Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Holiday Reading Suggestions from the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Season’s Readings! It’s the end of the year, and time for the holidays. Long nights and short, cold days means that it’s the perfect time of year to find a new author or rediscover an old favorite. Here are some suggestions from Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) staff members.

You can’t go wrong with some of the all-time Christmas classics, such as A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. TLBPH has several versions of this classic for all ages: for adults in braille, audio, and large print; for grades 2-4 in braille and audio; and for grades 4-7 in braille and audio. It’s also available from the braille foreign language collection in Spanish.

Some newer titles include books by best-selling current authors. John Grisham is famous for writing legal thrillers, but he also wrote the wonderful book, Skipping Christmas, which was adapted in 2004 as Christmas With the Kranks, starring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Cheech Marin, and others. TLBPH has this book available in braille, audio, and large print.

From Debbie Macomber, writer of romance novels and Christian fiction, we have Call Me Mrs. Miracle, a story about how shopping for a Christmas gift can lead to romance. It’s available as an audio book and in large print.

One holiday classic the entire family can enjoy, and perhaps read aloud together, is How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss. TLBPH has it in braille, audio, and print/braille, and in Spanish audio. A new family favorite might be Caroline Kennedy’s A Family Christmas, a collection of her favorite Christmas stories, poems, songs and scriptures. It includes her own 1962 letter to Santa, written when she was five years old while living in the White House the year before her father was assassinated. TLBPH has the title in braille and audio.

Finally, for anyone who’s looking for something more hair-raising than ho-ho-ho, check out The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore on audio.

To find out more about the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped, go to: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/library-blind-and-physically-handicapped.

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

Graduate Student Provides Help to Tennessee's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

The Tennessee State Library and Archives was fortunate to have some outstanding assistance recently from a graduate student who attends Texas Women’s University.

Maggie Bootman, an Olive Branch, Miss. resident, is an online student in the university's master’s in library science program. She decided to pursue the internship in Nashville after visiting the Library and Archives' booth at the Southern Festival of Books.

While in Tennessee, Maggie provided valuable assistance to the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (LBPH). She verified that, in accordance with federal guidelines, the statuses of all of the LBPH’s 671 registered mililtary veterans were given priority in our automated circulation system. This enabled the LBPH to send “thank you for your service” cards to all of the library’s registered veterans in observance of Veterans’ Day.

Maggie also reviewed the library’s records for 298 different book series, ensuring that they were entered consistently and in proper reading order. This helps the LBPH’s reader advisors ensure that, for example, book six of a series is not sent to a patron before preceding books in the series. She made a great start on a big job, since the library’s collections include more than 800 series.

In addition, Maggie entered book cover information and subject codes for books that others downloaded from the Internet to ensure they would be circulated properly. She also cataloged, processed and entered new titles in the LBPH’s large print collection.

Thanks, Maggie, for all of your efforts! We miss you and your work!

For information on internship and volunteer opportunities at the State Library and Archives, go to: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/interns-and-volunteer-program

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

Friday, December 4, 2015

Comb Graves of Tennessee

The Tennessee State Library and Archives recently processed a number of 'born' digital images of comb graves. (Born digital items are those originally created in a digital format, not converted from paper to digital.) Tennessee has the highest concentration of comb graves in the South. While they can be found in other states such as Kentucky and Alabama, Tennessee has the most, located mainly along the Cumberland Plateau. So what are comb graves and why are so many found in Tennessee?

Comb graves in Polk-Bilbrey Cemetery in Overton Co., Tenn. Picture taken in the 1970s.

Comb graves, sometimes called tent graves, have slabs of rock (or other materials) that cover the length of the graves. The stones lean against each other to form inverted v-shapes, like the gables of a roof. The word “comb” is an old architectural term that refers to that part of a roof. Graves of this type started showing up in cemeteries around the 1820s and were popular until the mid-20th Century when their use declined. While many of these graves have no inscriptions, it is not unusual to see them inscribed or marked with separate headstones. While no one knows for sure why people began to cover the graves of their loved ones, one theory is that the stones were to protect the graves from weather or from animals.

Comb graves in Roaring River Cemetery, Overton Co., Tenn.

Comb graves in Liberty Church Cemetery in Overton Co., Tenn.

Dr. Richard Finch of Tennessee Tech has been investigating comb graves for several years and has discovered that while they can be made from anything from sheet metal to marble, the vast majority are made from sandstone. This sandstone is from the Hartselle rock formation, which is found in the area along the Cumberland Plateau where comb graves are prevalent.

Not much else is known about these graves, except that due to many factors, including weather and vandalism, they are slowly disappearing from cemeteries. To make information about comb graves accessible to the public, Dr. Finch has given a copy of his research and photographs to the State Library and Archives. This all-digital collection contains thousands of photographs, as well as his published articles and other research materials.

Comb grave of William Livingston in Oakley Cemetery in Overton Co., Tenn. Picture taken in the 1980s

Comb graves in Highland Cemetery in Overton, Co., Tenn.

