Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Tennessee Virtual Archive Surpasses 1,000 Digitized Maps

By Zachary Keith 

This week, the Tennessee State Library & Archives surpassed 1,000 digitized maps in our online map collection. Since the collection's launch in December 2014, a team of archivists and imaging specialists has curated, digitized, and added 1,006 maps online. 

Check out some noteworthy maps from our extensive collection.

The 1,000th map in our collection is this plat of Sevierville, possibly the oldest existing map of the town, drawn between 1818 and 1832. It denotes early lot owners and a Baptist church, most likely Forks of the River Baptist. See it online.


Among our most recent additions is this map showing farms and landowners from the 1850s in the area that would largely become the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You might recognize the Smokies landmarks such as Chimney Tops and Sugarland Mountain. See it online.


While our collections naturally focus on Tennessee geography, our maps span the globe. One such gem is Andrew Ellicott’s original layout for Washington D. C., which he copied from Pierre L’Enfant’s plan. See it online.


Among the first maps uploaded as part of the initial collection launch in December 2014 was this 1818 map of Tennessee by cartographer John Melish. See it online.


Our maps represent each of Tennessee’s 95 counties and the state’s “lost counties,” like this one of Bell County, which was sued out of existence. See it online. For more on Bell County, see our blog post here.


This map of Mammoth Cave was drawn by formerly enslaved guide and explorer Stephen Bishop. See it online.


Our oldest scanned map, published in 1700, is this representation of Turin that appeared in an atlas boasting the Duke of Savoy’s realm. See it online.


Among our largest digitized maps is this massive view of Scotland drawn by Scottish cartographer John Ainslie in 1800. It is roughly 5.5 feet by 6 feet! See it online.


We have the first map ever published of Tennessee as a state, drawn by Territorial Secretary Daniel Smith in 1795. See it online.


This map drawn by Matthew Rhea in 1832 is the best overall map of Tennessee in the early national period. In addition, we have preserved the hand-drawn county-level maps he used to make his masterpiece. See it online.


The Library & Archives holds the oldest existing map of Nashville’s city lots, drawn in 1789 by surveyor Thomas Molloy. See it online.


This 1765 map identifies the Tennessee River as the “Hogoheegee,” an early Cherokee name for the waterway, and the Clinch River in East Tennessee as the “Pelisipi.” These Native names predate colonization in the area and demonstrate that the Cherokee still maintained dominance in the region. See it online.


Please visit the Tennessee Virtual Archive to see these and literally more than a thousand other maps. Newly digitized maps are added to the collection each month. 


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

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Tennessee State Library & Archives to Host Meharry Medical College Exhibit for Black History Month



During Black History Month, Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s oldest and largest Historically Black Colleges and Universities dedicated to educating physicians, dentists, researchers and health policy experts, will display artifacts from its rich and storied history at the Tennessee State Library & Archives. 

“Meharry Medical College is an outstanding medical training facility, whose graduates are making a positive impact on public health in Middle Tennessee and across the country,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “We are honored to host Meharry’s Black History Month exhibit at the Library & Archives.” 

Founded in 1876 as the Meharry Medical Department of Central Tennessee College and independently chartered in 1915, Meharry was the first medical school in the South for African Americans. Today, Meharry offers advanced degrees in medicine, dentistry, public health and biomedical data sciences. It is also home to the Center for Health Policy at Meharry. Meharry is a premier medical research facility and has been rated as one of the nation’s top producers of primary care physicians and Ph.Ds. in biomedical sciences. 

“The evolution and history of Meharry Medical College is phenomenal to read; however, its compelling story is best documented in the remarkable collection of photographs that memorialize the spirit of Meharry,” said Sandra Parham, Meharry Medical College Library & Archives Executive Director. “Our goal is to expose students outside of Meharry to its rich history and sustained future, recognizing that almost 150 years later, Meharry continues devotion to its motto: Dedicated to the worship of God through service to man.” 

To preserve Tennessee's history for current and future generations, The Tennessee State Library & Archives, a division of the Department of State, collects and protects books, records and other documents of historical and reference value, focusing on items about Tennessee and Tennesseans. 

The Library & Archives is home to many irreplaceable historical documents, including Tennessee's three constitutions, letters from Tennessee's three presidents, Civil War diaries, records from 55 former Tennessee governors, more than a million photographs, 5,000 maps, the state's largest collection of microfilm negatives, a comprehensive collection of Tennessee newspapers dating back to 1791 and original records of the State of Franklin. 

“We were excited to work with Meharry Medical College to curate this exhibit and are looking forward to sharing it with new visitors to the Library & Archives and our returning patrons,” said Chuck Sherrill, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist. 

