Category Archives: Newspapers

TNGenWeb Historical News Portal Featured at NEH Meeting

One of the special projects we offer here at the TNGenWeb is our Historical News Portal site. The Historical News Portal provides transcriptions of items from historical Tennessee newspapers organized in a way that makes it easy for you to find information by surname or county.  

The Historical News Portal site is still under development, but at the present time, contains almost 800 newspaper articles with a name index of close to 3,000 names. 

Much of the material on the Historical News Portal site comes from Tennessee newspapers digitized by the Tennessee Newspaper Digitization Project (TNDP).  Begun in 2010, the TNDP is a joint collaboration between the University of Tennessee Libraries and the Tennessee State Library and Archives.  With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the National Newspaper Digitization Program (NNDP), the TNDP has digitized almost 47,500 issues of newspapers from close to 90 titles spanning 1836-1922. That’s a lot of newspapers! And, a lot of opportunities to find stories about your ancestors!  

Though the newspapers are available in their entirety online, searching them may not always be the easiest thing to do. To help you, we began the TNGenWeb Historical News Portal so that we can do some of the organization for you.  On the site, you’ll find surname indexes by last name, by county, and even a few indexes for specific newspapers.  The indexes are still growing, so you can subscribe to keep up with new additions as we add them to the site.  We are always in need of volunteers, so drop a line if you are able to help.


Louisa presents about the TNGenWeb Historical News Portal

This past week, we were honored to be featured by TNDP Project Coordinator, Louisa Trott Reeves, at a recent NEH meeting.  The Tennessee project is just one of the 40 states with NEH funding to digitize historical newspapers and this past week, the NNDP held their annual conference to hear from state awardees about how the newspapers are being used for genealogy and family history research.  Louisa presented and included the Historical News Portal in her presentation as such an example!

Louisa tells us that her presentation was very well received and even the NEH Chairman, William Adams, gave encouraging remarks.  How cool is that? 

Thank you Louisa for taking the time to acknowledge the TNGenWeb and sharing aspects of our work.  

The TNGenWeb strives to do our best to make information as accessible as possible for our researchers and the more we spread the word, the better. And of course, many thanks to our volunteers that help provide information for our TNGenWeb sites!  

Disclaimer: I, Taneya Koonce, am a volunteer member of the TNDP Advisory Board.


Tennessee Bodes Well in Recent NEH Awards



To all of you Tennessee history enthusiasts, you’ll be so pleased to hear the news of the funding received throughout the state from the National Endowment for Humanities. 

Yesterday, NEH announced the recipients of their recent funding cycle. Awards were made for 177 projects around the country and totaled $34 million dollars. 

In Tennessee, projects awarded include:

  • Chattanooga History Center — award provided to fund the implementation of a permanent, multimedia exhibit to tell the story of the history of Chattanooga, TN.  I would love to go see this when it’s completed!
  • TN Digital Newspaper Program – oh yes! Another 100,000 pages of historical newspapers from around the state will be added to the Chronicling America website (hosted by the Library of Congress).  You can check the current list available here, but be sure to follow the program website for updates! (Disclaimer: yours truly is a member of the Advisory Board for this initiative)
  • Blount County — the Blount County government will receive funds to better preserve their archival records.  Their records date back to the late 1700s and includes a wealth of information on the history and culture of eastern Tennessee. I am personally also glad to hear this news as I coordinate the Blount County TNGenWeb site. 

Congratulations to the award recipients. This is great news for the state and we are all looking forward to the great work that will happen as a result. 

You can learn more about all the funded projects by reading the news release on the NEH website

Update on the TN Newspaper Digitization Project

At the end of July, the National Endowment for Humanities announced their latest round of funding and among those awarded was the Tennessee Newspaper Digitization Project.  This is great news for the project as this funding will bring another 100,000 pages of pre-1922 newspapers online to the Library of Congress Chronicling America website.  You can read the news release at the TN Newspaper Digitization Project at <>. 

The specific papers to be included are not yet determined – that will be decided this fall once the project team gets together.  However, as this is the 2nd round, many papers have already been added online from the 1st round.  If you’re not familiar with them, you definitely want to check them out.  These historical papers contain so much information that may help you in your research.  To date, the following papers are online:

To keep up as this moves forward, consider subscribing to the Project News blog

Cookbooks for Genealogy?

Yours truly is not a cook. Not at all. My husband does our family cooking.  However, upon reading a recent article in the Huffington Post on African-American cookbooks, I noted one of the cookbooks were written by a Tennessee native, Rufus Estes.  Titled “Good Things to Eat,”  the cookbook was published in 1911.

What caught my eye is that in the beginning of the book Mr. Estes gives an account of his family history, sharing notable events in his life that led up to his career as a cook.

  • 1857 – born a slave in Maury County and belonged to D.J. Estes
  • 1867 – his mother moved to Nashville, TN – home of his grandmother
  • 1873 – employed in Nashville by a restaurant-keeper named Hemphill
  • 1881 – moves to Chicago and got a position at 77 Clark Street where he made $10/week
  • 1883 – became a Pullman porter
  • 1894 – sailed to Japan and visited the Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo
  • 1897 – took charge of Arthur Stillwell’s (President of the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gould Railroad) $20,000 private car
  • 1907 – became employed as chef of the subsidiary companies of the United States Steel Corporation in Chicago

And, in 1911, he publishes his cookbook. How interesting! I can’t say I would think to have found a mini-biography in a cookbook!  I downloaded the Kindle version to the book ($0) and will take a look at some of the recipes.  Think I can get the hubby to cook some?