To see a selection of comb grave photographs, go to our Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) at: http://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15138coll44. For more information on comb graves, visit the State Library and Archives website and use the finding aid for the Richard C. Finch Folk Graves Digital Photograph Collection: https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/richard-c-finch-folk-graves-digital-photograph-collection-1967-2015.

Text and research for this blog post contributed by Celeste Happeny, written while she worked as an intern with the State Library and Archives Digital Work Group. During her internship, Celeste attended the folk studies and historic preservation program at Western Kentucky University.

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

Monday, November 30, 2015

J. E. Raht and the Union Consolidated Mining Company - A Case History from the Tennessee Supreme Court Case Files

As the project manager of the Tennessee Supreme Court Records Project, Kim Wires performs daily quality control and spell checks on the Supreme Court database. In the last year, Kim had noticed a recurrence of cases involving J. E. Raht and the Union Consolidated Mining Company. There were multiple entries, with each entry representing only a tiny fraction of a seemingly much larger one. The body of Raht case files consisted of exhibits, correspondence, briefs, and other court maneuvers - but the actual trial transcript hadn't been located. This led Kim on a mission to pull all the disparate pieces of evidence together into one case file, to make researching the case much easier for our patrons.

Supreme Court Records Project case file J. E. Raht v. The Union Consolidated Mining Company. Tennessee State Library and Archives.

First, a bit of historical context: Julius Eckhardt Raht was born in 1826 in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1850, where he made his fortune in the mining industry. In 1854, Raht decided to seek his fortune wealth in copper mining near Cleveland, in an area known as Ducktown. After six successful years, he became the chief of operations for all mines and smelting works in the area.

Julius Eckhardt Raht (1826-1879) from Ducktown Back in Raht's Time by R. E. Barclay, 1945.

Shortly after the Civil War began, the Confederates confiscated all the mines in Ducktown, bringing hardships to Raht and the mining community. In a letter to the managing director of the company, Raht wrote “I have written Cap’t. Tonkin to engage teams to haul the copper to Cleveland as soon as the Rebels & robbers have left that section of the country.” Soon thereafter, Raht’s communication with the mine owners, who lived in the North, was cut off. Raht continued to try and operate the company until the war made that task impossible. Raht decided to leave Tennessee for Cincinnati until the war ended.

The Isabella Smelting Works in 1875, from Ducktown Back in Raht’s Time by R. E. Barclay, 1945.

After the war, Raht returned to Ducktown mines and began to personally finance much of the recovery work. He made good progress until 1875 when things turned sour between Raht and the Union Consolidated Mining Company. Raht claimed that the company had become financially indebted to him to the sum of $84,711.61 - equivalent to $1.7 million in today's dollars! However, the mining company claimed that Raht had built an illegal personal fortune by converting the company’s assets to his own. John Baxter, a lawyer for the Union Consolidated Mining Company, stated: “This record is an interesting one. It displays a capacity for original, intricate and far reaching fraud, beyond anything that has hitherto come under the judicial observation of this court . . . He never neglected an opportunity to drain any and every one that came within his reach…”

And so a long trial began. One of Raht’s lawyers later commented: “The pleadings and proof make a transcript in the Supreme Court of 6,000 pages, and, together with exhibits, make a record which surpasses in size any record ever seen in the Supreme Court of Tennessee.” Raht passed away in 1879 before the case was decided. Ultimately, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in Raht’s favor and the mining company went bankrupt.

Receipt book used as an exhibit in the court case, J. E. Raht v. The Union Consolidated Mining Company. Tennessee State Library and Archives.

After learning about the case history, Kim's next step involved locating the actual case file with the hope of uniting it with all the other pieces that archivists had already discovered. She decided to start with the State Library and Archives' card catalog, which contains a rudimentary inventory of most unprocessed Tennessee Supreme Court cases. Kim found a card that identified the case in a box that had more random exhibit pieces and only volume - No. 8 - of the actual case file. She still needed the first seven volumes and possibly additional volumes after the eighth one.

As luck would have it, one of our processors came across the case in its entirety while shifting boxes soon thereafter. We were able to confirm Kim's research with the actual case file, and combine and house everything together. The processed case now resides in five boxes totaling more than 7,000 pages.

A page from Supreme Court Records Project case file J. E. Raht v. The Union Consolidated Mining Company. Tennessee State Library and Archives.

The case files of the Tennessee Supreme Court, like this one, represent an especially valuable resource for historical and genealogical research at the State Library and Archives. To learn more and to search our database, please visit our Tennessee Supreme Court Cases web page at: http://tnsos.org/tsla/SupremeCourtCases/.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

LBPH Partners with Art Students to Recognize Veterans

The Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (LBPH) has teamed up with art students at the Tennessee School for the Blind to honor LBPH patrons who served our country in the U. S. military. LBPH sent cards to each of the 458 veterans who are registered with the library, thanking them for their service. The artwork for the cards was designed by students at the school who are blind or have low vision.