The Library & Archives interactive exhibit lobby, featuring displays highlighting the state's most precious historical documents, is open to the public Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. The library, microfilm and manuscripts reading rooms are open for research Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. 

The Library & Archives is located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way North on the northeast corner of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, across from the Tennessee State Museum. Parking is available for guests in the Library & Archives garage on Jackson Street/Junior Gilliam Way. 

As part of a city-wide exhibition, Meharry Medical College is also hosting Black History Month exhibits at Fisk University’s John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library, Belmont University’s Lila D. Bunch Library and the Nashville Public Library’s Main Branch downtown. 

For more information about the Meharry Medical College Black History Month exhibit project, contact Executive Director Sandra Parham at 615-327-5770 or sparham@mmc.edu. For more information about the Library & Archives, call 615-741-2764, email ask@tsla.libanswers.com or visit sos.tn.gov/tsla/plan-your-visit


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

Monday, December 13, 2021

Preserving the Majestic Mountains: The History and Legacy of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

By Dr. Kevin Cason

The Library & Archives collections contain images of many beautiful places in Tennessee, but the Great Smoky Mountains are the subject of more photographs and postcards than almost any other subject. The Great Smoky Mountains are part of a larger mountain chain known as the Appalachian Mountains. While many people enjoy the picturesque scenery of the park today, the area that became the national park took many years to complete. 


Sugarland Mountain, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Postcard, Tennessee Postcard Collection, Tennessee State Library & Archives


For many years, visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains were impressed by the natural beauty and argued for the region to be protected as a national park. By the 1920s, Knoxville civic leaders and others began serious efforts to create a national park. During the late 1920s, the Tennessee and North Carolina Legislatures appropriated $2 million each for land purchases. Individuals and private groups also raised money for the effort. 

In addition to raising money, acquiring land in the Great Smoky Mountains was a difficult process. One of the challenges park supporters faced was the resistance by long-time residents of the area who did not want to leave. Despite their opposition, families who had lived in the region for decades were eventually forced to leave their homes, businesses, schools, churches and cemeteries behind. In addition to the resistance of long-time residents, timber companies were often reluctant to relinquish their land for the park. 

Despite the opposition, the movement for conserving and preserving the mountains continued. By 1934, Tennessee and North Carolina transferred deeds for 300,000 acres of land to the federal government. Eventually, Congress authorized the development of public facilities on the land. During this time, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), an agency created during the Great Depression to provide work and wages for unemployed young men, constructed new facilities, trails and bridges on the landscape. 


Newfound Gap Road’s famous Loop Bridge was one of the projects the CCC completed. Record Group 82: Department of Conservation Photograph Collection, Tennessee State Library & Archives


After several years of the CCC working on the facilities and trails, the park had an official dedication ceremony in September 1940. As part of the ceremony, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered an address to a crowd of people at Newfound Gap at the main crest of the mountains. This area serves as a natural boundary between Tennessee and North Carolina.


President Roosevelt speaking at the dedication ceremony, Record Group 82: Department of Conservation Photograph Collection, Tennessee State Library & Archives


The Great Smoky Mountains National Park became a popular tourist attraction as time moved along. Postcards were created for visitors to commemorate their experience at the park. Some people bought postcards as souvenirs, while others sent them to loved ones in the mail. Some postcards showed specific landmarks at the park, such as the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial at Newfound Gap, while other postcards depicted more picturesque scenery such as Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the state of Tennessee.


Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial at Newfound Gap, Tennessee Postcard Collection, Tennessee State Library & Archives


Clingman’s Dome Postcard, Tennessee Postcard Collection, Tennessee State Library & Archives


Today, the Great Smoky Mountains park continues to attract visitors who want to view the natural beauty and landscape of the mountains. According to the National Park Service, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States.


For more related to this topic see: 

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park Postcards.” Tennessee Postcard Collection, Tennessee State Library and Archives. 


GP 40: Governor Austin Peay Papers, 1923-1927. Tennessee State Library and Archives. 

GP 44: Governor Prentice Cooper Papers, 1939-1945. Tennessee State Library and Archives.


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

Friday, October 8, 2021

Electronic Records at the Tennessee State Library & Archives

By Patsy Mitchell

Today we’re joining the Council of State Archivists to celebrate Electronic Records Day! 


Electronic Records Day Logo. Courtesy of the Council of State Archivists.

When you think of the archives, you might picture handwritten manuscripts on parchment or antique photographs in gilded frames, but what about a Word document or a digital image? How about spreadsheets and emails? Many of these formats have been in use for more than 30 years. That’s a lot of history! 

