Monday, June 15, 2020

Grassmere Historic Farm at the Nashville Zoo and the Tennessee State Library and Archives Wins 2020 AASLH Award of Excellence

We are pleased to announce that the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) has selected Grassmere Historic Farm at the Nashville Zoo and the Tennessee State Library and Archives to receive an Award of Excellence for the collaborative project “Nashville To Miami To Havana: Cuba, Castro and the Croft Family.” The AASLH Leadership in History Awards honor not only significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena.

Project Leads Jennifer Randles and Tori Mason, pictured here in the center with members of the Tennessee State Museum staff, Rachel Helvering, Community Engagement Manager and Jeff Sellers, Director of Education and Community Engagement.


The Nashville Zoo exists today due to the foresight of two sisters, Margaret and Elise Croft. In October 2018, Tori Mason, Nashville Zoo Historic Site Manager, and Jennifer Randles, TSLA Digital Materials Librarian, traveled to Florida and Cuba to research the Croft sisters’ business. In Florida, they conducted oral history interviews with 94-yr old Bradford Dallas, the man who was the Croft’s business administrator in Havana during the Cuban Revolution. Several of his letters and other documents are on the Tennessee Virtual Archive website (teva.contentdm.oclc.org). They also spent time in Havana traveling to various locations associated with the Croft and the Dallas families. Mason and Randles wrote blog posts published on the zoo and TSLA websites, which led to speaking invitations. They created a PowerPoint presentation, including sound bites from the interviews, and from December 2018 to October 2019 presented eight public programs reaching nearly 300 people.

Tennessee State Museum “Lunch and Learn” presentation July 17, 2019.


Sound bites are currently on TSLA’s Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA), and recordings are being transcribed with plans to publish them online. This information captures first-had accounts of the Cuban Revolution while making it relevant to Nashville, and zoo, history. Sharing what they learned was an essential part of advancing the mission of enriching, inspiring, and educating those interested in a deeper understanding of the Nashville Zoo.

Image of Croft House at 419 Calle 19, in front of current buildings at that address.


Follow the links below to learn more about this project and explore the Grassmere Collection in TeVA:








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

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Johnny Majors, 1935-2020

The Tennessee State Library and Archives joins the sports world in mourning the death of legendary University of Tennessee football coach and player Johnny Majors, who passed away today at the age of 85.

Coach Majors donated his personal papers to the Library and Archives some years ago. We were honored to receive them and feature some of his collection in our online exhibit, “It’s Football Time In Tennessee!” View the exhibit here: https://sharetngov.tnsosfiles.com/tsla/exhibits/majors/exhibit_majors.htm

Watch Coach Majors talk about his collection and his love for history: https://vimeo.com/72683237

Johnny Majors donates to the Tennessee State Library and Archives from Tennessee Department of State on Vimeo.



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

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Tennessee Celebrates 224 Years of Statehood


On June 1, 2020, Tennessee celebrates 224 years of statehood. In this time of social distancing, we're finding creative ways to mark this anniversary and share our state's history.

On our Facebook page, our Education Outreach staff is highlighting historically significant moments in the history of the 16th state through a series of trivia questions. These questions are designed to get you to think about our state's history and to inspire you to learn more. We will post answers the next day with links to primary sources from our collections on the Tennessee Virtual Archive and our website.

We're also looking back to our state's founding documents. These documents helped transform Tennessee from a frontier territory to a state whose history reflects our nation's economic and cultural progress and challenges.

We hope you'll follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and here on the blog for updates.

In the meantime, let's look at this photo collage from the Library and Archives' first Statehood Day event in 2017.












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

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Tennessee Timeline

By Mary DePeder

This year 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 19th 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”.

We have been sharing stories of the women’s suffrage movement from across Tennessee to celebrate our unique role in this turning point in American history. This third segment in our series is a pictorial timeline highlighting significant events and people in the Tennessee women’s suffrage movement.


Map of Tennessee Congressional Districts, 1920. Carrie Chapman Cat Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1889

Lide Meriwether founded the first Tennessee woman suffrage organization in Memphis. Before this, Meriwether was president of the Tennessee Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). For many women, participation in reform movements such as WCTU were precursors to suffrage activism.



Souvenir booklet from the thirty-third annual convention of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union meeting in Nashville in 1907. Donelson, Bettie Mizell (1862-1939) Papers 1787-1938.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1897

At the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, suffragists met in the Exposition’s Woman’s Building to form the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association. Lide Meriwether was their first president.


Woman’s Building, 1897. Library Photograph Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1897

The National Council of Women of the United States convened in the Woman’s Building bringing powerful and influential suffrage activists to the state.


“National Council of Women: Federated Body of Over a Score of Great National Societies of Women to Meet Here To-Morrow,” 1897. Newspapers on Microfilm.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1897

Mary Church Terrell held the first convention of the National Association of Colored Women later renamed the National Association of Colored Women’s Club (NACWC) in Nashville. NACWC was a pivotal organization for black suffrage activism.

