Tennessee Archives and Libraries
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 State Library and Archives
403 Seventh Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37243-0312
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researchers: the library has printed materials, and the archives have original Tennessee government records and other historical documents.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 an inventory of Tennessee county records. The Tennessee State Library and Archives responds to genealogical requests. A request form is available on their Internet site or through the mail.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Hoskins Library, Special Collections
1401 Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996-1000
The library’s catalog is online and the Tennessee Newspaper Project is available through the catalog.
University of Memphis Library
Special Collections Department
Campus Box 526500
Memphis, TN 38152-6500
A number of public libraries in Tennessee have significant regional collections. The largest is at:
McClung Historical Collection
East Tennessee Historical Center
314 West Clinch Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37902-2505
McClung Historical Collection
Knox County Archives
500 West Church Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37902-2505
The McClung Historical Center houses the Knox County Archives and the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection (the materials are non-circulating and unavailable for interlibrary loan).
The McClung Historical Collection’s primary focus is east Tennessee; it holds one of the country’s leading research collections about the region. The collection contains books, newspapers, directories, manuscripts, maps, microfilm records, and photographs. 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.
1001 Broad Street Chattanooga, TN 37402
Public Library of Nashville and
225 Polk Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
Memphis/Shelby County Public Library and Information Center
1850 Peabody Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
The genealogical holdings of the History Department are divided between the Genealogical Collection, the Memphis/Shelby County Room, and the Memphis/Shelby County Archives. Resources include land, military, vital, probate, court, and naturalization records; newspaper clippings; manuscripts; maps; and directories relating to Memphis, Shelby County, and the mid-south region.
A resource for locating archives in Appalachia is:
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.
Computer Networks and Bulletin Boards
Computers with modems are important tools for obtaining information from selected archives and libraries. In a way, computer networks themselves serve as a library. The Internet, certain computer bulletin boards, and commercial online services help family history researchers:
- Search databases for genealogy and reference data.
- Search computer archives and libraries for queries, suggestions, and genealogies.
- Search library catalogs for books to investigate.
- Join mailing lists or news groups to find ancestors.
- Locate other researchers.
- Send and receive e-mail.
- Post queries.
- Join in computer chat and lecture sessions.
- Share genealogy with databases and libraries.
- Put up a web site with genealogy on it.
- Publish genealogy on the Internet.
- Order genealogy publications, supplies, or services.
You can find computerized research tips and information about ancestors from Tennessee in a variety of sources at local, state, national, and international levels. Most of the information is available at no cost. The list of sources is growing rapidly; however, be aware that addresses on the Internet are subject to frequent changes. The following sites are important gateways linking you to many more network and bulletin board sites:
FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service.
At this site you can access the Family History Library Catalog, Ancestral File, International Genealogical Index, SourceGuide, lists of Family History Centers, web sites related to family history, and lists of researchers interested in similar genealogical topics. You can also learn about and order Family History Library publications.
TN GenWeb Project.
In The USGenWeb Project, a cooperative effort by many volunteers to list genealogical databases, libraries, bulletin boards, and other resources available on the Internet, for each county, state, and country.
Tennessee Resources in Genealogy Resources on the Internet.
This site provides links to vital record offices, genealogical and historical societies, queries, mailing lists, county-by-county Internet sites, and gopher sites.
'TN GenExchange in Genealogical Exchange & 'Surname Registry.
This site brings searchable data to genealogists, including databases (church, cemetery, census, land, immigration, naturalization, and vital records), directories, historical accounts, mailing lists, queries, local surname researchers, and look-up volunteers.
United States Resources: Tennessee, in RootsWeb.
This list of sites and resources includes a large, regularly updated research coordination list.
U.S. - Tennessee - TN in Cyndi’s List of Genealogy.
Sites on the Internet. This list has more links to other Tennessee genealogical sites and describes more resources than any other site on the Internet.
For further details about using computer networks, bulletin boards, and news groups for family history research see the United States Research Outline 2nd ed., “Archives and Libraries” section.
Some Family History Centers have computers with FamilySearch. These computers do not have access to online services, networks, or bulletin boards. You can use online services at many public libraries, college libraries, and private locations.