Monday, August 26, 2019

Tennessee State Library and Archives to Host Free Workshop on the History of Slavery in Tennessee

Author Bill Carey examines slavery in Tennessee based on newspaper articles

The Tennessee State Library and Archives will host local author Bill Carey as part of a “workshop series” on Saturday, September 14th. Carey’s latest book, Runaways, Coffles and Fancy Girls: A History of Slavery in Tennessee, examines slavery through slavery ads appearing in Tennessee newspapers.

Carey will speak with attendees about the research he conducted for Runaways, Coffles and Fancy Girls. Carey researched every newspaper printed in Tennessee from 1791 until 1864, including newspapers on microfilm held at The Tennessee State Library and Archives.

When examined collectively, these ads provide scholars and family historians a number of details about the people named within them. Carey said, “They give insight into slavery and how it was supported by governments as well as by industries such as banking and journalism."

Bill Carey has a background in journalism as a reporter for The Tennessean, Nashville Scene, WPLN, and He is the co-founder of the nonprofit organization Tennessee History for Kids and author of six books. He also writes a monthly column for Tennessee Magazine.

The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. - 11 a.m. CDT Saturday, September 14, in the auditorium of the Library and Archives, located at 403 7th Ave N. in Nashville. Following the presentation, signed books will be available for purchase from the author. Free parking is available around the Library and Archives building.

While the workshop is free, reservations are required due to limited seating. To make a reservation visit click HERE.

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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

LABM Summer Reading Program celebrates a phenomenal year!

By Ruth Hemphill

The Tennessee Library for Accessible Books & Media’s (TLABM) summer programs has come to an end, but it was a phenomenal year!

This year the programs consisted of weekly podcasts following the theme, “A Universe of Stories.” There were three new podcasts posted each week of interviews conducted with various people discussing their passions and careers, since we all have our own story that makes up the universe in which we all live.

There were podcasts geared for children, podcasts for young adults and podcasts for adults, but anyone could listen to any of the podcasts, if they chose. People who do not have access to the internet can get a recording of the podcasts each week that would play on the audio book player that is available to patrons of TLABM.

Popular podcasts included “Zombies and You: A Life and Death Conversation” with Jacob Lankford, a Wildlife Sciences specialist; “Healthy Mouth, Healthy Life,” with Mirna Caldwell, D.M.D. and “Healthy Aging Made Accessible” with Dr. James Powers, Clinical Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Quality Aging.

These podcasts are still available on the TLABM website:

The podcasts were so popular that TLABM plans to continue the program in the summer of 2020 when the statewide library theme will be “Imagine Your Story!” Be sure to check our website in 2020 for more information.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Meet the Staff - Mary DePeder

Meet Mary DePeder. She is a Micrographics Imaging Operator with the Preservation and Digitization department.

How long have you worked here?

I was very recently hired! I started in January of 2019.

What are some of the things you do as a Micrographics Imaging Operator?

The bulk of my time is spent readying materials to be microfilmed. This includes capturing images of archival and library materials on our digital cameras that I then edit and process in the archive writer. This entails a significant amount of quality checking to ensure that digitized materials are as accessible as possible for public use. When not working on my productivity, I also take on special projects like my current role as a content contributor for the upcoming women’s suffrage centennial.

What is your favorite part of your job?

One of the things I really enjoy is handling original documents every day. Currently I am working on 1918 birth records which so often read like small dramas in the lives of everyday Tennesseans. There’s so much data and research to be mined from these records to help fill in our understanding of ordinary citizens and Tennessee life, so to play a small part in that process is very exciting.

What collection or resource are you excited about right now?

Besides the women’s suffrage collection which we will be highlighting extensively over the next year, I am excited about the John Sales and Christopher D. Ammons Vietnam War collections. These collections cover a period I’m very interested in which is mid to late twentieth century American history. The contents include humorous and sobering letters home and extensive photos that are formidable in widening my understanding of the long term effects of the Vietnam War both locally and abroad.

