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Nashville / Community History

The world lost an extraordinary woman on April 22nd, 2021, when former State Senator Thelma Harper passed away. After making history by becoming the first African American female elected to the State Senate, her work of shattering ceilings was far from over. Here's a look back at her impressive career and generous life. 

Keeping the streets, rivers, and neighborhoods clean in this city over the years hasn't been easy, but one of the ways was with the City Beautiful Commission, that was established in 1953. In honor of Earth Day, here's a look at the commission that helped clean up the streets and neighborhoods in Nashville. 

Colonel George H. Morgan received the nation's highest military honor and went on to teach at Hume-Fogg High School in 1924-1925.

Most citizens of this city that have lived here for a few years know what I'm referring to when I say the "Edgehill Polar Bears", but do you know the history of them? Well here are the "bear" necessities.

The phrase "voting rights" encompasses a LOT of history, even when narrowed to the history of voting rights in Tennessee. While I wish I could write a blog post that includes all the important gains and struggles of voting rights in this state, instead, I'm narrowing it to a few highlights, starting with noting the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment. 

Since most of this year has seemed like an episode out of a sci-fi novel, and it's not lost on anyone that we're living through a major historical event, here are some suggestions of important things you might consider keeping for posterity's sake. 

While September is normally my month for educational posts, I'm bypassing that this year for something different - new images and footage! As a continuation from a previous post with old photos, this post includes a slideshow of a collection I've been processing the past few weeks, plus some new footage from our Audiovisual Heritage Center. 

I originally wrote this blog post for March, 2018, because for some unknown reason, genealogy research seems to pick up around the end of February through March. Well, the trend has occurred again during quarantine, and this time makes more sense - you're home and you figure, why not? For whatever reason, we welcome the frequency of usage of our genealogy records. Here's a list of our most helpful and commonly-used materials, and some other tips when doing family research, with a few new additions. 

Since we're closed, here's a virtual tour of Metro Archives' current exhibit of "Nashville Voices - 36 Notable Women of Nashville", as it's finished right now. And discussing one of the recently added women in the display - Dr. Josie E. Wells...maybe a couple more individuals as I continue working

This month's Nashville history post is letting photography do the talking, with a variety of slideshows for all to enjoy. Starting with a tribute to all medical workers for their dedicated service during these trying times, to finishing with a little more of "Some Good News - Archives Edition." 

With the extra time on our hands after a month of quarantine, maybe there are other things we can spend our time on, like preserving family ephemera. This is an assisted blog post from my coworker, Christine Irizarry, who writes about the importance of family letters. And the latter part talks about preserving your family records. 

With the changing times and means to educate while schools are closed, it can be difficult for parents-now-turned-teachers to homeschool on such short notice, and possibly without a lot of resources. That's where Metro Archives and the Library come in handy. And who says educating can't be fun? So here's a word search I created with words and names pertaining to the founding of the city of Nashville. 

Borrowing John Krasinski's idea of reporting "Some Good News" during these troubling times, here are some historic news clippings from past pandemics or epidemics that have affected Nashville. But instead of including news articles about the actual devastation from the illnesses, these are more positive stories during the same time frame or at least examples of positives from the desolation.  

Soooo this year has started off rather interestingly...and by interesting I mean NOT GREAT, so far. So instead of writing a whole bunch of historic info, I'm just giving you all photos this month. These are some of my favorites from our collection that I hope may bring a smile to some of your faces. 

In honor of African American History Month, and to highlight a few individuals in Metro Archives' new display on Nashville women, this blog post is dedicated to a few notable women of Music City.

2020 is an important anniversary year for a couple of reasons. Most notably is the 19th Amendment, which we'll be celebrating with a new permanent exhibit in Special Collections (in addition to a few other temporary exhibits in the building). But another important Amendment went into effect 100 years ago this month that had a long-lasting impact on the country, and that's Prohibition.

This time of year may mostly be associated with the various holidays we celebrate, but it's also well-associated with cold, awful weather (except for these past few weeks) and keeping ourselves warm with our HVAC systems. However, there was a time in Nashville's past that staying warm also meant being covered in soot as well. 

September of this year has come and gone, and so has 50 years since the release of the The Beatleslast and arguably most iconic album, Abbey Road. Read a little about the history of the album and about The Beatles in Nashville (separately unfortunately, never together). 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. In honor of that momentous occasion, Metro Archives recently had an exhibit highlighting Nashville's impact on space exploration. Here are a few things included in the exhibit! 

