributions and their impact on Tennessee and the world.

Carrie Chapman Catt was a field organizer with Susan B. Anthony, and founded the League of Women Voters. Catt’s leadership was a key factor in Tennessee becoming “The Perfect 36,” the last state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. This undated photograph is by Bachrach Studios and is part of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee Papers, 1920-1989.



Anne Dallas Dudley, a native Nashvillian, was a national and state leader in the fight for women's suffrage who worked tirelessly to secure the ratification of the 19th Amendment in Tennessee. This picture of Dudley reading with her children, Trevania and Guilford, Jr., was used in women's suffrage publicity materials to counter the stereotypes of suffragists as mannish radicals intent on destroying the American family. This undated photo is from the Library Photograph Collection.



Corinne Dodds Sanders was a suffragist, a national leader in the League of Women Voters, and the first woman in the South to vote. She cast her historic ballot in a 1917 municipal election in Lookout Mountain, which had just passed local women's suffrage that year. This photo is from the April 29, 1916 issue of The Lookout, the official publication of the Tennessee Federation of Women's Clubs from the Tennessee Federation of Women's Clubs Records, 1893-1992.



Jeanette Tillotson Acklen marched for suffrage in the Tennessee campaign and was married to U.S. Representative Joseph H. Acklen. In this photo, Acklen holds the banner she marched behind during the Tennessee campaign for women's suffrage. This photo is from the January 18, 1948 issue of the Nashville Tennessean Magazine.



After the United States entered World War II, Jean Anderson joined the Red Cross and served overseas in the Civilian War Relief department. In this photograph, Anderson is wearing her Red Cross uniform and a portion of Oxford University, where she was stationed, can be seen in the background. This photo from February 7, 1944 is from the Sadie Warner Frazer (1885-1974) Papers, 1894-1974.



These four women were the first women stationed at Quantico Marine Base. Lieutenant Abbott, on the left, is pictured handing her orders to Lieutenant Colonel W. P. Kelly as the other three women observe. Mary Washington Frazer is the second woman from the left. During her commission as a Marine officer, Frazer was stationed at Quantico Marine Base as the Assistant Adjutant General. This photo from November 10, 1943 is from the Sadie Warner Frazer (1885-1974) Papers, 1894-1974.



We hope you’ll take this opportunity to visit The Library and Archives’ Public Services Resource Guide #07, “Women’s Studies at the Tennessee State Library and Archives,” on our website for a list of excellent collections relevant to women’s history. We also encourage you to visit us in person or online to learn more.

You can view all of these photos online on the Tennessee Virtual Archive: https://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/customizations/global/pages/index.html.


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

Friday, March 15, 2019

Meet the Staff - Caitlyn Haley

Meet Caitlyn Haley. She is the Assistant Director with the Red River Regional Library.

How long have you worked here?

I have worked for Red River Regional Library since November of 2016. Before that, I was an intern for Public Services at the Library and Archives during the summer of 2015!

What are some of the things you do as an Assistant Director?

As an Assistant Director of a regional library, I work on a lot of interesting projects. I organize and put on training sessions for 14 public libraries and their staff. I work one-on-one with public library directors on topics like affordable internet access, grants, disaster preparedness, and of course, READS and TEL training sessions. I attend board meetings with the regional director. I also get to work with library boards, which is a fun part of the job! I help develop statewide training sessions that the Tennessee State Library and Archives puts on, with my fellow Assistant Directors throughout the state and with the Planning and Development Staff in Nashville.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is learning more and more each day how special public libraries are to Tennesseans. I have the privilege of traveling around my region to visit rural and urban public libraries and seeing the amazing work they do for their local communities. I also get to work with them to make their libraries better in a variety of ways, which is a very gratifying part of my job.



Do you have a favorite collection?

My favorite collection at TSLA is the Women’s Suffrage in Tennessee collection. Tennessee had an incredibly significant role in the national suffrage movement and I love the documents we have at the Library and Archives that document that time period.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

Libraries and archives are relevant to modern society because they are the places we turn to when seeking clarity about our present day society. They give us clues, insights, explanations, and context for how we have arrived in today’s world. Libraries and archives are places of trust, knowledge, and growth for all citizens of our modern society.


