Monday, April 22, 2019

Library and Archives Hosts Free Workshop on Civil War Research

The Civil War has touched the life of almost every U.S. citizen but connecting families with complete records can present challenges. On Saturday, May 4, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will host a free workshop entitled, “Cross Connections to the Civil War.”

Presenter J. Mark Lowe will demonstrate how to search and use the wide variety of records available through the Tennessee State Library and Archives – including records from the Grand Army of the Republic, United Confederate Veterans, United States Colored Troops, Confederate and Union Army pensions, Southern Claims Commission, court martials, newspaper accounts, unit histories, letters to governors and presidents, diaries and more. Participants can expect to leave with knowledge and tools to draw a more complete picture of their Civil War ancestor and family history.

J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, is a certified genealogist who has been researching family history for more than 50 years. Lowe is a renowned author and lecturer specializing in original records and manuscripts throughout the South. He grew up in Tennessee but has extensive family roots in Kentucky. He has traveled both states and enjoys sharing his love of genealogy and the joy of research with others.

Lowe has served as president of the Association of Professional Genealogists and is past president of the Friends of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. His expertise has been featured on several genealogical television series including African American Lives 2 (PBS), Who Do You Think You Are? (TLC) and Follow Your Past (Travel).

The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m to 11 a.m. CDT Saturday, May 4, 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 workshop is free and open to the public, registration is required due to limited seating. To make a reservation, visit

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

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Meet the Staff - Debra Mattingly

Meet Debra Mattlingly. She is the Assistant Director with the Clinch River Regional Library.

How long have you worked here?

I’ve worked for the Clinch River Regional Library since January 2016. In the previous 37 years, I worked in business, academic and public libraries in Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Colorado, Tennessee, Maryland and Florida. I love all types of libraries. I also really love Tennessee, so we returned when we had the chance 3.5 years ago.

What are some of the things you do as an Assistant Director? 

As an Assistant Director of one of the 9 regional libraries across the state, I think of my job as a librarian to librarians. I work with 33 libraries in 9 counties, primarily providing support and training to the staff in these libraries. I attend board meetings, prepare and present training, and encourage libraries to continue to improve their good work in their communities. I work on reports that libraries can use to advocate for more funds from their local funding bodies or that provide more ideas for them to use in their communities. I miss the day to day interaction with the general public from my previous positions, but I love what I am doing now.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Meeting and working with all the wonderful people in Tennessee libraries is the favorite part of my job. The library staffs in our 33 libraries and the other assistant directors across the state are fabulous colleagues with whom to work and from whom I am continually learning.

Do you have a favorite collection?

My favorite collection at the Library and Archives is the Library for Accessible Books and Media. What’s not to like in a free library program of recorded, large print, and braille materials that is available to all ages of residents of Tennessee who are not able to use standard print materials due to visual or physical disabilities? I encourage all of our libraries to become familiar with their services and share with their communities. I especially like the quarterly Adult Book Club and the children’s programs offered to eligible participants. Children are mailed the craft materials in advance so everyone can participate in a story and craft, no matter where they live in Tennessee.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

Libraries and archives are one of the few places in our society which serves ALL ages, races, creeds, religions, political affiliation, and economic status. Everyone who abides by our rules and policies are welcome to enjoy free materials, programs, research assistance, internet access, or just a place to BE either alone or with others. Libraries offer materials in many formats to meet the educational and recreational needs to those in their communities, from birth until death.

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Beyond High School – Using TEL’s Testing & Education Reference Center to Practice for AP/CLEP and Career Tests

By Andrea Zielke

High school students: You may have already decided on what you are doing after graduation from high school, but there are a number of things that you can do now to get you off to a great start at college or your entry into the working world! The Tennessee Electronic Library has a number of free resources that can get you ready!

Most schools will give you credit for Advanced Placement (AP) classes and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). If you want to do some extra practice in preparation for those exams, check Testing & Education Reference Center (TERC). Every credit earned through AP and CLEP scores can help to reduce the amount of general credits and can help to get you started on the classes in you want to take. Take some time to go through the practice tests so you know what to expect when you take the tests.

Through TERC, you can find two practice exams and study guides for 19 different AP exams.

  • Advanced Placement (AP) Biology 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus BC 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) European History 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Macroeconomics 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Microeconomics 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Physics 1 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Physics 2 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Physics C 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Statistics 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. Government and Politics 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) World History

For the CLEP exams, you can take four practice exams for each of the 30+ exams available:

  • CLEP American Government Practice Tests 
  • CLEP American Literature Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Analyzing and Interpreting Literature Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Biology Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Business Law Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Calculus Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Chemistry Practice Tests 
  • CLEP College Algebra Practice Tests 
  • CLEP College Composition Practice Tests 
  • CLEP College Mathematics Practice Tests 
  • CLEP English Literature Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Financial Accounting Practice Tests 
  • CLEP French Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Human Growth & Development Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Humanities Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Information Systems Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Introduction to Educational Psychology Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Introductory Psychology Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Introductory Sociology Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Natural Sciences Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Pre-Calculus Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Principles of Macroeconomics Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Principles of Management Practice 
  • CLEP Principles of Marketing Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Principles of Microeconomics Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Social Sciences and History Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Spanish Language Practice Tests 
  • CLEP U.S. History I Practice Tests 
  • CLEP U.S. History II Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Western Civilization I Practice Tests 
  • CLEP Western Civilization II Practice Tests

Beyond AP and CLEP assistance, there are e-books for the LSAT, GMA, GRE, HiSET, TOEFL and US Citizenship exams.

