Monday, May 9, 2016

Free Exhibit Showcasing Historic Photographs Opens at Library & Archives

As the saying goes, a picture can be worth a thousand words. That's especially true in historical research, where old portrait photographs can tell us about the mannerisms, clothing, hairstyles and even cultural norms of people who lived decades ago. That's one of the reasons why the Tennessee State Library & Archives has opened a new exhibit showcasing some of the thousands of photographic portraits it has collected on behalf of the state's residents.

The free exhibit, titled "Tennesseans Through the Lens: Portrait Photography in Tennessee," opens this week in the lobby of the Library & Archives building. The exhibit will be available for viewing anytime during the Library & Archives' normal operating hours, which are from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The exhibit offers insights into the history of studio photography in Tennessee and how changes in that technology affected the lives of the state's residents. Some of the images date back to the 1860s, when daguerreotype was the cutting edge technology in photography. Daguerreotype captured images on silver-plated copper surfaces.

Henry Allen Boyd and family posing for a portrait at Nashville's Calvert Brothers Studio.
Image credit: Tennessee State Library & Archives

"This is an exciting new exhibit for the Library & Archives," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "Many people think of the Library & Archives only as a place to study documents and maps, but we also have a stunning collection of more than one million photographs, many of them portraits of famous and not-so-famous Tennesseans. I encourage people to visit the Library & Archives to see the portraits we have available."

The exhibit features photos from several of the Library & Archives' collections, including the Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives, the Library Photograph Collection, Looking Back at Tennessee, the Tennessee Historical Society Picture Collection, the Carte de Visite Collection and the Cabinet Card Collection.

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

The exhibit will remain on display until August.

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

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