Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tennessee Students Excel at National History Day

Twelve Tennessee students took top honors at the 2018 National History Day competition. In total, 58 middle and high school students represented Tennessee in the contest, which allows students to showcase their creativity and research skills by developing projects with historical themes.

The theme of this year's contest was “Conflict and Compromise in History.” The students were able to compete at National History Day by winning medals at the state contest, Tennessee History Day, which 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:

First place, Senior Individual Paper (National History Academy)

Muadth Malley
The Lebanese Civil War and the Taif Accord: Conflict and Compromise Engendered by Institutionalized Sectarianism
Pleasant View School, Memphis
Teacher: Andre Clarke

First place, Junior Group Performance

Luke Hutchinson, Liam Garris, Ian Boghani
I Will Survive: The Conflicts and Compromises of the Native American Boarding Schools
Clayton-Bradley Academy, Maryville
Teacher: Liz Shugart

Third place, Junior Group Performance

Riley Whitecotton, Emerson Kidd-Benthall, Tara Shealy
Sendler's List: The Unspeakable Conflict and Ultimate Compromise of Irena Sendler
Clayton-Bradley Academy, Maryville
Teacher: Nicole Whitecotton

Fourth place, Junior Individual Documentary (Outstanding State Entry, Junior Division)

Shelby McNeal
The Walker Sisters: Conflict and Compromise in the Smoky Mountains
Clayton-Bradley Academy, Maryville
Teacher: Nicole Whitecotton

Fifth place, Senior Group Documentary (Outstanding State Entry, Senior Division)

John David Cobb, Tate Greene
Last Days in the Mountains: Conflict, Compromise and the End of a Smoky Mountain Community
Clayton-Bradley Academy, Maryville
Teacher: Liz Shugart

Fifth place, Senior Group Exhibit

Ashlynn Malone, Haley Hurst
Compromise to Avoid Conflict: The Civil Rights Movement in Knoxville
Sevier County High School, Sevierville
Teacher: Rebecca Byrd

“I'm proud of our students for representing Tennessee so well,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “By taking home honors in this national competition, our students demonstrated their expert knowledge in their chosen topics, and I have no doubt they will carry this experience with them for years to come.”

“Our outstanding performance this year is a direct result of the many hours of hard work the students invested in their research,” said Tennessee History Day coordinator Jennifer C. Core. “Our students continued to work on their entries even after school ended for the semester, and their efforts were rewarded.”

Each fall, students and teachers nationwide begin work on the yearlong curriculum, which starts with competitions held in individual schools. The winners there advance to district, state and eventually the national competition. Nationwide, the History Day program includes more than a half million students annually from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa and Department of Defense Schools. The program engages 9,500 students across the state of Tennessee.

For more information about National History Day or Tennessee History Day, please visit

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

"Libraries Rock!" summer reading programs offered by Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Media

By Heather Fach

Many libraries across the state host summer programs every year, but did you know you can attend summer programs at the Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Media without ever leaving home?

This summer, we’ll be exploring the world of music as we remind ourselves that “Libraries Rock!” Two professional musicians, trombonist Derek Hawkes of the Nashville Symphony and singer/songwriter Rory Hoffman, will speak June 20 and July 18, respectively, and answer questions about life as working musicians. On June 27 and July 25, patrons can join a virtual playlist party and share their favorite Spotify or Pandora tracks. And, on July 11, we’ll make a stylish and unique headphone wrap craft using everyday materials (register to receive a kit!) These programs are designed for teens aged 13-18, but anyone is welcome to join.

We have programs for children and adults, and all of our programs are free and open to all. Register for summer programs at the Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Media here: Call (800)342-3308 or (615)741-3915 to join in!

Libraries rock, and so do you…so come join us this summer!

Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Media is a section of the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Become A Master Local Historian!

