Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Immaculate Mother Academy

By Zachary Keith

Plate 131 of 1897 Sanborn Atlas of Nashville (updated 1911) that shows Immaculate Mother Academy, including the 1907 addition.
Tennessee State Library and Archives Map Collection

Nashville’s street names reveal much about its past. Drexel Street, a seemingly insignificant side street that runs between Seventh and Eighth avenues, is a remnant of an important half-century of our city’s history. It was named for Saint Katharine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and the second American canonized by the Catholic Church. After a plea from the head of Nashville’s Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop Thomas Byrne, Drexel agreed to establish a private Catholic school for Nashville’s African-American youth. In February 1905, she purchased the property between Stevenson (Seventh Avenue) and Ewing streets across from Central Street (Drexel Street) from Samuel J. Keith for $25,000, without disclosing her purpose.

The Nashville American, Feb. 14, 1905.

Samuel J. Keith, Colonial Dames of America Portraits in Tennessee Painted Before 1866
Tennessee State Library and Archives Photograph Collection

Keith discovered Drexel’s plan for the property from the Nashville American article. Outraged, he attempted to buy back his land and house from Drexel, even offering a $2,500 charitable donation in addition to the purchase amount. The white neighbors also reacted poorly to the idea of an African-American school nearby, ardently protesting its construction and nearly filing an injunction in the county court.[1] The residents petitioned the city council to open Central Street (present-day Drexel), effectively condemning the purchased building, stating “that they would do all in their power to prevent the establishment of the school.”[2]

Drexel stood her ground and the Academy of the Immaculate Mother opened Sept. 5, 1905, to a class of 50 female students. In 1907, the student population grew to 195 and the school needed to expand, thus a new building was constructed next to the original house. By 1908, over two hundred students packed the halls and by 1921, the then coed school boasted eight grade levels, 4 teachers and 235 students.[3]

From 1905 until 1954 the Academy of the Immaculate Mother served as an educational institution for African-American boys and girls as well as a normal school for aspiring African-American teachers.  In 1954, Nashville Catholic schools became some of the nation’s first to adhere to Brown v. Board of Education and the students of Immaculate Mother Academy transferred to Father Ryan and Cathedral School and the school closed.[4]   Immaculate Mother’s alumni included Robert E. Lillard, one of Nashville’s first African-American city councilmen, lawyer and judge.[5]

Addendum: The back of a postcard of the academy owned by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament contained the inscription "Our first Im. Mother's convent (the frame bldg.). It had been a slave market, as shown by sign-boards we found in the cellar." However, an exhaustive search has not been able to corroborate this fact other than uncited mentions in various publications.

Immaculate Mother Academy students sitting on the front steps of the 1907 addition
Courtesy of the Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

1907 addition to the Immaculate Mother Academy
Courtesy of the Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

Students standing in front of Immaculate Mother’s Academy, approximately 1941
Courtesy of the Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

For further reading on Drexel see Katharine Drexel: The Riches-to-Rags Life Story of an American Catholic Saint by Cheryl C. D. Hughes.

For further reading on Immaculate Mother Academy and development of that neighborhood see Steven Hoskins dissertation: A Restless Landscape: Building Nashville History and Seventh and Drexel

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


[1] “Ready for opening.” The Nashville American, Sept. 4, 1905.
[2] “Petition Council: Neighbors want Central Street opened through Keith land.” The Nashville American, May 26, 1905.
[3] Ryan, James. Directory of Catholic colleges and schools. Washington: National Catholic Welfare Conference. Bureau of Education, 1921.
[4] Hoskins, Steven (2009). A Restless Landscape: Building Nashville  History and  Seventh and  Drexel  (Doctoral dissertation) Middle Tennessee State University.
[5] Wynn, Linda T. “Robert Emmett Lillard” Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Library and Archives Hosts Free Workshop on Historic Photo Collection

Photographs are a critical part of learning and understanding history. On July 22, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will host a free workshop entitled "From Farm Boy to Tomahawk Warrior: David Franklin Brock Korean War Photograph Collection."

