Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Meet the Staff - Gibb Baxter

Meet Gibb Baxter. He is an Archival Assistant with the Public Services section of the Library and Archives.

How long have you worked here?

I have worked here for 11 short years!

What are some of the things you do as an Archival Assistant in Public Services?

When I am not assisting patrons with their research in the microfilm reading room or working on one of a bevy of recurring projects, I am usually processing incoming and outgoing interlibrary loan requests. While we are a non-circulating library (i.e., you can’t check out books), a portion of our collection can be accessed remotely by requesting material from us through one’s local library. Most of our manuscripts collections and state record groups are available to any library, and most of our microfilmed newspapers are available to Tennessee libraries. We’re a little more selective with loaning out our books, since (unlike microfilm) we can’t produce a new copy of those in-house, but we do offer to loan those for which we do have a second copy. We house such a wide variety of items, it’s a bit of a case-by-case decision, so anyone interested in borrowing an item should check our interlibrary loan page on our website or give us a call and ask for me. On the flipside, if you are here in Nashville and are seeking something housed in another library, I will do my best to borrow it on your behalf.

What is your favorite part of your job?

As a member of the public services team, the best part of the job is the validation we receive from the public. Our patrons range from veteran researchers and professional genealogists to young students and novice family history-seekers, but no matter where you are in your research, I’m here to help you navigate our collections and where my knowledge falls short it is inevitably picked up by one of my colleagues. We take pride in our eagerness to serve and our patrons continually express their gratitude in return.

Do you have a favorite collection? What interests you about it?

While tempted to choose from our plethora of manuscripts collections, I have always been most fascinated by our Library Collection. With so much freely available online, many of our older volumes rarely need to be pulled from the stacks anymore, but that doesn’t take away from the sense of wonder that accompanies browsing shelf after shelf, floor after floor of serial publications, government documents and books which span centuries. When pulling a book for a patron or myself, I’m struck by how often the volume I find is a first edition or otherwise rare printing and I can seldom pull anything without stopping to browse the other books surrounding it. Though our stacks are closed to the general public, I encourage everyone to search our online catalog and give us a reason to venture in and bring forth the gems within.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

In a word, literacy. Today’s literacy involves not only the ability to read and write but the ability to think critically on the fly. On the archival side, the argument moves from access to preservation; it’s one thing to digitize a document, but another entirely to make sure that same document will be there to re-digitize in 200 years. Technology is always working wonders, not in ways that make libraries or archives obsolete, but in ways that will make them even more relevant for the generations to follow.

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

Monday, December 18, 2017

2017 Civics Essay Contest Winners Announced

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office is pleased to announce the winners of its 2017 civics essay contest, an annual initiative created to encourage students to be actively engaged citizens.

Students were asked to write about citizenship with length requirements varying by grade level. Winners will receive a TNStars 529 College Savings Program scholarship and a trip to the State Capitol this spring. First place winners receive a $500 scholarship, with second and third place winners receiving $250 and $100 respectively.

“I’m thrilled more than 1,000 students from across the state wrote an essay for the contest. The students demonstrated a passion for actively participating in their communities at a young age,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “Our long-term goal is to increase civic engagement across the state.”

2017 Civics Essay Contest Winners

Ninth – 12th Grade:
  • First: Simon Jolly, Hardin Valley Academy (Knox County)
  • Second: Karla Hines, Whitehaven High School (Shelby County)
  • Third: Kennedy Cole, Mt. Juliet High School (Wilson County)
  • Honorable Mention: Gaige Guyer, Powell High School (Knox County)

Sixth – Eighth Grade:

  • First: Grace Darke, Christ the King School (Davidson County)
  • Second: Isabelle Sorensen, East Hamilton Middle High School (Hamilton County)
  • Third: Lauren Mansfield, Centertown Elementary School (Warren County)
  • Honorable Mention: Lauren Perry, Westwood Middle School (Coffee County)

Third – Fifth Grade:

