Tennessee Archives, Libraries, and Societies

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This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott, Ph.D. FUGA for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
Tennessee sil.png
the Tennessee Family History Research series.
History of Tennessee
Tennessee Vital Records
Census Records for Tennessee
Background Sources for Tennessee
Tennessee Maps
Tennessee Land Records
Tennessee Probate Records
Tennessee Court Records
Tennessee Tax Records
Tennessee Cemetery Records
Tennessee Church Records
Tennessee Military Records
Tennessee Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Tennessee Archives, Libraries, and Societies
African Americans of Tennessee
Native Americans of Tennessee
Tennessee County Resources
Map of Tennessee

Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA)

403 Seventh Ave., North
Nashville, TN 37243-0312,

Its holdings include state agency records, executive branch papers, territorial records, records for courts of appeal and state supreme court. Many of the abundant holdings for this repository have already been discussed. As a bicentennial project, the library sponsored an extensive program of microfilming county records, concentrating on the records that were not in the WPA series. Inventories of most Tennessee county records, as well as microfilms of most early county records, are located here. The inventory has been printed and can be purchased from the repository for a nominal fee.

Vertical family files and the genealogical exchange card file are additional sources. The library and archives also maintains territorial and state records as well as county records, providing correspondence service except during the summer months; expect a response time of several weeks. Each request should include name, date of interest or a period of ten years or less, county, and type of record requested. Only one search per request. There is a minimum photocopy charge.

Tennessee Historical Society

War Memorial Building
300 Capital Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37243

Harriet C. Owsley, Guide to the Processed Manuscripts of the Tennessee Historical Society (Nashville: Tennessee State Library, 1963), describes and serves as a finding aid to the manuscript section of the archives for the holdings of the Tennessee Historical Society that were processed prior to 1963. The collection is arranged alphabetically, and the entire volume is indexed for ready reference. Information on later accessions to the collection can be found on the TSLA website www.state.tn.us/sos/statelib/pubsvs/mssguide.htm.

East Tennessee History Center

600 Market St.
Knoxville, TN 37901
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1629
Knoxville, TN 37901-1629

Three distinct entities operate out of this center: The McClung Historical Collection (which is the local history and genealogy department of the Lawson McGhee Library); the Knox County Archives; and the East Tennessee Historical Society.

The McClung Historical Collection contains over 500 manuscript collections, most pertaining to east Tennessee. These holdings must be accessed personally. The Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection maintains a genealogy file that consists of data submitted by various patrons. The staff will try to answer basic genealogical queries from indexed published sources. A self-addressed stamped envelope is necessary.

The collection contains a large body of published works, many of which are rare. Some may no longer be photocopied because of deterioration, but supervised access is allowed. A set of microfilmed records of the surviving service records of Tennessee soldiers for the War of 1812 is found in the collection, which has extensive holdings of the records of the Tennessee WPA and other assorted manuscripts.

The East Tennessee Historical Society promotes the development of the library holdings. The East Tennessee Historical Society Museum celebrated a ten-year anniversary in 2003. The permanent and loan collections include decorative arts and furniture from East Tennessee, as well as military items, domestic arts and textiles, photographs, archives, personal items, artifacts, and more.

The Knox County Archives provides access to the county government records dated from 1792 to present. Among its holdings are marriage records (1792'1974); tax records (1806'1974); court records (1792'1979); chancery court records (1832' ); circuit court records (1810' ); and Knoxville birth and death records (1881'1911).

Tennessee Genealogical Society

P.O. Box 111249
Memphis, TN 38111-1249

Publishes Ansearchin' News. Publication includes materials for the entire state. Articles include abstracted wills, marriage records, probate records, church records, newspaper notices, and more.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Special Collections Library

Knoxville, TN 37902

University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Lupton Library, Special Collections

615 McCallie Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37403-2598

Vanderbilt University, Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Special Collections

419 21st Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37240-0007

Williamson County Public Library

611 W. Main St.
Franklin, TN 37064

This library holds the Whitley collection of marriage and county records from over twenty-two counties, collected by a local genealogist.

Chattanooga-Hamilton County, Bicentennial Library

1001 Broad St.
Chattanooga, TN 37402

University of Memphis, Mississippi Valley Historical Collection, John Willard Brister Library

Memphis, TN 38152

Memphis and Shelby County Public Library and Information Center

Genealogical Collection
3030 Poplar Ave.
Memphis, TN 38111-3527

Its collection includes Memphis Archives, Civil War Collection, and Memphis and Shelby County Room among numerous others. The library can only offer limited service to out-of-county correspondents.

Shelby County Archives

150 Washington St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Metro Davidson County Archives

1113 Elm Hill Pike
Nashville, TN 37210

Holdings include chancery court records (1846'1961); circuit court records (1943'55); county clerk papers and records (1783'1971); register of deeds (1785'1951); and various other records. A detailed, itemized description is available upon request from the repository.

An online resource for locating all of Tennessee's active genealogical and historical societies, including website links, can be found through the Genealogical Forum on www.rootsweb.com at www.genealogyforum.rootsweb.com/gfaol/resource/TN/GS.htm.