Tag Archives: Walter

MTSU Professor Designated TN State Historian

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Dr. Carroll Van West as state historian.
West replaces the late Walter T. Durham, who served 11 years in the honorary position. (Note: Post on Durham’s death HERE.)
“Dr. West’s faithful service to his field for many years reflects a commitment to excellence that will serve the citizens of Tennessee very well,” Haslam said. “His incredible body of work speaks for itself, and we are fortunate and grateful to have him as our state historian.”
West has served as director at the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area since 2002.
He has taught as a professor in the MTSU history department since 1985. He currently serves as a co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and as a Tennessee representative on the National Board of Advisors of National Trust for Historic Preservation. West also sits on the Executive Board of Lewis and Clark Trust, Inc. and on the Advisory Board of Teaching with Primary Sources, Library of Congress.

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State Historian Walter Durham Dies, Age 88

Walter Thomas Durham, Tennessee’s state historian for the past decade and author of 24 books on Tennessee history, died on Friday at the age of 88, reports The Tennessean.
Mr. Durham, a longtime Gallatin businessman and a walking encyclopedia of Tennessee and Sumner County history, was appointed state historian in 2002 by then-Gov. Don Sundquist. He had already served as president of the Tennessee Historical Society, founding president of the Tennessee Heritage Alliance (renamed the Tennessee Preservation Trust) and chairman of the Tennessee Historical Commission.
“An awful lot of history passed with him,” said Kenneth Thomson, president of the Sumner County Historical Society, who knew Mr. Durham his whole life and helped him with one of his final projects. “And it’s a good thing he recorded it.”
Mr. Durham never made much money off his books, often giving them away to organizations that would benefit from them.
His award-winning books spanned a wide range of subjects: the Union Army’s occupation of Nashville during the Civil War, Tennesseans’ roles during westward expansion to California in the 1840s and the period before its statehood when Tennessee was part of the vast Southwest Territory.
…Mr. Durham, born Oct. 7, 1924, is survived by his wife of 64 years, Anna Armstrong Coile Durham, as well as four children, four grandchildren, a sister and a niece.
He attended the University of Wisconsin and Vanderbilt University. After graduation, he served in Africa and Italy with the Air Force during World War II.
He was a partner of Durham Building Supply Co. in Gallatin from 1948 to 1973 and was a founding president of Gallatin Aluminum Products Co.