Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Glimpse 'Inside the Stacks' at the Library & Archives

The Tennessee State Library & Archives has a bit of an identity crisis. Not among the people who work there, but among many of the millions of Tennesseans the Library & Archives exists to serve.

If you asked people walking along the Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville on a busy day, chances are that few would be able to point you in the direction of the Library & Archives building, even though it's only a block away. And of the Tennesseans who profess to know what the Library & Archives actually does, some are misinformed: They often confuse the Library & Archives with Nashville Public Library, which is located nearby but has a very different mission.

That's why the Library & Archives recently launched a new publication called "Treasures From the Vault." This news magazine, which debuted on our website last week, is intended to help Tennesseans get a better understanding of what we do and why we do it.

The Library & Archives is, first and foremost, the home of Tennessee state government records, dating all the way back to the original state constitution adopted in 1796 and even before - when Tennessee was just a territory. Duplicates of the records found in county archives across the state are also stored here, along with books, maps, documents, audio files, newspapers and photographs that provide insights into Tennessee's rich history.

Staff member Noel Harris processes Supreme Court records

The Library & Archives isn't just a warehouse, though. Our skilled staff members assist people who wish to access those records for research. They also provide training about how to properly preserve and store historical documents. They offer workshops so the state's school teachers will be aware of Library & Archives resources that can be used in classrooms. They provide training and technical support to public libraries throughout the state. And through the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, they make braille, large print and audiobooks available to Tennesseans with disabilities. 

"Treasures From the Vault" is a quarterly publication that will highlight just a small sampling of current projects and programs. In this inaugural issue, for example, there's a story about the Library & Archives' efforts to restore and create digital records of more than 53,000 Tennessee Supreme Court cases, the oldest of which dates back to 1792. Since the Supreme Court continues to process more cases every week, Library & Archives project manager Kim Wires says: "Technically, this project never ends."

The news magazine will also highlight unusual items found within the Library & Archives' collections, like an 1850s-vintage map of Edo (now known as Tokyo), Japan. The map has raised a number of questions, for which Assistant State Archivist Wayne Moore would like answers. "We'd like some help," Moore said. "We don't have the full story yet."

Staff member Zach Keith inspects a mysterious map of what is now known as Tokyo, Japan

"Treasures From the Vault" will also highlight the Library & Archives' partnerships with other organizations, such as the Wills fellow program sponsored by the Tennessee Historical Society. Alisha Hines, this year's Wills fellow, spoke highly of the research time she spent at the Library & Archives, which was financed through the program. "It was wonderful to interact with the staff because the work I do wouldn't be possible without the work they do," Hines said.

Alisha Hines tells Library & Archives staff members about the research she’s done as a Wills fellow.

Finally, the first issue examined the "living history" work done by Myers Brown, an archivist at the Library & Archives who enjoys playing the roles of different historical figures during his spare time. Assistant State Archivist Moore noted that Brown's work dovetails nicely with his hobby. "It's another skill set and tool that Myers brings to education and community outreach," Moore said. "It's a very direct way of teaching and reaching people, particularly young people."

Archivist Myers Brown portrays a Confederate cavalry officer, along with his horse Sport, as part of a “living history” exhibit.

The new publication will be offered primarily in a digital format, although a limited number of printed copies will be available at the Library & Archives building. To view the online version, please go to:

We hope that this news magazine will be entertaining as well as informative, with lots of photos and graphics to make it eye-catching. If you have story ideas or questions about the Library & Archives that you would like answered in future issues, please let us know. Happy reading!

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Online Collection Chronicles Tennessee's Role in Granting Women the Right to Vote

Selections from “Suffrage Scenes and Leaders.” Nashville Tennessean, September 5, 1920. Josephine A. Pearson Papers, 1860-1943

Nearly 100 years ago, Tennessee played a pivotal role in granting women across the country the right to vote. Now the Tennessee State Library & Archives has a new online collection that highlights that watershed moment in the nation's history, titled "Women's Suffrage: Tennessee and the Passage of the 19th Amendment."

With My Compliments, Madam. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921

In 1920, after a debate that had raged for years, 35 of 48 states then in the Union had ratified the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would give women the right to vote. One more state's approval was needed in order to meet the requirement that three-fourths of the states supported the measure.

