Monday, June 15, 2020

Grassmere Historic Farm at the Nashville Zoo and the Tennessee State Library and Archives Wins 2020 AASLH Award of Excellence

We are pleased to announce that the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) has selected Grassmere Historic Farm at the Nashville Zoo and the Tennessee State Library and Archives to receive an Award of Excellence for the collaborative project “Nashville To Miami To Havana: Cuba, Castro and the Croft Family.” The AASLH Leadership in History Awards honor not only significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena.

Project Leads Jennifer Randles and Tori Mason, pictured here in the center with members of the Tennessee State Museum staff, Rachel Helvering, Community Engagement Manager and Jeff Sellers, Director of Education and Community Engagement.


The Nashville Zoo exists today due to the foresight of two sisters, Margaret and Elise Croft. In October 2018, Tori Mason, Nashville Zoo Historic Site Manager, and Jennifer Randles, TSLA Digital Materials Librarian, traveled to Florida and Cuba to research the Croft sisters’ business. In Florida, they conducted oral history interviews with 94-yr old Bradford Dallas, the man who was the Croft’s business administrator in Havana during the Cuban Revolution. Several of his letters and other documents are on the Tennessee Virtual Archive website (teva.contentdm.oclc.org). They also spent time in Havana traveling to various locations associated with the Croft and the Dallas families. Mason and Randles wrote blog posts published on the zoo and TSLA websites, which led to speaking invitations. They created a PowerPoint presentation, including sound bites from the interviews, and from December 2018 to October 2019 presented eight public programs reaching nearly 300 people.

Tennessee State Museum “Lunch and Learn” presentation July 17, 2019.


Sound bites are currently on TSLA’s Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA), and recordings are being transcribed with plans to publish them online. This information captures first-had accounts of the Cuban Revolution while making it relevant to Nashville, and zoo, history. Sharing what they learned was an essential part of advancing the mission of enriching, inspiring, and educating those interested in a deeper understanding of the Nashville Zoo.

Image of Croft House at 419 Calle 19, in front of current buildings at that address.


Follow the links below to learn more about this project and explore the Grassmere Collection in TeVA:








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

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Johnny Majors, 1935-2020

The Tennessee State Library and Archives joins the sports world in mourning the death of legendary University of Tennessee football coach and player Johnny Majors, who passed away today at the age of 85.

Coach Majors donated his personal papers to the Library and Archives some years ago. We were honored to receive them and feature some of his collection in our online exhibit, “It’s Football Time In Tennessee!” View the exhibit here: https://sharetngov.tnsosfiles.com/tsla/exhibits/majors/exhibit_majors.htm

Watch Coach Majors talk about his collection and his love for history: https://vimeo.com/72683237

Johnny Majors donates to the Tennessee State Library and Archives from Tennessee Department of State on Vimeo.



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

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Tennessee Celebrates 224 Years of Statehood


On June 1, 2020, Tennessee celebrates 224 years of statehood. In this time of social distancing, we're finding creative ways to mark this anniversary and share our state's history.

On our Facebook page, our Education Outreach staff is highlighting historically significant moments in the history of the 16th state through a series of trivia questions. These questions are designed to get you to think about our state's history and to inspire you to learn more. We will post answers the next day with links to primary sources from our collections on the Tennessee Virtual Archive and our website.

We're also looking back to our state's founding documents. These documents helped transform Tennessee from a frontier territory to a state whose history reflects our nation's economic and cultural progress and challenges.

We hope you'll follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and here on the blog for updates.

In the meantime, let's look at this photo collage from the Library and Archives' first Statehood Day event in 2017.












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

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Tennessee Timeline

By Mary DePeder

This year marks the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the United States with the ratification of the 19th Amendment by the Tennessee General Assembly. By the summer of 1920, 35 states had ratified the 19th Amendment, bringing it just one state shy of the constitutional majority needed to make it law. When the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to ratify on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became that crucial final state, earning itself the nickname “The Perfect 36”.

We have been sharing stories of the women’s suffrage movement from across Tennessee to celebrate our unique role in this turning point in American history. This third segment in our series is a pictorial timeline highlighting significant events and people in the Tennessee women’s suffrage movement.


Map of Tennessee Congressional Districts, 1920. Carrie Chapman Cat Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1889

Lide Meriwether founded the first Tennessee woman suffrage organization in Memphis. Before this, Meriwether was president of the Tennessee Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). For many women, participation in reform movements such as WCTU were precursors to suffrage activism.