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

Monday, March 11, 2019

Tennessee Railroads and Casey Jones: A brief history...

By Andrew McMahan

Tennessee has a rich railroading history. The state chartered several railroads before the Civil War, creating a system of track that was strategically vital for both Union and Confederate forces. These lines were also important for trade, turning a few Tennessee towns into shipping hubs. Until the construction of modern highways during the twentieth century, railroads were the dominant form of long-distance travel for both passengers and freight. One of the most famous railroad dramas in the United States had a strong connection to Tennessee.

The train engineer John Luther “Casey” Jones, now a folk hero, was born in a rural section of Missouri. As a boy, he moved with his family to Cayce, Kentucky. He later acquired the nickname “Casey” as a reference to his hometown. He subsequently moved to Jackson, Tennessee, where he married Janie Brady on November 25, 1886. He continued living in Jackson with his wife and eventually had three children.


Marriage record for John Luther "Casey" Jones and Janie Brady. Madison County Marriages Vol. I


Casey Jones had shown interest in the railroad as a young boy, and endeavored to become an engineer upon adulthood. He achieved this dream working for the Illinois Central Railroad. Jones was held in high esteem by his employers and fellow railroad workers and was known to run his locomotive quickly in order ensure that his train arrived on time. A few of his coworkers admitted that Jones did take risks, however he had only nine reprimands for safety violations and had not committed any such violation in the year prior to his death.


Casey Jones' locomotive, Engine No. 382. Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection


After arriving in Memphis on the evening of April 29, 1900, having just completed a run, Jones and his fireman Sim Webb received word that the conductor of the south-bound passenger train the New Orleans Special, was sick and unable to perform his duties. Because no other engineer was available to make the run to Canton, Mississippi, Jones volunteered to take the sick man’s place and requested that his No. 382 be hooked up to the passenger cars. Jones climbed into the cab of No. 382 at 12:50 a.m., more than an hour and a half behind schedule, and ventured out into the foggy night. Determined to arrive on schedule, Jones ran the No. 382 at high speeds, sometimes traveling over 70 miles per hour, considerably faster than the normal 35 miles per hour average. Surprisingly, Jones was able to make up much of the lost time during his high-speed run. It looked as though Jones would be able to arrive in Canton on schedule.

A traffic jam had developed further down the line in Vaughan, just north of Canton. Jones received orders that the trains at Vaughan were to move from the main line to the siding so that he could pass by unimpeded. Unknown to Jones, one of the trains that he was to pass had suffered a malfunction which locked the brakes and stranded several freight cars and the caboose on the main track. He carried on barreling toward Canton. Jones rounded a blind curve just outside of Vaughan at high speed and was suddenly met by a caboose sitting on the track. Jones told Webb to jump, and in a desperate effort to stop the train the engineer applied the brakes, shut the throttle, and pulled back the reverse lever. Webb jumped from the locomotive, sustaining minor injuries. Although witnesses claimed Jones was able to slow the locomotive from 75 to about 35 miles per hour, No. 382 plowed through the caboose and several freight cars before derailing. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Casey Jones was “. . . found lying under the cab, with his skull crushed and the right arm torn from its socket.” However, thanks to his efforts, none of the other employees or passengers was killed or suffered serious injuries. His body was returned to Jackson and buried.


Sheet music for "Casey Jones." Kenneth D. Rose Sheet Music Collection


The circumstances surrounding the accident remained the subject of debate for years afterward. The Illinois Central’s official report stated that Jones had not heeded signals of the flagman or the warning torpedo placed on the track to warn the oncoming New Orleans Special about the stalled freight train. (A warning torpedo is a device placed on top of the track that emits a loud bang when run over by a train, signaling the crew to stop.) The IC maintained that Jones was solely responsible for the collision because he failed to acknowledge these warnings. However, Webb claimed that there was no torpedo on the track or flagman to alert the train.

