Art, Maps, & Photographs

Maps are invaluable components of historical and genealogical research, and documentary records often cannot be fully understood without referring to maps. The Library & Archives has the largest and most significant collection of historical maps in the state available for public use. We hope to increase utilization of this tremendous research resource by digitizing original manuscript maps and making them available in our Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). These digitized maps appear in the JPEG2000 format, which means that you may view them in greater detail by using the Zoom tool and Expanded View option to navigate to a particular area of the image. We will continue to add maps to this digital online collection to bring more of them to a wider public.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives holds a diverse collection of architectural resources, including items of interest to both the professional and the layperson. The papers of several firms and state construction records comprise the bulk of the Library & Archives' blueprints collection. Researchers will find the Library & Archives’ rich trove of photographic materials to be of particular interest when learning how city skylines and architectural styles have evolved over Tennessee’s two hundred years of history.
TSLA has chosen to display portions of Bernhardt Wall’s Following Andrew Jackson, a limited edition pictorial biography containing etchings of scenes from Jackson’s life. Given the historical focus of many of Wall’s subjects and scenery, in addition to his meticulous artistic process, Wall’s work is considered by many to be a unique artistic form of historical documentation. The images displayed were chosen for the subject matter represented, as well as their Tennessee connections.
When the Civil War erupted, the new medium of photography had only been in existence for a little over twenty years. The daguerreotype had emerged as the most common early photographic type, but each image was unique (a positive image rather than a negative) and proved to be a challenge to reproduce. Most of the Civil War photographers were accustomed to working with daguerreotypes; one scholar notes that “the roots of Civil War photography came out of the daguerreian era and coursed through the lives of the men who made the pictures” (Zeller 5).
The Grassmere Collection, 1786-1985, is centered around five generations of the same family that lived at Grassmere Farm, Nashville, Tennessee. The property served as a family farm for 175 years. Sisters Margaret and Elise Croft willed the Grassmere property to be used as a nature preserve upon their deaths, and the Nashville Zoo began management of the site in 1997 to honor that request. The digital collection is a sampling of the physical collection and consists of over 250 items including photographs, letters, audio oral history excerpts, maps, memorabilia, and land records.
May 6, 2017 - Documents made with pen and paper aren't the only important records of Tennessee history. In some cases, the stories of the state's early days are stitched together in embroidered cloth patches known as samplers. This Tennessee State Library and Archives workshop describes what these samplers can reveal about the lives of our ancestors.
August 15, 2015 - Map expert Murray Hudson's lecture at the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) taking participants on a journey that begins along North Carolina's colonial borders, travels through the “Lost State of Franklin,” documents the annexation of Cherokee and Chickasaw territory, highlights western border changes brought about by shifts in the Mississippi River and describes Supreme Court decisions that seem to have finalized Tennessee's state boundaries.
The Library Photograph Collection is a migration project from our Online Photo Database to allow researchers more extensive description and the ability to download directly from our website. The Library Photo Collection contains images from the Archives Photograph Collection as well as portrait painting photographs, Colonial Dames of America Portraits in Tennessee, and a variety of black and white photographs and lithographs from the State Library and Archives manuscripts division.
The Earl S. Miers River Photographs date from the first decade of the 20th century (ca. 1900-1912) and show steamboats, buildings, people and scenes along the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers. There are 69 photographs in the collection, 34 of which are displayed here. Many of the photographs depict steamboats belonging to the St. Louis & Tennessee River Packet Company along with crewmen and laborers who worked on them. Images depict mule-drawn ferries, African-American ‘roustabouts,’ drovers loading hogs, oxen hauling cargo, and cross-ties being loaded at a tie yard.
The images in this digital collection consist of original drawings, elevations, ground plans, and watercolor sketches attributed to famed architect William Strickland (1788-1854) and his son, Francis W. Strickland (1818-1895). The collection includes plans for the Tennessee State Capitol as well as various other buildings including churches, houses, and banks. Examples of Italianate as well as Greek Revival and Egyptian architecture may be seen in the materials.
The Tennessee Arts Commission established its Folk Arts Program in 1984. From the beginning, program director Dr. Robert Cogswell photographed artists, sites, and events related to program activities. These items are a small sampling of approximately 22,000 images that document folkways and unique Tennessee styles, characters, and art.
The items in the Tennessee Postcard Collection span a broad timeframe and include images from across the state. Unlike other collections at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, the items in this grouping are similar only in format. The postcards that comprise the Tennessee Postcard Collection have been gathered from various manuscript collections and placed in a central repository to facilitate research and to ease storage.
This web page provides an index to the Tennessee Postcard Collection, available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The index is arranged alphabetically by place and includes a brief description of each card, including title, notation of any textual narrative printed on the card, and identifying numbers.
Intended for wide distribution, broadsides were traditionally used as a tool to disseminate information. Printed on large sheets of paper and sometimes rich in illustration, broadsides were posted on buildings or handed out to the general population. These ephemera were often produced in mass quantities to advertise, promote or announce official proclamations, public meetings, and entertainment events. Originally designed to have an immediate impact on the observer, broadsides were created for disposable and temporary use.
A partial index to the hundreds of thousands of photographs and images held by the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
This page is an introduction to the maps, atlases and gazetteers held at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Among the greatest assets at the Tennessee State Library and Archives is the variety of its photographs. Myriad images populate our holdings, many of them rare. The collections highlighted here represent a fine assortment of imagery. For online collections, see the Tennessee Virtual Archives (TeVA), online exhibits and the online photograph and image database. The photo database contains thousands of images taken from major collections, while the online exhibits include dozens of pictures featured in displays staged at TSLA.