If you are going directly into working world, there are still a number of practice tests and e-books available that can help you start your career. This includes practice tests/ and e-books for the following professions: accountant/auditor, American Foreign Service officer, corrections officer, cosmetology, medical assisting, nursing, pharmacy technician, police officer, postal worker, military, civil service caseworker, court officer, firefighter, parole officer, teachers, probation officers, real estate, state trooper and U.S. Border Patrol.

To take a practice exam or read an e-book, you will need to sign up for a TERC account, which is free for all Tennesseans. Go to Testing & Education Reference Center on TEL to start practicing today!

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

Friday, April 5, 2019

From a Circuit Rider’s Home to a Tennessee Century Farm: The Story and Legacy of Isaac Conger’s Beech Lawn Farm

By Dr. Kevin Cason

During the early 1800s, Tennessee was still in its early stages of development. As people began to establish new communities and lives in the newly created state, religious denominations began to filter into the new frontier. For Methodists, the most effective way to grow the denomination and establish new members was to have circuit riders who traveled to different places to preach. The system of having circuits was ideally suited for Tennessee’s scattered population during the 1800s. A circuit involved as much as 500 miles and took five to six weeks for a minister to cover. The services were held in a variety of places including cabins, sheds, taverns, and even in the outdoors under trees.

Circuit Rider, Harper's Weekly, October 1867.

One of these circuit riders was Isaac Conger who established a homestead in present day Lincoln County in the 1800s. At the time Isaac obtained the land grant for his property in 1808, the land was still part of Bedford County, Tennessee. After obtaining the initial 152.5 acres of land, Conger continued to obtain more land adjacent to the property. According to land grant records, from 1818 through 1827, Conger gradually purchased land and eventually accumulated 1,000 acres. Initially, Conger built a small stone cabin on the property as a place of residence. However, he soon turned his attention to building a two-story Federal style brick house for his wife and family.

Isaac Conger Land Grant, Book Y, page 484, Grant #1905
Record Group 50, Land Grants, Tennessee State Library and Archives

While he was busy with his farm and building his house, Conger also served as a Methodist circuit rider. Conger’s circuit included rounds through Lincoln, Bedford, Moore and Coffee counties in Tennessee. At the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Isaac Conger’s diary provides his personal thoughts and experiences as a circuit rider preaching the gospel to various communities while also enduring long travels and different types of weather.

Isaac Conger Diary, 1813, page 1.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

As a result of the circuit riders like Isaac Conger, the Methodist movement grew and many churches were established in Tennessee. Eventually, William McKendree, Bishop of the Western Conference of the Methodist Church, and Francis Asbury devised a plan to make a general governing organization in Tennessee. In 1812, they officially created the Tennessee Conference of Methodists.

As time moved along, the legacy of Isaac Conger continued as his land, farm and house were passed through several generations. The founders’ only surviving child, Sion Moores Conger, inherited the farm in 1847. In the 1880s, two of Sion’s sons, Dixie and Charles bought out the farm’s heirs and created a stock farm of selling mules, cattle, sheep and hogs. In 1911, Charles died and Dixie continued the farm. In 1929, Dixie’s son John Beall Conger joined him as partner. The father and son continued to work the land together until Dixie’s death in 1953. After Dixie’s death, John Beall Conger continued to manage and live on the farm.

During the 1970s, the farm and homestead received other notable recognitions. In 1973, the “Isaac Conger House” was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance and for its historical connection to Isaac Conger. In 1976, the farm received another distinction by becoming an official Tennessee Century Farm. This program honors farms that have remained in the same family and have had continuous agricultural production for 100 years or more. The “Family Land Heritage-Century Farms” program was established by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as a way to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. Farmers were asked to fill out applications that told the history of their farm and provide documentation that proved the continuous ownership of their farm. In 1979, the 637 farm files that included the Conger’s Beech Lawn Farm were loaned from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to the Tennessee State Library and Archives for microfilming. Eventually, the microfilmed files became State Record Group 62 and part of the Library and Archives microfilm collection.

Beech Lawn Farm, Lincoln County.
Record Group 62, Tennessee Century Farms Microfilm Collection. Tennessee State Library and Archives

Today, the farm that was established by Isaac Conger continues to remain in the family and serves as a reminder of the important agricultural legacy of farm families who have continuously owned and farmed their land for at least 100 years. The farmhouse that was built by Isaac Conger also serves as a significant historical landmark for a notable figure that felt a calling to spread the religious word to people in frontier Tennessee.

Isaac Conger House present day view on Beech Lawn Farm, Lincoln County, Tennessee.
Clipping from Conger Vertical File. Tennessee State Library and Archives

For more related to this topic see:

  • Isaac Conger Diary, Tennessee State Library and Archives.
  • Herman A. Norton, Religion in Tennessee, 1777-1945 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1981).
  • Carroll Van West, Tennessee Agriculture: A Century Farms Perspective. Nashville: Department of Agriculture, 1986.

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