The Tennessee State Library and Archives, American Association for State and Local History, and Humanities Tennessee offer a new three-part pilot program to become a Master Local Historian

PROGRAM: Three-week Master Local Historian pilot program offered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives in collaboration with the American Association of State and Local History and Humanities Tennessee

DATE: 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., Monday June 25, July 9 and 16, 2018

LOCATION: Tennessee State Library & Archives, 403 7th Ave. North Nashville, TN 37243

ADMISSION: FREE | Registration is required and limited to 20 participants

The Tennessee State Library and Archives, in collaboration with the American Association for State and Local History and Humanities Tennessee, invites you to participate in a new pilot program called MASTER LOCAL HISTORIANS. If you enjoy learning, thinking, discussing, reading, and writing about history then this program is for you!

Master Local Historians provides an opportunity to learn about the craft of the historian. What is historical thinking, and why does it matter? What sources are available to help advance your research? How do you care for artifacts and photographs in your own personal collection? With guidance from history professionals, Master Local Historians teaches how historians approach questions about the past and provides the tools to pursue a personally meaningful history project, such as community, buildings, church, or family history.

Tennessee is the first state to pilot the Master Local Historians program. Individuals who register for the course will participate in three, 3-hour sessions beginning June 25, 2018. Each session will take on a different topic with the goal of preparing you to begin your investigation of local history:

3:00-6:00 p.m., Monday, June 25: “The Power of Historical Thinking”

  • Understand historical thinking
  • Understand the relevance of good local history
  • Learn how to evaluate interpretive products of local history
  • Grasp the vocabulary, skills, and process of structuring a local history project
  • Share information about local history projects on which you already may be working
  • Instructors-Myers Brown, Archivist, Tennessee State Library & Archives and Dr. Erica Hayden, Trevecca Nazarene University

 3:00-6:00 p.m., Monday, July 9: “Source and Resources”
  • Learn about the research assets at online and brick-and-mortar libraries and archives, and meet key staff at each 
  • Learn how to search for secondary and primary sources at those sites 
  • Learn how to get started with genealogy and family history research 
  • Match a research strategy to a research question 
  • Differentiate secondary from primary sources Identify evidence in sources 
  • Evaluate conflicts among evidence, in primary resources 
  • Instructors-Myers Brown and Sara Horne, Archivists, Tennessee State Library & Archives 

3:00-6:00 p.m., Monday, July 16: “Collections: Their Care and Meaning”

  • Understand a public, curated collection Identify personal collections 
  • Gain an introductory understanding of collections care 
  • Understand that artifacts, costumes, correspondence, books, etc., are primary sources with meaning 
  • Instructors-Myers Brown, Archivist, and Carol Roberts, Conservator, Tennessee State Library & Archives

Sessions are interactive and discussion-based and provide a chance to not only learn from experts but float ideas, grapple with tricky questions, and learn the historian’s craft by doing.

If you are interested in participating in the Master Local Historians pilot, please contact Myers Brown at the Tennessee State Library & Archives. The pilot program is free, but registration is required by calling (615) 741-1883 or emailing Participation limited to 20 individuals committed to all three sessions.

Master Local Historians is a new program from the American Association for State and Local History, supported by grant funding from Humanities Tennessee and operated in partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Uplands (Cumberland County, Tenn.) Records Now Available to Researchers

By Lori Lockhart

May Hannah Cravath was born August 18, 1873, in Winona County, Minnesota. She was the daughter of Hannah Elizabeth “Eliza” Williams (1839-1907) and Bishop Milton Cravath (1835-1900). Dr. May spent her early childhood on a farm in Minnesota before moving with her family to “pioneer a homestead and tree claim” in Dakota Territory (now South Dakota). She completed high school at Carleton Academy in Northfield, Minnesota, before attending Carleton College from 1890-1893. Dr. May completed her B.A. at the University of North Dakota where she was valedictorian of her graduating class. She taught briefly at the University of North Dakota before receiving her medical degree from the University of Michigan Homeopathic Medical School in 1903. Dr. May set up a medical practice in Atlanta, Georgia. It is there, at church, where she met her husband, Edwin R. Wharton (1864-1920). The two were married August 7, 1906, in Fulton County, Georgia.