The national “talking book program” has prioritized service to veterans since World War I and continues to do so today. Veterans receive new formats and best-selling books before other patrons. When the service converted from books on tape to digital books, LBPH received an initial shipment of 25 digital book players. There were more than 200 patrons on the waiting list for the players, but the first digital players and books were first sent to veterans. LBPH now has plenty of digital players and books available for any eligible person who registers with the library, including Tennesseans of all ages, not just veterans.

Since sending the cards, LBPH has received several telephone calls and letters of thanks from veterans! For more information on the history of this popular publicly-funded program and its association with veterans, see That All May Read: Library Service for Blind and Physically Handicapped People, a government publication available from federal document depository libraries, including the Tennessee State Library & Archives. This publication is also available in audio and braille formats from LBPH, which is a division of the State Library and Archives.

To find out more about who is eligible to borrow books from LBPH and what books are available, go to: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/library-blind-and-physically-handicapped.

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Facial Hair and Fashion Can Help You Identify Photographs

Do you have a photograph at home but just can’t tell when it was taken? Have you looked at the clothes people in the photo were wearing and determined that they are too indistinct to nail down a specific decade? Is the only distinguishing feature on your male ancestor one glorious beard? Well, you’re in luck because you can narrow down time frame based on facial hair!

Example of a full beard and mustache. Wickliffe Weakley, c. 1890s, Cabinet Card Photograph Collection.

Facial hair, like fashion, goes in and out of style depending on social, economic, and religious trends. For instance, in the colonial period of American history through the early 1800s, men were most often clean-shaven. A clean, hairless face was associated with Puritan values, trustworthiness, and enlightenment (a beard hid the face and therefore did not promote an image of openness). However, by the mid-1800s beards were back! The Victorian era saw British military wearing mustaches, and men began to imitate the hair style for its military, masculine associations. Additionally, facial hair made a comeback among men who were exploring the wilderness and did not shave. Imitation of these frontiersmen meant linking yourself to concepts of rugged masculinity.

Perkins wears a chin curtain beard. Ray Perkins, 1899, Library Collection.

This is an example of a goatee with connecting mustache. Unidentified, c. 1870s, Carte de Visite Collection.

Several facial hair trends began during the U.S. Civil War. In the 1860s, Abraham Lincoln sported both the “chin curtain” (full beard, no mustache) and the goatee (beard only on chin, mustache optional). Many men began wearing of these beards to imitate the president. During the same time, Union Army general Ambrose Burnside popularized what became known as sideburns (hair on the sides of the face extending from the hairline to below the ears), which led to variation such as “muttonchops” (wide sideburns) and “side whiskers” (sideburns that hang below the jawline).

The officer wears “friendly muttonchops” that have extended into whiskers. “Friendly” because the muttonchops connect through a mustache. Unidentified army officer, c. 1872, Robert J. Gasper Collection.

The late 1800s and early 1900s saw the popularization of the handlebar mustache (the ends grown longer and often flared out). Beards became less desirable during the First World War, when soldiers needed to shave in order to have tight fitting gas masks. The masks, however, did not affect the wearing of mustaches. During the 1920s and 1930s, the “toothbrush” or “bottlebrush” mustache (narrow but tall, not exceeding the width of the nose) hit its peak popularity, but after World War II it fell out of style because of its association with Adolf Hitler. In the 1930s and 1940s, the “pencil” mustache (very thin, usually just above the upper lip) became popular because of its association with Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind. The goatee was re-popularized in the 1950s with the beatnik culture, and jazz and soul musicians.

This is an example of a handlebar mustache. Dr. George H. Price, 1890, Cabinet Card Photograph Collection.

Sgt. York wears a “toothbrush” or “bottlebrush” mustache. Sgt. Alvin C. York, 29 November, 1939, Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection.

Mr. Strange wears a pencil mustache. Mr. Strange, bass singer with the concert singers of the TN Agricultural & Industrial Normal School in Nashville, 7 July 1939, Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection.

As you date your ancestors’ photographs, keep in mind that facial hair trends were often cyclical: they were popular for a couple decades, fell out of fashion, and would often reappear at a later time. There were also individuals who kept one style most of their life, and others still who did not pay attention to trends, rather staying clean shaven or maintaining a full beard and mustache. Trends also depended on geography – a mountain man and a city slicker often favored different aspects of facial hair. Hopefully, this guide will help you figure out how your ancestor looked and when!

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

TSLA Recognizes Six Graduates of the Tennessee Archives Institute

The Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) is proud to recognize six new graduates of the Tennessee Archives Institute. The archives development program at TSLA annually hosts this two-and-a-half day series of workshops on the principles and practices of archival management and records preservation. In order to graduate from the program with a certificate of archival management, archivists must complete three years of training.

This year's program graduates are:

  • Chad Fred Bailey of the Washington County Archives in Jonesborough
  • Paul Frank of the Sevier County Records Management and Archives Department in Sevierville
  • Cindy Grimmitt of the Maury County Archives in Columbia
  • Marilyn Holmes of the Dyer County Archives in Dyersburg
  • Aimee Saunders of the Williamson County Archives in Franklin
  • Randy Tatum of the Sumner County Archives in Gallatin

This year, TSLA welcomed 28 participants from archives, libraries and museums from around the state. The institute included sessions on the arrangement and description of records, collection policies, records retention schedules, public records commissions, creation of clear indexes and finding aids, as well as behind-the-scenes tours of the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. The archivists also learned about document care and preservation from TSLA conservators, and put their instruction to use in hands-on document cleaning.