  • First: Annabelle Kelly, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School (Hamilton County)
  • Second: Asa Cullity, South Cumberland Elementary School (Cumberland County)
  • Third: Sam Daugherty, Homeschool, Classical Conversations (Montgomery County)
  • Honorable Mentions: Elsa Smith, Covenant Academy (Warren County); Maddie Boyd, Oak Elementary School (Shelby County)

Kindergarten – Second Grade:
  • First: Maci Aylor, Blue Grass Elementary School (Knox County)
  • Second: Kirsten Williams, Ezell-Harding Christian School (Davidson County)
  • Third: Brady Watts, Sylvan Park Paideia Design Center (Davidson County)
  • Honorable Mention: Ava Aldridge, Allons Elementary School (Overton County)

The contest, along with last year’s successful Student Mock Election, is part of the office’s civic engagement program.

The civic engagement program also offers lesson plans based on the Tennessee Blue Book created by Tennessee teachers. The goal is to offer an easy way for teachers to incorporate civic engagement into their curriculum.

For more information on the essay contest, Student Mock Election or lesson plans visit sos.tn.gov/civics.

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tennessee State Library and Archives Breaks Ground on New Building

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, along with Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill, officially broke ground on the new home of the Tennessee State Library and Archives Monday.

L to R: Rep. Bill Beck (D-Nashville); Larry Hart, TMPartners, PLLC; Kem Hinton, Tuck Hinton Architects; Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads); Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro); Gov. Bill Haslam; Secretary of State Tre Hargett; Chuck Sherrill, State Librarian and Archivist; Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin); Ann Toplovich, Tennessee Historical Society

The new 165,000 square foot facility will include a climate-controlled chamber for safely storing historic books and manuscripts as well as a state-of-the-art robotic retrieval system. There will also be classrooms for teaching students and meeting space for training librarians and archivists.

“Tennessee has a strong and rich history and it is important to preserve our past to pass on to future generations,” Gov. Haslam said. “We have significantly outgrown the space that currently houses Tennessee’s most significant and historic documents and vital records, so I thank the General Assembly for working with us to make this much-needed new Library and Archives facility a reality.”

The site is on Bicentennial Mall at the intersection of Sixth Avenue N and Jefferson Street. The facility will be a major upgrade in capacity, preservation and public access from the current 1950s era building which sits directly west of the State Capitol.

The $123.8 million project, which started in 2005, received substantial funding this year after being included in the governor’s budget and approved by the General Assembly. To date, roughly half of the project is funded and the remainder will be recommended in the upcoming budget.

“The new building ensures Tennessee’s history will be preserved for generations while making it more accessible. This world-class facility will blend the necessity of historic preservation with the ever-increasing demand for digital access. I applaud Gov. Haslam and the entire General Assembly for making this a reality so we can better serve Tennesseans,” Secretary Hargett said.

The new building will also feature a conservation lab for the treatment and restoration of books, photographs and documents. There will also be dedicated exhibit spaces for Tennessee’s founding documents and rotating exhibits, as well as a grand reading room with seating for 100 readers and scholars.

Other features include a vault for storing photographic negatives, an early literacy center designed specifically for children with a visual disability and a recording lab to produce oral histories and audio books on Tennessee history.

The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019.

Read this press release and view additional images at: https://sos.tn.gov/news/tennessee-state-library-and-archives-breaks-ground-new-building

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Remembering Pearl Harbor

By Ellen Robison

Dec. 7, 1941, began just like any other quiet Sunday morning for the Pearl Harbor naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii. The United States battleships were moored in the harbor in what was known as Battleship Row, along with a majority of the Pacific fleet. The United States had not yet entered World War II, which had been raging in Europe for over two years. Soldiers and sailors stationed on the island were training for a war that seemed like only a distant possibility to their tropical paradise. That all changed by 8 a.m. when the Japanese military began a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, hoping to strike a crippling blow to the U.S. fleet. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described Dec. 7 as “a date which will live in infamy.” His words could not have been truer. Today, the Tennessee State Library and Archives honors Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day by highlighting the firsthand account of Clifton E. Blankenship, who witnessed the whole scene from his position on the U.S.S. Tennessee’s No. 6 gun mount.