What do you wish more people knew about the State Library and Archives?

Since I am still fairly new here I have yet to stumble upon any trapdoors or secret passageways. But coming from a public library background one of the primary goals was to widen the public’s perception of what a library is and what it can do for the community and the individual. And so I will take up that same charge again with the state library and archives. One visit or click is simply not enough. Libraries and archives are not static institutions but rather they add and evolve and redirect the public’s eyes to new discoveries. So revisit because who knows what new workshop, book, or collection will be waiting for you next.

Do you have a favorite historical figure, event, or place in Tennessee history?

This is a very difficult question to answer! So I’m going to cheat a little and mention a place/historical figure(s) I have been researching lately for fun on the side. The 1970 Memphis chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is a fascinating organization because it’s complicated and messy and provides lots of room for exploring race, gender, and class conflicts within feminism’s second wave. While certainly not a perfect organization, Memphis NOW was a hotbed of intersectionality working with and against Civil Rights members, anti-feminist groups, and other NOW organizations to help transform themselves and their local communities. To me, this makes it an exciting and important piece of Tennessee history.

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

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Honoring the Historic Women's Schools of Tennessee

By Megan Spainhour

It’s August, and that means back to school! As students meet new teachers, explore new subjects and rush back to see old and new friends, we pay homage to historic colleges of Tennessee, and specifically, historical women’s colleges that were once a staple in Tennessee education, but have since closed and can now only be found in the pages of history.

Anthenaeum College, Columbia, 1866. Book Stacks, 14th Annual Catalogue.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Colleges for women typically began as female seminaries in the 18th and 19th centuries, when educational opportunities for women were limited. Beginning in 1820, women’s education grew into a growing trend to support women’s equality. According to the Women’s College Coalition, "Seminaries educated women for the only socially acceptable occupation: teaching. Only unmarried women could be teachers. Many early women's colleges began as female seminaries and were responsible for producing an important corps of educators."

Ward Seminary, Nashville, 1902, Book Stacks.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

In Nashville alone, several ladies institutions sprang up, from Boscobel College to Buford College to the Nashville College for Young Ladies. Boscobel College was in operation from 1889 to 1916. Its primary objective was to be able to provide the lowest cost for higher education to young ladies. The 10 acre campus was located in East Nashville overlooking the Cumberland River. The East Nashville fire of 1916 effected its closing.

Boscobel College, Nashville. 1910. Books Stacks, Salmagindi Yearbook.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Boscobel College, 1910. Books Stacks, Salmagindi Yearbook.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Boscobel College, 1910. Women’s basketball team. Books Stacks, Salmagindi Yearbook.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Dr. Price’s Nashville College for Young Ladies sat not far from East Nashville, where the current federal building sits on Broadway in downtown Nashville. Nashville College for Young Ladies provided a well-rounded education and covered kindergarten to college age. They touted themselves as the "Leading Southern School for the Advanced Education of Women."

Dr Price’s Nashville College for Young Ladies, Nashville- 1896, Book Stacks, The Talisman.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

One of NCYL’s associates, Mary Elizabeth Burgess Buford, became a top educator in Nashville, and went on to found Buford College in Clarksville. Buford College moved to Nashville in 1901 in the neighborhood of Green Hills and Oak Hill area. According to its publications, Buford College was adorned with gardens, springs, an electric car line and even featured a hennery and dairy for healthy dietary needs. After a few more moves around the city, Buford College closed in 1920.

Buford College, Nashville, 1912- Domestic Science Class. Book Stacks, The Mirror Yearbook.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

On the south side of Nashville, right off of Nolensville Road, sits a hill that once held another educational institution for females, Radnor College. Radnor College was started by A.N. Eshman. and served from 1906 until 1914. In 1921, a fire claimed the college’s main building. The school also had its own printing plant nearby, operating for the Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House until 1924.