The institute provides participants with opportunities to interact and exchange ideas with other archivists and records keepers from across the state.

"The Tennessee Archives Institute provides an excellent venue for archivists to hone their skills," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "I congratulate this year's graduates for their hard work and the initiative they showed in participating in this program."

Assistant State Archivist Wayne Moore said: “Not only do participants in the Archives Institute learn valuable tricks of the trade, but they also get opportunities to network with colleagues during their training. It's very helpful for archivists throughout our state to be communicating about best practices within their profession.”

For more information about the archives development program, please visit: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/archives-development-program. For information about the institute, click the Archival Training link: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/archival-training.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Video That Explains Who We Are and What We Do

The origins of the Tennessee State Library and Archives date all the way back to 1854, yet even today, some people don’t know much about its operations or the valuable resources it holds. From its humble beginnings as a reading room for people who worked at the State Capitol, the State Library and Archives has been transformed over the years into a priceless treasure trove with millions of documents, photographs, maps, and other records related to Tennessee history. The following 18-minute video provides a brief summary of what the staff of the State Library and Archives does and how the records stored there benefit Tennesseans.

You can see this video in the embedded link below, or watch it at the following link: Held in Trust: Tennessee's Library and Archives.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Night the Stars Fell

“It seemed as if all the stars in heaven were being hurled from their places and cast unto the earth.” -- unknown newspaper clipping in the Shankland Nashville History Scrapbook

Every year in mid-November, the Earth bears witness to the Leonid meteor shower. This phenomenon occurs when the Earth moves through debris left by the Tempel-Tuttle comet. The first recorded instance of this marvel occurred on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13, 1833, when the world was dazzled by the appearance of the Leonids.

In 1833, the meteor shower was most visible in the Deep South; particularly in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana. Many people, having witnessed nothing so sensational before, began to say the sky was falling and dubbed the night of Nov. 12 “the night the stars fell.”

“Many persons believed that the world was coming to an end, as thousands of visible meteors passed through the skies.” -- unknown newspaper clipping [believed to be an 1899 edition of The Nashville American] in the Shankland Nashville History Scrapbook

At the time, the world was in the midst of the Second Great Awakening. A lot of people believed that the falling of the stars indicated that the second coming of Christ was drawing near. Describing the public reaction in the Aug. 24, 1917 edition of The Camden Chronicle, a Mrs. Kee reported that “when the ‘stars fell’ the people fell to their knees praying and that for a period they lived free from sin.” Another newspaper account (from the Shankland Nashville History Scrapbook) stated that “The vulgar, as usual, were much affrighted, and some thought the last great day of accounts was ushering in.”

Eyewitness reports stated that the meteor shower looked like “a rain of fire, not stars.” In a newspaper article discussing the event, one gentleman from Blackshear, Georgia compared it to working in foundries and blacksmith shops. “The only stars I saw were just as one sees when molten iron is running into or from a ladle, or when iron with a welding heat is withdrawn from the forge.”

Shankland Scrapbook images - Mrs. E. S. Shankland Nashville History Scrapbook, ca. 1800-1932

Witnessing something so spectacular wasn't quickly forgotten. The May 2, 1919 edition of The (Memphis) News Scimitar includes an obituary for Emanuel Anderson. Anderson was reported to be 108 years old when he died. A former slave brought from Virginia to Mississippi in 1823, he recollected the meteor shower for the rest of his long life. “He remembered distictinctly [sic] the year of the meteoric shower of 1833, which is commonly known as the year that the stars fell.”

Mr. Anderson was not alone in his remembrances. In the slave narratives (compiled by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s), many former slaves recalled the event that was not only celestial but also terrestrial because, when the “stars fell,” great cracks were left in the earth. The narrative of Abraham Jones describes big cracks being left in the ground. He said it was dangerous for people to walk around at night because they might fall into a crack. Mr. Jones describes one crack as being “two feet across” and so deep they could not touch the bottom with a long pole. The October 25, 1866 edition of The (Memphis) Public Ledger reported that the “meteoric displays” were “characterized by the fall of meteorites, which, rushing towards the surface of the earth with a loud noise, penetrated beneath it several feet.”

Since that first November night in 1833, the falling of the stars has captivated many generations. In a 1947 letter to Samuel C. Williams, Charles N. Kimball writes about his fascination with this event. Mr. Kimball states that he has heard his “Grandfather relate that when this occurred his grandparents opened the door of the cabin so that he could look out and see the ‘stars falling.''” Kimball goes on to say that he is “greatly interested in the accounts of the unusual display of the Leonid meteors of Nov. 12, 1833” and he has “assembled some reference concerning it.” He sent his research sources to Williams with the wish that Williams “will obtain some entertainment and pleasure from perusing them.”

