Tennessee State Seal
For Many Tennesseans, Historical Research is in Their Genes
(Published: July 2, 2013)

Did you know that July is Tennessee Genealogy Month? That designation was created last year through an act of the state’s General Assembly. It’s a fitting time to recognize that genealogy – that is, family history research – attracts surprisingly large numbers of people.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) gets about 10,000 visits to its offices in Nashville every year – plus millions more on TSLA’s section of the Secretary of State’s web site. Most of those visitors are genealogists.

TSLA houses the collections of some of the state’s well-known genealogists of the past. When these researchers donate their files to TSLA, they become available for others to mine for facts and details about Tennessee families.

Among those whose collections are found at the library is Caroline Crockett (1867-1959), who traced the backgrounds of hundreds of Middle Tennessee families. Many early members of local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other similar organizations were able to gain membership by proving their lineage using Mrs. Crockett’s research.

In East Tennessee, J.D. Clemmer (1871-1948) and his daughter Sudie became interested in the families of Polk County and amassed a collection of files now available for research. Roy Watterson Black, mayor of Bolivar in the 1940s, did the same for families of Hardeman County in West Tennessee. Thanks to the work of these and other pioneering genealogists, many people today can trace their roots by studying these collections.

“A lot of people approach genealogy as a short-term project, hoping to find out a few facts about distant relatives,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Many of them become hooked and continue to dabble in genealogy research their whole lives. Some even ‘go pro,’ making careers out of researching other people’s family histories. Tennessee Genealogy Month is a great time to highlight the resources available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives to both amateur and professional genealogists.”

TSLA is interested in acquiring more collections of this type. If someone in your family has left behind a mass of family folders, consider donating them to TSLA where they can benefit not only your family, but others as well.