Radnor College, Nashville, undated. Tennessee Postcard Collection.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Of course, there were several other women’s colleges outside of Nashville as well. In Murfreesboro, a female academy named Soule College ran from 1851 until 1917. During the Civil War in 1862, the school closed temporarily so that it could function as a hospital by both Confederate and Union Soldiers.

Soule College, Murfreesboro- Newspaper Clipping, 1943, Vertical Files.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Elsewhere in Tennessee, East Tennessee Female Institute operated out of Knoxville, Howard Female College educated out of Gallatin, Tennessee Female College served in Franklin, Centenary Female College in Cleveland, Mary Sharp College in Winchester, Brinkley Female College in Memphis, and Moses Fisk’s Female Academy in Hilham, among others here and there.

Howard Female College, Gallatin, 1915, Book Stacks, School Directory.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Tennessee Female College, Franklin, 1904-School Directory.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Tennessee Female College, Franklin, 1904-Book Stacks, School Directory.
Tennessee State Library and Archives

The education provided to these ladies by the fine educators of Tennessee helped to further women’s equality and rights and it can be arguably concluded that their resourcefulness led to the equality we experience today, especially now as we celebrate the 100th year of the passage of the 19th amendment and Tennessee’s important role in this historic milestone.

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

Monday, August 12, 2019

Traveling Tennesseans exhibit now on display!

By Caroline Voisine

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is proud to announce the installation of its latest exhibit, 'Traveling Tennesseans.' Open to the public now this will be the last exhibit featured at the Library and Archives current building. This exhibit features materials from the Library and Archives’ extensive collections and focuses on the travels of Tennesseans all over the world.

In this exhibit, we explore the postcards, notebooks, photographs, souvenirs and more from Tennesseans who journeyed beyond their hometowns. In this exhibit we explore a scrapbook of snippets from the adventures of everyday citizens as well as artists, missionaries and military personnel outside of Tennessee.

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.

'Traveling Tennesseans' will be open to public Tuesday-Saturday, during regular business hours. 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CT. 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

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Remember the Ladies: Origins of the Woman Suffrage Movement

By Patsy Mitchell

Women march for the right to vote in a Nashville parade for women's suffrage, approximately 1915. Sadie Warner Frazer Papers, 1894-1974

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the United States with the ratification of the 19th amendment by the Tennessee General Assembly. By the summer of 1920, 35 states had ratified the Amendment, bringing it just one state shy of the constitutional majority needed to make it law. When the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to ratify on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became that crucial final state, earning itself the nickname The Perfect 36. Over the next year, we will be sharing stories of the women’s suffrage movement from across the state to celebrate Tennessee’s unique role in this major turning point in American history. The first story in our series explores the origins of the women’s suffrage movement in the Volunteer State.

In a letter to her husband on March 31, 1776, founding mother Abigail Adams wrote, “Remember the ladies,” when establishing the burgeoning nation’s Code of Laws, and “[i]f particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.” Adams was issuing a warning in the midst of the American Revolution that women, if denied representation, would revolt against the tyranny of men. So began a 144-year fight for women’s right to vote. Following her warning were suffrage leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, who, in 1848 organized the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Tennessee women, meanwhile, were challenging laws and asserting their rights at home.

As early as 1837, women in Cannon County, Tennessee petitioned the state legislature to pass anti-liquor laws intended to protect women from abusive men under the influence of alcohol. Similar social reform efforts related to prohibition came from the women of Marshall and Campbell counties in Tennessee. In 1849, the women of Fayette County petitioned the legislature for property rights. Various reform movements, such as abolition, education, women’s rights, and temperance, gave women the opportunity to organize politically, speak publicly, and develop the networks that would be integral to the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Legislative Petition No. 61, 1841, in which the women of Campbell County request the passage of anti-liquor laws in order to fight pauperism, crime, untimely deaths, and other “social evils.” Records of the Tennessee General Assembly, 1796-, RG 60

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, women turned their attention to the war effort, some advocating for the end of slavery and civil rights for the newly emancipated. Reconstruction saw the realization of some of these goals, but also produced disappointments and obstacles to the women’s suffrage movement. The 14th Amendment, passed in 1868, defined eligible voters as male citizens over twenty-one years old, introducing the first mention of gender to the Constitution. The 15th Amendment, passed in 1870, further affirmed that voting rights would not be denied on account of one’s race, but made no similar protections based on sex. These setbacks led a number of suffragists to pursue a strategy called “the New Departure,” by which they would vote illegally, undergo arrest, and challenge the law in court, as in the infamous case of Susan B. Anthony in 1872.