Railroad accidents were not uncommon during this time, yet Jones became a folk hero after his death. Wallace Saunders, an African American engine wiper working for the IC, devised several verses about his friend’s tragic demise. The song proved popular among railroad men and Saunders frequently sang the tune for others. Soon after, two vaudeville performers incorporated the song into their act. The Southern California Music Company copyrighted the song “Casey Jones,” and T. Lawrence Seibert and Eddie Newton took credit for the words and music respectively. “Casey Jones” became a hit in the United States and around the world. Millions of copies of the sheet music were sold. Although he originally created the tune, Saunders never received any form of payment or royalties.


Sim Webb, the fireman on No. 382, talks about the famous wreck during the opening ceremony of the Casey Jones Museum in Jackson, TN. Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection


Jones’ legacy lives on in Jackson, Tennessee. In 1956, the town opened the Casey Jones Railroad Museum in the house where he and his family lived at the time of his death. Janie Jones and Sim Webb were both present at the grand opening, along with Governor Frank Clement and several other Tennessee politicians. The museum celebrates Casey’s life as well as the age of steam engines. Some rooms in the house are furnished as they were when the Jones’ lived there, while others show artifacts and exhibits related to railroad history in the United States.


Casey Jones Museum in Jackson, TN, September 9, 1966. Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection


Janie Jones at the Casey Jones Museum opening, April 30, 1956. Casey’s portrait is in the background. Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection



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

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Tennessee State Library and Archives to Host Free Workshop on Tennessee Virtual Archive

Redesigned site provides free access to valuable Tennessee historical collections


The Tennessee State Library and Archives later this month will host a workshop on the newly-redesigned Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). The free online repository of Tennessee’s history, containing thousands of digitized historic items from the collections of the Library and Archives, was overhauled in 2018 to make it mobile-friendly and more accessible to the public. TeVa contains valuable collections, such as photographs, documents, maps, postcards, audio and video.



Digital Materials Librarian Jennifer Randles will take attendees on a tour of the new website and demonstrate how to make the most of TeVA, including navigating, browsing, searching, viewing and downloading. Participants will learn how to quickly find what they need in TeVA’s collections and view some of the many items available via the website.

Prior to joining the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Randles worked at Scripps Networks Interactive and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Libraries. She holds a master’s degree in information science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The workshop will be held from 9:30 – 11 a.m., Saturday, March 23, in the auditorium of the Library and Archives, located at 403 7th Ave. N. in Nashville.

While the workshop is free, reservations are required due to limited seating. To make a reservation, visit https://tevatalk.eventbrite.com.


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

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Learn how to say “hello” in Polish, Urdu, Swahili, and more with TEL!

By Andrea Zielke

Did you know that everyone in the state of Tennessee has access to a language learning program that includes more than 100 different languages? Through the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), you can sign up for a free Transparent Language Online account and start learning a new language! Not only can you take lessons in French, Spanish and Chinese, but you can also learn languages that are less commonly taught like Balinese and Denesuline. There is even an Introduction to Latin Vocabulary and Introduction to Latin Grammar that are similar in content as a first-year Latin course.




Did you know you could take an American Citizenship Test Prep course through TEL? Created with the input of ESL professionals and public librarians, Transparent Language Online’s American Citizenship Test Prep course is designed with the goal of preparing test takers to comfortably answer all 100 civics questions. More than that, the course is intended to truly teach learners about the American government, history, and culture, including key vocabulary words.




Transparent Language Online is always adding new lessons including Advanced Conversations in English. These courses are the most advanced materials among our English offerings. They were created for high-intermediate to advanced English learners—both students and professionals—who are interested in business and medical topics and want to work with more complex texts, speech patterns, and cultural nuances. Advanced Conversations in English contains 16 hours of study (16 topical units) covering three main topics: medical, finance, and sales and marketing.

