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TSLA’s ‘Heritage Project’ Finalist for National Award

Press release from the office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett; February 19, 2015:

A program launched by the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) to produce short documentaries of the people, places and events that make Tennessee distinctive is one of four finalists for a national award. TSLA’s Tennessee State Heritage Project is in the running for the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) IDEAS Award.

IDEAS is an acronym for “innovation, dedication, excellence and achievement in service.” The award is given annually to one department of state in recognition of an outstanding program or achievement.

The Heritage Project was launched in 2013 to produce short video documentaries on topics of historical interest in Tennessee. The initial documentary focused on the history of the Tennessee State Capitol, while the project’s second documentary focused on the career of Sen. Douglas Henry, who until his recent retirement was the longest-serving member of the Tennessee General Assembly.

“I congratulate our staff at the State Library and Archives whose tremendous work on the Heritage Project is being nationally recognized,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “These documentaries will complement the vast collection of documents and online resources available at TSLA. It is a great honor to be be among the deserving finalists for the IDEAS Award.”

“NASS members are thrilled that we are once again able to showcase the diverse array of secretary of state office functions through this association award,” said NASS President Elaine Marshall, who also co-chairs the NASS Awards Committee. “We are looking forward to our summer conference in Maine, where the finalist offices can showcase their innovative approaches to governing.”

NASS is the oldest, nonpartisan professional organization of public officials in the United States. Members represent the 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and Puerto Rico. NASS serves as a medium for the exchange of information between its members and fosters cooperation in the development of public policy.

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TSLA Names 6 Social Studies Teachers to Educator Working Group

Press release from the office of the Tennessee Secretary of State; January 27, 2015:

The Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) recently named six Tennessee social studies teachers to its TSLA Educator Working Group. This group will assist and advise the Library and Archives staff about ways to make its Tennessee history collections available to teachers and students. The group will develop lesson plans based on original Tennessee documents and images so that social studies teachers across the state can better use TSLA’s primary sources in their classroom instruction.

Participants include:

Rebecca Byrd, an 8th grade teacher at New Center Elementary in Sevier County. Ms. Byrd holds an education specialist degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and has been teaching for 19 years.

Joel Covington, a high school teacher at Cane Ridge High School in Davidson County. Mr. Covington holds a master of education from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University and has been teaching for 15 years.

Whitney Joyner, a middle school teacher at Northeast Middle School in Montgomery County. Ms. Joyner holds a master of arts in education from Austin Peay State University and has been teaching for 14 years.

Patricia Lockhart, a 5th grade teacher at Lucy Elementary in Shelby County. Ms. Lockhart holds a master of arts in teaching for elementary education from the University of Memphis and has been teaching for five years.

Christina Rogers, a 4th grade teacher at Whitwell Elementary School in Marion County. Ms. Rogers holds a master of education from Tennessee Tech University and has been teaching for nine years.

Kristy Sproles, a high school teacher at Sullivan Central High School in Sullivan County. Ms. Sproles holds a master of education from Tusculum College and has been teaching for 15 years.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives education outreach program offers tours of the building for teachers and students, sponsors statewide workshops for teachers, and offers a new education outreach website that links TSLA’s primary sources in American and Tennessee history directly to Tennessee’s new social studies curriculum standards. To view this website, learn more about the activities of the education outreach program, or schedule a student tour or teacher workshop, contact us by phone at 615-253-3469, by email at education.tsla@tn.gov, or visit our website at http://www.tn.gov/tsla/educationoutreach/index.htm

“We are excited to have this fantastic group of educators working with us at TSLA,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Their knowledge of classroom instruction and enthusiasm for introducing Tennessee students to the wealth of primary sources found at the Tennessee State Library and Archives is bringing new energy and understanding to our outreach efforts.”

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, just west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m, with the exception of state holidays. Parking is available in front, behind, and beside the building.

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TSLA Opens New Exhibit on TN’s Role in Civil War in 1864

Press release from the Tennessee Secretary of State; September 22, 2014:

1864 would prove to be the decisive year of the Civil War. Despite Union victories at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga the previous year, northern citizens were growing war-weary. The mounting lists of dead and wounded made many wonder if the South should finally be allowed its independence.

Geographically situated between the midwestern states and the deep South, Tennessee was to be the major battleground in the western theater. The Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers, combined with numerous rail lines which crossed the state, made Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville of strategic importance to both Union and Confederate forces.

