Monday, April 14, 2014

"Conservation Basics for Family Collections" workshop scheduled for May 3rd

Preserving important family records will be easier than ever for people who attend the next in the Tennessee State Library and Archives’ (TSLA) series of workshops. Carol Roberts, conservation manager in TSLA’s Preservation Services Section, will host the workshop on basic cleaning, repair and storage techniques people can use to extend the life of important family papers, collections and scrapbooks.

The workshop will be held Saturday, May 3 from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the TSLA Auditorium. TSLA’s building is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, directly west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville.

The workshop, sponsored by TSLA Friends, will cap Preservation Week, which runs from April 27 through May 3.

Roberts is active in outreach programs and consults with government and private organizations throughout the state about preservation of archival and library materials and disaster preparedness. She has a bachelor’s degree in history from David Lipscomb University and a master’s degree in historic preservation from Middle Tennessee State University.

The workshop is free and open to the public. However, due to seating limitations in the auditorium, reservations are required. Patrons can register by telephone at 1-615-741-2764 or by e-mail at

A limited amount of parking is available in the front, on the side and behind TSLA’s building, so reserve your spot today while they last.

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Students Set to Compete in Tennessee History Day Saturday

At first blush, College Park, Maryland might not seem like an extremely popular summer destination spot for Tennessee teenagers. Although for those who participate in History Day, it's the place to be: That's where the competition's national finals are held each year during the month of June.

In order to get there, the top competitors from our state must first qualify at Tennessee History Day, which will be held this Saturday at the Legislative Plaza, William R. Snodgrass Tower, and Nashville Public Library in downtown Nashville.

During the daylong event, competitors will be judged based on the quality of projects they have submitted on a variety of history-related themes. Nearly 450 students in grades six through 12 from public, private, and home schools across the state will be participating.

To earn their spots at Tennessee History Day, students had to present projects that won medals at one of six district competitions held around Tennessee. In all, more than 7,000 Tennessee students took part in some level of History Day competition this year.

Read more from this news release at the Tennessee Secretary of State website. To view the 2014 Program and Contest Schedule, please visit the Tennessee Historical Society's History Day website.

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

Friday, April 4, 2014

Discover the Tennessee Electronic Library

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is excited to announce the debut of the newest Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) promotional tool: an animated video. This animated video shows off several TEL resources with Eugene, a high school student doing homework, studying for the ACT, and researching his family genealogy. Check it out on YouTube or Vimeo, or click the play button below to watch the video:

A shorter, 30 second version is coming soon to a theater near you! TEL has contracted with Tennessee’s two largest movie theater advertising distributors to spread the word about TEL. Starting this Friday, April 4, and continuing through June 26, this will be one of the local commercials airing before the previews at 29 different movie theaters across the state.

Learn more about the Tennessee Electronic Library by visiting the TEL website at

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

Thursday, April 3, 2014

State Library and Archives Receives Papers Detailing Civil War Love Story

He lovingly called her "Toad." She affectionately referred to him as "Oll." And although they shared political views that were out of step with many of their East Tennessee neighbors, Oliver Caswell King and his sweetheart Catherine Rebecca Rutledge managed to keep their romance alive through the hardships imposed by the Civil War.

Thanks to a generous donation by the Sullivan County couple’s descendants, Olivia King Inman and Judge Dennis H. Inman of Morristown, love letters between King and Rutledge will soon be available for public viewing at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The Inmans donated the papers during a brief ceremony at the State Library and Archives building Wednesday.

On hand to accept this generous donation are left to right: Assistant State Archivist Dr. Wayne Moore, State Sen. Steve Southerland, Olivia King Inman, Judge Dennis H. Inman, Archivist Susan Gordon, and Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

The letters between King and Rutledge, who eventually married, provide interesting insights into the social and military history of the time in which they lived. The letters were initially brought to one of the State Library and Archives' "Looking Back at the Civil War" events in Morristown so they could be digitally recorded. Archivist Susan Gordon worked closely with the Inmans, who decided to donate the letters to the State Library and Archives so they would be preserved and available for researchers.