Mary Church Terrell. Library Photography Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1900

Carrie Chapman Catt became president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).


Carrie Chapman Cat. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1900

Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association (TESA) held its second convention in Memphis.

1906

Memphis created its chapter of TESA

1910

Lizzie Crozier French organized the Knoxville chapter of TESA

1911

Nashville, Chattanooga, and Morristown all created TESA chapters


Frances Holder Overall scrapbook, 1914-1945. Newspaper clip highlighting important figures in the fight for women’s suffrage. Frances Holder Overall Papers, 1867-1918.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1913

Alice Paul and Lucy Burns broke off from the National Woman Suffrage Association to form the more militant Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, later renamed the National Woman’s Party (NWP). At a march for suffrage hosted by the NWP, Memphis native Ida B. Wells was told to march at the back of the line with other black suffragists. She refused. She opted instead to march at the front of the line with the white suffragists.


Ida B. Wells-Barnett, 1897. Library Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1914

The Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association splintered into two separate factions: The Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association, Incorporated, and TESA.

1914

National American Woman Suffrage Association held a convention in Nashville.


Cover of National Suffrage Convention pamphlet, 1914. Library Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


“Votes for Women,” 1914. Nashville Tennessean clip about the 1914 NAWSA convention. Bettie Mizell Donelson Family Papers, 1787-1938.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1915

The Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association, Inc. pushed for a woman suffrage amendment to be added to the state constitution. The Tennessee General Assembly adopted a joint resolution for the amendment. However, in order to succeed, the amendment needed to pass in 1917 with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate.


“You Dirty Boy,” 1914. Political cartoon from Nashville Tennessean. Frances Holder Overall Papers, 1867-1918.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1915

The Crisis, a monthly publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, did a feature on the suffrage movement.


“Votes for Women: A Symposium by Leading Thinkers of Colored America,” 1915. Josephine A. Pearson Papers, 1860-1943.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1916-1917

Although it never achieved the same level of success as the NAWSA in the south, the National Woman’s Party saw an increase in interest during these years.


Mary Giles Howard, 1916. Vice-chairman of the Tennessee Division of the National Woman’s Party. Tennessee Federation of Women’s Clubs Records, 1893-1992.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)



Mrs. K. P. Jones, 1916. Vice-chairman of the Tennessee Division of the National Woman’s Party. Tennessee Federation of Women’s Clubs Records, 1893-1992.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1917

Josephine A. Pearson became the President of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.


“Truth crushed,” 1920. Scrapbook page with Josephine Pearson on the right, a confederate soldier in the center, and Mrs. Jas. S Pinkard on the right.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1917

The joint resolution presented in 1915 to add a woman’s suffrage amendment to the state constitution failed due to increased lobbying from anti-suffragist groups.


“Woman Suffrage: A Menace to the South,” 1917. An anti-suffrage pamphlet. Josephine A. Pearson Papers, 1860-1943.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1918

The two factions of TESA stopped feuding and unified.

1919

Limited suffrage passed granting women the right to vote in municipal and presidential elections.


“An annoying delay,” 1920. Political cartoon. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1919

Under limited suffrage, Mary Cordelia Beasley Hudson of Benton County became the first woman to legally vote in Tennessee.

1920, May

The League of Women Voters of Tennessee was established. Abby Crawford Milton was the first president.


The League of Women Voters card, 1920. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


1920, June

Catherine Talty Kenny was elected the Chairman of the Ratification Committee of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee. She selected Dr. Mattie E. Coleman as “state negro organizer” and J. Frankie Pierce as “secretary of colored suffrage work.”

1920, July

Both Carrie Chapman Catt and Josephine Pearson arrived in Nashville and established organization headquarters at the Hermitage Hotel. Intense lobbying on both sides ensued.


“Question is, will they get through in time for the presidential election?” 1920. Political cartoon. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


August 9, 1920

Governor Albert H. Roberts called a special legislative session for the 19th Amendment.


Telegram from Sue Shelton White to Governor Albert H. Roberts, 1920. GP 38: Governor Albert H. Roberts Papers, 1919-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


August 13, 1920

The Senate approved the resolution to ratify.


“Suffrage scenes at the Capitol when the Senate ratified August 13,” 1920. Josephine A. Pearson Papers, 1860-1943.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


August 18, 1920

The House adopted the resolution, ratifying the 19th Amendment and enfranchising women throughout the United States.