Transparent Language Online also has lessons for kids! There are 6 courses for children to start learning new languages! Kids can start learning Spanish, French, German, English, Chinese and Italian. Designed for ages 6 and up, the program teaches words and phrases suitable for learners’ age, needs, and interests. More than 40 activities, puzzles, and songs guide learners through the basics, along with a cartoon “friend” who speaks the language. Here is how to access the KidSpeak languages.




How do I start using Transparent Language Online? Go to Transparent Language Online on TEL to start learning a new language! Sign up for a free account. Start practicing from your phone, computer or tablet today!






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

Monday, February 11, 2019

Meet the Staff - Kevin Cason

Meet Kevin Cason. He is an Archivist in Public Services.

How long have you worked here?

I started working at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in September of 2014.

What are some of the things you do as an Archivist in Public Services?

As a member of the Public Services department, my main duties are to help researchers and genealogists who come to do research at the Library and Archives. I primarily work in the manuscripts area and help provide access for patrons to view original primary source materials such as maps, photographs, family papers, Supreme Court cases, and state agency records. In addition to guiding researchers, I respond to reference requests that come to the Library and Archives by e-mail and mail. I also work on a variety of projects such as preparing research guides and tools for patrons, doing metadata assignments, and serving on the Collections Development Committee.

What is your favorite part of your job?

One of my favorite parts of my job is having the opportunity to work with the public and help them with their research. It is often a rewarding experience to be able to find resources such as land records, family papers or Supreme Court cases that relate to someone’s genealogy. Seeing the excitement and appreciation of a patron when they find something in the records that is useful is very meaningful for me. Similarly, when I help locate manuscript materials or state agency records that pertain to a historical researcher’s interests, I have a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I aided in guiding the researcher in the right direction.



Do you have a favorite collection?

While there are many exciting items that can be seen in the manuscripts collections, I have always been fascinated with visual resources such as photographs, advertisements, and postcards. It is interesting to be able to see photographs from manuscript collections such as the Department of Conservation Photograph Collection that visually document a significant historic site and landscape. It is also fascinating to see the architectural designs of buildings in places such as Nashville during the 1900s that are part of the Library Photograph Collection. Similarly, advertisements like the Broadside Collection are exciting to see because they often show how something was promoted during a certain era or they reveal the clever marketing designs of the creator. Postcards such as the Tennessee Postcard Collection are also appealing to me because the creators use colorful designs, beautiful scenery and different fonts to capture the attention of the viewer and encourage the person to visit the tourist destination.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

I think it is important to have cultural institutions where people can go to learn, do research, and obtain help from professional librarians and archivists. In a world that is increasingly becoming digital, I think there is still a valuable need in society to have scholarly books that enlighten, inspire and inform readers and researchers. In addition, I think it is important to have repositories that preserve the historical memory of our past. It is essential to recognize that the records we create provide evidence of our activities and they have enduring value. For example, vital records such as birth, death or marriage records were created originally to document a certain event in a person’s life. However, genealogists can use them now to learn about their family roots from long ago. Similarly, manuscript related items like photographs, diaries, letters and court cases may have been simply created to document an event, but historians can now use them to understand the past better.


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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Library and Archives Hosts Free How-to Workshop on Using Historical Newspapers for Research

Newspapers are some of the most valuable resources for piecing together history. On Jan. 26 the Tennessee State Library and Archives is hosting a free workshop with tips and tricks to make your newspaper research more fruitful.

Attendees will watch Old News is Good News: Using Historical Newspapers for Your Research presented by Genealogist Taneya Koonce, MLS, MPH. Koonce is an avid genealogist with more than 18 years of professional experience in information organization and management. Koonce is also the State Coordinator of the TNGenWeb Project, is a Board Member of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society, and is President-elect of the Nashville Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.

“The Tennessee State Library and Archives has one of the largest collection of Tennessee newspapers in the country,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I’m glad this workshop will highlight the newspaper collections and records available to the public and teach how to use them most effectively. There is a vast amount of information waiting to be re-discovered.”