As part 1 of a 2-part series about the local photography institution that is Dury's, and also in honor of National Photography Month, read about how one of Nashville's oldest businesses got its start and has remained a successful and beloved business in Nashville all of these years. 

This spring, as we read the 2019 Nashville Reads book Hidden Figures, and reimagine our country’s history together, there’s no better place than Nashville Public Library to explore the "hidden figures" in our own local history. Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon is one of these local hidden figures with an incredible story about reaching the stars.

It's the month of love (well the end of it, but close enough) and therefore that also sometimes means heartbreak, so check out this unfortunate story from Nashville's past (about 90 years ago), about a love affair gone horribly wrong. 

Exploring the holdings of Main Library’s Special Collections, I stumbled upon a local figure I hadn’t heard of before—Robert Churchwell. Hired by the Nashville Banner in 1950, Churchwell was the first black journalist and full-time reporter for a Southern newspaper.

This Veteran's Day marks the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice between the Allied Countries and Germany, ending the hostilities on the Western Front of the War and officially beginning the end of World War I. 

Anyone that's ever walked down Charlotte Ave, right next to the Capitol, is familar with the statues surrounding its borders (or maybe you're not, that's possible too). But if you are, Sam Davis is on the southwest corner and Sgt. Alvin C. York is on the southeast. But are you familiar with who's standing in the middle, somewhat leering over all who walk beneath him? Or better yet, why he's there?

The Metro Archives’ Audiovisual Conservation Center is located at the Main Library in downtown Nashville. We're hosting a new series on the blog documenting our latest project to identify and perform conservation on over 400 rare and unique films from our collection. Welcome to our corner! We hope you’ll follow along with us!

2018 is a landmark anniversary year for many events, including the worst train accident in U.S. history that occurred at Dutchman's Curve in West Nashville, on Tuesday, July 9th, 1918. 

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the murder of W. Haynie Gourley, the owner of Capitol Chevrolet on Murfreesboro Rd. Today, this tragedy remains as one of Nashville's most notorious unsolved crimes.

It's been 50 years this month since the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yet his actions and teachings have lived on every day since. Coincidentally, the date of his actual birthday this year was celebrated on the same day of the holiday honoring him. In honor of his legacy, here's a look back at how his work affected Nashville...

Who loves talking about the weather?! Me, that's who! Did you know the early beginnings of the National Weather Service was actually under the U.S. Army in what was called the Signal Service? Actually it's not that surprising, but what might be is that here in Metro Archives, we have several of their original journals from the Nashville station. Read on if you're intrigued...

 

Most people recognize Nashville as the "Music City" capital of the world, but can you say that you've ever heard its other nickname - "the Powder City of the World"? If you're familiar with the history of the Old Hickory community and the company of DuPont, you probably have. If not, read on. 

Though November marks the last month of his life, May of this year would have marked JFK's 100th birthday; May 29th to be exact. In honor of this milestone, here's a look back at a few of President Kennedy's visits to Nashville, as well as a few anecdotes from people that remember the day he died.

If the name "Paula Herring" sounds familiar to you, then you already know where this blog post is going. But if not, keep reading. I'm about to tell the gruesome tale of young Paula's murder back in 1964, from the info provided by Michael Bishop in his new book, A Murder in Music City: Corruption, Scandal, and the Framing of an Innocent Man.   

Nashville Public Library is excited to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of Ryman Auditorium and host Ryman Auditorium: Soul of Nashville, a brand new art exhibit exploring the iconic venue’s rich history. The exhibit is on display at NPL’s Main Library downtown from October 21 through February 25. 

Going on 60 years ago, Nashville followed suit with the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, and began a "stair-step" plan to integrate public schools. But it wasn't without difficulty or a strong pushback.

Nashville is a city with an easily forgettable past, or rather people would prefer to forget its past. But that doesn't change the fact that it has a rather macabre and peculiar one. In Brian Allison's recently published book "Murder & Mayhem in Nashville," he highlights some of the more gruesome tales from Nashville's past.

Prior to the opening of the Nashville Zoo in Cheatham County, in 1991, the city came close to purchasing animals for a zoo around the time the Metro Government formed (1963). I recently stumbled upon this intriguing story and thought it was too good not to share. 

June 1, 1796 was the birth year for Tennessee as a state. Feels like it was just yesterday. In honor of its many years since, here's a brief recap of its birth and how the state chose to celebrate each of its earned centennials. 

Nashville may be known as Music City, but we also LOVE our professional sports – whether the boys have sticks, bats, or footballs, fans will turn out to cheer on our local teams.

