Tag Archives: archives

New State Library Exhibit: ‘Prohibition in Tennessee’

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
It was the constitutional amendment that tried – often unsuccessfully – to put Americans on the path to sobriety and in the process created a booming market for Tennessee’s providers of illegal moonshine whiskey.
The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which launched the Prohibition era in 1920, was called the country’s “noble experiment.” That experiment ended 13 years later with the ratification of the 21st Amendment – the only amendment to repeal another amendment – which halted Prohibition and brought imbibing back out of the shadows.
Now a new exhibit in the lobby of the Tennessee State Library and Archives building chronicles the history surrounding the passage of both amendments.
This exhibit, entitled “The Saloon and Anarchy: Prohibition in Tennessee,” surveys the brewing and distilling industries in Tennessee prior to Prohibition, chronicles the rise of the Temperance Movement in the state and the impact it had on the passage of the 18th Amendment, examines the effect that the 18th Amendment had on moonshining in the state, and recounts the passage of the 21st Amendment.

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TN Library Loan System Goes on the Road

News release from Secretary of State’s Office:
Tennessee’s public libraries will soon have more books available – cheaper and faster than before – thanks to a new interlibrary loan service set to debut next year.
The new Firefly Courier service, developed by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, will link rural, suburban and urban public libraries throughout the state, as well as libraries at colleges and universities.
The new courier service will allow libraries to request and receive books on loan from other libraries more quickly and more efficiently. Interlibrary loans, which previously were handled through the postal service, account for about 125,000 books checked out from Tennessee libraries each year.
The State Library and Archives, part of the Office of the Secretary of State, provides support and training for regional library systems across Tennessee.
“For many years, we have tried to reimburse libraries for their postage costs to support the interlibrary loan program,” State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill said. “We have been spending about $200,000 per year, but even that only covers about half the postage costs.”

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Original Handwritten Versions of TN Constitutions Come Out of Vault, Go on Display

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Tennessee State Library and Archives staff will carefully move all three versions of the original handwritten Tennessee state Constitutions to the Supreme Court building Tuesday, December 4 in preparation for a five-day public display.
The meticulously preserved documents will be removed from a vault at the State Library and Archives building and carried by hand starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday in their archival boxes next door to the Supreme Court building. A Tennessee Highway Patrol detail will provide security as the state’s most significant documents travel for their first-ever public display as a group.
The largest document – the State Constitution written in 1834 – measures approximately 2′ x 3′.
This is the first time the three documents – handwritten in 1796, 1834 and 1870 – will be on display together for the public to view. The event is part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the Supreme Court Building, which was dedicated in 1937. The celebration also includes the opening of the Tennessee Judiciary Museum within the Supreme Court Building with a public ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday, December 5.
Following the period of public exhibition, the original Constitutions will be returned to a vault at the State Library and Archives and digital duplicates will be on display at the Judiciary Museum.
The museum will be open to the public with the original constitutions on display on the following dates and times:
•Thursday, December 6th from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
•Friday, December 7th from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
•Saturday, December 8th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to especially allow school children who can’t come during the week to view the constitutions
· Monday, December 10th from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Starting Tuesday, December 11, the museum will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. – Noon. There is no admission charge. The Supreme Court building is at 401 Seventh Ave, Nashville, 37219, at the corner of Charlotte Avenue.

Exhibit Features TN Cemeteries

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
It’s been said that the dead tell no tales, but patrons and staff at the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) know that’s not true. The study of cemeteries – and the people who are buried in them – can often provide helpful historical clues, particularly the field of genealogy.
With that in mind, TSLA is hosting a free exhibit called “Silent Cities of the Dead,” which focuses on various cemeteries around the state and the role those cemeteries play in the study of history.
For example, Nashville City Cemetery is one of the cemeteries highlighted in the exhibit. The cemetery is part of the National Register of Historic Places and is the final resting place for nearly 11,000 people, including four of Nashville’s founding fathers.
Other cemeteries featured in the exhibit include First Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, also on the National Register of Historic Places and the oldest cemetery in Knoxville; Upper Cumberland Cemeteries, which has the largest concentration of “tent-style” graves in the United States; and Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, where many of the city’s historical figures were laid to rest.

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Preserving Boxes of Supreme TN History

The State Library and Archives is moving to preserve about 10,000 boxes of Tennessee Supreme Court cases dating from the state’s birth in 1796 into the 1950s. The Tennessean reports that about 20 employees devote four hours a week to the project that involves mostly handwritten documents, using scissors, a brush, sponge, pliers and magnifying glass.
The boxes take up an entire half of the eighth floor of the library and archives building on Seventh Avenue North in downtown Nashville and constitute what Assistant State Archivist Wayne Moore called “the largest body of official state records we have.”
Moore said he doesn’t know of any other state that has “grappled with the entire body of its Supreme Court” cases as Tennessee is now doing.
The case files were largely neglected in the attic of the Capitol building across the street for years, where they accumulated coal dust during the latter half of the 19th century because most Nashville buildings were heated by coal. The records are in dire need of inventorying and preservation.
…The preservation project was spearheaded by the Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society in 2006 and has been kept afloat with about $100,000 in grants over the years from various sources, including the federal government and Ancestry.com, a genealogy website. Graduate assistants from Middle Tennessee State University’s archival studies program have been hired when money was available.
While only 20 percent complete, the project has already turned up some gems interspersed among mundane estate settlements, routine deaths and thousands of cases involving livestock killed by trains.
The Scopes Monkey Trial case file, lawsuits challenging Jim Crow legislation, and cases involving Andrew Jackson both as a judge and as a litigant are among the interesting and historically significant materials unearthed.

TN Library & Archives Gets U.S. Colored Infantry Letters

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
Glory, an Academy Award-winning movie released in 1989, documented the lives of African-American troops who served in the U.S. Colored Infantry during the Civil War. Now, for the first time, the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) has a collection of letters from officers who led one of those units.
Archivists from TSLA and the Tennessee State Museum are in the midst of a project, called Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee, in which they plan to visit every county in the state in search of Civil War era documents and artifacts. During the county visits, local citizens bring in items that the archivists electronically scan or digitally photograph.
This ongoing statewide project, in honor of Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial, allows for the digitization of historic family documents and artifacts for public access and educational use.
While working on that project, the TSLA staff received digital copies of a previously unknown collection of Civil War correspondence penned by officers in the 16th United States Colored Infantry. The collection, “Brother Charles: Letters Home to Michigan,” Civil War Correspondence of the Wadsworth Brothers, 1861-1865, features a rare collection of writings authored by two members of the 16th U. S. Colored Infantry, which was encamped in Clarksville from 1863-1865.
The letters were written between the fall of 1861 and December 1865 by two white Oberlin College students who left their studies to enlist in the Union Army.

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