library and archives

One day only: TN constitution to go on display for Statehood Day

The state Capitol on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A release from Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State Library and Archives is celebrating 225 years of statehood on June 1, 2021, with a one-day-only public display of Tennessee’s three original constitutions.

The state’s constitutions, first written in 1796 and revised in 1834 and 1870, will all be on display in the lobby of the new Library and Archives building located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way N. on the northeast corner of the Bicentennial Mall State Park in Nashville on Tuesday, June 1 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT.

In addition to viewing these priceless documents, which the Tennessee Highway Patrol Honor Guard will safeguard, guests can explore the interactive exhibits in the Library and Archives lobby and take a tour of the new building. Library and Archives staff will give tours every half hour from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“Tennessee’s three constitutions are the foundation of our state government,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I encourage my fellow Tennesseans not to miss this opportunity to make history come alive by seeing these irreplaceable documents up close.”

The Library and Archives, a division of the Department of State, is responsible for collecting and preserving books and records of historical, documentary and reference value, focusing on items related to Tennessee. Tennessee’s constitutions are the highest valued and most historically significant items in the collection.

“The Library and Archives strives to be a resource for researchers, historians, librarians, archivists, genealogists, lawyers, students and anyone interested in Tennessee history,” said Chuck Sherrill, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist. “Our staff is excited to welcome visitors to our new building and to share our state’s three constitutions and other interactive exhibits.”

The Library and Archives is joining Bicentennial Mall State Park and the Tennessee State Museum for a variety of events to celebrate Tennessee’s 225th Statehood Day.

Bicentennial Mall State Park is celebrating Statehood Day and its 25th anniversary on June 1 with a special event at 10 a.m. in the Amphitheater followed by guided tours and educational programs led by park rangers. For more information about the 25th-anniversary celebration, visit tnstateparks.info/BiMall25thAnn.

To celebrate Tennessee’s Statehood, the Tennessee State Museum launched Tennessee at 225: Highlights from the Collection, a self-guided tour and online exhibition showcasing artifacts that tell a story about Tennessee, from its First Peoples to the present day. Learn more at tnmuseum.org/TN225.

The Statehood Day events at the Library and Archives, Bicentennial Mall State Park and the Tennessee State Museum are free. Reservations are not required.

For the latest information from the Library and Archives, follow their social media channels: Facebook: Tennessee State Library and Archives and Instagram: @tnlibarchives and the Secretary of State’s Twitter account: @SecTreHargett.

For more information about the Library and Archives and the other divisions of the Department of State, visit sos.tn.gov.

New Library and Archives building to open April 13

A rendering of the Tennessee State Library and Archives Building (Image credit: Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office)

The new Tennessee State Library and Archives building is scheduled to open on April 13. Secretary of State Tre Hargett is organizing a parade for the transfer of Tennessee first three constitutions to the new facility on Monday.

The $124 million structure — which some critics have dubbed the Taj Ma-Hargett — has been under construction since 2017. It is located across from the new Tennessee State Museum on Bicentennial Mall.

The Archives are under the jurisdiction of the legislative branch of government, while the museum falls under the aegis of the executive branch.

Here’s the release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State Library and Archives, TSLA, is scheduled to open to the public on April 13, 2021, in its new location on the northeast corner of the Bicentennial Mall at the intersection of Rep. John Lewis Way N. and Jefferson St.

“It is an exciting time for TSLA as we are only weeks away from opening the doors to this important resource for our great state,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “This state-of-the-art facility will ensure Tennessee’s history will be properly preserved and accessible for generations to come.”

After more than a year of preparation, TSLA staff started moving and installing collections and exhibits in the new building at the beginning of February.

“Countless hours of planning by our staff has gone into carefully and thoughtfully transporting our historical documents, manuscripts and collections,” said Chuck Sherrill, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist.

“Thanks to the dedication of our staff and the professionalism of our moving contractor, most of the 500,000 books and 40,000 boxes of archival material in our collection will be available for Tennesseans when we open our doors in April.”

The new 165,000 square foot facility includes a climate-controlled chamber for safely storing historic books and manuscripts with a space-saving robotic retrieval system. A new blast freezer will allow TSLA staff to help save materials damaged by water or insects following floods and other disasters. The new facility also has classrooms for student groups and meeting space for training librarians and archivists.

The larger and more technologically advanced building is a major upgrade from TSLA’s current 1950s era home. The new facility has the much needed space to properly house collections, improved climate controls and increased handicapped access. The extra space and efficiency will increase TSLA’s capacity by nearly 40 percent from 542,700 to 759,500 items.

The 110th General Assembly approved funding in 2017 and 2018 for the new facility. Although the project timeline was adjusted slightly after the March 2020 tornados, construction remained within the $123.8 million budget.

A ribbon cutting event will be held on April 12, with virtual viewing details forthcoming. The new building will open to the public with limited capacity due to COVID-19 safe precautions on April 13.

For the latest information about the new building opening, follow the TSLA’s social media channels: Facebook: Tennessee State Library and Archives and Instagram: @tnlibarchives along with the Secretary of State’s Twitter account: @SecTreHargett.

About the Tennessee State Library and Archives
The office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett oversees the operations of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. By law, it is required to preserve Tennessee’s legal and civic history by housing the archives of state government and collections of records from families, churches, businesses and organizations. TSLA is home to many notable historic documents including Tennessee’s Constitutions, letters from Tennessee’s three presidents, Civil War diaries, records of 55 past Governors of the State and original records and maps of the State of Franklin. The collections include copies of virtually every book published about Tennessee and Tennesseans. Original documents from court cases and legislation along with audio recordings of legislative proceedings since 1955 are preserved by TSLA. Copies of the records from every Tennessee courthouse and all surviving Tennessee newspapers can also be viewed in the library’s collections.