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.
The selection of materials in this collection portrays the lives of Tennessee’s average farmers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These images illustrate the development of agricultural practices and methods over a period of more than a century, from Tennessee immigration in the 1830s to the Depression era of the 1930s.