Souvenir booklet from the thirty-third annual convention of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union meeting in Nashville in 1907. Donelson, Bettie Mizell (1862-1939) Papers 1787-1938.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1897

At the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, suffragists met in the Exposition’s Woman’s Building to form the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association. Lide Meriwether was their first president.


Woman’s Building, 1897. Library Photograph Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1897

The National Council of Women of the United States convened in the Woman’s Building bringing powerful and influential suffrage activists to the state.


“National Council of Women: Federated Body of Over a Score of Great National Societies of Women to Meet Here To-Morrow,” 1897. Newspapers on Microfilm.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1897

Mary Church Terrell held the first convention of the National Association of Colored Women later renamed the National Association of Colored Women’s Club (NACWC) in Nashville. NACWC was a pivotal organization for black suffrage activism.

Mary Church Terrell. Library Photography Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1900

Carrie Chapman Catt became president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).


Carrie Chapman Cat. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1900

Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association (TESA) held its second convention in Memphis.

1906

Memphis created its chapter of TESA

1910

Lizzie Crozier French organized the Knoxville chapter of TESA

1911

Nashville, Chattanooga, and Morristown all created TESA chapters


Frances Holder Overall scrapbook, 1914-1945. Newspaper clip highlighting important figures in the fight for women’s suffrage. Frances Holder Overall Papers, 1867-1918.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1913

Alice Paul and Lucy Burns broke off from the National Woman Suffrage Association to form the more militant Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, later renamed the National Woman’s Party (NWP). At a march for suffrage hosted by the NWP, Memphis native Ida B. Wells was told to march at the back of the line with other black suffragists. She refused. She opted instead to march at the front of the line with the white suffragists.


Ida B. Wells-Barnett, 1897. Library Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1914

The Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association splintered into two separate factions: The Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association, Incorporated, and TESA.

1914

National American Woman Suffrage Association held a convention in Nashville.


Cover of National Suffrage Convention pamphlet, 1914. Library Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


“Votes for Women,” 1914. Nashville Tennessean clip about the 1914 NAWSA convention. Bettie Mizell Donelson Family Papers, 1787-1938.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1915

The Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association, Inc. pushed for a woman suffrage amendment to be added to the state constitution. The Tennessee General Assembly adopted a joint resolution for the amendment. However, in order to succeed, the amendment needed to pass in 1917 with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate.


“You Dirty Boy,” 1914. Political cartoon from Nashville Tennessean. Frances Holder Overall Papers, 1867-1918.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1915

The Crisis, a monthly publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, did a feature on the suffrage movement.


“Votes for Women: A Symposium by Leading Thinkers of Colored America,” 1915. Josephine A. Pearson Papers, 1860-1943.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1916-1917

Although it never achieved the same level of success as the NAWSA in the south, the National Woman’s Party saw an increase in interest during these years.


Mary Giles Howard, 1916. Vice-chairman of the Tennessee Division of the National Woman’s Party. Tennessee Federation of Women’s Clubs Records, 1893-1992.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)



Mrs. K. P. Jones, 1916. Vice-chairman of the Tennessee Division of the National Woman’s Party. Tennessee Federation of Women’s Clubs Records, 1893-1992.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1917

Josephine A. Pearson became the President of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.


“Truth crushed,” 1920. Scrapbook page with Josephine Pearson on the right, a confederate soldier in the center, and Mrs. Jas. S Pinkard on the right.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1917

The joint resolution presented in 1915 to add a woman’s suffrage amendment to the state constitution failed due to increased lobbying from anti-suffragist groups.


“Woman Suffrage: A Menace to the South,” 1917. An anti-suffrage pamphlet. Josephine A. Pearson Papers, 1860-1943.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1918

The two factions of TESA stopped feuding and unified.

1919

Limited suffrage passed granting women the right to vote in municipal and presidential elections.


“An annoying delay,” 1920. Political cartoon. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1919

Under limited suffrage, Mary Cordelia Beasley Hudson of Benton County became the first woman to legally vote in Tennessee.

1920, May

The League of Women Voters of Tennessee was established. Abby Crawford Milton was the first president.


The League of Women Voters card, 1920. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1920, June

Catherine Talty Kenny was elected the Chairman of the Ratification Committee of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee. She selected Dr. Mattie E. Coleman as “state negro organizer” and J. Frankie Pierce as “secretary of colored suffrage work.”

