Guardianship proceedings occurred when minor children were orphaned, or when only the father or “breadwinner” died. The mother was allowed to retain guardianship if officials considered her circumstances sufficient to provide for the children.
Another person appointed as guardian may be a relative, a friend of the family, or one who could teach the minor(s) a trade. In some cases guardians or administrators were appointed to handle the affairs of adults who were deemed incompetent.
County officials appointed guardians to provide minor children with education or training, making it more likely that the minors would become contributing members of the community rather than wards of the county or state.
Guardianship records usually give the name of the parent(s) who died and the names and ages of the minor children. The records have been kept by the clerks of the county courts in Tennessee, sometimes in separate volumes, but most often merely noted in the court minutes.
The Family History Library has guardianship records for about half of Tennessee’s counties. More may be intermingled with probate or court records in the various counties of Tennessee.
Guardianship records can be found in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
TENNESSEE, [ COUNTY] - GUARDIANSHIP