TNSOS: New Online App Tracks TN African-American History During Civil War

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett; February 25, 2015:

As slavery and plantation life dissolved in the crucible of war and occupation during the 1860s, Tennessee became a laboratory of new social arrangements for African Americans. Landscape of Liberation: The African American Geography of the Civil War in Tennessee, which highlights many of the changes in African-American life, is now available online at

This fully functional (and free) geographic information system application shows 150 wartime sites—refugee camps, early freedmen schools and churches, and recruitment sites for the more than 20,000 black Union soldiers who enlisted from Tennessee. In addition to narrative information, the sites are linked to scans of original primary sources that document historic events. These sources include maps, newspapers, and manuscript items from the collections of the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee State Museum.

The application is an interactive map showing the landscape of emancipation as it unfolded from 1861 to 1865. Dr. Wayne Moore, assistant state archivist, said: “Students now have a powerful new tool for viewing the geography of the African-American experience in Tennessee and connecting it with the digitized primary sources from the archives.”

“This is another way in which we are using technology to provide better services to our citizens,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “We recognize that not everyone can make it to the State Library and Archives in downtown Nashville, and this application allows us to make this valuable information available to anyone with Internet access. It is also very fitting that we were able to bring this new resource online during Black History Month, although of course the site will remain active year-round.”

Moore presented this web application for the first time earlier this month at the 2015 Nashville Conference on African American History and Culture at the Avon Williams campus of Tennessee State University.

The application, a collaborative project between the Tennessee State Library and Archives, the Fullerton Geospatial Laboratory at Middle Tennessee State University, and the State of Tennessee Office of Information Resources, was built with funding from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.