Eight states had rejected the amendment and five had not yet voted on it. Tennessee was seen as the best chance of getting the amendment approved before the 1920 presidential election. At a special session called in August of that year, the amendment was quickly approved by the state Senate but then faced stiffer opposition in the House of Representatives. Harry T. Burn, a young House member who initially opposed the amendment, changed his vote - reportedly after being lobbied by his mother - and broke a tie that ensured the passage of a law guaranteeing half the country's population a fundamental right.

Representative Harry T. Burn. Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives

"Speaking as a son and a husband, Tennessee's vote to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was surely one of our state's finest moments," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "This online collection will make these important historical documents readily available even for people who can't visit the Library & Archives building and inspect them in person. This access is part of our mission to make more of state government available to everyone."

Telegram from President Woodrow Wilson to Governor Albert H. Roberts. Governor Albert H. Roberts Papers, 1918-1921

This online collection about the suffrage movement, drawn from the many documents and photographs stored at Library & Archives, includes papers from prominent pro-suffrage lobbyist Carrie Chapman Catt, anti-suffrage lobbyist Josephine A. Pearson and Governor Albert H. Roberts, as well as letters, telegrams, political cartoons, broadsides, photographs and three audio clips. In all, the online collection already has more than 100 items and more will be added as the 100th anniversary of the suffrage vote approaches.

To view the collection online, go to:

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Secret City is Born

By Megan Spainhour

In July of 1943, U.S. Army Capt. George B. Leonard handed Gov. Prentice Cooper a letter of proclamation from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Roosevelt's Public Proclamation No. 2 designated “Clinton Engineer Works as a total exclusion area no longer under state control."

In other words, the president had informed Cooper that the federal government held authority to seize approximately 60,000 acres of Tennessee land west of Knoxville, with no explanation. Years later, this area became known as Oak Ridge, one of the main sites for the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Cooper didn't take the news well. In Leonard's presence, he angrily tore the proclamation into pieces.

Actually, though, the story began months earlier.

Letter dated July 14, 1943 to Governor Prentice Cooper from Lieutenant Colonel Thomas T. Crenshaw, Corps of Engineers, Clinton Engineer Works, Manhattan District. This correspondence demonstrates tensions between states and the federal government during World War II. In this letter, Crenshaw references an incident in which Governor Cooper is reported to have angrily torn up President Roosevelt's Public Proclamation No. 2 that designated Clinton Engineer Works as total exclusion area no longer under state control. Governor Prentice Cooper Papers, 1939-1945 (GP 44), GP 44, Box 140, Folder 2.

In October of 1942, U.S. Gen. Leslie Groves and federal lawyers went to court to get permission for the government to take ownership of the 60,000 acres of land in Anderson and Roane counties. This area contained the homes and farms of approximately 1,000 families. The Army Corps of Engineers acquired land for the Manhattan Project, but failed to work effectively with local property owners. According to historical accounts, many residents simply came home to find eviction notices tacked to front doors, trees or gates.

Business and Residential Oak Ridge Map, 1973, Tennessee Virtual Archive, Library & Archives Map Collection.

The Corps of Engineers was supposed to allow six weeks for evacuation, but some residents were only given two. Schools, churches, and groceries were closed. Homes and cemeteries were abandoned. Piling their belongings on trucks or wagons or in some cases leaving them behind, departing residents crossed paths with the thousands of construction workers pouring into the area.

Anderson County leaders complained about the land grab to Cooper, who hadn't yet heard about the project. Cooper accused the army of stealing people’s land for a socialism project.

Although Cooper refused to read the federal proclamation and tore it to pieces, he could do nothing to stop the project. In later years, Tennesseans expressed pride in the part their state had played in the Manhattan Project, which helped to end the war.

Cartoons such as these appeared in Oak Ridge newspapers, as well as on billboards throughout the town, to remind residents to keep quiet about their work. The Oak Ridge Journal, Sept. 21, 1944. Library & Archives Microfilm Collection.

The name "Oak Ridge" was chosen for the settlement in 1943 from suggestions submitted by project employees. The name related to the settlement's location along Black Oak Ridge and officials thought the rural-sounding name "held outside curiosity to a minimum."

However, officials did not formally adopt the name until 1949. Up to that time, officials referred to the site as the Clinton Engineer Works. Oak Ridge also adopted several nicknames such as “The Secret City," “The Atomic City," “The Ridge," “The City Behind The Fence," and “Mud City."