Time has not diminished mankind’s enthrallment with this experience. In the years since the event, numerous songs, books, poems and artworks have been produced to commemorate it. The song, “Stars Fell on Alabama,” has become an anthem to Southerners and, from 2002 to 2009, the state of Alabama added the slogan to their license plates.

Shooting Star Quilt, undated, Quilts of Tennessee Collection

This year, scientists predict that the Leonids will peak on Nov. 17 and Nov.18. So, get outside, look toward Leo, and see if you can catch a falling star.

To read more about this and other strange occurrences (like the so-called "Rain of Blood") in Tennessee, check out the “Myth-cellaneous” section of the “Tennessee Myths and Legends” exhibit on TSLA’s website:


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

Monday, November 2, 2015

State Library and Archives Hosts Genealogy Workshop the Saturday after Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving weekend is a time when many of us reconnect with family members and share family stories. At the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA), families can also explore stories of their relatives who lived many years ago.

For the fifth consecutive year, the staff at TSLA is encouraging Tennesseans to visit the library and celebrate 'Family History Day' by learning more about genealogical research on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Heather Adkins, manuscripts archivist for TSLA’s public services section, will present a genealogy workshop for beginners that will provide an overview of resources available at the library and how to navigate through various databases. The workshop will also include advice on researching TSLA's manuscripts collections, which can offer a wealth of information for those researching their ancestry. After the workshop, TSLA staff members will be on hand to help visitors with their research.

The session will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 28 at the TSLA auditorium, and research assistance will be available until 4:30 p.m. TSLA is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, directly west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville.

While the workshop is free, reservations are required due to limited seating. To make a reservation, visit the following website:

Please note that TSLA will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 26 and Friday, Nov. 27 for the Thanksgiving holiday, so it's important to make reservations before then.

Parking is available around the TSLA building.

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tennessee's Library and Archives Can Cure What Ails You...

It’s the start of flu season in Tennessee, and we are reminded by a barrage of ads and commercials to get flu shots to prevent the virus. But the vaccine was not developed until the 1930s, so how did people deal with flu symptoms before then?

Folk medicine is part of a grand cultural tradition where recipes are passed down by word of mouth, or written and kept as reference for recurring symptoms. These home remedies go in and out of style, depending on societal trends and effectiveness. Some remedies do not have medicinal properties, but offer psychological relief. For example, there's the tradition of eating chicken soup to ease a cold. Other remedies utilize spices, vegetables, and other ingredients that can alleviate ailments or mimic chemical reactions similar to modern medicine.

Remedy for chills and fever, letter to Mrs. Wynne from E. Rucker, February 7, 1844.
Wynne Family Papers (THS), 1887-1973

In Tennessee records, folk medicine is not limited to humans, but extends to animals – particularly work animals for farming. It appears in correspondence, diaries, doctors’ notes, and even on simple scraps of paper. TSLA has many records that tell of home remedies and medicinal recipes for everything from sore throats and coughs to fever, rabies and diseases like consumption. Some diseases that frequently appear in Tennessee records include: yellow fever, typhoid, malaria, smallpox, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, cholera, polio, and diphtheria.

“Pneumonia Cure,” from the Claybrooke and Overton Papers (THS), 1747-1894

We do not suggest trying these recipes at home, as some contain substances now known to be harmful, but by studying them, we can get a better picture of home life and home treatment throughout the history of our state, as well as gain a deeper appreciation for modern medicine.

“Remedy for Bite of Mad Dog,” from the Claybrooke and Overton Papers (THS), 1747-1894, includes directions to take the mixture nine days from the bite, or before the full and change of the moon. It provides dosages for humans and work animals.

“A memorandum of what will Cure the Consumption,” from the journal of J.M. Brewer (THS), 1802-1830. Brewer provides two cures.

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

Anniversary of 'Night Riders' Attack in Lake County

Night Rider Trials, 1909
From a composite photograph in Harper's Weekly
Archives Photograph Collection

West Tennessee's Reelfoot Lake is a peaceful spot for outdoor excursions, but life along the lakefront hasn't always been so tranquil. In 1908, the West Tennessee Land Company bought all the land along Reelfoot's shoreline, angering nearby residents who relied on the lake for fish. The company planned to drain part of the lake to grow cotton on it, but local residents had other ideas. 

The residents formed a mob known as the 'Night Riders,' who on this date in 1908 set out to murder two of the land company's stakeholders. The Night Riders abducted Quentin Rankin and Robert Z. Taylor from their rooms at the Walnut Log Hotel and took them into the woods. The mob shot and hung Rankin, but Taylor managed to escape by jumping into the lake and hiding under a log while the mob riddled the water with bullets. More than a day later, Taylor was found wandering in a bewildered state.

"The man seated between the two women is Judge Harris, Tiptonville, Tennessee, principal owner of the West Tennessee Land Company, which owns the major portion of Reelfoot Lake"
THS Photograph Collection

The governor called out the Tennessee National Guard to restore order in the community. The governor also offered a $10,000 reward for bringing in the people responsible for the killing, dead or alive. More than 300 people were eventually indicted in the case. However, only six were found guilty of murder - and their convictions were overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court the following year.

