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Tennessee Bar Foundation Legal History Project Now Available at State Library and Archives
(Published: July 18, 2012)

A unique collection of videotaped interviews of prominent Tennessee lawyers and judges is now available for public use at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

The Tennessee Bar Foundation Legal History Project is a collection of video oral histories that began in 1998. The collection consists of 76 interviews sponsored by the Fellows of the Tennessee Bar Foundation.

"I commend the Bar Foundation for conducting interviews with many of our great state's most prominent judges and lawyers highlighted in this collection," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "This collection will serve as a new source of firsthand legal history, available to all Tennesseans."

Interview subjects are a virtual “Who’s Who” of the 20th Century legal profession in Tennessee from each grand division of the state. They include such notables as Howard Baker, Adolpho Birch, Wyeth Chandler, Martha Craig Daughtrey, Lewis Donelson, Joe Duncan, Benjamin Hooks, Irvin Kilcrease, Gilbert Merritt, James Neal, Paul Summers and Thomas Wiseman, among many others.

The interviewees recount the significant legal topics dealt with during their careers as well as the important social and political issues of the day. Interviewees also give personal biographical information. 

The master tapes as well as reference DVD copies are housed in the State Library and Archives. The reference DVDs are available for research purposes, but commercial use will require permission of the Tennessee Bar Foundation.

The collection is available through the Public Services section of the State Library and Archives during normal business hours, which are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The Finding Aid for this collection can be accessed directly at the following link from the State Library and Archives web site: http://www.tn.gov/tsla/history/manuscripts/findingaids/2012-007.pdf.

The State Library and Archives building is located at 403 7th Avenue North, just west of the State Capitol in downtown Nashville.