The purpose of the Oak Ridge facility centered around processing uranium ore so that workers could extract from it particular kinds of radioactive materials. These materials, like U-235 and plutonium, were used to make an atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy," which was ultimately used in the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.

At its peak population in May 1945, 75,000 people lived in Oak Ridge, making it the state's fifth largest city - even though it never appeared on any map at the time. The town also consumed one-seventh of all the electrical power produced in the United States.

An aerial view of part of the Oak Ridge community, with the Cumberland Mountains in the background, Tennessee Department of Conservation Photograph Collection, 1937-1976, Box 17, File 87.

Today, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is still in operation and local residents take pride in the laboratory's scientific development and the important role the city played in national and world history.

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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Library & Archives Adds Digital Collection of Family Histories

The Tennessee State Library & Archives has added an online collection of material that tracks dozens of family histories across several states. The material, titled "The Genealogical Research Files of Dr. Barbara Long," traces the lines of 33 families with roots in east Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland and Alabama. Dr. Long, a professional psychiatrist who is also an avid amateur genealogist, collected the information while researching her own family's history.

The collection is unusual in several respects. It's the first significant digital-only collection to be housed within the Tennessee Virtual Archives (TeVA). Typically, digital records in TeVA are scanned from documents, maps, photos or other records that are stored at the Library & Archives, while this collection is being made publicly available for online use only. Included in the collection are more than 130 files of research notes, correspondence, interviews with family members, reports of professional genealogists and copies of original deeds, wills, land grants, census records, Bible records and other documentation.

The collection includes material that has never before been made available to researchers. And, if it proves popular, the Library & Archives may decide to digitize other large genealogical collections among their holdings.

"Digitizing this entire collection of material should make the work of amateur and professional genealogists who want to study these families much easier," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "Offering material in digital format makes research convenient, day or night, even for people who may not be able to visit the Library & Archives building in person."

A resident of Atlanta, Dr. Long was born in Alabama and earned a Ph. D. from Harvard University and an M.D. from the University of Alabama. She began tracing her family history in the 1980s. While starting work on the Wrinkle family of Bradley County and the King family of Jefferson County, she learned to appreciate the collections of the Library & Archives. When she completed the research in 2014, she offered the digital version of the material to the Library & Archives.

As a result of this research, Dr. Long has proved membership in First Families of Tennessee for 12 different ancestors and has also traced lineages for the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames XVII Century, U.S. Daughters of 1812, Daughters of the Cincinnati and Magna Carta Dames.

Among the Tennesseans represented in the collection are the Breazeale, Grayson, Hixson, Hughes, Hyden, King, Kennedy, Meek, Pickett, Real, Woods and Wrinkle families. Information on many other families associated with those families is included.

To view the collection online, go to:

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

Honoring Ida B. Wells

Tomorrow (July 16th) is Ida B. Wells’ 154th birthday. In her honor, we here at the Library & Archives want to celebrate her courage by recalling the notable Supreme Court case Ida Wells v. Chesapeake, Ohio & South Western Railway Company. This case is particularly significant because it was one of the earliest challenges of legal segregation in the United States.

Born into slavery on July 16, 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Wells was an activist, journalist, newspaper editor, and suffragist during her lifetime. In the early 1880s, she moved to Memphis and became a school teacher in Shelby County. During her summer vacations, she also attended Fisk University in Nashville.

Portrait of Ida B. Wells Barnett from Sparking Gems of Race Knowledge Worth Reading.

Congress approved the Civil Rights Act of 1875 during Reconstruction, banning racial discrimination in public accommodations. However, in 1883, the Supreme Court ruled against the act, allowing businesses like railroad companies to racially separate passengers.

Cover page from Ida Wells v. Chesapeake, Ohio & South Western Railway Company.

On September 15, 1883, Wells bought a first class ticket aboard the Chesapeake, Ohio & South Western Railway Company from Memphis to Woodstock, Tennessee. After she took her seat in first class, “the defendants by its agents forcibly and with personal violence eject[ed] her from said seat.” Wells sued the railroad company for $1,000 in damages for “unlawfully and forcibly lay[ing] violent hands on her and beat[ing] and mistreat[ing] and misus[ing] her.” She hired T. F. Cassels, a notable attorney from Memphis who had been one of the first African Americans to be elected to the Tennessee General Assembly to represent her.

Thomas F. Cassels, from 42nd Tennessee General Assembly Composite.