"Camp Nemo, Reelfoot Lake. Colonel W. C. Tatum, of Nashville, Commander First Tennessee Regiment, with staff and line officers. The troops and the prisoners get on together famously, with no ill-feeling"
Archives Photograph Collection

To learn more about other calamitous events in Tennessee's history, visit our online Disasters in Tennessee exhibit at http://www.tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/disasters/index.htm.

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

Friday, October 9, 2015

Discovered in the Archives... from the Calvert Brothers Studio

Some days as a historian and archivist are good days...and some days are not so great. I recently had one of those really great days.

TSLA has a collection of approximately 10,000 glass plate negatives (more than 3,000 of which have been scanned) from one of Nashville's prominent photography studios, the Calvert Brothers Studio. The collection is in the midst of being processed and I have been compiling an inventory of the negatives in order to help organize the collection. On a recent morning, I came across a striking image of an African-American man while working on the inventory and I wanted to find out more about him.

Glass plate negative of Calvert negative # 19385, Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negative Collection

I began with the only concrete information I had: the negative number etched by the studio into the emulsion of the negative. This negative had the number 19385. TSLA has one of the studio's daybooks (its listing of negative numbers arranged alphabetically by the last name of the person making the appointment). Our staff and volunteers have been creating a database of the entries in the daybooks.

Negative # 19385 scratched into the emulsion of the negative by the studio, Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negative Collection

Searching the database for negative 19385, I found the corresponding entry with the name "B. C. Franklin" from 1901. The historical note in the database entry noted that Buck C. Franklin was enrolled at Roger Williams University (a historically black college in Nashville). Knowing that the name in the daybook is the name of the person who scheduled the appointment and not necessarily the person in the photograph, I decided to see what I could find about Buck C. Franklin on the Internet.

Buck C. Franklin, Nashville, Tennessee, 1901, Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negative Collection

Page from the studio's daybook with the entry for B. C. Franklin highlighted ("col" is short for "colored" and "cab" is the abbreviation for cabinet card, in other words, the specific type of print that was ordered), Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negative Collection

I discovered that Buck Colbert Franklin (1879-1960) went on to become a lawyer after graduating from Roger Williams University. He moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, just prior to the Tulsa race riot of 1921 and his law office was destroyed in the riot. He then represented African-American residents in lawsuits seeking compensation for the destruction of their businesses and property in the riot. I also came across this photograph [http://exhibits.library.duke.edu/items/show/22255] of him taken just after the riot, which is pretty convincing evidence that the man in the negative is indeed Buck C. Franklin.

Franklin was also the father of renowned historian John Hope Franklin [http://www.jhfcenter.org/john-hope-franklin/], who received his bachelor's degree from Fisk University in Nashville.

Then, a further search in the Calvert daybook turned up more entries for Buck Franklin. The entry for negative number 12481, taken in 1899, was under the name "B. Franklin." Comparing that image to this image on the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian website [http://americanindian.si.edu/exhibitions/indivisible/slavery.html], it is clear that the two photographs are of the same person. Coincidentally, a year and a half ago I had selected the 1899 image of Buck Franklin to use on the introduction panel of TSLA's exhibit about Tennessee's 19th Century African-American legislators (although the image did not make it onto the final version of the panel).

Buck C. Franklin, Nashville, Tennessee, 1899, Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives Collection

A third entry (negative number 50906) is under the name "Buck Franklin." However, I have not been able to determine if this negative is a photograph of the same Buck Franklin. The negative, if it still exists, is in the as-yet-uninventoried portion of the collection, and trying to find it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And there are a couple of points that cast doubt on the possibility of that negative being of the same Buck Franklin. First, the photograph was taken in 1890, when Buck was just 11 years old. Since the names in the daybook are the names of the individuals who made the appointments, it seems highly improbable that an 11-year-old made an appointment to get his picture taken. Second, while he was named after his grandfather, he noted in his autobiography that his grandfather died before he was born, so the entry cannot be from his grandfather.

But the story of Buck Franklin is not the only one awaiting discovery among the negatives in the Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negative Collection. For example, according to the daybook, there are supposed to be a couple of negatives of John Hope. He was a classics professor at Roger Williams University, later president of Morehouse College, active in the NAACP, and the namesake of John Hope Franklin. And the hunt continues...

Will M. Thomas, Archivist for TSLA's Archival Technical Services, contributed this first-person account of his research for the TSLA Blog. Will's past processing projects include the Puryear Family Photograph Albums, James Earl Ray Inmate Records, and Colonel Harry E. Dudley Papers. Will is also a staff photographer for the State Library and Archives Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee digitization project.

Will would also like to acknowledge Kathy Lauder, retired archivist and volunteer for the Tennessee State Library and Archives, for her work on entering the Calvert daybook into the database. Kathy's work proved instrumental in helping Will discover the Buck Franklin photo. 

