Wednesday, September 24, 2014

State Library and Archives' Next Workshop: "Creating Order in the Midst of Chaos: Union Provost Marshal Records"

The Civil War was a chaotic time in our nation's history when normal societal rules didn't always apply. Soldiers and civilians alike sometimes took advantage of the uncertainty around them by breaking laws and upsetting the social order. In the territories held by the Union army, provost marshals served as a check against such activities. The provost marshals, who functioned as military police during the Civil War, also kept records of their work that can be valuable resources for historians who want to know more about what life was like during that turbulent era.

"Applying for passes at the Office of the Provost Marshal at St. Louis - Sketched by Mr. Alexander Simplot"
Tennessee State Library and Archives Collection

On Oct. 25, the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) will host a free workshop to help people understand what types of records the provost marshals kept and how to access them. The records deal with prisoners, deserters, Confederate spies, disloyal civilians, soldiers accused of civilian crimes, and civilians violating military law. They include documents such as oaths of allegiance, orders, passes, and paroles. Many of these records can be found on a searchable database on TSLA's website - and TSLA also has a collection of microfilmed and original holdings.

Darla Brock, who was worked at TSLA for 14 years as a manuscripts archivist, will lead the workshop.

The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. Oct. 25 in TSLA's auditorium. TSLA's building is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, just west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville. Free parking is available around the building.

Although the event is free and open to the public, reservations are required due to limited seating in the auditorium. To register, call (615) 741-2764 or e-mail

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

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