“Gov. A. H. Roberts signing Tennessee certificate of ratification,” 1920. GP 38: Governor Albert H. Roberts Papers, 1919-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


August 26, 1920

The Tennessee ratification certificate was received by the United States Secretary of State, who signed the proclamation into law. Victory at last! The 19th Amendment was officially ratified on a national level. Women of color, however, continued to fight restrictive voting laws and practices aimed at disenfranchising black voters. Their relentless activism led to the successful passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


“Lest we forget,” 1920. Political cartoon. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1916-1921.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)



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

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Documenting the Covid-19 Pandemic



Tennesseans, like so many people worldwide, are reacting and adapting to the global COVID-19 health crisis. The Tennessee State Library and Archives is seeking to document the pandemic in our state through your observations and experiences. We welcome submissions of diaries, journals, poems, photographs, or other digital media items that express or record your experience of this unique historical moment. Providing as much detail and context about what you submit will help future researchers understand this historic event.

A selection of material submitted may be shared through Library & Archives social media accounts or digital collections. Ultimately, submitted materials will be preserved at the Library & Archives for future generations.

Please use this link to share your story: https://bit.ly/TSLACov19.


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

Monday, May 4, 2020

Tennessee State Library and Archives Reopening May 5th by Appointment Only

The Tennessee State Library and Archives will reopen to the public by appointment only, beginning Tuesday, May 5th.



Patrons and staff will follow best practices for social distancing and other protective measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors will notice several changes to our physical spaces implemented to safeguard everyone's health.

Staff members and visiting patrons are required to maintain six feet of distance between each other and to wear cloth masks when moving around the research areas. Access to some computers, microfilm scanners and readers, and research tables will be limited to encourage social distancing. There are also some changes in seating and public access points.

Our custodial staff have deep-cleaned the building and will continue a consistent cleaning schedule to maintain clean surfaces.

All of our public programming will continue to suspend until further notice.

If possible, patrons are highly encouraged to continue to use Library and Archives services remotely. Many times, our staff members can provide patrons with a digital copy of a document or vital record in our collection. Patrons can also continue to access many of our resources online through our website, the Tennessee Electronic Library, and the Tennessee Virtual Archive.

To make an appointment or to request remote assistance, contact our reference desk Tuesday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, by phone 615-741-2764, by email at ask@tsla.libanswers.com or by live chat at sos.tn.gov/tsla.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue serving your research and information needs during this time.

Please check our website, sos.tn.gov/tsla, or social media for updates as this situation develops.

Chuck Sherrill
State Librarian and Archivist
Posted: April 28, 2020


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

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A walk through the streets of Nashville...

Archivist Will Thomas recently took a walk through the abandoned streets of downtown Nashville (at a safe social distance, of course). He snapped several photographs to document this time in our collective history. We’re sharing a few of his photographs here...


Tennessee State Library and Archives Building, April 9, 2020. TSLA was closed to the public due to coronavirus effective Monday, March 16, 2020.


Lower Broad, Broadway looking west from 1st Ave, April 9, 2020


Empty sidewalk on Broadway, looking west down Broadway from between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave, April 9, 2020.


Street preacher with no audience, War Memorial Plaza, April 9, 2020.


Sign in window of Robert's Western World, Broadway between 4th Ave & 5th Ave, April 9, 2020.


These photographs will become a permanent part of the State Library and Archives digital collection documenting our state’s response to COVID-19. View the entire digital collection HERE.

For information on how you might document your own experiences during this time of social distancing, we encourage you to visit our Education Outreach page, where you’ll find instruction from our staff on how to record your experiences for posterity.


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

Monday, April 27, 2020

Record Your Experience of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Tennesseans, like so many people worldwide, are reacting and adapting to the global COVID-19 health crisis. As the state repository for collecting and preserving Tennessee history, the Tennessee State Library and Archives is also adapting to this new normal and responding with a new initiative to chronicle this moment in our country’s history and its impact on all Tennesseans.

We encourage all Tennesseans to document their unique experience of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your expressions, whether in the form of personal diaries, journal entries, poems, photographs, drawings, audio, or video interviews, will all be invaluable contributions towards documenting this historic moment.

Over the coming weeks, we will ask for your submissions as we navigate the COVID-19 health crisis. The Library and Archives will preserve submitted material for future generations.

Key Ways Daily Life Has Changed: Parallels to the Past


Materials housed within the Tennessee State Library and Archives illustrate that the current global crisis is just one of numerous periods of adversity through which Tennesseans have persevered, including the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 and World War II.

Quarantine/Stay at Home Order: Currently, Tennesseans are encouraged to stay at home and only venture out into public spaces when necessary. In times past, Tennesseans asked to sequester themselves to prevent the spread of disease, as seen in this poster dating from the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1879 in Memphis.


Quarantine broadside for Covington, Tenn.
Tennessee Department of Public Health, 1874-1975, Record Group 1
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


During World War II, the U. S. Office of Defense Transportation asked Americans to limit unnecessary travel.