The one thing that I love to tell people about when they visit Metro Archives, is that we're more than simply a repository for city-wide governmental records. Yes, the records we have are archaic in nature and therefore highly informative and fascinating. But it's the photographs we also have from around the city that are most-telling about the city's past. In honor of National Photography month, check out some of the best photos from around our beloved city.

Though its expansive campus can be seen from the fast lanes of I-65 S just past Armory Lane, Father Ryan High School hasn't always called their Norwood Drive location home. On top of possessing photographs of the previous location's building and demolition in our clippings' file on the school, Metro Archives also holds several other treasures that easily tell stories about the school's past.  

Considering how in our modern day and age, seeing (and hearing) airplanes regularly cross Nashville's skies does not appear to make us think twice, doesn't it make you wonder what life must have been like when the first forms of flight were being tested? I suppose to us, it would literally be like seeing pigs fly. Almost. Well Metro Archives is attempting to answer that question. Starting March 28th and running through May 31st, there will an exhibit in Metro Archives highlighting the advancement of aviation technology as Nashville experienced it.  

In honor of African American History Month, I'm recognizing the first African American woman elected to the Tennessee State Senate—Senator Thelma Harper of District 19. Prior to her 1991 historic election to the State Senate, Harper served 8 years on Davidson County's Metro Council.  

Hard to believe it's been 18 years since the Titans' first game in their new home and in their new jerseys. Throughout many seasons, players, and a couple of coaches, the team has remained a hometown favorite (well, in my opinion - my favorite) and that includes its stadium. 20 years ago this May, construction began on the field that was initially crowned "Adelphia Coliseum." Would you believe Metro Archives has several photographs taken of the construction process? If you enjoy a little Titans nostalgia like I do, check out some of the best photos below. 

Tennessee stayed true to their nickname as the "volunteer state" after the attack on Pearl Harbor, that occured 75 years ago this month. Here are a few news clippings and photographs from the days after the attack.  

Though this was the first year that Metro Nashville Government closed for Veteran's Day, we've never neglected honoring the ever-important holiday. Check out some of the documents and memorabilia from Metro Archives.   

Metro Archives recently received a small donation of documents/photographs/clippings for a couple of local Nashville families' vertical files. The families that are related by marriage are the McClanahans and the Weakley - 2 families that I found after a little research, have prominent roots in Nashville. The photographs donated date to around the early 20th century and are without doubt, very remarkable. However, many came without a caption or any identifiers at all, and they're not all in Nashville. The families appeared to have traveled a lot. Can you help us out and help identify a few of these locations?  

The educational system in Nashville has changed quite a bit over the years, but the core subjects have always remained at the forefront of teaching. But with a few changes, would you have excelled if you had been in school about 100 years ago?

Did you know that Nashville has a history with the Olympics? It's not a big one mind you, but it exists. Today, we recognize the 1996 Olympics as the last Summer Olympics that any U.S. city hosted, and that was in Atlanta (Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002). But what about Nashville? A lot of people might think we're too small and don't have the infrastructure, but that wasn't the concern many years ago when Nashville put together a pretty strong campaign to host the 1996 Olympics. 

Everyone is familiar with the name and what they are most known for, but do you really know about the history of the American Red Cross? Specifically, the history of the local chapter of the American Red Cross. This is part two of their story (explained as brief as possible) discussing their involvement during the second world war and the many years after. 

The Red Cross is a storied and dedicated organization that spans decades, continents, wars, and various disasters. The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton. And though the Nashville Chapter received their official charter in 1917, their relief work for local troops and citizens began long before then. In honor of their dedicated service, next month, Metro Archives will be exhibiting artifacts and documents from our American Red Cross collection. This is part 1 of their history, stay tuned next month for part 2.

On March 22, 1916, a fire raged through East Nashville. By the end of day, more than 600 homes and businesses were destroyed by fire over 35 city blocks.

53 years ago, the government that Nashville now knows well as the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County was implemented, consolidating 2 separately-operating governments into one. Learn a little more about that consolidation process and how it has defined us as a city today.

I transferred to the Archives a month ago and I've been trying to learn all that I can about the Archive's collections. One of the coolest collections I recently stumbled upon is the small collection we have for the Nashville College for Young Ladies. In honor of Women's History Month, what better topic to discuss than women's education?

This month's post is about the holiday season and some of the literary treats that accompany it, such as the classic Christmas tale A Christmas Carol.  It also includes instructions on creating ornaments from recycled Christmas Carols!

Watching the new movie Selma was like seeing Nashville's Civil Rights "All Stars": James Bevel, Diane Nash, C.T. Vivian, John Lewis, Bernard LaFayette are all depicted in the film.