Dr. May Cravath Wharton (1873-1959) when she was attending college, ca. 1890s.
Uplands Records, Tennessee State Library and Archives

The Whartons moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1907 to run a settlement house. Edwin served as director and Dr. May worked as a physician. The Whartons moved to a New Hampshire farm in 1909. Dr. May had a private practice in New Hampshire and Edwin served in small churches in the area. In 1917, the Whartons moved to Pleasant Hill, Tennessee. Edwin took a position as principal of Pleasant Hill Academy. Dr. May served the academy’s staff and students as a physician and she also taught health classes. When the global flu epidemic came to Pleasant Hill in 1918-1919, Dr. May started serving local families outside of the school. Many times she traveled rough terrain on foot, horseback, muleback or (in rare occasions when there was a good enough trail) buggy. Dr. May developed a reputation among the mountain families as a caring and determined doctor. On Nov. 19, 1920, Dr. May’s husband died, and she began to make plans to return to New Hampshire. Clinton Anderson, along with other community members, brought Dr. May a petition signed by 50 families asking her to stay and be their doctor. She made the decision to stay in Pleasant Hill.

Dr. May Cravath Wharton (1873-1959) with a mule used to help her cover rough terrain to reach her patients, ca. 1920s.
Uplands Records, Tennessee State Library and Archives

On Aug. 7, 1921, Dr. May and Elizabeth Fletcher (an Art teacher at Pleasant Hill Academy) opened Sanex, a two-bed hospital. In November of that same year, Alice Adshead joined Dr. May and Ms. Fletcher in their endeavors. Ms. Adshead was a British born and Canadian trained registered nurse who Dr. May met at a North Carolina sanatorium. Dr. May had gone to the Carolina hospital for advanced study in the treatment of tuberculosis. In 1922, the three women chartered Uplands Cumberland Mountain Sanatorium and on Nov. 20, they opened an eight-bed hospital. By 1935, the endeavor had grown to a twenty-bed hospital with an operating room, surgical ward and maternity room. On May 17, 1937, Van Dyck House for the treatment of Tuberculosis was opened. In March 1950, Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville opened with a fifty-bed capacity. Dr. May’s last project was the opening of the nursing home that bears her name in 1957. Dr. May died November 19, 1959. She is buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery.

Elizabeth Fletcher (1870-1951), Dr. May Cravath Wharton (1873-1959), and Alice Adshead (1888-1979), ca. 1940s.
Uplands Records, Tennessee State Library and Archives

A collection related to Dr. May is now available for research at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The records consist of materials transferred from the archives of Uplands Retirement Village. The materials date between 1847 and 2005. The collection documents the life of Dr. May as well as the rise of Uplands Retirement Village and Cumberland Medical Center, with a portion of the materials relating to Pleasant Hill Academy and Pleasant Hill Community Church. The highlight of the assemblage is the 75 boxes of photographs, which include printed photographs, slides, negatives, contact sheets and scrapbooks.

Helen Lawson, Martha Bledsoe, Dr. H. F. Lawson, Dr. May Cravath Wharton (1873-1959), and Ova Dell Wood work with an unidentified patient in the Uplands Operating Room, ca. mid 1940s.
Uplands Records, Tennessee State Library and Archives

Interested researchers are invited to view the finding aid found here:

For information on how to access to this material, please contact the Library and Archives’ Public Services Section Reference Desk at or phone (615) 741-2764.

Dr. May’s autobiography, “Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands,” and “A History of Pleasant Hill Academy,” written by Emma Dodge, are also available to researchers. Please see the Library and Archives’ catalog for more details on these titles.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Workshop Series -- It's Not All Online: Researching in Archives

A host of genealogy records are available at the click of a mouse, but researching solely online will reveal less than 10 percent of all the world’s genealogical records. On June 23, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will host a free workshop entitled “It’s Not All Online: Researching in Archives.”

