Digital images of one of Nashville’s most famous and historic venues are now available for viewing online in the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). These digital images highlight the history and architecture of the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. The exhibit includes photographs, letters, broadsides, programs, and tickets from the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) photograph and manuscript collections. These materials and accompanying information provide a pictorial and cultural history of this famous building and its origins, including images and writings regarding the Ryman Auditorium’s namesake and founder, Captain Thomas G. Ryman and his family.
Erected in 1891 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, the auditorium was the result of a promise that Thomas Ryman, a steamboat captain, made when he was converted to Christianity. Attending a tent revival service led by evangelist Sam Jones in 1885, Ryman had a religious experience and dedicated himself to constructing a venue large enough for Jones to preach the gospel indoors. Over time the use of the building expanded to include lectures, art shows, and music. During the 1930s, it became known as the home of country and western music.
“The Tennessee Virtual Archive is an excellent free resource, particularly for people who can’t visit the State Library and Archives building in downtown Nashville,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Given the great interest in the Ryman Auditorium and its role in country music history, I am sure this exhibit will be extremely popular.”
This new TeVA digital collection can be accessed on the web at www.tn.gov/tsla under the tab for Digital Collections or by going directly to: http://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15138coll12