Broad Ax newspaper of Salt Lake City. 6 May 1911

If you’ve found a genealogy gem in a cookbook, please let us know! It would be interesting to hear some of your finds.




TNGenWeb in the Clarksville Newspaper

This week, I was contacted by a reporter from the Clarksville newspaper, The Chronicle Leaf, to speak about how the TNGenWeb project assists those working on their family history & genealogy.

Tavia Green, the reporter, wrote this segment as one of three separate articles focusing on researching your family tree.  She wrote one article describing the efforts of Karen Baynham Curry in tracing her family roots.  The article mentioning TNGenWeb focuses more on how technology can aid the process, and the third article outlines the reporter’s experience looking for her own family.

We are pleased to be a part of the newspaper article! The TNGenWeb is really all about how we as a volunteer group can help provide you with FREE resources you may need in your research.  Take a moment to peruse these article – they are interesting reads.

Meanwhile, let us know if there is anything we can assist you with in your own research.

Bristol & Knoxville Newspapers Go Online

A few days ago, more Tennessee newspapers were added to the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website; specifically,  back issues of the following newspapers were uploaded:

  • Bristol News (& title variants) — 18784-1878
  • Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig (& title variants) — 1860-1866
  • Knoxville Chronicle — 1870-1875

This is the most recent batch upload in an ongoing collaborative project from the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee State Library & Archives.  The latest additions bring the total number of pages up to almost 48,000 – just beneath the halfway point for this round of funding.  the entire list that will be added can be found here.

The Chronicling America site is a wonderful resource for historic newspapers; the individual newspaper pages are easy to manipulate for saving and adding to your family history files. Check it out and see what you can learn.

Note: If you would like to receive email updates as new items are posted on the TNGenWeb Blog, please sign up for email alerts or subscribe to the rss feed.

From the Inbox: Is it Her?

Periodically, I will share examples of research inquiries we in the TNGenWeb Project receive via email.  Helping researchers is key to what we do and providing guidance has the potential to be of great help to others.  Perhaps you’ll pick up a tip or two that will help you in your research?  Here is a query I received last week and luckily enough I was able to quickly find an answer using the new historical newspaper collection of the Memphis Daily Appeal newspaper at the ChroniclingAmerica website.

The question:  Researcher L.W. was searching for more information on a marriage between Ellen V. Howlett and James M. Moorehead (Moorehead).  Their marriage is documented in Shelby County, Tennessee January 30, 1862.  In searching for the bride, L.W. located a woman named Ellen Howlett living in Madison County, Tennessee in the 1850 census in the household of a G.C. Howlett.  Knowing that Madison is very close to Memphis, she wondered if the Ellen in the census record the same as the Ellen marrying James in Memphis?

Well guess what came to make this question an easy one to answer?  The recent addition online of past issues of the Memphis Daily Appeal newspaper.  The issues are at the website and were just added in July.  The dates span 1857-1876.

Memphis Daily Appeal - 4 Feb 1862

Since the couple was married in Memphis, perhaps there would be a notice in the newspaper that would tell us more about them? Often,  marriage notices provide information such as the hometown of the couple and at times even lists their parents and relatives.

Off to the ChroniclingAmerica website I went to search.  Once there, the easiest thing to do since I had the specific marriage date was look at each page of several issues – from Jan. 30th to up to two weeks out to be safe.  Sure enough, on page 4 of the February 1st issue I found it!  The notice informs us that they were married by the Rev. Mr. Harris and that Ellen Virginia Howlett was indeed from Jackson, Madison County, Tennessee.

A quick search for Howlett (and spelling variation) families in the county confirm that she is the only Ellen and/or Virginia.   However, the story is not over just yet.  L.W. is now in the process of trying to find out if this particular Mr. & Mrs. Moorehead are her ancestors or not.  There is information that suggests otherwise, so the search continues.   But isn’t it great to have these kind of resources at our fingertips?



Nashville Newspapers at Chronicling America

The UT/TSLA initiative to add historical newspapers to the Chronicling website continues to expand. The team recently announced that issues of the Nashville Union & American from 1853-1856 have now been added.  Also, a few issues of its predecessor, the Nashville Union, are there.

There is a nice overview history of the Nashville Union & American newspaper on the Chronicling website that you will want to read.  The paper contains much information that may be useful in your research – content can range widely from advertisements, state government proceedings, runaway slave notices, and more.

Nashville Union & American Advertisement - H.A. JESSEL

Incorporation of Rose Hill Cemetery in Maury County (Nov 12, 1853 issue)

Runaway Slave ad from the Feb 29, 1856 issue

Combined with the already available issues of the Memphis Daily Appeal from 1857-1876 that makes for more than 6,000 issues of TN newspapers on the site.  More will be added and we will share more news as we learn of it.