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

TSLA Honors Gold Star Mothers Day

The month of September includes a very important day for all Gold Star mothers. In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day." The honor and tradition of the Gold Star continues to this day to remember the sacrifice given by our men and women who lost their lives in duty.

Raymond E Barnes, Soldier from Benton County.

The Gold Star program began during World War I when military families hung service flags in the windows of their homes. The flags had a star for each family member in military service. Those living were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives in action were represented by a gold star. On September 24, President Obama signed a presidential proclamation proclaiming September 27 as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.

Private, S.J. Banks, Soldier from Davidson County.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has our very own Gold Star Collection. In 1922, John Trotwood Moore, Tennessee state librarian and archivist, reached out to 4,000 military families, asking for records of war heroes and Tennessee’s “Gold Star boys." In return, he received more than 1,500 replies. In 1979, the Gold Star Records were microfilmed.

Private Joseph Adams, “Gold Star boy” from Grainger County, Dec. 26, 1922.

In a letter, Moore wrote: “It is difficult for me, however, nor would I presume to attempt it, to designate which of the mothers of Tennessee made the greatest sacrifice in giving her boy to her country…..When I look at the faces of the photographs collected for our historical department, of nearly 5000 Tennessee boys who made the supreme sacrifice, I feel that every mother of these boys is entitled to the crowning glory you have designated (of making the greatest sacrifice during the war)….”

“Gold Star Boys, WWI” monument, located in Lawrence County Tennessee.

Tennessee's Gold Star collection is available for research at the Library & Archives building, and work is underway to digitize the collection for Tennessee Virtual Archive by Veterans Day 2016. In the meantime, we encourage you to learn more about these historically important records on the TSLA website at: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/tennessee-world-war-i-gold-star-records

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Suggests Titles for Banned Books Week

Since 1982 the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, the National Council of Teachers of English and many other organizations have sponsored “Banned Books Week” during the last week of September. The purpose of Banned Books Week is to emphasize the importance of free and open access to information. Banning (or challenging) books is usually done to protect others, often children, but sometimes adults, too, from ideas and information. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedom of people to express their ideas and to have them heard (or read).

Libraries across America, including the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped, support our right to intellectual freedom, the ability to have access to thought-provoking information, whether or not the ideas are currently considered “politically correct.”

Historically, books that have been banned are as diverse as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll to All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque to Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss.

This year Banned Books Week is being observed September 27-October 3. According to ALA there were 311 attempts to ban books in the United States in 2014. Some of the titles include award-winning books such as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie; The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini; and The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.

The Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped has all of these titles available, most in multiple formats: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is available in audio and braille; All Quiet on the Western Front is available in audio, braille and large print; Green Eggs and Ham is available in audio (including in Spanish) and braille (including print/braille a format designed for a blind person to read aloud with sighted child); The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is available in audio format; The Kite Runner is available in audio (including in Spanish); braille and large print; The Bluest Eye is available in audio, braille and large print formats.

To find out more about who is eligible to borrow books from the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped, or what is available, go to: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/library-blind-and-physically-handicapped

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Exhibit Highlights New Deal's Impact on Tennessee

President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking at the dedication ceremony for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Also present: Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, U. S. Senator Kenneth McKellar, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, Gov. Prentice Cooper.
Record Group 82, Department of Conservation Photograph Collection

It was one of the most transformative attempts at economic reform in our country's history: In response to the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched a series of programs under the New Deal banner that were aimed at jump starting the United States' faltering economy.

Critics called some of those programs ineffective, duplicative and occasionally even illegal. Yet the New Deal undeniably changed the course of U.S. history - and Tennessee's history in particular. A free exhibit now on display in the lobby of the Tennessee State Library and Archives provides an overview of the New Deal as well as details about some of the programs that had the greatest impact on the Volunteer State.

For example, the New Deal led to the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which built a network of hydroelectric dams throughout the region that provided electricity to rural communities across Tennessee, but also displaced about 82,000 people from their homes. The Civilian Conservation Corps developed the state's park system and other programs such as the Civil Works Administration, Public Works Administration and Works Progress Administration built infrastructure such as housing, roads, bridges, airports, hospitals and schools around the state.

Material for the exhibit came from the Tennessee State Library and Archives' collections of maps, newspapers, photographs, letters and other documents. These items are available to people who wish to learn more about the New Deal or other topics of historical interest.

Camp Sam Houston woodworking students, Pikeville.
Record Group 93, Civilian Conservation Corps Records

Included in the exhibit is an interactive kiosk where visitors can listen to recordings of first person accounts from people who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps. The exhibit, which will remain on display at least through the end of the year, is open to the public during the Tennessee State Library and Archives' normal operating hours, which are from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives building is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, directly west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville. A limited amount of free parking is available around the building.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The “Troubles” with Billiard Tables in 19th Century Tennessee and America

In Meredith Willson’s popular Broadway musical The Music Man, pool tables are controversial in the small town of River City, Iowa. As con man Harold Hill takes up the false occupation of an instrument dealer, he tries to convince the citizens of River City to fund his idea for a boys’ marching band instead of a pool hall. In the memorable song, “Ya Got Trouble,” Harold retorts to the townspeople “I tell you there is trouble, right here in River City! That starts with T and it rhymes with P and that stands for pool!”