The Circuit Court of Shelby County awarded in favor of Wells, but the railroad appealed the case and it went to the Tennessee Supreme Court in April 1885. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision and sided with the railroad.

Despite losing the court case, Wells went on to become one of the leading African-American civil rights leaders of her time. She founded several organizations and travelled the world speaking about human rights until her death in Chicago of kidney failure on May 28, 1931.

You can learn more about this case and other cases in the Tennessee Supreme Courts Records Project on our website at

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

Friday, July 8, 2016

African-American Portraiture

"It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."

W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

By Will Thomas

During the 19th century, systemic racism influenced the ways in which African Americans were represented in art and illustrations. They were often depicted as nameless slaves or servants and in other ways which were, as Frederick Douglass put it, "made to harmonize with the popular idea of Negro ignorance, degradation and imbecility."

However, Douglass and others realized that photography could also be a powerful tool to help change those ideas. In 1900, civil rights activist and Fisk University graduate W. E. B. Du Bois put together the “Exhibit of American Negroes” at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, France. The exhibit included hundreds of photographs of African Americans - and their homes, schools, businesses, and churches - in order to counter negative stereotypes.

Ellen Gordon and her African-American nurse, ca. 1850s. Carte de Visite Collection.

In Nashville, many of the portraits taken by Calvert Brothers Studio echo the positive portrayal of African Americans informing Du Bois' exhibit. The studio, owned by English immigrants Ebenezer and Peter Ross Calvert, did a fair amount of business with Nashville's African-American community, including many repeat customers, between 1888 and 1903.

While that does not necessarily place the Calverts at the forefront of the civil rights movement (for example, they also did portraits of minstrel show troups), it does suggest that a significant number of African Americans in Nashville felt comfortable doing business with them. The portraits of African Americans were also in no way different from or inferior to (artistically, stylistically, or technically) those produced for their European-American clientele.

By about 1910, it appears that the business the Calverts did with Nashville's African-American community had significantly dropped off. The Nashville Globe, Nashville's African-American newspaper, offers a possible explanation. The Globe heavily encouraged the patronage of African American-owned businesses, and there are several examples from 1907 of the newspaper's promoting African American-owned photography studios.

Newspaper scans, Nashville Globe. Newspaper Microfilm Collection

These are some of the African Americans photographed by the Calverts:

Buck Colbert Franklin (1879-1960)

Buck Colbert Franklin, Nashville, 1901. Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives.

Buck Colbert Franklin grew up in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). He began attending Roger Williams University in Nashville and, in 1903, he transferred to Atlanta Baptist College (renamed Morehouse College in 1913). Franklin became a lawyer and opened a law office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, one month before the 1921 race riot. Although his office was destroyed in the riot, he represented African Americans in lawsuits seeking compensation for the destruction of their businesses and property. He was also the father of renowned historian John Hope Franklin.

Dr. David Wellington Byrd (1886-1945)

Dr. David Wellington Byrd, Nashville, 1899. Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives.

Dr. David Wellington Byrd was the chair of the literary department at Central Tennessee College (CTC), which was begun by the Freedmen's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1867. He later received a medical degree from CTC's medical department (which was split off to form Meharry Medical College in 1915). He was also president of the National Medical Association (the national organization for African-American physicians) from 1916 to 1917.

Flossie B. Jackson

Flossie B. Jackson, Nashville, 1899. Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives.

In 1900, Flossie B. Jackson graduated from the pharmaceutical department at Central Tennessee College, passed the examinations of the State Board of Pharmacy, and became a registered pharmacist. She was a member of the Tennessee Pharmaceutical Association and worked at Jackson's Drug Store in Memphis, which was owned by her brother, Dr. George R. Jackson.

Willie Cooper

Willie Cooper, Nashville, 1901. Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives.

Willie Cooper was a substitute teacher at the Merry School for the 1909-1910 and 1910-1911 school years. The Merry School was an African-American elementary school located on Springhead Street (now Andrew T. Whitmore Street), southeast of Nashville City Cemetery.

Henry Allen Boyd (1876-1959)

Henry Allen Boyd (seated on the left) and family members, Nashville, 1899. Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives.

Henry Allen Boyd was a founder and editor of the Nashville Globe. He became the manager of the National Baptist Publishing Board upon the death of his father, Rev. Richard Henry Boyd, in 1922. He also produced the National Jubilee Melody Song Book, one of the first hymnals that set 19th century slave spirituals to musical notation. Boyd's sister, Lula, was also a classmate and close friend of B. C. Franklin at Roger Williams University.