David Franklin Brock posing in front of a chestnut orchard in Kumhwa. Brock's company was attached to the 72nd Tank Battalion. Spring/Summer 1953.
David Franklin Brock Korean War Photograph Collection

In January 1952, David Franklin Brock left behind his Van Buren County home and his sweetheart, and found himself a world away. In a newly expanded Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) exhibit Brock traces his progress from combat engineer training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to his time with the famed Second “Indianhead” Infantry Division in the vicinity of the Iron Triangle and the 38th parallel in Korea. This collection documents his time in Korea as well as his visits home. Using his photographs, an interactive story map, and Brock’s oral history, this exhibit, highlighted by Brock’s daughter Darla, provides a window into a war often described as “forgotten.”

Darla Brock, Library and Archives manuscripts archivist will conduct the workshop featuring her father's photographs and oral history in the broader context of the Korean War. The workshop will be 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. July 22 in the Library and Archives auditorium.

"The David Franklin Brock photo collection allows us to see history from Mr. Brock’s unique viewpoint. These photographs of the Korean War era will serve as a valuable resource for generations of Tennesseans," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "I look forward to this event and encourage people to reserve their seats as soon as possible."

The Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Ave. North, directly west of the Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville. Free parking is available around the Library and Archives building. Although the workshop is free and open to the public, registration is required due to seating limitations. To reserve seats, please visit: https://tslabrockcollection.eventbrite.com

The Brock collection was originally launched in November, as a part of the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). To view the current collection, go to: http://bit.ly/BrockKoreanWar. Additional images are being added by the Library and Archives in July.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Maryville Students Win Big at National History Day

Five Tennessee students received medals last week during the 2017 National History Day Contest.

(L to R) A.J. Camacho of Clayton-Bradley Academy; Tate Greene and teacher Liz Shugart of Clayton-Bradley Academy

In all, 58 middle and high school students represented Tennessee in the competition, where students prepare documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances and websites with historical themes. The overall theme of this year's contest was “Taking a Stand in History.”

Tennessee's students, some working in groups and some working individually, submitted a total of 35 entries. The students earned the right to compete at National History Day by winning medals on the state level. Tennessee History Day is organized by the Tennessee Historical Society and co-sponsored by the Tennessee Secretary of State's office and Humanities Tennessee.

The honorees from Tennessee are:

Best Entry in Civil War History, Junior Individual Documentary

  • Tate Greene
  • Maryville, Clayton-Bradley Academy
  • Entry: “Dissidents of the Rebellion: The Hidden Stand and Sacrifice of the East Tennessee Bridge Burners”
  • Teachers: Liz Shugart, Nicole Whitecotton

Outstanding State Entry, Junior Group Performance

  • Eden Hutchinson, Isabella Miya, Hannah Robbins
  • Maryville, Clayton-Bradley Academy
  • Entry: “Lowell Mill Girls: The First Union of Working Women”
  • Teachers: Liz Shugart, Nicole Whitecotton

Outstanding State Entry, Senior Individual Performance

  • A.J. Camacho
  • Maryville, Clayton-Bradley Academy
  • Entry: “Clarence Darrow: Taking a Stand for Truth”
  • Teacher: Liz Shugart

“Our students tackled difficult subjects, like the Civil War, workers’ rights and academic freedom, in their research this year. They also overcame personal obstacles to compete, but rose to the occasion with their impressive entries. We were all impressed with their grace under pressure,” said Tennessee History Day coordinator Jennifer C. Core.

“These are amazing achievements considering a half-million students entered the contest on the local level before advancing to the state and national levels. I’m thrilled all of the students represented Tennessee so well on the national stage,” Secretary Hargett said.

