Monday, June 29, 2015

Census records on mobile devices thru TEL

At the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) conference in Knoxville this month, State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill took a close look at a new and improved genealogy resource called Heritage Quest. Heritage Quest is one of several online resources free and available to every Tennessean through TEL. Heritage Quest now includes all the U.S. Census records from 1790 through 1940, with indexes and images for each year. Heritage Quest has been optimized for use on mobile devices.



Using an iPhone, Sherrill found his grandparents' names listed in the 1930 census. He saw the original page of the census document in magnified form on his screen.



You can search for your ancestors using the mobile app available through TEL. Visit http://tntel.tnsos.org/ to see this and many other resources available online and free to Tennessee residents.

The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Students from Memphis, Lenoir City, Tellico Plains Win Top Honors at National History Day

Three Tennessee students - one each from Memphis, Lenoir City and Tellico Plains - received major national honors at the National History Day competition recently held in College Park, Maryland.

Tennessee medalists Donavan Powers, Ava Ploeckelman, Areej Malley, Autumn Ritsko, and Adebayo Fasipe at the National History Day Awards Ceremony. Not pictured: Madison Moats. Photo courtesy the Tennessee Historical Society.


Areej Malley of Pleasant View School in Memphis was recognized in three different ways. She won a bronze medal in the senior individual paper category and earned a four-year scholarship to the University of Maryland, the host of the annual event. Areej will also be Tennessee’s representative at the National World War II Museum "Campaigns of Courage: The Road to Tokyo" in December.

Areej has qualified for National History Day several times before. In 2013, she won a special prize for having the best entry on an international topic.

Madison Moats, who attends Lenoir City High School in Lenoir City, received the U.S. Constitution Award from the National Archives and Records Administration. “Anne Dallas Dudley,” her performance in the senior individual category, was recognized as the best entry to use federal government records to either illuminate the creation and ratification of the U.S. Constitution or to focus on constitutional issues throughout American history.

Autumn Ritsko’s website in the junior individual category, “Sakakawea: Her Life and Journey into History,” received the Corps of Discovery Prize, which is sponsored by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. This prize is awarded to an outstanding entry that best utilizes original sources to focus on the Corps of Discovery. Autumn attends Rural Vale Elementary in Tellico Plains.

History Day is a competition in which students prepare history-themed research papers, websites, exhibits, documentaries and live performances. The senior categories are for high school students and junior categories are for middle school students.

In all, 63 students represented Tennessee in the national competition. They developed their entries based on this year's theme: "Leadership and Legacy in History." All of those students were medalists in April at the Tennessee History Day competition organized by the Tennessee Historical Society and supported by the Tennessee Secretary of State's office and Humanities Tennessee..

In addition to the national prize winners, two students were selected to showcase their exhibit at the National Museum of American History. Maya Harris and Logan Miller presented their senior group exhibit to museum visitors. Maya and Logan attend Dyersburg High School in Dyersburg. Their project, “Red Tails Fight Red Bands Abroad and Red Tape at Home,” depicted the efforts of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II to overcome discrimination. Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Col. George Hardy, Lt. Col. Charles McGee, and Tech Sgt. Norman Artis, joined the students for part of the day.

Maya Harris, Lt. Col. George Hardy, Logan Miller in the Exhibit Hall at National History Day. Photo courtesy the Tennessee Historical Society.


“For many of our students, as well as for myself, getting to meet the Tuskegee Airmen was the highlight of the trip,” said Tennessee History Day coordinator Jennifer C. Core. “Maya and Logan’s project demonstrates what History Day is all about - getting close to the primary sources, in this case living veterans, learning about a particular time period, and interpreting the material for an audience. I hope that all of our participants have such an electrifying encounter with history and research.”

