Long before the term was used in a political context, Tennessee and Virginia were literally two of our country’s biggest “battleground states” – serving as the sites for more Civil War battles than any other states.
Now archivists from the two states are teaming up in the border town of Bristol to create digital records of that part of their history
Representatives from the Tennessee State Library and Archives, the Tennessee State Museum and the Library of Virginia will spend two days this month at the Bristol Public Library, examining Civil War era documents and artifacts brought in by Tennessee and Virginia residents.
As part of the process, the archivists will electronically scan the documents and take digital photographs of the artifacts, which will be added to the historical collections in both states. The items will then be returned to their owners, who will receive tips on how to properly preserve and store them.
Some of the digital records will be featured in an online exhibit titled, “Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee.”
“This is an important project for the Tennessee State Library and Archives,” said Tre Hargett, Tennessee’s Secretary of State. “The Civil War was a major part of our state’s history, so we need to take appropriate steps to make sure future generations have access to these records. Some of these items may have sat in someone’s attic or garage for years, but now researchers and history buffs everywhere will be able to see copies of them online, free of charge.”
“The Tennessee State Museum is pleased to be working with the Library and Archives, visiting communities across the state and helping citizens to evaluate and protect their Civil War collections,” said Ron Westphal, the museum’s curator of history and technology. “Preserving and protecting Tennessee’s heritage is an important part of our mission and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War provides us with an opportunity to focus on this extraordinarily important period of our history.”
“The Library of Virginia is pleased to partner with the Tennessee State Library and Archives to scan the private manuscripts and collections of Civil War material in the Bristol area,” added Librarian of Virginia Sandra G. Treadway. “These letters, diaries and records of the personal stories of those who lived in this turbulent period will strengthen our knowledge and understanding of our history.”
The archivists will be at the library, which is located at 701 Goode Street on the Virginia side of the border, from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. (EST) May 24 and from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. (EST) May 25. People interested in bringing in their artifacts may call (615) 253-3470 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule appointments with the archivists.
In Tennessee, the archivists are in the process of collecting digitized Civil War records from all 95 counties as part of an effort to promote public interest in the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. So far, they have collected about 3,500 images. Additional information about the project is available at www.tn.gov/tsla/cwtn
In Virginia, the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War are partnering on a multiyear project to locate and scan family collections of Civil War materials. So far, the Civil War 150 Legacy Project has visited 34 localities and scanned 10,700 images. Archivists with the Civil War 150 Legacy Project plan to visit all 133 counties and independent cities. To view the collection, visit www.virginiamemory.com/cw150