National History Day is a yearlong academic organization for middle and high school students focused on teaching and learning history. A recent study by Rockman et al found students who participate in National History Day develop a range of college and career-ready skills. They also outperform their peers on state standardized tests in multiple subjects, including reading, science, math and social studies. The program engages 7,000 students across the state of Tennessee.

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Jay Guy Cisco Collection

By Megan Spainhour

Today we highlight the small yet mighty collection of the Jay Guy Cisco Papers (1894-1921). The Jay Guy Cisco Papers consists of biographical sketches of nine prominent Tennesseans, newspapers clippings, correspondence, publications and 12 scrapbooks.

Jay Guy Cisco (1844-1922) moved his family to Jackson, Tennessee, in 1875, where he became a sort of Jack-of-all-trades. He owned Cisco’s Bookstore in Jackson. He was also known as a historian, journalist, businessman, diplomat and archaeologist.

Through his research of West Tennessee, he obtained a great passion for Native American history and culture. He helped bring light to many Native American ruins in the Tennessee area, and drew interest because of his efforts. Many of the relics he found would be displayed in his small office museum.

Throughout his life, Cisco published numerous works pertaining to American history, politics and archaeology. For some time, he also ran a steam printing press when he was a member of the publishing firm Cisco and Hawkins. In 1883, Cisco established and edited the weekly newspaper The Forked Deer Blade out of Jackson, Tennessee. The Forked Deer Blade was known for its excellent writing and taking a stand on controversial topics, such as supporting prohibition. Cisco also became the Assistant Special Industrial and Immigration Agent for the L & N Railroad. He also accepted an appointment as U.S. Consul to Mexico during the Grover Cleveland administration.

The Jay Guy Cisco Papers collection covers a wide range of topics, from a biographical publication about the life of General James Winchester (one of Tennessee’s first senators) to several random newspaper clippings and images inside the 12 scrapbooks that Cisco kept. There are also several names featured in the correspondence kept in this collection. This collection would be very useful for genealogy purposes, history of Tennessee research between 1894-1920. And biographical research on prominent Tennesseans such as Albigence Waldo Putnam, Joseph Saudek, St. George Leakin and Susan E. W. Smith, just to name a few.

View the finding aid to this collection online and stop by the Tennessee State Library to check out this great collection!

Harriman Newspaper- Article from a Chattanooga newspaper, July 2, 1890, detailing the first four months after Harriman, Tennessee, incorporated in 1890. Box 1, Folder 11.

Tennessee Centennial Exposition Ticket, 1897. Box 1, Folder 1.

Lists of Revolutionary Soldiers buried in Tennessee. Each soldier is categorized by which county he is buried in. There are several pages of these lists. Box 3, Folder 4.

History of Madison County publication written by Jay Guy Cisco for “The Blade” (Forked Deer Blade newspaper?) in 1902. Box 3, Folder 5.

Map of “Old Haysborough and Surroundings,” showing where Haysborough Boulevard (known as Haysboro Avenue) in northeast Nashville was to be located. Box 3, Folder 8, Scrapbooks.

The Old Zollicoffer Residence- Newspaper clipping showing Home belonging to Civil War General Felix Zollicoffer. The house stood where the Andrew Jackson Hotel was erected in 1925. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) stands there now. Box 3, Folder 8, Scrapbooks.

Two images shown on this scrapbook page- First Presbyterian Church which today is known as the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville. The other image is of “The oldest house in Memphis,” the Old Bell Tavern. Box 3, Folder 8, Scrapbooks.

Newspaper clipping of ‘Hundred Oaks’ mansion near Winchester, Tennessee, Box 3, Folder 10, Scrapbooks.

Map of Plan of Battle of Tohopeka, as prepared by Andrew Jackson (Also known as the Battle of Horseshoe Bend). Box 3, Folder 11, Scrapbooks.

