Tennessee Archives and Libraries

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The number of records and resources being posted online by archives, libraries, societies, private enterprise, and other groups is increasing at lightning speed. Still, vast collections of existing, indispensable records for genealogy and history remain offline.

Many archives and libraries have information about Tennessee, including maps, gazetteers, and other place-finding aids. They frequently have collections of previous research, such as family or local histories or biographies. Many have record-finding aids, such as guides to their own collections or inventories of records housed elsewhere. Archives and libraries located near state boundaries usually collect records relating to the adjacent states.

The following archives, libraries, and societies have collections and services helpful to genealogical researchers.


Tennessee States Library and Archivesfor further details see our Tennessee State Library and Archives Wiki page
Tennessee State Library and Archives exterior.jpg
403 Seventh Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37243-0312
Telephone: 1-615-741-2764
Fax: 1-615-532-2472

Two areas of interest to researchers: the library has printed materials, and the archives have original Tennessee government records and other historical documents. Many of their records are microfilmed. Their web site includes 19th Century Newspapers, Civil War Era Database, Nashville City Directories, and an inventory of Tennessee county records. 

Reels of microfilm can be borrowed on interlibrary loan from the Tennessee State Library and Archives [Internet site]. The records include: • Marriages • Probate • Land and Property

National Archives Southeast Region (Atlanta)
5780 Jonesboro Road
Morrow, GA 30260
Telephone: 1-770-968-2100
Fax: 1-770-968-2547
Internet: http://www.archives.gov/southeast/  

Metropolitan Government Archives
3801 Green Hills Village Dr.
Nashville, TN 37215
Telephone: 1-615-862-5880

Houses the original Davidson County and Nashville City records to about 1966. Website includes links to web resources maintained by the Friends of the Metro Archives.


University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Hoskins Library, Special Collections
1401 Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996-1000
Telephone: 423-974-4480
Internet: www.lib.utk.edu

The library’s catalog is online and the Tennessee Newspaper Project is available through the catalog.

University of Memphis Library
Special Collections Department
126 Ned R. WcWherter Library
Memphis, TN 38152-3250
Telephone: 901-678-8242
Fax: 901-678-8218
Internet: http://www.memphis.edu/specialcollections/resources.php

A number of public libraries in Tennessee have significant regional collections. The largest is at:

East Tennessee Historical Center
601 South Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37901-1629
Telephone: 1-865-215-8801
Internet: http://www.easttnhistory.org

  • East Tennessee Historical Society has for over 175 years recorded stories, collected artifacts, and educated visitors with lectures, and publications such as First Families of Tennessee, and the new Civil War Families of Tennessee. The original 15,000 applications for First Families of Tennessee project, and surname files are accessible to the public.[1]
In the same building:
  • Knox County Public Library Calvin M. McClung Historical Collections, Internet: www.knoxlib.org/.  The McClung Historical Collection features an index to early Tennessee and North Carolina families. This is the best family history and genealogy index for these two states. The McClung Historical Collection’s primary focus is east Tennessee; it holds one of the country’s leading research collections about the region, including Internet genealogy databases, more than 75,000 books, 3,000 genealogies, manuscripts, censuses, state and local government records, newspapers, Knoxville city directories, maps, and photos. In addition to the east Tennessee material, the collection also contains research guides and census indexes for many states in the United States, especially 11 states in the South. The Knox County Public Library also offers the free online Calvin M. McClung Digital Collection.[2] [3]
  • Knox County Archives since 1792 collects history and county government records such as marriages, divorces, deeds, probates, County-Chancery-Circuit-Criminal-Juvenile-Superior court, tax, and school records, and online databases.[4]
  • Museum of East Tennessee History showcases the history of the region and its 35 counties.
Chattanooga Public Library TN.jpg
Chattanooga Public Library Downtown
1001 Broad Street
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402
Telephone: 423-757-5317
E-mail: library@lib.chattanooga.gov
Internet: Local History and Genealogy Department

Includes the Upper South's largest family folder collection which is heavy on Tennessee and North Carolina.[2] Internet genealogy databases, census, newspapers, obituary index, county records, 30,000 books, manuscripts, and genealogical periodicals.[5]

Nashville Public Library
615 Church Street
Nashville, TN 37219
Telephone: 1-615-862-5800
Internet: http://www.library.nashville.org/index.asp

The Nashville Room of the Nashville Public Library maintains the genealogical collection.  In addtion, the library website includes indexes to Nashville marriages 1864-1905, Tennessean obituary index 1964-present, Nashville City Cemetery index and Nashville photographs 1940-1976. Look for links to web resources maintained by the Friends of the Metro Archives.  Vertical files of newspaper clippings and family histories,  manuscripts concerning Nashville and Davidson County families, historic photographs and Nashville City Directories are available to to library patrons.

Memphis Public Library and Information Center
Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library
3030 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38111-3527
Telephone: 1-901-415-2700
E-mail: hisref@memphis.lib.tn.us
Internet: www.memphislibrary.lib.tn.us

The genealogical holdings of the History Department's Memphis and Shelby County Room include manuscripts, maps, biographies, histories and directories relating to Memphis, Shelby County, and the mid-south region.

Germantown Regional History and Genealogy Center
7779 Poplar Pike
Germantown, TN 38138
Telephone: 1-901-757-8480
Internet: http://www.germantown-tn.gov

The Germantown Regional History and Genealogy Center (GRHGC) is the special collections division of Germantown Community Library. It is a repository for non-circulating books, microfilm, periodicals, photographs, and maps for genealogical and historical research for the Mid-South, Eastern and Southern states.

Bristol Public Library
701 Goode Street
Bristol, Virginia 24201-4199
Telephone: 540-645-8780
Fax: 276-669-5593
E-mail: bplref@yahoo.com
Internet: http://www.bristol-library.org/

They have a relatively small family folder collection. Nevertheless, it is an important resource for settlers coming from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and northern Virginia  along the Great Valley Road into Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina.[6]

Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown
224 Church Street
Santa Cruz, California 95060
Telephone: 831-427-7707 ext. 5794
E-mail: E-mail reference service form
Internet: http://www.santacruzpl.org/branches/14/

Holds the Genealogial Society of Santa Cruz County's library, including the Tina Brayton Collection which is equivalent to the Draper Collection but larger and with a better index, and many compiled genealogies of Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia  families.[7] [8]

Tennessee Online Records

Hand and keyboard.jpg Tennessee
Online Records
Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.

Research Guides and Directories

The following directory assists in determining the archives of interest:

  • Archives in Appalachia: A Directory. Boone, North Carolina: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1985. (Family History Library book 975 A3a.) The record covers the states of Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The record is arranged alphabetically by state, then by the name of the repository. Each entry lists the archive, its address, phone number, inclusive dates of the collection, the records of the collection, what subjects are covered by the collection, and the size of the collection. There are two indexes: Record type, and Subject, with reference numbers corresponding to the repository. Also included is a list, under “Coming Attractions,” of agencies that do not currently collect manuscript materials but plan to do so in the future.


  1. First Families of Tennessee in East Tennessee Historical Society (accessed 20 February 2014).
  2. 2.0 2.1 William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 85. At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
  3. Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection in Knox County Public Library (accessed 11 February 2014).
  4. Knox County Archives in East Tennessee Historical Society (accessed 20 February 2014).
  5. Local History and Genealogy Department in Chattanooga Public Library (accessed 11 February 2014).
  6. Dollarhide and Bremer, 105.
  7. Dollarhide and Bremer, 113.
  8. The Tina Brayton Collection in Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County (accessed 3 January 2014).