Presenter Melissa Barker is a certified archives manager for the Houston County Archives and a professional genealogist who works with clients researching their Tennessee ancestors. Barker will discuss the importance of visiting an archive when seeking out records that are not online.

“This unique lecture will expose attendees to the world of genealogy records available at their local archives and will be a valuable resource for those interested in gaining hands-on research experience,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “I encourage anyone interested to reserve their seats as soon as possible.”

The lecture will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. CDT Saturday, June 23, in the Library and Archives auditorium. The Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Ave. N., directly west of the Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville. Free parking is available around the Library and Archives building.

Although the lecture is free and open to the public, registration is required due to seating limitations in the auditorium. To reserve seats, please visit

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

Monday, June 4, 2018

Oops!: Reconciling Old Data and New Information

By Heather Adkins and Elinor Madeira

Image 29895 – “168150-Roll Call,” Souvenir Post Card Co., 1908, #WM213, Looking Back at Tennessee Photograph Collection, ca. 1890-1981.

We all make mistakes every now and then, and archivists are no exception. However, when history professionals make mistakes, the repercussions for future research are detrimental. Historians strive to provide correct information, but in a profession built around analysis of data, interpretations can vary widely. The following is an example of one such record that inspired different interpretations.

Image WM213 Image Card - “Roll Call” Slaves, 1908, #WM213, Looking Back at Tennessee Photograph Collection, ca. 1890-1981.

This image comes from the earliest trips of Looking Back at Tennessee in 1986. Much like today’s programs, archivists visited local communities to gather information on personal records and make duplicates to keep at the Library and Archives. Information gathered on these trips partly come from the owner of the record. So if the owner is misinformed, the archivist can subsequently record incorrect information. For instance, on the record sheet for this image, the archivist typed “’Roll Call’ Slaves;” however, the image itself does not have “slaves” written on it. The archivist also dated the image as 1908. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863, so it would be difficult to say that the subjects of the image were in fact enslaved.

Image Picture Card Splice – You can see the differing information based on the interpretations of the image-owner and the recording archivist.

To compound the issue, when the record was digitized and put on the online photograph database, the metadata writer added to the description of the photo to include, “People known as ‘Roll Call’ slaves.” The image was then picked up by different websites and digital collectors, like Google and Pinterest, where the written information of the image has become “fact” without much further consideration.

Image Photo database – The image is represented differently on the online photograph database than on the original.

Image Pinterest – Pinterest showing the user-posted image as a search result. Accessed May 10, 2018.

There are several ways this image could be interpreted. “Roll Call” could imply that the image is of a school, a church or even a form of community child care. The number of children could shift the interpretation easily in that direction. There are no visible agricultural tools, but it could also be families preparing to work in fields, considering the prevalence of tenant farming and sharecropping in Tennessee at that time. That interpretation is more fabrication. If you look closely at the building, a baby’s pram sits on the porch – small luxuries were most likely not available to enslaved persons. Whatever story could be spun about the image, to say that the subjects are slaves is a label not easily proven.

Image Baby Pram – “168150-Roll Call,” Souvenir Post Card Co., 1908, #WM213, Looking Back at Tennessee Photograph Collection, ca. 1890-1981.

As a rule, when processing photographs, archivists should not interpret an image. For purposes of cataloging and finding a photo, best practice is to describe the image (including any writing) and leave it to researchers how they want to use the image. For example, the “Roll Call” image is also in a collection held by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (part of Yale University Library). Their metadata writer describes the image simply, talking briefly about the people in the image and the building (see below). It could be added to the description the number of children and adults, that some are sitting or standing and where, the separation of gender in their placement and the second building in the background.

Image Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library – “Guide to Randolph Linsly Simpson African-American Collection JWJ MSS 54, Series I. Visual Material. Online:

So how do we reconcile when mistakes are made? First, we understand that new information becomes available all the time, and that is a good thing! Second, we compare the new and old data to see if information and analysis still align. Lastly, we admit when we are mistaken.

If you find something in our online material you think might be incorrect, please let us know. We will do our best to update our online information. Contact us here:

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