Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Tennessee Virtual Archive Surpasses 1,000 Digitized Maps

By Zachary Keith 

This week, the Tennessee State Library & Archives surpassed 1,000 digitized maps in our online map collection. Since the collection's launch in December 2014, a team of archivists and imaging specialists has curated, digitized, and added 1,006 maps online. 

Check out some noteworthy maps from our extensive collection.

The 1,000th map in our collection is this plat of Sevierville, possibly the oldest existing map of the town, drawn between 1818 and 1832. It denotes early lot owners and a Baptist church, most likely Forks of the River Baptist. See it online.

Among our most recent additions is this map showing farms and landowners from the 1850s in the area that would largely become the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You might recognize the Smokies landmarks such as Chimney Tops and Sugarland Mountain. See it online.

While our collections naturally focus on Tennessee geography, our maps span the globe. One such gem is Andrew Ellicott’s original layout for Washington D. C., which he copied from Pierre L’Enfant’s plan. See it online.

Among the first maps uploaded as part of the initial collection launch in December 2014 was this 1818 map of Tennessee by cartographer John Melish. See it online.

Our maps represent each of Tennessee’s 95 counties and the state’s “lost counties,” like this one of Bell County, which was sued out of existence. See it online. For more on Bell County, see our blog post here.

This map of Mammoth Cave was drawn by formerly enslaved guide and explorer Stephen Bishop. See it online.

Our oldest scanned map, published in 1700, is this representation of Turin that appeared in an atlas boasting the Duke of Savoy’s realm. See it online.

Among our largest digitized maps is this massive view of Scotland drawn by Scottish cartographer John Ainslie in 1800. It is roughly 5.5 feet by 6 feet! See it online.

We have the first map ever published of Tennessee as a state, drawn by Territorial Secretary Daniel Smith in 1795. See it online.

This map drawn by Matthew Rhea in 1832 is the best overall map of Tennessee in the early national period. In addition, we have preserved the hand-drawn county-level maps he used to make his masterpiece. See it online.

The Library & Archives holds the oldest existing map of Nashville’s city lots, drawn in 1789 by surveyor Thomas Molloy. See it online.

This 1765 map identifies the Tennessee River as the “Hogoheegee,” an early Cherokee name for the waterway, and the Clinch River in East Tennessee as the “Pelisipi.” These Native names predate colonization in the area and demonstrate that the Cherokee still maintained dominance in the region. See it online.

Please visit the Tennessee Virtual Archive to see these and literally more than a thousand other maps. Newly digitized maps are added to the collection each month. 

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

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Tennessee State Library & Archives to Host Meharry Medical College Exhibit for Black History Month

During Black History Month, Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s oldest and largest Historically Black Colleges and Universities dedicated to educating physicians, dentists, researchers and health policy experts, will display artifacts from its rich and storied history at the Tennessee State Library & Archives. 

“Meharry Medical College is an outstanding medical training facility, whose graduates are making a positive impact on public health in Middle Tennessee and across the country,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “We are honored to host Meharry’s Black History Month exhibit at the Library & Archives.” 

Founded in 1876 as the Meharry Medical Department of Central Tennessee College and independently chartered in 1915, Meharry was the first medical school in the South for African Americans. Today, Meharry offers advanced degrees in medicine, dentistry, public health and biomedical data sciences. It is also home to the Center for Health Policy at Meharry. Meharry is a premier medical research facility and has been rated as one of the nation’s top producers of primary care physicians and Ph.Ds. in biomedical sciences. 

“The evolution and history of Meharry Medical College is phenomenal to read; however, its compelling story is best documented in the remarkable collection of photographs that memorialize the spirit of Meharry,” said Sandra Parham, Meharry Medical College Library & Archives Executive Director. “Our goal is to expose students outside of Meharry to its rich history and sustained future, recognizing that almost 150 years later, Meharry continues devotion to its motto: Dedicated to the worship of God through service to man.” 

To preserve Tennessee's history for current and future generations, The Tennessee State Library & Archives, a division of the Department of State, collects and protects books, records and other documents of historical and reference value, focusing on items about Tennessee and Tennesseans. 

The Library & Archives is home to many irreplaceable historical documents, including Tennessee's three constitutions, letters from Tennessee's three presidents, Civil War diaries, records from 55 former Tennessee governors, more than a million photographs, 5,000 maps, the state's largest collection of microfilm negatives, a comprehensive collection of Tennessee newspapers dating back to 1791 and original records of the State of Franklin. 

“We were excited to work with Meharry Medical College to curate this exhibit and are looking forward to sharing it with new visitors to the Library & Archives and our returning patrons,” said Chuck Sherrill, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist. 

The Library & Archives interactive exhibit lobby, featuring displays highlighting the state's most precious historical documents, is open to the public Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. The library, microfilm and manuscripts reading rooms are open for research Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. 

The Library & Archives is located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way North on the northeast corner of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, across from the Tennessee State Museum. Parking is available for guests in the Library & Archives garage on Jackson Street/Junior Gilliam Way. 

As part of a city-wide exhibition, Meharry Medical College is also hosting Black History Month exhibits at Fisk University’s John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library, Belmont University’s Lila D. Bunch Library and the Nashville Public Library’s Main Branch downtown. 

For more information about the Meharry Medical College Black History Month exhibit project, contact Executive Director Sandra Parham at 615-327-5770 or For more information about the Library & Archives, call 615-741-2764, email or visit

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