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

Eight Collections to Celebrate 80 Years of Tennessee State Parks

By Patsy Mitchell

Did you know that 2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the Tennessee state park system? Established in 1937, it now includes 56 parks and 85 natural areas covering about 200,000 acres across the state. In honor of this momentous occasion, here are just a few collections related to our beautiful state parks. Please visit the Tennessee State Library and Archives to learn more about these collections and other resources – then get outside and enjoy those great outdoors!

Department of Conservation Photograph Collection, Record Group 82, 1937-1976:

This record group consists of more than 11,000 photographs and 21,000 negatives produced for publication in the magazine Tennessee Wildlife (later The Tennessee Conservationist) as well as tourism brochures, annual reports, presentations and displays at county fairs. Series 27, State Parks, provides a documentary history of the state parks, including their development by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.

Some digital versions are available as part of the Library Photograph Collection in the Tennessee Virtual Archive.

Aerial view of the Negro State Park (now T.O. Fuller State Park) area looking south, taken over the Mississippi River at 1,000 feet, June 8, 1938 (RG 82). The state park system was segregated from its inception in 1937 with two parks established for African-Americans – T.O. Fuller and Booker T. Washington State Parks – before integration in the early 1960s.

Department of Conservation Records, Record Group 266, 1919-1987:

This record group consists of correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, and subject files relating to the activities of the Department of Conservation for the years 1919 through 1987. In particular, the subject files contain extensive information on the creation and growth of the Tennessee state park system.

See the record group’s finding aid online HERE.

Visitor’s Centre diagram from the Report on the Master Plan for Panther Creek State Park, July 1966. (RG 266)

Tennessee State Parks Folklife Project Records, Record Group 59, 1979-1984:

Started in 1979, the Tennessee State Parks Folklife Project aimed to document and preserve Tennessee culture by engaging local musicians, craftsmen, and storytellers in communities surrounding six state parks. While much of the collection focuses on music, art and other folk traditions, there are some materials on the history and development of the state parks.

The digital collection is available in the Tennessee Virtual Archive.

Soapmakers from Whiteville are pictured demonstrating the making of lye soap in front of Chickasaw State Park program spectators. (RG 59)

Game and Fish Conservation Commission Records, Record Group 16, 1933-1937:

This collection consists of records from the short-lived, independent Game and Fish Department (1933-1935) in addition to those of the Game and Fish Conservation Commission (1935-1937). It includes the correspondence of two State Wardens, reports, meeting minutes and other materials.

The collection’s finding aid is available online HERE.

January 1934 issue of The Open Trails, a periodical produced by the Game and Fish Conservation Commission. It is one of nine in the collection, covering May 1933 to January 1934. (RG 16)

Department of Conservation Records, Record Group 19, 1937-1959:

For more information on the development of wildlife management programs in Tennessee, check out Record Group 19, which consists primarily of correspondence, speeches, financial records and minutes. The bulk of the correspondence belongs to Jim Nance McCord, who served as Commissioner of Conservation from 1953-1959.

The collection’s finding aid is available online HERE.

Pictorial map of Norris Lake Forest and Vicinity, June 1937, by H.R. Franco. (RG 19)

Civilian Conservation Corps in Tennessee Collection, 1933-1942:

As mentioned previously, the Civilian Conservation Corps was greatly involved in the development of the state parks in Tennessee. This collection contains two field reports: Fall Creek Falls Recreational Demonstration Area and Montgomery Bell Project Reclamation Area. There are also maps and photographs of these two parks.

This collection’s finding aid is available online HERE.

Cover for the report on Fall Creek Falls Recreational Demonstration Area. (Civilian Conservation Corps in Tennessee Collection, 1933-1942)

CCC 50th Anniversary Collection, Record Group 93:

The Civilian Conservation Corps 50th Anniversary Collection consists of yearbooks, camp newspapers, photographs, and other records documenting the experience and work of the CCC in Tennessee.