1920, July

Both Carrie Chapman Catt and Josephine Pearson arrived in Nashville and established organization headquarters at the Hermitage Hotel. Intense lobbying on both sides ensued.


“Question is, will they get through in time for the presidential election?” 1920. Political cartoon. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


August 9, 1920

Governor Albert H. Roberts called a special legislative session for the 19th Amendment.


Telegram from Sue Shelton White to Governor Albert H. Roberts, 1920. GP 38: Governor Albert H. Roberts Papers, 1919-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


August 13, 1920

The Senate approved the resolution to ratify.


“Suffrage scenes at the Capitol when the Senate ratified August 13,” 1920. Josephine A. Pearson Papers, 1860-1943.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


August 18, 1920

The House adopted the resolution, ratifying the 19th Amendment and enfranchising women throughout the United States.


“Gov. A. H. Roberts signing Tennessee certificate of ratification,” 1920. GP 38: Governor Albert H. Roberts Papers, 1919-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


August 26, 1920

The Tennessee ratification certificate was received by the United States Secretary of State, who signed the proclamation into law. Victory at last! The 19th Amendment was officially ratified on a national level. Women of color, however, continued to fight restrictive voting laws and practices aimed at disenfranchising black voters. Their relentless activism led to the successful passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


“Lest we forget,” 1920. Political cartoon. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)



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

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Documenting the Covid-19 Pandemic



Tennesseans, like so many people worldwide, are reacting and adapting to the global COVID-19 health crisis. The Tennessee State Library and Archives is seeking to document the pandemic in our state through your observations and experiences. We welcome submissions of diaries, journals, poems, photographs, or other digital media items that express or record your experience of this unique historical moment. Providing as much detail and context about what you submit will help future researchers understand this historic event.

A selection of material submitted may be shared through Library & Archives social media accounts or digital collections. Ultimately, submitted materials will be preserved at the Library & Archives for future generations.

Please use this link to share your story: https://bit.ly/TSLACov19.


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

Monday, May 4, 2020

Tennessee State Library and Archives Reopening May 5th by Appointment Only

The Tennessee State Library and Archives will reopen to the public by appointment only, beginning Tuesday, May 5th.



Patrons and staff will follow best practices for social distancing and other protective measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors will notice several changes to our physical spaces implemented to safeguard everyone's health.

Staff members and visiting patrons are required to maintain six feet of distance between each other and to wear cloth masks when moving around the research areas. Access to some computers, microfilm scanners and readers, and research tables will be limited to encourage social distancing. There are also some changes in seating and public access points.

Our custodial staff have deep-cleaned the building and will continue a consistent cleaning schedule to maintain clean surfaces.

All of our public programming will continue to suspend until further notice.

If possible, patrons are highly encouraged to continue to use Library and Archives services remotely. Many times, our staff members can provide patrons with a digital copy of a document or vital record in our collection. Patrons can also continue to access many of our resources online through our website, the Tennessee Electronic Library, and the Tennessee Virtual Archive.

To make an appointment or to request remote assistance, contact our reference desk Tuesday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, by phone 615-741-2764, by email at ask@tsla.libanswers.com or by live chat at sos.tn.gov/tsla.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue serving your research and information needs during this time.

Please check our website, sos.tn.gov/tsla, or social media for updates as this situation develops.

Chuck Sherrill
State Librarian and Archivist
Posted: April 28, 2020


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

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A walk through the streets of Nashville...

Archivist Will Thomas recently took a walk through the abandoned streets of downtown Nashville (at a safe social distance, of course). He snapped several photographs to document this time in our collective history. We’re sharing a few of his photographs here...


Tennessee State Library and Archives Building, April 9, 2020. TSLA was closed to the public due to coronavirus effective Monday, March 16, 2020.


Lower Broad, Broadway looking west from 1st Ave, April 9, 2020


Empty sidewalk on Broadway, looking west down Broadway from between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave, April 9, 2020.


Street preacher with no audience, War Memorial Plaza, April 9, 2020.


Sign in window of Robert's Western World, Broadway between 4th Ave & 5th Ave, April 9, 2020.


These photographs will become a permanent part of the State Library and Archives digital collection documenting our state’s response to COVID-19. View the entire digital collection HERE.

For information on how you might document your own experiences during this time of social distancing, we encourage you to visit our Education Outreach page, where you’ll find instruction from our staff on how to record your experiences for posterity.


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