Many of us are storing our entire lives on electronic devices and cloud services. To understand your great-grandparents, you might pore over a stack of well-worn love letters from World War II. Future generations might search hundreds of thousands of messages and social media posts to learn how we coped with pandemics and lockdowns or how we felt about the second season of Ted Lasso. 

But archives do more than capture historical events and cultural phenomena. They also document and make transparent the actions of government. This mandate to preserve the official records of state government is essential to protecting the public trust and empowering that same public to hold its government accountable. Here are just a few examples of electronic records available at the Tennessee State Library & Archives: 

Department of Economic and Community Development, Commissioner’s Files, 1966-2014, RG 406 

The Department of Economic and Community Development is responsible for creating job and business opportunities in Tennessee. This collection includes the files of its various commissioners from 1966-2014 in both paper and electronic formats. The electronic records include, but are not limited to, correspondence, photographs, presentations, spreadsheets and reports.


Manufacturing site at Dynametal Technologies in Brownsville, Tenn., August 18, 2003 (Department of Economic and Community Development, Commissioner’s Files, 1966-2014, RG 406, Tennessee State Library & Archives)

Department of Economic and Community Development, Entertainment Commission Records, 1976-2014, RG 411

The Tennessee Entertainment Commission works to attract film, television, music and other entertainment producers to the state while assisting Tennessee's current entertainment industry. This collection contains both paper and electronic records. The electronic records include board meeting minutes, member biographies, filmographies, images, press files and reports.


Advertisement promoting the 14th Annual Nashville Screenwriters Conference, June 1-3, 2012. (Department of Economic and Community Development, Entertainment Commission Records, 1976-2014, RG 411, Tennessee State Library & Archives)

Tennessee Economic Council on Women Records, 1998-2016, RG 408

From its beginning in 1998 to its end in 2017, the Economic Council on Women addressed women’s economic concerns and needs in Tennessee, developing policy and recommendations, consulting with state and local officials, educating the public and encouraging women to serve on state boards and commissions. The electronic records include correspondence, meeting minutes, newsletters, photographs, presentations, research files and reports.


Banner of the Tennessee Economic Council on Women’s Spring 2004 newsletter, cropped from the original. (Tennessee Economic Council on Women Records, 1998-2016, RG 408, Tennessee State Library and Archives)

State agencies are producing more and more records in digital formats, and archival staff are hard at work processing and preserving these files to ensure access long into the future. If you are interested in learning more about these collections or accessing electronic records at the Library & Archives, please reach out to us at ask@tsla.libanswers.com.


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

Friday, August 27, 2021

Tennessee State Library & Archives Launching a Lunchtime Speaker Series Commemorating Tennessee’s 225 Years of History


Tennessee State Library & Archives is excited to announce a new lecture series revealing the stories behind significant events in Tennessee’s rich 225-year history. 

“As Tennessee celebrates its 225th anniversary of statehood, we are giving Tennesseans an opportunity to learn about some fascinating stories in our great state’s history,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I encourage anyone interested in Tennessee history to spend their lunch hour with us for these free speaker series events.” 

The first Lunchtime Speaker Series event, a look back at Tennessee’s Centennial Celebration led by Historian David E. Ewing, will be Friday, Sept. 10, from Noon to 1 p.m. 

The other speaker series events will take place on Nov. 5, Feb. 11 and May 6. Topics for these events include Native American life and culture in early Tennessee, how Tennessee earned the Volunteer State nickname through service in military conflicts and how Tennessee’s topography and geology impacted where pioneers settled. 

A noted expert in Tennessee history will lead each Lunchtime Speaker Series talk, including Ewing, Archaeologist Aaron Dieter-Wolf, Lipscomb University Professor Tim Johnson and Aaron Astor, a Historian and Associate Professor at Maryville College. 

"We are eager to welcome guests to the Library & Archives for this speaker series. I believe we have a great lineup of interesting topics and knowledgeable speakers,” said Chuck Sherrill, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist. 

The Lunchtime Speaker Series events will be in-person and live-streamed on the Library & Archives’ Facebook page and the Secretary of State’s YouTube channel. In-person attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch. This series is free to the public. 

After each presentation, in-person attendees can view items related to the lecture topic from the Library & Archives’ extensive collection. In-person attendees can also take a guided tour of the new facility. 

The Library & Archives is located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way North on Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, across from the Tennessee State Museum. Parking is available for guests in the Library & Archives garage on Jackson Street/Junior Gilliam Way. 

For the latest information about the Lunchtime Speaker Series, follow the Library & Archives social media channels, Facebook: Tennessee State Library and Archives and Instagram: @tnlibarchives

To learn more about the Library & Archives or schedule a research visit, call 615-741-2764, email ask@tsla.libanswers.com or visit sos.tn.gov/tsla/plan-your-visit


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

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Stamp Your Passport to Tennessee History


The Tennessee State Library & Archives, Tennessee State Museum, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and the Tennessee State Capitol invite you to make a history day of it with the launch of the Passport to Tennessee History. 