Jeremiah Branson, Justin Cross, Noah Dunlap, and Noah Watson of L&N STEM Academy in Knoxville were invited to attend a Congressional breakfast showcasing projects devoted to local history. Their exhibit, “‘Damn the Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead!’ Admiral David Farragut Leads the Union Navy to Victory,” won second place at the state contest. This is their second trip to National History Day in that category of competition.

Three students were also recognized for having the best entries from Tennessee.

The prize for best affiliate (state) entry in the senior division went to Adebayo Fasipe, who attends McCallie School in Chattanooga. Adebayo was also invited to a writers’ workshop hosted by the Library of Congress. He toured the library with Dr. John Y. Cole, director of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, and met with Tonya Bolden, author of "Capital Days." Adebayo's research paper was titled, “Alex Haley, Roots, and the Re-Invention of Black History."

Ava Ploeckelman and Donavan Powers were ranked 12th in the nation for their documentary, “‘Solidarity Forever’: Pete Seeger’s Leadership and Legacy in American Culture and Folk Music.” They received medals as the best affiliate entry for the junior division. They attend Northeast Middle School in Clarksville.

Tennessee was also represented in the finals by Eli Neal and Lauren Graves of Powell. Their performance, “Nanye-hi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee,” ranked 14th nationally in the junior group category. They attend First Baptist Academy.

The student-teacher team of Scott Moore and Whitney Joyner was selected to participate in the 2015 Albert H. Small Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Student and Teacher Institute. They are scheduled to visit Normandy, France as part of the program. Scott attends Northeast High School and Joyner teaches at Northeast Middle School in Clarksville.

Two teachers were recognized as Tennessee's Patricia Behring Teachers of the Year: Sharron Thompson of the Thompson Family Homeschool Program in Tellico Plains and Hillery Griffin of Cosby High School in Cosby. Each received a framed certificate and $500.

Teacher Noelle Smith of Greene County Schools in Greeneville was named a Behring Ambassador Teacher. Smith has been asked to find ways to expand the role of National History Day in Tennessee. She will attend a training session in August and develop curriculum for Tennessee History Day teachers.

During their National History day trip, the students had the opportunity to tour the U.S. Capitol, meet with Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker, and attend a private reception at the National Museum of American History.

“Once again, Tennessee was well represented at National History Day,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “It's gratifying to see students from all parts of our state participating in this competition and being successful. These students will be the future leaders of our state, so it's appropriate that they are becoming knowledgeable about the past as well.”

National History Day is an academic organization for middle and high school students that focuses on the teaching and learning of history. A recent study found that students who participate in History Day develop a range of college and career-ready skills and outperform their peers on state standardized tests in multiple subjects, including reading, science, math and social studies. About 7,000 students across the state of Tennessee participate in the program each year.

Read our press release for a complete list of awards and honors received by Tennessee students and teachers: http://sos.tn.gov/news/students-memphis-lenoir-city-tellico-plains-win-top-honors-national-history-day.

The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Genealogical Society Funding Helps Unlock Land Record Secrets

Land records dating back to the Revolutionary War era can tell researchers much about Tennessee's early history - as a part of North Carolina, later as a territory and finally as the country's 16th state. The trouble is that time hasn't treated those important documents particularly well, and many require extensive restoration work before they are ready to be made available to the public.

TSLA intern Kat Trammell works to restore fragile land records.
Thanks to funding from the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society, the pace of that work has been accelerated this summer. The society has provided money to pay the salary of a summer intern at the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) who is assisting the full-time staff there with efforts to restore those records.

"Some of the records are from the colonial and territorial period, and those are especially fragile," said State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill. "To make them accessible requires quite a bit of work in the conservation lab."

Carol Roberts, head conservationist at TSLA, said the work includes dusting documents with sponges, applying a magnesium bicarbonate solution to de-acidify the paper and ink and using Japanese tissue paper and wheat paste to mend and patch tears and holes.

Roberts said the goal isn't to return documents to their original condition, but to stabilize them and prevent further deterioration.

A single page of a document in very poor condition might require several hours of lab work.

