Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Tennessee’s State Capitol the Subject of New Book Published by the Tennessee Department of State

The Tennessee State Library & Archives and the Office of Secretary of State Tre Hargett are excited to announce the release of a new book chronicling, the Tennessee State Capitol. This new book, Tennessee State Capitol: A Tennessee Treasure, celebrates the monumental building on Capitol Hill that has served as the Volunteer State’s seat of government since before the Civil War. The book was written and researched by former Assistant State Archivist Dr. Wayne Moore, and published by the Tennessee Secretary of State.



It is lavishly illustrated with rare photographs, maps, and other images from the Library & Archives’ collections, some of which were only recently conserved. Tennessee State Capitol presents the statehouse’s history in five authoritative yet accessible chapters. Topics include architect William Strickland and early construction, completion of the building, the capitol’s property and grounds, and subsequent renovations and restorations. At the Library & Archives, we’re especially proud of the pages dedicated to the library’s original home in the capitol, now known as the Legislative Lounge (see the image from Chapter 3). A helpful glossary is at the end of the book for readers new to architectural terminology.

Table of Contents

Sample page, Chapter 2

Sample page, Chapter 3

Sample page, Chapter 4


Copies of Tennessee State Capitol: A Tennessee Treasure are available at https://sos.tn.gov/tncapitolbook. The price is $29.50 plus tax and shipping. A limited number of copies are available on-site at the Library & Archives; please call 615-741-2764 for more information.


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

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Ardent Gardeners Association

By Allison Griffey

The Ardent Gardeners Association was organized in 1951 by twenty-three women in Nashville following the tradition of garden clubs formed in the late forties after World War II. Two teachers, Blanche Ennix and Ruth McAlpin, spearheaded the effort. Inspired by their enthusiasm and commitment to the new organization, Dr. William H. Grant, the husband of charter member, Ruth Grant, suggested the name the Ardent Gardeners.


The Ardent Gardeners’ first flower show on July 11, 1952, at the Hadley Park Community Center (left to right): Henri Dixon, Rhea Tarleton, Ruth McAlpin, Ruth Grant, Dora McClelland, Hazel Burley, Rachel Lindsay, Arthurine Welch, Lillian Thomas, Mary Walker, Carrie Denney, Martha Allen, Mattie Claiborne, Kathleen Lawrence, Mattie Flowers, Alberta Bontemps, Elizabeth Petway Lowe, Eva Nash, Blanche Ennix, and Thelma Treherne.
Ardent Gardeners Association Records, 1951-1998, Box 3, Folder 7.
https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/ardent-gardeners-association-records-1951-1998




Library decorations at the Ardent Gardeners Association’s “A Holiday House” event at the home of Elise Frazier, undated.
Ardent Gardeners Association Records, 1951-1998, Box 3, Folder 2.
https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/ardent-gardeners-association-records-1951-1998



Club members dedicated themselves to learning about growing and arranging plants throughout the year, especially flowers. They organized workshops and clinics to learn about flower arranging and gardening from industry professionals. On July 11, 1952, the Ardent Gardeners hosted their first flower show at the Hadley Park Community Center. Following the success of their flower shows, the club presented a winter event called “A Holiday House” on December 11, 1955, at the home of Ruth Grant. The group continued to hold this holiday event on and off until 1974 when they discontinued the tradition because local florists started holding similar events.



Ardent Gardeners picnic in Ruth Grant’s backyard, undated.
Ardent Gardeners Association Records, 1951-1998, Box 3, Folder 2.
https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/ardent-gardeners-association-records-1951-1998





Zenobia Beck at her home garden, undated.
Ardent Gardeners Association Records, 1951-1998, Box 3, Folder 4.
https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/ardent-gardeners-association-records-1951-1998



Outside of club meetings and shows, the Ardent Gardeners also served their community. Members helped the Metro Beautification Commission clear out the former Maxwell House lot on Fourth and Church Streets to create “The World’s First Instant Park” in 1964. They also decorated the Hubbard Hospital Medical College in partnership with other garden clubs. In 1984, they dedicated the atrium garden fountain at Meharry Medical College to their first president, Ruth McAlpin. They named the Meharry atrium garden “The Doris Campbell Busby Memorial Garden” in 1986 after one of their most devoted leaders. In 1991, the Ardent Gardeners celebrated their fortieth anniversary with a luncheon at the Pineapple Room of Cheekwood Gardens.