On a blue background, this World War II era poster features four illustrations of reasons why Americans may choose to travel, but the implication is that those trips aren't necessary.
World War I and World War II Poster Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


Rationing of Vital Supplies: Many area businesses are limiting the purchase of essential items to one or two quantities per person, including toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and other miscellaneous goods. Similarly, during World War II, Americans were asked to contribute to the war effort through rationing as the government limited household staples that one could purchase, such as gas, dairy, and meat.


This poster provides two images to interpret the experience of rationing during World War II.
World War I and World War II Poster Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


Medical Care Response: Throughout the state, medical providers have mobilized and adapted solutions to treat the mass influx of patients infected with COVID-19. In 1918, temporary medical care centers were hastily constructed to handle the overflow of patients with Spanish Flu.


During the flu epidemic of 1918 the Old Hickory Hospital was erected behind the DuPont Powder Plant to accommodate the overflow of patients needing care.
Over Here, Over There Digital Collection.
Image: Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)


As depicted in the images above, daily life can dramatically change in response to extraordinary events. Just as the lives of those who survived the Spanish Flu and World War II changed in countless ways, so too will the current Coronavirus Pandemic leave its mark on our lives.

Get Started Documenting Your Story


The historical significance of COVID-19 in our country’s history is yet to be determined. Future generations will undoubtedly look upon this moment in time and will study it to seek answers to many questions. You can start by recording your answers to the following questions:


  • How has your day-to-day life changed? 
  • How have Tennesseans navigated these changes, and what do you think of them? 
  • How have you spent your time? 
  • What have you done to prevent contracting the virus? 
  • What do you think of the decisions made by leadership? 
  • What is it like living through a global pandemic?


While students are spending the remainder of their school year studying at home, students and families can create primary sources for contribution to the Library and Archives. Our education team has developed a series of graphic organizers to assist students and families in telling their stories in a variety of formats. Visit our “At Home Learning” page and click on “Documenting COVID-19” for more information.

It is up to those of us living through this crisis to provide answers to the inquisitive onlookers of the future. Please join us in documenting this significant moment in our collective history.


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

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Kinsall Collection Now Available on TeVA

By Brooke Jackson

The Lt. Col. J.Y. Kinsall Collection is now available to view online. This collection centered around Lt. Col. J.Y. Kinsall, a World War II and Korean War veteran.

Black and white photograph of Lt. Col. J.Y. Kinsall with his two year old daughter Lucinda Clair Kinsall. Lucinda is standing on a desk while pinning the Silver Oak Leaves pin on Kinsall, who recently made Lieutenant Colonel. Photograph was originally printed in "The Strata Courier" newspaper based out of Mountain Home, Idaho.
Image: TeVA Kinsall Collection

Born in 1910 in Carter County, Oklahoma, Kinsall enlisted in the United States Air Force (USAF) at the age of 19. Until 1942 the USAF was known as the United States Army Air Corps. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, which led the United States into WWII, Kinsall transferred to Miami Beach, Florida. While in Florida, he helped the USAF establish the Officer Candidate School, a 90-day program to train officers.

During the Korean War, he worked as a Director of Base Personnel at the Osan Air Base (K-55) in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, and the Nagoya Air Base in Nagoya, Japan. He was also stationed in Casablanca, Morocco, from March – December 1945. Kinsall dedicated his life to the military and serving over thirty years before being honorably discharged in 1958. After his discharge, Kinsall retired to Nashville, Tennessee.

Black and white photograph of Lt. Col. J.Y. Kinsall (standing on left) shaking hands with an unidentified United States Air Force soldier. In the background, there are unidentified U.S. Air Force soldiers standing under a Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter. Image is an official U.S. Air Force Photograph taken at the Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
Image: TeVA Kinsall Collection


During his military career, Kinsall cultivated a passion for photography. Most of the photos and slides in this collection document his personal and military life during the Korean War. He took pictures of his family living in Japan, landscapes in South Korea, and photos of everyday life in Morocco.

Slide film (or reversal film) of two North American F-86D Sabre fighter interceptors in flight. Photograph is taken by Lieutenant Colonel J.Y. Kinsall from another aircraft in flight.
Image: TeVA Kinsall Collection

Slide film (or reversal film) of unidentified South Korean women carrying pots and baskets on top of their heads.
Image: TeVA Kinsall Collection

Slide film (or reversal film) of a Godzilla topiary located at a park in Tokyo, Japan. Emiko and Yasko, who were governesses for the Kinsall family, are pictured with the Kinsall children, Robert (aged 2) and Lucinda Clair (aged 3.)
Image: TeVA Kinsall Collection


The collection includes photos, slides, and insignia he was awarded throughout his service. The items in this collection were loaned to the Library and Archives by his daughter Lucinda Clair Kinsall, who is a retired employee from the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Browse the collection at: https://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/customizations/global/pages/collections/kinsall/kinsall.html


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