"You do have to have pretty decent patience," Roberts said. "Some (documents) are puzzles that have to be pieced together. Each one is unique."

Kat Trammell, the intern hired to help with the restoration work, said the experience has been very rewarding.

"I've always been interested in conservation work," Trammell said. " I really enjoy the physical process, getting to handle something with so much history behind it."

As a recent college graduate with a major in studio art, Trammell said she's fascinated by the surveyors' diagrams found on the documents. Also, she enjoys it "when you recognize a famous name and say, 'hey, there's a county named after that guy.'"

The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June is National Audio Book Month!

June is National Audio Book Month! Here at the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (TLBPH), a section of the Tennessee State Library & Archives, our focus is on providing audio books to people who have physical disabilities that prevent them from reading standard print - and these people are the only ones who can borrow books from us.

However, almost anyone can "read" an audio book. In fact, there are annual “Audie Awards” given each year since 1996 by the Audio Publishers Association for commercial audio books.

Reading an audio book can pull you into the story, and a good narrator can really “make or break” a book. For example, the “Harry Potter” audio books narrated by commercial narrator Jim Dale have won many audio book awards, including a couple of Grammys and a record 10 Audies. But, the audio narrator of the TLBPH’s books, Erik Sandvold, is equally popular among blind and physically handicapped patrons nationwide. In fact, he is so popular that he has recorded more than 700 titles for the federal government’s studios, plus many for commercial audio book publishers. Sandvold is a two-time winner of the prestigious “Alexander Scourby Narrator of the Year Award,” given by the American Foundation for the Blind.

Summer is a great time for reading, so why not try reading an audio book? Some new titles available to eligible registered TLBPH patrons that may also be available as commercial audio books from your public library include:

  • You Can, You Will: 8 Undeniable Qualities of a Winner, by Joel Osteen
  • The Double Fudge Brownie Murder, by Joanne Fluke
  • Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story, by Rick Bragg
  • The Last Dickens, by Matthew Pearl

All of these are also available as commercial audio books, either on CD or from audible.com. Your public library may have or be able to obtain these audio titles for you.

The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Teachers Complete Summer Training on Reconstruction Era in Tennessee

Teachers and TSLA staff members pose for this photo during the Summer Teacher Institute at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.


Nearly two dozen Tennessee teachers participated in the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) summer teacher institute on “Reconstruction and the African-American Experience in Tennessee” last week. The two-day workshop included a history content presentation by Dr. Lea Williams, professor of history at Tennessee State University, close study of primary sources related to the Reconstruction period, tours of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, and more.

Dr. Wayne Moore, the assistant state archivist at TSLA, said: “TSLA is a wonderful treasure house of primary sources for Tennessee social studies teachers. This workshop is an example of our commitment to provide primary sources in a form that the schools can use.”

Teachers view projects made during the Summer Teacher Institute at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.


The summer teacher institute is an event sponsored by TSLA's education outreach department. The department frequently offers professional development workshops and in-service presentations to school districts around the state that are focused on using historic documents, maps, and images in the classroom. To learn more or to schedule an in-service training session, please contact us by phone at 615-253-3469, by email at education.tsla@tn.gov, or visit our website at http://tn.gov/tsla/educationoutreach/index.htm.

Participants in the latest workshop included:

  • Maggie Fields - Cheatham County Schools
  • Billie McBride - Montgomery County Schools
  • David Thomack - Montgomery County Schools
  • Scott Hicks - Maryville City Schools
  • Tim Smith - Cumberland County Schools
  • John Ramsay - Fayette County Schools
  • Marsha Rains - Hardin County Schools
  • Addie Mays - Jackson-Madison County Schools
  • Barbara Morton - Jackson-Madison County Schools
  • Joseph Smith - Kingsport City Schools
  • Laurel Brady - Maury County Schools
  • Eric Hagan - Robertson County Schools
  • Christy Owens - Robertson County Schools
  • Mareen Pfeiffer-Hoens - Rutherford County Schools
  • Chase Cato - Rutherford County Schools
  • Dustin Brannon - Rutherford County Schools
  • Erika Ashford - Shelby County Schools
  • Tracy Alexander - Smith County Schools
  • Justin Kearney - Williamson County Schools
  • Brian Howard - Wilson County Schools
  • Rae Ellyn Kelley - Rutherford County Schools

To learn more about TSLA’s primary sources related to the period of Reconstruction in Tennessee, visit our education outreach site at: http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/educationoutreach/cwandr.htm.