Oliver King, a student at Tusculum College, stood with the Union early in the secession crisis, but joined a Confederate infantry regiment in the summer of 1861. "We'll just have to fight it out if it takes us a whole generation," Oliver wrote in one of his letters after joining the Confederate cause.

Rutledge was a student at the Masonic Female Institute in Blountville and a staunch supporter of the Confederacy. She wrote to King after his army enlistment: "If my sweet heart hadn't to have went [to war] I don't believe I would claim him any longer." She praised him for volunteering to defend their homes.

East Tennessee was a Union stronghold before and during the Civil War, so the King-Rutledge correspondence is unusual because it describes their Confederate sympathies.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is extremely grateful to the Inman family for making this donation available to scholars and the public.

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Battle of Horseshoe Bend

March 27, 2014 marks the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The battle was the bloody culmination of a violent phase of the War of 1812 known as the Creek War.

In the years leading up to the declaration of war between the United States and Great Britain, Tecumseh, a Shawnee warrior, attempted to create a pan-Indian alliance to retard American expansion into the Northwest Territory. Tecumseh’s appeal to the Indians of the Southeast had largely failed. However, the traditionalists among the Creeks (the Red Sticks) formed an alliance with the Shawnee leader.

This is a copy of General Jackson's map of the battle and was part of his official report he submitted to Governor Willie Blount.
Image: Tennessee Historical Society T-100 Collection. Tennessee State Library and Archives.

In May 1812, Red Stick warriors attacked the isolated cabins of the Manley and Crawley families on Duck River in Humphreys County. The inhabitants were slain with the exception of Martha Crawley, who remained a captive.

Ultimately, Martha Crawley returned to Tennessee, but Tennesseans demanded justice for the attack. Friendly Creeks arrested the perpetrators and executed the guilty. The executions lead to a civil war amongst the Creeks. Meanwhile, Congress declared war on Great Britain in June 1812 and Tecumseh’s Indian Confederation joined the British cause. The civil war within the Creek Nation took a particularly brutal turn in August 1813. On August 30, Red Stick Creeks attacked Fort Mims, located about 45 miles north of Mobile, Alabama. The fort contained Friendly Creeks, mixed-blood settlers, black slaves, and a company of the Mississippi Territorial Militia. The bloody battle turned into a massacre with the majority of the fort’s occupants being killed by the Red Sticks. Word of the “Fort Mims Massacre” quickly spread across the United States. With the majority of the US Army tied down fighting the British on the Canadian front, the War Department called upon the militia of Tennessee, Georgia, and the Mississippi Territory to deal with the Red Stick threat. While Georgia and Mississippi Territory troops would all play a role in the fighting, the burden of the Creek War fell primarily on Andrew Jackson and the Tennessee militia and volunteer regiments.

Assembling at Camp Blount in Lincoln County, Tennessee in early October 1813, Jackson moved south into Creek Territory. Faced with starvation, mutinies, and desertions, Jackson’s army withered away after initial successes at Tallasahatchee and Talladega. Reinforced in the late winter of 1814 with a fresh draw of militiamen, the 39th US Infantry Regiment, and approximately 500 Cherokees and 100 allied Friendly Creeks, General Jackson took the offensive.

Sam Houston joined the 7th Infantry but transferred
to the 39th Infantry in 1814 with the rank of ensign.
Houston was wounded three times at Horseshoe Bend.
Image: Berhardt Wall Collection,
Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Finding the Red Sticks in a fortified position in a sharp bend of the Tallapoosa River at a place called Tohopeka, Jackson advanced. Jackson’s artillery was unable to penetrate the Red Stick earth and log barrier. His mounted troops and allied Cherokees and Creeks moved into position across the river and fired into the Red Sticks from long range. As the firing continued, Cherokee warriors swam the river and ferried more warriors across in captured Red Stick canoes. They set ablaze the Red Stick huts and smoke billowed upward. Opposite the Red Stick village, General Jackson ordered a frontal assault spearheaded by the 39th US Infantry and supported by the Tennessee Militia. The Red Sticks found themselves fighting a three way battle and trapped by the river. The Red Stick losses were dramatic with nearly 800 dead at the end of the fighting. The Red Stick threat to white settlers had been eliminated. The Battle of Horseshoe Bend as it became known brought national attention to Andrew Jackson. His victory at Horseshoe Bend got him promoted into the regular army and placed him in position to defeat the British at New Orleans in January 1815.

