Thursday, September 1, 2022

“It’s Football Time in Tennessee!” Exploring the Clarence Bowden Wyatt Papers

By Taylor McPeake


Clipping from the Clarence Bowden Wyatt Papers, Tennessee State Library & Archives.

Born Nov. 4, 1917, Clarence Bowden Wyatt grew up in Roane County, Tenn., wanting to play football at the University of Tennessee for Coach Robert Neyland. After playing for Roane County High School, including the 1933 undefeated team which held all their opponents scoreless, he entered the University of Tennessee in 1935. Wyatt wasn’t recruited to play for the Volunteers, but at the request of a high school teammate, he was offered the chance to play for the University he loved. He would go on to have an impressive career as an end for the Volunteers. His teammates voted him captain of the 1938 team. That same team finished the season undefeated and won the Orange Bowl over the University of Oklahoma. Tennessee won 17-0 with Wyatt kicking the field goal that sealed the win. During his playing career, he made the All-Conference team in 1937-1938 and was selected to the All-America team in 1938. After his playing days with the Volunteers ended, he turned down an offer to play professionally to begin his collegiate coaching career.


Clipping from the Clarence Bowden Wyatt Papers, Tennessee State Library & Archives.

Wyatt began coaching at Mississippi State in 1939 as the end coach under Allyn McKeen, a former Volunteer. He coached the Bulldogs from 1939-1942 and again in 1946. Between 1943-1945, he served in World War II, becoming a lieutenant in the Navy. Wyatt landed his first head coaching job in 1947 at the University of Wyoming, where he led the Cowboys to victory in the 1949 and 1950 Skyline Conference championships. He stayed at Wyoming until 1953, when he became the head coach at the University of Arkansas. In just his second year at Arkansas, he shocked many by winning the Southwest Conference title and a trip to the Cotton Bowl. The Razorbacks lost the bowl game 14-6 to Georgia Tech, coached by Bobby Dodd, himself a former Volunteer football star.


Clipping from the Clarence Bowden Wyatt Papers, Tennessee State Library & Archives.

After the head coaching position became available at the University of Tennessee in 1955, General Neyland, now the Athletic Director, handpicked Wyatt to be the head coach. He went on to have many successful years as the Tennessee coach, staying in the role until 1962. In his second season as coach, his 1956 team went undefeated but would lose to Baylor 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl. The team finished the season ranked second in the national polls. After the 1956 season, Wyatt was named “Coach of the Year” in the Southeastern Conference and nationally. Playing on that 1956 team was Johnny Majors. Majors had a legendary playing career at Tennessee from 1954-1956. Prior to a game against the University of North Carolina in 1955, Coach Wyatt said, “Johnny Majors has taken charge of things on the field. Not only has that helped the team as a whole but it has helped him individually. He’s the boss on the field and he knows it.”


From left to right are half-back Johnny Majors, end Buddy Cruze, and tackle John Gordy. Sports Illustrated magazine Sept. 24, 1956, page 94. John T. Majors Collection, Tennessee State Library & Archives.

Both men were involved in arguably one of the greatest games in the history of college football. On Nov. 10, 1956, the undefeated, third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers played the undefeated, second-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta in a game that would be remembered for its defense. Tennessee won the game 6-0, with Majors throwing the pass that led to the only score of the game. Majors would finish as runner-up to the Heisman Trophy after the season. When Majors’s playing career was over, following a short time in the Canadian League, he started his coaching career as an assistant coach under Wyatt. Majors coached at Tennessee from 1957-1959 before leaving in 1960. Majors returned as head coach of the Volunteers in 1977 and coached them through the 1992 season, cementing his legendary status as a Tennessee player and coach. Later in life, Majors talked about the great coaching he received as a player from Wyatt and his staff.


Clipping from the Clarence Bowden Wyatt Papers, Tennessee State Library & Archives.