Koonce will navigate attendees through the benefits of using historical newspapers and highlight strategies to make the newspaper research process even more successful. Improve your skills, speed, and accuracy when searching newspaper collections and learn more about the print, microfilm, and digitized formats available through the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

The workshop will be held 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, in the Library and Archives auditorium. The Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Ave. N. Free parking is available around the Library and Archives building.

Although the presentation is free and open to the public, registration is required due to seating limitations in the auditorium. To reserve seats, please visit newspaperresearch.eventbrite.com.


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

Meet the Staff - Jessica Opalinski

Meet Jessica Opalinski. She is a Micrographics Technician with Preservation and Digitization.

How long have you worked here?

I started in June 2016 as a micrographics imaging processor. (It took me several months to memorize that job title!) In August of 2018 I moved into the micrographics technician position. What are some of the things you do as a Micrographics Technician?

Our section of the preservation department is focused primarily on managing the microfilm collection. We process raw film that the microfilmers shoot, make duplicate copies for orders, and store the original reels in the vault. We work with public services to ensure their microfilm collection is up-to-date and available to patrons.

Recently our department acquired two digital cameras for filming documents. We can keep the images as digital files or convert them to microfilm. My time has been split between the physical process of processing and quality checking microfilm, and transitioning projects onto the new cameras. It’s quite a change from the old microfilm cameras, but it gives us much more control over the quality of the final product.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy seeing the final results of the images I’ve taken. It’s so fascinating to watch the images suddenly appear as the film runs through the processor. I particularly like when we have to film unusual items. One time we had to film a car key as part of the governor’s papers!

Do you have a favorite collection?

I love the Grassmere Collection. As a huge fan of the Nashville Zoo, I was excited when this collection was first put together to explore the history of the five generations that lived at the Grassmere Farm and how the land eventually became the zoo as we know it today. The family’s connections and travels in Cuba were something I’d never heard of before and added an interesting layer to their history. It’s a great collection to look through if you love animal photos!



What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

Before I started working here, I didn’t realize how much valuable information we record and store! From vital records such as birth certificates and marriage records to political documents and key information about Tennessee history, this building is a treasure trove of knowledge. It allows people to research their genealogy and discover parts of their family history they may have been unaware of. Often we don’t realize just how important a record is until someone needs it. And with so much data available, our staff is crucial for sorting through it and helping to make sense of it all.


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

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

How to use TEL to improve Health and Wellness in 2019!

By Andrea Zielke

Making a resolution for the New Year? Want to start off 2019 with improved health and wellness? There are many resources on Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) that can help you find vetted, reliable health information. Even better, these resources are free for Tennesseans! Of course, no online database should take the place of expert advice from a qualified physician. These resources can help to prepare you to have informed conversations with your health care provider. There is no such thing as too much information when it comes to health and wellness!




Health and Wellness Resource Center

One of TEL’s most popular resources is the Health and Wellness Resource Center. The Health and Wellness Resource Center provides authoritative information on a full range of health-related issues, from current disease and disorder information to in-depth coverage of alternative and complementary medical practices. Inside you’ll have access to full-text medical journals, magazines, reference works, multimedia, and much more! One of the best features of this database is that Gale publishes their information in plain, easy-to-understand language!





MedLine Plus

Another great, free resource that provides information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues is MedLine Plus. MedLine Plus is a free, public online source provided by the National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus offers health information in non-technical, understandable language. You can easily look up prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbs and supplements. Find out why your doctor orders various laboratory tests and what the results may mean. You can even watch surgical videos so you are fully prepared for any surgical procedures. You do not need to be a health professional to use MedlinePlus, although it is used by many health providers.





Health Reference Center Academic

If you are looking for the latest information published in peer reviewed journals, you may want to check out Health Reference Center Academic. This database provides up-to-date information on the complete range of health care topics for students, consumer health researchers, and health care professionals. Health Reference Center Academic includes full-text periodicals, reference books, pamphlets, and hundreds of videos demonstrating medical procedures and live surgeries to ensure that researchers get current, scholarly, comprehensive answers to health-related questions.





These are just a few of the databases on TEL, don’t forget to check out the other Health resources available at https://tntel.info/general-public/health.


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