Photograph of unnamed men and women by the lake at Big Ridge State Park, taken by Otto F. Haslbauer Norris, date unknown. (RG 93)

Tennessee State Parks Brochures

Our final collection is part of our library holdings and consists of brochures from our many state parks ranging from 1956 to the present. Some of the brochures provide basic information about the park, while others serve as trail guides and wildlife aids.

Both sides of a brochure for Reelfoot Lake in West Tennessee

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tennessee's Constitutions on Display!

By Heather Adkins

From June 1 to June 3, Tennessee’s constitutions will be on display at the Library & Archives. We are proud to present all three constitutions for the first time in the current building. However, it is not the first time a Tennessee constitution has been on display. The state constitutions have a long history of exhibition during times of change and celebration.

Chattanooga Times, Aug. 14, 1949, Newspapers on Microfilm

The constitutions once resided at the Tennessee Capitol Building. John Trotwood Moore and Mary Daniel Moore, who each served as State Librarian and Archivist, kept them in a safe, which Mrs. Moore believed was captured from the Germans during World War I and put into use by Mr. Moore, according to an article printed in the Chattanooga Times Aug. 14, 1949. Mrs. Moore, during her tenure, periodically aired the constitutions. At the time of the 1949 article, it had been several years since Mrs. Moore had brought out the 1870 Constitution. Up until the 1950s, the 1870 Constitution was noted as the oldest, unamended state constitution in the country. On the 1949 occasion, amendments were on the horizon. Upon studying the signatures, Mrs. Moore stated, “I feel like they’re all old friends. I’ve read and studied about them so much.” She was the great-great-great granddaughter of James Rody, one of the signatories.

Nashville Tennessean, Nov. 29, 1953, Newspapers on Microfilm

As the 1953 amendments took effect, the 1870 Constitution was once again brought out. Assistant State Archivist Robert T. Quarles, Jr. stood guard at that time. It was a historic moment, adding eight new amendments to a constitution that hadn’t been amended in 83 years. Governor Frank Clement announced that the amendments would be recorded on parchment similar to that of the original constitution and they would be preserved with it.

Nashville Tennessean, May 30, 1971, Vertical Files

Statehood Day 1971 marked another occasion for display of the constitutions. It was the state’s 175th birthday. Festivities included a fireworks display, a rock group, square dancers, a watermelon feast (40,000 pounds of watermelon), an anvil firing and special exhibits. An array of celebrities like Dolly Parton and Minnie Pearl were in attendance. Among the records exhibited were the 1796 constitution and several letters of Governor John Sevier and Senators William Blount and William Cocke – three of Tennessee’s founding fathers. The celebration was jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Historical Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission. A birthday cake, 10 feet long and weighing 300 pounds, shaped like the state, was served.

“Tennessee Treasures: Old Hickory to Elvis, A Bicentennial Traveling Museum brochure, 1993-1994

In the early 1990s, the Tennessee constitutions and the archivists that protect them became road-wise travelers. The state was gearing up for its bicentennial in 1996. To celebrate, a statewide tour called Tennessee Treasures was constructed by the Tennessee 200 State Bicentennial Commission and Tennessee State Museum under the auspices of Governor Ned McWherter. From 1993 to December 1994, over 130 artifacts would be on display, including the 1796 constitution. All 95 counties had the opportunity to host the exhibit.

Nashville Tennessean, Dec. 5, 2012

Most recently, all three constitutions were on display at the Tennessee Supreme Court Building in Nashville for the opening of the Tennessee Judiciary Museum. The dedication of the museum in December 2012 marked two special occasions: the culmination of the work and partnership it took to open the museum, and the first time for the three constitutions to be on display together. The display of the constitutions in the most prestigious court of Tennessee visually reinforced their import as the pillars of Tennessee’s government and law. Although the constitutions’ stay at the Supreme Court was brief, their appearance together had great impact.

We hope you’ll join us this June in celebrating Tennessee’s statehood. The constitutions are available for public viewing June 1 and 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and June 3 from 9 a.m. to noon and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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