While Jackson benefited the most from the battle of Horseshoe Bend, many other influential Tennesseans witnessed the fighting on March 27, 1814. Present at Horseshoe Bend were Sam Houston, a member of the 39th US Infantry who would was wounded three times in the battle. The 39th was commanded by Knoxvillan Colonel John Williams, a future political nemesis to General Jackson. The highest ranking American officer killed in the battle was Nashville attorney Lemuel P. Montgomery, whose remains are buried on the battlefield. Future Tennessee Governor, William Carroll served as Jackson’s Inspector-General and Cherokee leaders, Major Ridge, John Ross, and Sequoyah were counted among Jackson’s troops. Roughly 90 percent of the American troops who fought at Horseshoe Bend called Tennessee home.

The Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission will conduct a brief memorial ceremony for Tennesseans who fought in the battle on March 29 at 2:00 PM at the grave site of Lemuel Montgomery at the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.

John Coffee wrote this letter to his wife, Mary Donelson Coffee,
reporting on Battle of Horseshoe Bend, April 1, 1814.
Image: Dyas Collection, John Coffee Papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives.

To learn more about the War of 1812, we encourage you to click on the following online resources:

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

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Women's History Month at TSLA...

It's the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a perfect opportunity for commemorating all aspects of a period that is central to American history, and because March is Women's History Month, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will be highlighting the stories of women from our new collection Women in the Civil War.

Some have argued that women's experiences during this time are perhaps even more varied than those of the men who served on the front lines. Women of all classes experienced the war in some way, whether through deprivation, loss of loved ones, disintegration of social norms, or, in at least a few hundred documented cases, actual battlefield experience.

This is a carte de visite of Confederate spy Belle Boyd (1844-1900). She was a Confederate spy who operated from her father's hotel in Front Royal, Virginia. In one instance, she provided valuable information to General Stonewall Jackson during his attack on Union troops in Front Royal. She was arrested several times. She made her way to England in 1864 and returned to the U. S. in 1866. Women in the Civil War Collection. TSLA

The curiosity of women serving on Civil War battlefields has attracted some attention from historians, and the women featured in this collection each contributed to the Union or Confederacy in her own unique fashion. This war fought principally on Southern soil brought out the ingenuity and resourcefulness, as well as the observant eye, of the region’s female population. The “Women in the Civil War” digital collection showcases female participation in the war, revealing that women experienced the crisis just as actively as their sons, husbands, and fathers.

During Women's History Month, be sure to visit the Women in the Civil War online exhibit, and "like" our Facebook page for updates throughout the month featuring content from this fascinating collection.

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Geek the Library event this weekend!

This weekend, libraries in East Tennessee will join together to promote their libraries and create awareness about public library services and funding at a home game of the Knoxville Ice Bears.

Public libraries across the state – more than 170 so far – are participating in Geek the Library, a national campaign to raise awareness about the importance of properly funding libraries. The campaign highlights what people are passionate about and how libraries can provide resources to support their pursuits.

Geek the Library features local educational material that introduces 'geek' as a verb, and encourages the public to talk about what they 'geek'- whether it's engineering, superheroes, art or other subjects. The public awareness campaign illustrates the fact that everyone is passionate about something (i.e., everyone 'geeks' something) and that the public library has books and other materials about all of those different interests.

The campaign features advertising, social networking elements, a website and grassroots community initiatives to draw attention to the need for increased library support. The website,, provides information about how people can get active and support their local libraries.

If you’d like to know more about the Knoxville Ice Bears Geek the Library event, check out their Facebook page. They’ve also started a Thunderclap and need noisemakers. You can join the Thunderclap here. Even the Knoxville Ice Bears are featuring the event.

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