Inside the Passport to Tennessee History on Capitol Hill and Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, visitors will find information about four institutions of Tennessee history, which are all within walking distance of each other on the north side of downtown Nashville: the Tennessee State Library & Archives, Tennessee State Museum, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and the Tennessee State Capitol. 

The passport features space to collect distinct stamps from each location. Participants can collect all four stamps in one day or across multiple visits. Visitors who complete their passport will earn a 10 percent discount at the Tennessee State Museum and Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park gift shops. 

“The Tennessee State Library & Archives’ new home on the Bicentennial Mall gives us the fantastic opportunity to partner with our new neighbors,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. "I encourage anyone interested in learning more about our great state to get a free passport and begin exploring Tennessee history's home on the Mall.” 

The Library & Archives, a division of the Department of State, collects and preserves books, records and other documents of historical and reference value, focusing on items about Tennessee and Tennesseans. Visitors can experience Tennessee’s story through interactive exhibits highlighting the state’s most precious historical documents. Visit the Library & Archives at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way N. The exhibit lobby is open to the public Monday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. The library, microfilm and manuscripts reading rooms are available for research Tuesday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. For more information, call 615-741-2764, email ask@tsla.libanswers.com or visit sos.tn.gov/tsla/plan-your-visit

“The arrival of the Library & Archives to the campus surrounding Bicentennial Mall presents yet another opportunity to encourage families and history fans to visit this welcoming and truly historic area of the state,” said Ashley Howell, executive director of the Tennessee State Museum. “Come visit us to engage with history, play in the park, get lunch at the Farmers’ Market and more, all as we commemorate Tennessee’s 225th anniversary.” 

The Tennessee State Museum is home to thousands of years of Tennessee history, art and culture. Through art and artifacts, films, interactive displays and events, museum visitors can learn about Tennessee's geological beginnings and First Peoples, statehood, participation in wars, place in national social movements and more. The museum, located at 1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd, is open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, visit TNMuseum.org

“A Tennessee history experience is not complete without a visit to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park,” TDEC Deputy Commissioner Jim Bryson, said. “We are proud to partner with our neighbors at the Tennessee State Library & Archives, Tennessee State Museum and the Tennessee State Capitol to provide visitors from around the world with a keepsake for their Tennessee history experience.” 

Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park gives visitors a taste of Tennessee’s history, natural wonders and serves as a lasting monument to Tennessee’s Bicentennial Celebration. The park includes a 200-foot granite map of the state, a World War II Memorial, a 95-Bell Carillon, a Pathway of History, the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains and native plant species from across the state. Passports and stamps are available in the Visitor Center located at 600 James Robertson Parkway. The Visitor Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT, Monday through Friday. The park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Learn more at tnstateparks.com/parks/bicentennial-mall

Opening in 1859, the Tennessee State Capitol, one of the oldest working capitols in the United States, serves as the home of the Tennessee General Assembly and houses the governor's offices. Visitors can take self-guided tours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT or 45-minute guided tours, starting at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. CT. Guided tours are limited to 15 people per tour. Reservations are not required for groups smaller than 12 people. The Tennessee State Capitol is located at 600 Dr. Martin L King, Jr. Blvd., at the top of Capitol Hill. 

Pick up your free Passport to Tennessee History at the Tennessee State Library & Archives, Tennessee State Museum, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park Visitor Center or Tennessee State Capitol to begin stamping your passport to Tennessee History. Admission to all four participating locations is free.


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

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

By Kate Greene Smith, Youth Services and Special Projects Coordinator

Families know early literacy is vital to preparing children for success in school and life. But how do you come up with fresh, new ways to engage little ones amidst the daily routine of feeding, clothing, and caring for them? 

The Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar is here to help! DayByDayTN.com is an interactive, fun-filled, online resource for families to use and share with young children. Families, caregivers, educators, and librarians can use the Day By Day Family Literacy Calendar at home, in the library, classroom, or on the go. With a perpetual calendar featuring songs, activities, books suggestions, and videos, Day By Day supports early literacy skills and helps young children get ready for school. 




Designed to be used anywhere and anytime, DayByDayTN.com has new ideas each day for ways to sing, talk, read, write, and play with pre-school and early elementary children. 

The Day By Day Family Literacy Calendar began as a project of the South Carolina State Library, was refined by the State Library of Ohio, and edited by students of the UT-Knoxville School of Information Sciences and members of the Tennessee Library Association’s Children and Young Adult Roundtable under the direction of the Tennessee State Library & Archives. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


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