At Tennessee, Wyatt had an overall record of 49-24-4. He had winning seasons in all but two years. His overall coaching record was 99-56-5. Upon General Neyland’s death in 1962, Wyatt was named the acting Director of Athletics. In this role, he made a lasting impact on all fans of the Volunteers with his hiring of Ray Mears as head coach of the men’s basketball team. Mears was head coach from 1962-1977 and, during his tenure, he coined the phrase “Big Orange Country” and got fans to start wearing orange at more than just football and basketball games. He also had his teams run through a giant “T” onto the court, a tradition adopted by the football team on the field. Following a short stint as assistant coach at Oklahoma State University, Wyatt retired to Roane County with his wife Mary Miller, who he met at Tennessee and married in 1940. He enjoyed living a quieter life in the country but missed coaching and working with the players. He continued to go to many Tennessee football games. He died on Jan. 21, 1969, and was buried in Roane County. Wyatt was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972 as a player and again in 1997 as a coach, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1972, and the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. Wyatt’s contributions to Tennessee, both the University and the state, can best be summed up by Dr. A. D. Holt, the University of Tennessee President, speaking about Wyatt after his death,

“As an outstanding student leader, athlete, and coach at U-T, he contributed richly to the traditions of the Volunteers. He came to U-T as an unknown farm boy seeking a college education and, by his determination and dedication, gained national eminence in college football. The name of Bowden Wyatt will always be synonymous with moments of greatness in Tennessee Athletics.”


Clipping from the Clarence Bowden Wyatt Papers, Tennessee State Library & Archives.


To learn more about this accomplished player and coach, come to the Tennessee State Library & Archives and ask for the Clarence Bowden Wyatt Papers, Clarence Bowden Wyatt Papers, 1937-1989. The collection contains newspaper clippings, programs, and many other items documenting his illustrious career. We’re located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way North, on the northeast corner of the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in Nashville. The Library & Archives is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT Tuesday through Saturday. If you have questions about the Clarence Bowden Wyatt Papers, the Library & Archives, or our resources, please email ask@tsla.libanswers.com or call 615-741-2764 for assistance.


ADDITIONAL SOURCES AND RELATED LINKS:


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

Monday, July 25, 2022

James Ritter Named New Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist


Secretary of State Tre Hargett announces James Ritter has been selected as the next Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist. Ritter, who served as the State Librarian of Maine for the last eight years, started his new position on July 25, 2022. 

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

The Library & Archives also operates the Tennessee Regional Library System, which provides training and support for public libraries across Tennessee and oversees the Library for Accessible Books & Media, which offers free library services for Tennesseans with disabilities. 

"I am proud to welcome Mr. Ritter as our new State Librarian and Archivist," said Secretary Hargett. “We are fortunate to have someone with his extensive skill set and admirable background to fill this position. I am confident that Mr. Ritter will provide a clear vision and leadership for the State Library & Archives, and he will build on the solid foundation laid by his predecessors." 

Ritter joined the Maine State Library in 2012 and was selected to be the State Librarian of Maine in 2014. Prior to that, he served as the Deputy Director of the Camden Public Library in Camden, Maine. Ritter currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) and has worked extensively with the Maine Library Commission to develop and advocate for legislation to improve Maine’s public libraries. Ritter earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Delaware and a Master of Science in Library and Information Science and a Master of Science in Organizational Creativity and Innovation from Drexel University. 

“I am excited to join the incredible team at the Tennessee State Library & Archives, and it’s an honor to be part of a wonderful organization that serves all Tennesseans,” said Ritter. “The investment and the trust that has been placed in the Library & Archives is evident, and I look forward to contributing to the tradition of providing great library and archival services to the people of Tennessee.” Ritter will replace Charles Sherrill, who retired from the post after 12 years as State Librarian and Archivist. 

The Library & Archives is located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way N. on the northeast corner of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in Nashville. The Library & Archives lobby featuring interactive exhibits 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. 

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


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

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