The Subway Pool Hall on Union Street at 4th Street, circa 1916, showing Dominick Petrocelli and Frank Varallo, Sr. Several other men behind the pool tables, including an African American man at right rear.
TSLA Library Collection

While the controversy over having pool tables in River City presents a memorable song and delightful plot for The Music Man, the musical in some ways reflects people’s attitudes about billiard tables in the past. For many people during the 19th Century, billiard tables were associated with vices such as gambling, idleness, and drinking alcohol. Opponents of alcohol associated drinking with crime, financial problems, and physical and emotional abuse within alcoholic families.

Negative attitudes about alcohol seem to have led to higher taxes on items at places where alcohol was sold. For example, billiard tables found in taverns and saloons during the 19th Century were often charged substantially higher fees compared to other items. For example, according to the Acts of Tennessee, a billiard table had a tax of $1,000 in 1803 while owning 100 acres of land was taxed only 12 ½ cents.

An 1803 Public Act listing various taxes imposed on Tennessee citizens, including a tax on billiard tables.

The controversy surrounding billiard tables even affected President John Quincy Adams, who purchased a table for his own use in the White House. His decision to have a billiard table ultimately became an issue during his presidential reelection campaign in 1828. Adams was attacked by his opponents for encouraging the vice of gambling.

In Tennessee, the controversy over billiard tables continued throughout the 19th Century. As the Nashville American newspaper revealed in 1896, Nashville Mayor William McCarthy was adamantly against having pool rooms in the city because he believed that they corrupted young people by encouraging them to gamble and place bets on sporting events like races. As a result of his beliefs, he urged the city council to ban pool halls in the city.

Meanwhile, billiards supporters insisted that the game was an ideal recreation for city dwellers, as it was something that could be played during all seasons, day or night. Despite the controversy over billiard tables, pool halls continued to grow in popularity during the 19 Century in Tennessee and in America.

Today, according to the Billiard Congress of America, more than 200,000 pool tables are sold annually in America. In Tennessee, pool tables are taxed at the regular sales tax rate - not $1,000 per table!

To learn more about this subject of billiards tables, we encourage you to consult the following sources, held in the Tennessee State Library and Archives:

  • Acts of Tennessee. Legislative History Collection.
  • Bergeron, Paul, et al. Tennesseans and Their History (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press,1999).
  • Miles, Edwin A. “President Adam’s Billiard Table,” The New England Quarterly Vol. 45, No. 1 (March 1972): 31-43.
  • “Pool Rooms: Mayor McCarthy Asks a City Law Against Them.” Nashville American, August 28, 1896, p. 6.
  • Wiggins, David K. ed. Sport in America, Volume II: From Colonial Leisure to Celebrity Figures and Globalization (Human Kinetics, 2nd edition, 2009).

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

Friday, September 4, 2015

An Honest Day's Work: A Photographic Tribute to Workers on Labor Day

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is our annual celebration of the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our nation.

The first governmental recognition of Labor Day came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. In 1887, Oregon became the first state in the nation to enact legislation recognizing Labor Day as a state holiday. On March 11, 1891, Tennessee followed suit, as Gov. John P. Buchanan signed an act passed by the Tennessee General Assembly recognizing "that the first Monday in September of each and every year be set apart as a legal holiday, to be known as Labor Day."

By 1894, 23 other states followed the lead of Oregon, Tennessee and other states, adopting the holiday in honor of workers into state law. Soon afterward in that same year, Congress approved legislation making Labor Day a federal holiday. Today, citizens throughout the United States observe Labor Day as a well-earned day of rest from our busy work lives.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives would like to take this opportunity on Labor Day to honor workers throughout the "Volunteer State" through the following photographic tribute. This selection of images comes courtesy of the Library and Archives' Department of Conservation Photograph Collection...

Section crew on the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad. J. F. Palmer, the foreman, and five other men shown in Carter County.
Department of Conservation Photograph Collection

An employee checking the spindles at the Belding-Heminway Textile Corporation located in Morristown.
Department of Conservation Photograph Collection

Workers processing strawberries at Portland in the food packing plant in Sumner County.
Department of Conservation Photograph Collection

Workers inspecting washed phosphate rock, Mount Pleasant.
Department of Conservation Photograph Collection

An assemblyman stacking vinyl recording discs at the Bullet Plastics Co., a recording and transcription company located in Nashville.
Department of Conservation Photograph Collection

The gas range assembly line at the Athens Stove Works in McMinn County.
Department of Conservation Photograph Collection

Ernest H. Peckinpaugh supervising workers at rear of fly-tying room in his Chattanooga manufacturing company. Founded in 1920 to manufacture the first commercially tied fishing lures, by 1940 the E.H. Peckinpaugh catalog listed 60 different bugs and flies with hundreds of color combinations.
Department of Conservation Photograph Collection

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