Thursday, December 13, 2018

Meet the Staff - Ellen Robison

Meet Ellen Robison. She is an Archival Assistant with Archival Technical Services.

How long have you worked here?

A: I was originally hired in the Public Services department in January 2016 and transferred to my current role in October 2017.

What are some of the things you do as an archival assistant?

A: There are 3 main parts to my job. I process collections by cleaning, researching, and organizing the materials to make them accessible to the public. I also serve on the rotation of designated staff who fulfill the requests of the public to view original materials kept in locked storage. Additionally, when the state legislature is in session each year, I am one of the recorders we send to record the House and Senate committee meetings and floor sessions.

What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I love how much I learn. Whether I’m researching the history of a family or event for a collection or recording a legislative meeting, there is always something new and interesting to learn about Tennessee, her past, and her people.

Do you have a favorite collection?

A: Picking a single favorite collection is difficult but I would have to say the World War II Veteran Survey collection ( This record group is comprised of over 6,000 surveys of men and women from all walks of life who served during the Second World War. Many veterans, or their family members, submitted supplemental materials such as photographs or personal accounts along with their questionnaires. It is a treasure trove of individual legacies and provides a unique perspective on the war.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

A: Preserving our society’s past is a vital part of society’s development. One of the best ways to improve our future is by studying our past, uncovering our failures as well as our successes, and applying that knowledge as we move forward. By understanding the foundations of our society, we can work to improve it for future generations. Libraries and archives ensure that future generations will be able to do the same.

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Genealogy Resources available through TEL and beyond!

By Andrea Zielke

Maybe it is the time of the season, the shorter days or just my age but I’ve become more interested in learning about my family tree. I’m from Wisconsin but now a Tennessee resident so I’ve had search for new resources available from my new home state. Through the Tennessee Electronic Library and the Tennessee State Library and Archives, there are a number of free resources available to Tennesseans who want to learn more about their family history. 

Beginner and professional genealogists can use HeritageQuest Online to trace family histories and American culture from the comfort of their home. This resource includes the digitized U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 through 1940, genealogy and local history books, Revolutionary War records, Freedman’s Bank Records, and U.S. Congressional Serial Set records.

HeritageQuest Online can be used to answer questions including:
  • Where did my family live in the United States between 1790 and 1940?
  • Where can I find information about my African American ancestors?
  • Some of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. What records are available?
  • I am writing a story set in Knoxville, TN in 1930. How can I find information about the families and businesses found there during that time?
  • How did county boundaries appear when each census was taken?

In my initial family search, I have found some ancestors that lived and died in Tennessee. In partnership with, the Tennessee State Library and Archives provides access to several important collections of Tennessee records. 
  • Tennessee, Delayed Birth Records, 1869-1909
  • Tennessee, Death Records, 1908-1958
  • Tennessee, City Birth Records, 1881-1915
  • North Carolina and Tennessee, Early Land Records, 1753-1931
  • Tennessee, Early Tax List Records, 1783-1895
  • Tennessee, Enumeration of Male Voters, 1891
  • North Carolina and Tennessee, Revolutionary War Land Warrants, 1783-1843
  • Tennessee, Early Land Registers, 1778-1927
  • Tennessee, City Death Records, 1872-1923
  • Tennessee, Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008
  • Web: Tennessee, Supreme Court Case Index, 1809-1950

While searching the Tennessean, I have found that some of my ancestors that have made news! Through TEL, Tennesseans can now search the full archive of the newspaper back to 1812. Full scans of each page of the paper are available to search including the articles, wedding announcements, death notices, ads and classifieds. I even found Minnie Pearl’s engagement announcement!

If you are from a smaller town and your ancestors did not make Nashville news, there are other resources available to search online.  Chronicling America, a project of the Library of Congress, has digitized 125 Tennessee newspapers (1690-present) that are available to the public.

Additional resources

Beyond just newspapers, the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) is a digital repository of Tennessee history and culture featuring historical records, photographs, documents, maps, postcards, film, audio and other original materials of enduring value.  TeVA contains a subset of the Library & Archives materials and is updated monthly with new content. Plus, it is free and available to everyone!

The Tennessee State Library and Archives also provides indexes to some collections and county genealogical fact sheets. Although the indexes do not provide access to the records themselves, you can submit order forms, request materials through interlibrary loan, or plan a visit to the Tennessee State Library and Archives to dig into the collections!

If you cannot find a digitized version of what you are looking for, the Tennessee State Library and Archives have amazing staff that can help aid you on your search. If you can’t come to the library in person, you can call, email, or even chat live with a librarian if you have questions!

Don’t forget to check out what resources are available at your local public library or local archive.  Many libraries and archives have additional genealogy resources about their community. 

Editor's Note: The author is grateful for research and editorial assistance provided by Library and Archives staff members Trent Hanner, Allison Griffey, Jennifer Randles, and Lisa Walker

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