Dr. Robert Fulton Boyd (1855-1912)

Four African-American children photographed for Dr. Robert Fulton Boyd, Nashville, 1899. Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives.

Dr. Robert Fulton Boyd was born in Giles County. He graduated with honors from the medical department at Central Tennessee College in 1882. He received his degree in dentistry from there in 1887 and opened his medical practice in Nashville that same year. He rose to national prominence and became the first president of the National Medical Association.

Benjamin ("Ben") J. Carr (ca. 1875-1935)

Benjamin J. Carr, Nashville, 1899. Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives.

Benjamin ("Ben") J. Carr was the porter for the Tennessee Senate and Supreme Court from about 1890 to 1910. He was responsible for establishing Hadley Park, involved in the founding of Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College (now Tennessee State University), the president of the Negro Farmers Alliance in Tennessee, and, in his final years, a realtor.

A free exhibit, titled "Tennesseans Through the Lens: Portrait Photography in Tennessee," featuring these and other images, opened in May in the lobby of the Library & Archives building. Information about this exhibit can be found at:

You may also view other images from the Calvert Brothers Studio Glass Plate Negatives Collection on the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) at at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

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

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Free Workshop on Tennessee's Folk Traditions July 30

Tennessee is a state rich with folk traditions. By studying oral history interviews and song recordings, we can learn a lot about how people lived during simpler times. From hog killings to sorghum making to wash days to building railroads and banjos, the old ways of life in our communities have been passed down from generation to generation. Fortunately, these traditions of the past are not lost - the Tennessee State Library & Archives holds a vast collection of material about them.

A five-member mountain band. Shows members playing guitars, banjo, violin and mandolin. Photograph made outdoors in Sevier County, Tennessee.
Tennessee Virtual Archive - Arts, Crafts & Folklife Collection

Carol Roberts, conservation manager at the Library & Archives, will discuss these homespun traditions during the next event in our free lecture series. Her talk, titled "Preserving Tennessee Folkways: Highlights of the Folklife Collections of the Tennessee State Library & Archives," will be held in the Library & Archives auditorium July 30 from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.

Her presentation will highlight collections that document “Tennessee folklife,” including the Tennessee State Parks Folklife Collection, the Zilphia Horton Folk Music Collection, the Highlander Collection, Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletins and Sound Recordings and interviews, captured on reel to reel and cassette tape, which help tell the stories of Tennessee's rural communities.

As conservation manager at the Library & Archives, Roberts oversees preservation work in the conservation lab and assists with programs to preserve historic records housed in the Library & Archives and in individual counties throughout the state. She's charged with the care and preservation of the state’s historic governmental documents, maps, books, photographs and many other types of media. She also actively participates in outreach programs, presentations and consultation projects throughout the state to educate others about preservation of archival and library materials.

"Tennessee's culture is tied to its many traditions, some of which date back decades or even centuries," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "Ms. Roberts' talk will share some examples from the vast trove of information we have detailing these traditions. I encourage people living in or around the Nashville area to attend this workshop if they can."

Although the lecture is free and open to the public, registration is required due to limited seating in the auditorium. To register, please visit:

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

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

Friday, July 1, 2016

Independence Day Reading Suggestions from the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

This Independence Day marks the 240th anniversary of the date the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring the 13 original colonies free from British Empire.

Celebrated as a national holiday across the United States and its territories, the day is commonly associated with picnics, parades, family reunions, and fireworks. It is also a day to contemplate just what signing the Declaration of Independence meant for those 56 men who put ink onto parchment to assert their freedom.

The Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) offers some book suggestions for those who want to learn more about Independence Day:

  • Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence, by Denise Kiernan, discuses the many strange fates that awaited the signers of the Declaration of Independence. For example, one was poisoned by a family member, one killed in a duel and one was lost at sea. This book is available for loan from TLBPH in audio format.

  • For a look at the battles following the signing of the Declaration, you may want to read David McCullough’s 1776, available in audio and large-print formats. Another book about that era with the same title but a different perspective is Thomas J. Fleming’s 1776, Year of Illusions, which studies both the realities and impressions Americans held about themselves that historic year. This title is available from TLBPH in audio format.

  • The full text of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution, is available in The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, available in audio format.

TLBPH is a section of the Tennessee State Library & Archives, a division of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office. For more information about the library, go to the website at:

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