Japanese planes attacking Pearl Harbor. A printed caption filed with this photograph states, “Japanese planes (circled) dive on U.S. military forces at Pearl Harbor, fighting back with anti-aircraft fire – seen at right – on the opening day of the U.S.-Jap war, Dec. 7. Heavy column of smoke at left rises from burning USS Arizona.”
Tidwell, Cromwell, Collection, 1794-1976
Tennessee Historical Society (THS 680).

Clifton Ezro Blankenship was born in Campbell County, Tennessee in 1918. He enlisted in the Navy in 1937 and served his four-year enlistment term aboard the U.S.S. Tennessee. He had worked his way to the rank of Boatswain’s mate, second class, and was due to be honorably discharged in mid-December 1941. In his account, Blankenship recalls having just “settled back to read my paper,” when he heard the first explosions. Thinking it was the Army conducting target practice, he was stunned to see the Japanese flag painted on the aircraft as they swarmed the harbor.

Blankenship account describing the attack on Pearl Harbor, pages 3-4.
Tennessee World War II Veterans’ Survey 1996, Record Group 237
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Blankenship recounts his first taste of combat in an under-manned anti-aircraft battery as “chaos and disorder prevailed.” He describes seeing the torpedoes and bombs fall, ripping apart the U.S.S. West Virginia and U.S.S. Oklahoma, and watching as both ships began to tilt to the side and sink under the water. The oil that had leaked into the water covered the harbor in a sheet of flames as sailors who abandoned ship tried to escape. He felt the explosion of the U.S.S. Arizona’s powder magazine rock his own ship and the thick smoke made it difficult to aim the anti-aircraft guns.

Blankenship account describing the attack on Pearl Harbor, pages 5-7.
Tennessee World War II Veterans’ Survey 1996, Record Group 237
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Blankenship found inspiration in the survivors they rescued from the sinking ships. He recalls, “… they were battered and beaten, but still they came out of the burning water aboard the Tennessee, and asked ‘What can I do to help?’” These were the lucky ones. A total of 2,403 people died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Half of the fatalities were sailors assigned to the U.S.S. Arizona. Their remains still lie entombed in the wreckage at the bottom of the harbor. Blankenship was discharged on Dec. 18, 1941, and re-enlisted the next day for another full term. The war had only just begun for the United States, but as the U.S.S. Tennessee sailed out of Pearl Harbor, repaired and ready for a more equal battle, Blankenship “was thinking of my shipmates, and the thousands of other sailors, soldiers, and marines who had made the supreme sacrifice for their country on the ‘Day of Infamy.’”

Blankenship account describing the attack on Pearl Harbor, Pages 10 and 14.
Tennessee World War II Veterans’ Survey 1996, Record Group 237
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Clifton E. Blankenship’s World War II veteran survey and memoir of Pearl Harbor can be found in the Tennessee World War II Veterans’ Survey Collection, 1996: https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/world-war-ii-veterans-survey-1996

For more resources on World War II located at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, visit: https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/tennessee-world-war-ii-guide-collections-tennessee-state-library-and-archives

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

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Doing Their Bit: Tennesseans and the Great War" exhibit opening to the public

By Caroline Voisine

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is proud to announce the installation of its latest exhibit, Doing Their Bit: Tennesseans and the Great War.

Opening to the public on Dec. 5, 2017, this exhibit features materials from the Library and Archive’s extensive collections. This exhibit focuses on both the Tennesseans who fought overseas and those who contributed to the war effort on the home front throughout the First World War.

Colonel Luke Lea and other officers wearing gas masks, 1918
Luke Lea Papers
Tennessee State Library and Archives

The first half of the exhibit touches on the soldiers who fought on the front lines; Gold Star recipients, Medal of Honor heroes and the brave individuals who served their country in a war for human rights. The second half of the exhibit explores the activities and citizens who made victory possible right here in Tennessee. This includes women who volunteered as nurses or went to work in local factories, mothers who endured the deaths of their children, and children who saved their pennies and sold war bonds.