Alberta Bontemps demonstrates special arrangements required by some containers, undated.
Ardent Gardeners Association Records, 1951-1998, Box 3, Folder 5.
https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/ardent-gardeners-association-records-1951-1998





The Ardent Gardeners’ fortieth-anniversary luncheon at Cheekwood on April 7, 1991 (front row left to right): Lillian Thomas, Mattie Johnson, Delores Crump, Ruth Grant, Isabel Watkins, Gretchen Payne, Carrie Denney, Alberta Bontemps, Elise Frazier, Blanche Ennix, Willie Mae Martin, Mattie Flowers (back row left to right): Zenobia Beck, Eugenia McGinnis, Rachel Lindsay, Kathleen Lawrence, Tyree Miller, Corinne Schuster, Alice Archer, Hazel Burley, Dora McClellan, Helena Perry, Jayme Williams, Patsy Petway.
Ardent Gardeners Association Records, 1951-1998, Box 3, Folder 7.
https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/ardent-gardeners-association-records-1951-1998





The Library and Archives holds the Ardent Gardeners’ records from 1951 to 1998. The association remains active in the Nashville community to this day. This blog post is a summary of a document found in the collection called “History of the Ardent Gardeners Club of Nashville, Tennessee” written by charter member, Dolores Crump. 

Readers and researchers who want to learn more are encouraged to contact the Library and Archives to schedule an appointment to view the collection. 


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

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Our Century! Living Tennessee History of the Ratification

This year marks the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote thanks to Tennessee ratifying the 19th amendment on August 18, 1920.

To commemorate this historic moment, the Tennessee State Library and Archives partnered with TNWoman100, the Tennessee State Museum, Tennessee State Parks, and the Tennessee Historical Society to re-enact the historic vote in the House chamber. 

The re-enactment took place on August 18. If you missed this event, you can watch the re-enactment online on the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Centennial Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/tnwoman100/videos/594000564810725 



More information, including student lesson plans for teachers, is available at https://tnwoman100.com/our-century-living-tennessees-history-of-the-ratification/ 

The re-enactment was the culmination of a year-long celebration. We’re grateful to be a part of this collaborative effort to honor our state’s suffragists during this centennial commemoration.


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

Friday, August 14, 2020

30,000 entries added to the Tennessee Biographical Index

By Chuck Sherrill

Last year, we introduced the all-in-one Genealogy Index Search on our webpage. This single-site brings together over 1 million names appearing in Tennessee’s historical records.

Today we proudly announce the addition of 30,000 new entries from the Tennessee Biographical Index. This biographical index started as a card file and has been added to by librarians over many decades. Genella Olker (1925-2006) was a major contributor.



The new entries include listings from published sources both familiar and obscure, ranging from Goodspeed’s histories published in the 1880s to more recent books such as “More than Petticoats: Remarkable Tennessee Women.”

Search the Genealogy Index here [https://tslaindexes.tn.gov/]. If you find an interesting entry, contact us to get a copy of the full record.


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

Monday, July 20, 2020

Tennessee State Library and Archives to Host Online Workshop About the U.S. Census

In 2020, the United States is conducting the 24th constitutionally mandated count of every person in the nation. The federal census is used to determine the distribution of funding (money) and the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives (power). But for those interested in tracing their ancestors throughout American history, the census is a priceless primary source (genealogy!).

1940 Census Taker.
Image courtesy U.S. Census


On Saturday, August 1, reference librarian Trent Hanner will lead attendees on a deep dive into the census for beginners and intermediate researchers alike. He’ll also discuss how we can understand our state in the context of the larger nation, using the data that the Census Bureau is continually generating.

Trent Hanner leads the team of reference librarians at the State Library & Archives, where he has worked since 2006. He graduated from the University of Tennessee’s School of Information Sciences in 2004. When he’s not helping patrons navigate the myriad treasures at the Library & Archives, you can find him at the Belcourt Theater or on one of Nashville’s beautiful greenways.

The workshop takes place on Saturday, August 1, 2020 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. CDT. It will be held online via Adobe Connect. Although the workshop is free, registration is required due to limited online capacity. Upon registration, guests will receive an email confirmation.

To make a reservation, visit https://tslavirtualcensus.eventbrite.com/.


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

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