Susan B. Anthony as pictured in the book History of Woman Suffrage by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (New York, Fowler & Wells, 1881-[1922]).

That same year, Elizabeth Avery Meriwether, of Memphis, registered to vote in Tennessee. An outspoken advocate for women’s rights, Meriwether published her own newspaper, The Tablet, to express her controversial views on women’s suffrage. Despite her stance on women’s rights, Elizabeth had a complicated relationship with other progressive causes as a vocal supporter of the Confederacy and later the Ku Klux Klan. Her sister-in-law, Lide Meriwether, was active in the reform movement and established the state’s first women’s suffrage organization in Memphis in 1889. Many white Southerners, however, saw women’s suffrage as a threat to existing gender roles and worried it would increase the number of black voters. White suffragists, particularly in Southern states, attempted to address the latter concern by arguing that white women voters would outnumber black women voters. Problematic intersections between race and gender would continue to plague the women’s movement up to and beyond ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Portrait of Elizabeth Avery Meriwether from her book Recollections of 92 Years, 1824-1916 (Tennessee Historical Commission, 1958).

Despite Southern resistance, the women’s suffrage movement continued to grow in Tennessee with organizations emerging in Maryville in 1893 and Nashville in 1894. A total of ten suffrage organizations formed across the state by the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897, where members met to hear addresses from leading suffragists and formed a statewide organization. The Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association (TESA) held state-level conventions in the three grand divisions, but had the special privilege of hosting the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) convention in May 1914. Disagreement among TESA members over the location led to a rift in the organization, with Lizzie Crozier French, of Knoxville, ultimately becoming president of the newly formed TESA, Inc. and Nashville serving as the convention’s host city. Around the same time, African American men and women across the state were taking up women’s suffrage through debates and lectures at venues like the Majestic Theatre in Nashville. Black and white suffragists, however, continued to work separately, in part because white women feared that the enfranchisement of black women would dissuade white men from supporting the cause.

A booklet containing the by-laws of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association, general surveys of work with reports from each league, and notes from the proceedings of the Eighth Annual Convention, 1916. Frances Holder Overall Papers, 1867-1918

The entrance of the United States into World War I, however, led many suffrage organizations, particularly those affiliated with NAWSA, to redirect their activities to the war effort. One exception to this disruption was the National Woman’s Party (NWP). Beginning as the Congressional Union in 1914, the NWP was founded by Alice Paul who believed that suffragists should pursue a constitutional amendment instead of focusing on suffrage legislation at the state level. In January 1917, NWP members began protesting the White House with banners that referred to President Woodrow Wilson as “Kaiser Wilson” and asked, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” Joining them in 1919 was Sue Shelton White, of Jackson, Tennessee, who was arrested and forced to serve five days in jail. She was one of many women arrested during these demonstrations.

This headline proclaiming, “Suffragists Burn Wilson in Effigy; Sue White Leader,” appeared in the February 10, 1919 issue of the Nashville Tennessean. Tennessee Electronic Library, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Nashville Tennessean

Thanks to the groundwork laid by multiple generations of suffragists over many decades, the women of Tennessee stood ready to push the 19th Amendment across the finish line and bring votes for women to every state in the nation. Stay tuned for more Suffrage Stories as we continue this centennial commemoration. In the meantime, explore the history of this movement through our online collection Women’s Suffrage in Tennessee in the Tennessee Virtual Archive.

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