The Library and Archives is proud to exhibit not only its visual walled displays but also a curated selection of original archival material. Five exhibition cases will be filled with material from different manuscript and government records collections. One such display will be from the Library and Archives World War I Poster Collection.

Two Red Cross volunteers “Serving their country,” 1918
Over Here, Over There: Tennesseans in the First World War
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Doing Their Bit: Tennesseans and the Great War will be open to public beginning Dec. 5, during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST. Visitors can view the exhibit in the front lobby of the Library and Archives building, located at 403 7th Avenue North in Nashville.

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

December: A Month of Holidays

By Ruth Hemphill

 The month of December is a time of festival for many people all over the world. 

In 2017, the first of many holidays starts at sundown Nov. 30 and extends to sundown Dec. 1. The holiday of Mawlid-al-Nabi celebrates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad for many Muslims. Celebrated with processions and sermons, Mawlid is designated as an official holiday in Muslim countries throughout the world. The date of the celebration is calculated according to the moon calendar.

For those interested in knowing more about this, the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) has several biographies, including:

Muhammad, by Michael Cook, available in audio and braille formats; Muhammad, by Demi, for grades 3-6, available in audio format; Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, by Karen Armstrong, available in audio and braille formats; Muhammad of Mecca: Prophet of Islam, by Elsa Marston, for grades 6-9 and older readers, available in audio format.

Bodhi Day commemorates for Buddhists the day the Buddha achieved enlightenment and, is thus, considered to be the founding of Buddhism. In 2017, Bodhi Day will be celebrated Dec. 8. Due to the austere nature of the Buddha’s quest for enlightenment, Bodhi Day is usually celebrated in a low-key fashion, with chanting and meditation. Some Buddhists do decorate a ficus tree and provide sweets for children.

Books related to Buddhism in the TLBPH’s collections include: The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, by the dalai lama XIV and Howard Cutler, available in audio and braille formats; An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life, by the Dali Lama XIV, available in audio and braille formats; and Buddhism, by I.G. Edmonds, for grades 5-8 and older readers, available in audio and braille formats.

Hanukkah begins at sundown Dec. 12 this year, lasting eight days until nightfall Dec. 20. Commemorating the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem, after a small tribe of Hebrews defeated a much larger Greek army, this “festival of lights” is celebrating with nightly menorah lightings, special prayers and a variety of foods. Only one candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah with additional candles lit each night until all candles are lit. While many children are given gifts, the original tradition was to give children money to reward good behavior and devotion to studying the Torah. The money also allowed the children to practice charity.

Hanukkah books available from TLBPH include: Hanukkah in America: A History, by Diane Ashton, available in audio format, and The Story of Hanukkah, by Amy Ehrlich, for grades K-3 and older readers, available in audio and braille formats.

While dates for the previous festivals vary for each year, Christmas is always celebrated Dec. 25. For Christians, the celebration is a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many Christians celebrate with decorated trees, church services and special foods. Others celebrate a more secular holiday with Santa Claus and gifts, and many celebrate a combination of both.

TLBPH has many Christmas books, including: The Physics of Christmas: From the Aerodynamics of Reindeer to the Thermodynamics of Turkey, by Roger Highfield, available in audio format; A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit, by Mike Huckabee, available in audio format; Where Did Christmas Come From? by Al Remson, available in audio and braille formats; and Christmas Around the World, for grades 2-4, by Emily Kelley, available in audio and braille formats.

Kwanzaa begins Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 and goes through Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, marking the 51st annual celebration. It is a celebration of the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. A combination of African “first fruit” celebrations, with candle lightings, drumming, storytelling, poetry reading and food.

TLBPH has books for all ages describing this holiday, including:

It’s Kwanzaa Time!, by Linda Goss, for grades 4-7 and older readers, ; Kwanzaa, by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate, for grades K-3, available in audio and braille formats; and Kwanzaa: An African-American Celebration of Culture and Cooking, by Eric V. Copage, available in audio format.”

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