The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Father’s Day Debate – Who is the “Father of Tennessee”?

With Father’s Day on the horizon, we thought the holiday warranted a look back at the “Father of Tennessee” and the debate over which historical figure properly holds that distinction.

Many chroniclers of early Tennessee history have proclaimed James Robertson as the “Father of Tennessee.” As a leader of both the Watauga and Cumberland settlements, Robertson is credited with establishing the first frontier settlements in what would later become the state of Tennessee. In 1779, he and John Donelson founded Fort Nashborough, which later became Nashville. Robertson defended his settlements from frequent attacks by the Chickamauga Cherokees, and he paid dearly for the defense of this land. According to the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, “Robertson's brothers, John and Mark, were killed, as were his sons, Peyton and James Jr. Another son, Jonathan, was scalped. Robertson narrowly escaped death on two occasions.” George Washington, considered the father of our country, appointed Robertson brigadier general of the United States Army of the Territory South of the River Ohio. Under Robertson’s leadership, that territory prospered, thereby establishing the foundation for what would become the state of Tennessee.

Portrait of Gen. James Robertson (1742-1814), "Founder of Nashville."
Library Collection


Other writers, however, contend that John Sevier is our state’s founding father and deserves recognition as the “Father of Tennessee.” Sevier stood alone as a towering figure in early Tennessee politics. As a celebrated frontiersman, a revered military leader of the Revolutionary War and a respected and feared Indian fighter, Sevier earned the trust of his electorate and became Tennessee’s first governor in 1796. He served six two-year terms as governor. During his terms as governor, Sevier negotiated a series of treaties to clear Indian claims to territory in Tennessee and facilitated the establishment of trade routes throughout the newly formed state. His mark on the landscape can be clearly felt in East Tennessee, where schools, roadways, and historic landmarks still bear his name. Sevier, however, is a forgotten figure in Tennessee history, frequently overshadowed by the long branches of “Old Hickory,” Andrew Jackson, whose own reputation looms large across the state and the nation.


Portrait of John Sevier (1745-1815) in military uniform.
Library Collection


So who do you think appropriately deserves the moniker, “Father of Tennessee” – James Robertson or John Sevier? In celebration of Father’s Day, we invite your comments on this ongoing historical debate.



The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.

TSLA celebrates the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth

June 19, 1865, now commonly referred to as Juneteenth, commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. Although President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 and it became effective on January 1, 1863, it did not impact Texas in the same way it did other southern states. Texas was isolated geographically, it was not a battleground, and there were few federal troops there to enforce the emancipation. Slaveholders often migrated there from eastern states to escape the war and brought their slaves with them.

News of the war’s end did not reach Texas until May 1865 - and the Army of the Trans-Mississippi did not surrender until June. On June 18 of that year, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with federal troops to occupy Texas on the federal government’s behalf, and on June 19, by reading aloud General Order No. 3, he announced the total emancipation of slaves.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. In recognition of this historic commemoration, we share this image of Nancy Bradford, pictured around 1930. Bradford was the last former slave in the Dandridge, Tennessee area. She was born January 4, 1851, and was a nurse to a local family after the conclusion of the Civil War.

Image credit: "Looking Back At Tennessee"
Tennessee State Library and Archives Photo Collection.
Image source: http://tnsos.org/tsla/imagesearch/citation.php?ImageID=9001


The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.