Tennessee State Seal
State Library and Archives Staff Hits Road in Search of Civil War Memorabilia
(Published: March 29, 2010)

More than two decades after a statewide effort to copy and catalog photographs of historical significance, the staff of the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) will be hitting the state’s highways and byways again in search of Civil War memorabilia. The materials TSLA staff members find during their travels will be copied, archived and used to create a digital exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

During the 1980s, TSLA staff carried out a successful preservation project for historical photographs called “Looking Back at Tennessee.” As part of the project, TSLA staff members and a mobile photo lab visited courthouse squares around the state to copy historically significant photographs. Citizens were offered the opportunity to bring in their old photographs to have them copied and preserved by professional archivists.

The original photos were returned to their owners, but the thousands of photo negatives collected became part of TSLA’s publicly accessible holdings. Today, they form one of the most important and widely researched collections of images depicting the way Tennesseans lived, worked and played in the past.

Now, as part of an effort to promote public interest in the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Tennessee, TSLA is offering citizens around the state the chance to contribute to a permanent record of Civil War resources.

The new initiative, called “Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee,” will provide Tennesseans the opportunity to have their Civil War manuscripts, artifacts and photographs digitally copied and preserved for posterity without leaving their own communities. Materials collected across the state will be used to create the virtual exhibit commemorating the war in Tennessee.

TSLA staff, with the cooperation of local archivists and librarians, will digitize and provide guidance on basic conservation techniques at the locations they visit. The project provides citizens an opportunity to contribute personally to the statewide celebration of the Civil War Sesquicentennial and to honor their Civil War ancestors.

In return, participants will receive free digitization services, copies of the digital images and the opportunity to have their Civil War manuscripts and artifacts preserved digitally for future generations.

Additional information on the project, including a schedule of upcoming locations and eligibility guidelines, is available at www.tn.gov/tsla/cwtn. Or contact Jami Awalt at (615) 245-3470 or civilwar.tsla@tn.gov.