A new exhibit, with 16 panels full of images and information on this fascinating period in our history, recently opened at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. It explores the role Tennessee played as a transportation and supply hub, the experiences and contributions of African-Americans, and key battles at Johnsonville, Memphis, Fort Pillow, Spring Hill, Columbia, Franklin and Nashville.

The exhibit also highlights historical records that are valuable genealogy resources such as army muster rolls, Civil War service records, the Southern Claims Commission records, colored pension applications, the Union provost marshal records, cemetery records and TSLA’s manuscript collections.

Visitors to the Tennessee State Library and Archives are invited to come explore the role Tennessee played in the Civil War in 1864. The exhibit will remain open until mid-December.

The State Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, just west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville. The exhibit, free and open to all visitors, is located in the building’s lobby directly behind the main entrance.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., with the exception of state holidays. Parking is available in front, behind and beside the building.

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Long-lost McGavock Civil War Diary Returned to Tennessee

Press release from the Tennessee Secretary of State; August 19, 2014:

The long-lost diary of a prominent Nashvillian has been returned to Tennessee by a California woman. Andrea Shearn, a retired science teacher, found the diary while helping her parents move into an assisted living facility.

Shearn found the diary in a wooden box on a closet shelf in Cincinnati, where her grandmother had evidently put it in 1963. Neither Shearn nor her parents realized it was there.

Examining the diary, Shearn learned that it had belonged to R.W. McGavock, a Confederate officer with beautiful handwriting. Under McGavock’s name was written: “Captured at Ft. Henry Stewart Co. Middle Tennessee Feb 6th 1862 by Capt. M Wemple Co H 4th Ill Vol Cav Presented to Ms. Lue Wemple.”

Delving into her own genealogy, Shearn discovered that Capt. Myndert Wemple of Illinois was her ancestor. He evidently found the diary after McGavock and his troops evacuated Fort Henry in a battle that was a disaster for the Confederates. Wemple’s descendants preserved the diary and handed it down through the family for the next 100 years, until it disappeared into that closet in Cincinnati.

Shearn transcribed the diary, becoming ever more interested in the writer and his experiences. She was surprised to learn that Randal McGavock was a Harvard-educated lawyer who was elected mayor of Nashville at the age of 32. He was a lieutenant colonel of the 10th Tennessee Regiment of the Confederate Army.

Shearn got in touch with State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill.

“This nice lady from California called and said, ‘I wonder if anyone in Tennessee would be interested in this diary,’” Sherrill recalls. “When she told me it was Randal McGavock’s diary, my first thought was to fly to California and get it before it disappeared again.”

Sherrill and others at the State Library and Archives had long been aware of Randal McGavock and his diaries, as eight volumes of his diary have been housed at there since 1960.

“We had this great set of diaries, but the volume from the beginning of the Civil War was missing,” he said.

Shearn eventually flew to Nashville to visit Two Rivers Mansion, Carnton and other sites associated with Randal McGavock and his family. She and her husband brought the diary with them and generously donated it to the archives.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett said: “We are extremely grateful to Andrea Shearn for returning this diary to Tennessee. I know that scholars and McGavock descendants will enjoy the opportunity to read it and fill in the blanks in this soldier’s history.”

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TSLA to Hold Workshop on Researching TN Supreme Court Records

Press release from the Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett; July 31, 2014:

Among the vast amount of information available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA), Tennessee Supreme Court records make up by far the largest single collection. With individual case files that sometimes include hundreds of pages and stretch over several generations, the entire collection takes up most of an entire floor of TSLA’s building.

These records are packed full of valuable information for genealogists and other researchers. And during the next session of TSLA’s free workshop series, State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill will provide tips on navigating through those files.

The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. August 23 in TSLA’s building, which is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, directly west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville.

“Every county in the state has sent cases to the Supreme Court on appeal,” Mr. Sherrill said. “In some cases, the local records have been lost or destroyed. That means the Supreme Court records are sometimes the only ones still available. The cases cover every aspect of life in old Tennessee, ranging from land disputes to horse stealing, and from moonshining to murder.”

Mr. Sherrill has 30 years of experience as a librarian, archivist and genealogist, and has written more than 20 books on various historical topics. He has served as state librarian and archivist since 2010.

Although the workshop is free, reservations are required due to limited seating in TSLA’s auditorium. To make a reservation, call (615) 741-2764 or e-mail workshop.tsla@tn.gov

Free parking is available in front, beside and behind the TSLA building.