New Digital Collection: Smokies Photos, Film Clips Set to Music

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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Libraries has created an online digital collection of photos and home movies of the Smokies taken in the 1940s,’50s, and ’60s by a Townsend businessman. Folksongs performed by local musicians have been added to the originally silent film clips.

Watch and listen: Views of Gatlinburg in 1941.
[Music recorded by Chris Durman (guitar) and Steve White (mandolin), January 2015.]

The William Derris Collection, comprised of 334 slides and twelve film clips, is available online for free at

William Derris, owner of the Derris Motel in Townsend, Tennessee, crisscrossed the Great Smoky Mountains by automobile, recording the people and scenery in both slides and silent film. He used the images and films to entertain and inform the guests at his motel. Derris’s images document landscapes, flora, wildlife and people in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including Townsend, Tuckaleechee, Cades Cove, Wears Valley, Little Greenbrier and Fontana.

Approximately 4,400 slides and eight reels of 8mm film shot by Derris were donated to the UT Libraries. The film footage was first digitized, and then the most interesting Smokies content was excerpted to create shorter clips.

Chris Durman, librarian at UT’s George F. DeVine Music Library, selected appropriate traditional songs to enhance the film clips and recruited local musicians to record the tunes. Steve White (on mandolin), Leslie Gengozian (violin) and Chris Durman (guitar, banjo, harmonica), performed the 16 public domain folksongs that were added to the film clips. The songs are all traditional Southern Appalachian tunes that were played in the Great Smoky Mountains region, according to folksong collectors.

The William Derris Collection is the latest in a growing list of digital photograph collections created by the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project that cover more than 100 years of life in the Smokies.

The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project, an undertaking of the UT Libraries, provides support for researchers at all levels who study the Smokies and the surrounding communities. Learn more about the project at


The latest from the Smokies Project: The Photographs and Films of William Derris

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WalkerSisters2From the 1940s through the 1960s, William Derris, owner of the Derris Motel in Townsend, traveled by automobile around the accessible parts of the Smokies recording the people and scenery in both slides and silent film. He used the images and films to entertain and inform the guests at his hotel. His collection was donated to the UT Special Collections and is now the newest digital project from the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project and the UT Digital Library:

As part of a student practicum project, approximately 340 of the 4400 slides were digitized to create the online presentation. These images document seasonal landscapes in Townsend, Tuckaleechee, Cades Cove, Newfound Gap and Fontana. Derris photographed the Walker Sisters, the most famous residents of Little Greenbrier, and many of the wildflowers he encountered on his travels.

CadesCoveThe films presented a unique opportunity for the team who worked on the collection. The original footage is on 8mm film spools. It includes not only films of the Smokies but many other locales as well. To create the digital collection, the films were first digitized and then the most interesting Smokies content was excerpted to create shorter clips. Since the films were silent, the team decided to add folk music. Local musicians Chris Durman (also our Music Librarian), Steve White, and Leslie Gengozian recorded live music to accompany the films. The musical tunes were selected because there is evidence from folksong collectors that they were played in the Smokies. The result is a wonderful hybrid of new and old technology.

Letters from a Founding Father

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WashingtonLetterWilliam Blount and John Sevier are early American politicians that you would expect to be represented in the University of Tennessee Special Collections manuscript collection. But other members of our founding generation represented in UT’s Special Collections might surprise you. For example we have three items from George Washington, the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and the new nation’s first President.

The first Washington letter that the library received was donated in 1945 by an alumnus, W. C. Taylor, who had bought the letter from the family of Major James Grant. Grant was an early Tennessee figure, who was involved in his friend William Blount’s conspiracy to seize Louisiana for Britain, and Florida for the United States. The letter was an introductory fragment of a message to William Blount from Washington; it expressed regret that the press of business at the end of the recent congressional session caused him to fall behind in his correspondence. Also part of the donation was a masonic medal, possibly of the Order of Cincinnatus, which Washington and Hamilton had established for former officers of the Continental Army. Grant family tradition held that the medal had been sent to Grant by Washington himself.

The second Washington letter came through another donation, the “Greer and Vinsinger Family Collection,” which consists mostly of material from their ancestor Col. Anthony Walton White. During the American Revolution, White fielded two cavalry regiments at his own expense. Also within this collection are letters from the Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton, Horatio Gates, Henry Knox, Banastre Tarleton of the British army, and “Mad” Anthony Wayne. Washington’s letter orders White to send twelve horses to be used by Washington’s staff until their own horses can arrive, and to send an officer to convey instructions to Lafayette.

The third Washington item is contained in an autograph collection assembled by the university’s McClung Museum. Some of the material was donated by Judge and Mrs. John W. Greene when they donated their collection of McClung family papers. Other items came to the museum from various donors. Within the collection are not only letters from George Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lee McClung’s correspondence with the actor William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but also letters from the founding generation such as John Marshall, Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, James Madison, as well as George Washington. The Washington item in the collection is his note written on a letter that had been sent his brother John Augustine Washington. The letter deals with the administration of justice in Pennsylvania over a land dispute. Washington’s note urges mediation as the best solution to the problem.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, students of the University of Tennessee can have the rare privilege of seeing and using letters of the “Father of our Country” George Washington and others of that great generation.

UT Libraries Acquires Two Historically Significant First Editions

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Two historically important books, acquired by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have been added to the library’s special collections.

Phillis Wheatley was an enslaved person in the household of a prosperous Boston family. Her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (published 1773) was the first published book by an African-American woman.

Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, or Black Hawk* (published 1833) was transcribed and translated into English from the testimony of the Sauk chief who waged war on the United States in 1832. Black Hawk’s Life was one of the first Native American autobiographies published in the United States.

The UT Libraries recently purchased rare first editions of both works. The copy of Wheatley’s Poems is a particularly noteworthy specimen. It contains an extremely rare inscription by the poet herself.

Frontispiece to Phillis Wheatley’s Poems

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was a child of approximately seven years old when she was captured by slavers in west Africa, transported to America, and sold at auction in the slave market of Boston, Massachusetts, to John and Susanna Wheatley. John Wheatley gave her the name of the slave ship, the Phillis, aboard which she had made the grueling Atlantic crossing.

The Wheatley family began tutoring Phillis in English, Latin, and the Bible, and the young slave quickly displayed a facility for learning.

The verses in Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral are filled with classical allusions. Many are elegies to the great men of the day. Her elegy on the death of the popular preacher George Whitefield, published in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and London when Wheatley was just 17 years old, gained her considerable notoriety. Susanna Wheatley tried to capitalize on her servant’s success to publish the verses but was unable to secure sufficient subscriptions to underwrite the cost of publication in the American colonies.

In the eighteenth century, the intellectual and creative capabilities of Africans were a subject of debate, and the reading public was skeptical of a literary work attributed to a slave. In 1772 Phillis Wheatley was called before a group of Boston’s leading citizens to defend the authenticity of her work.

The august body was convinced of her authorship. The Poems were printed in London and widely acclaimed. Wheatley was feted on two continents and met many notables, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

Wheatley was emancipated from slavery in 1773, but her life as a free woman was brief and fraught. She died in childbirth in 1784 at the age of 31.

The 1773 edition of Phillis Wheatley’s poems purchased by the UT Libraries, sadly, is missing the original frontispiece, a rare depiction of an individual female slave — a pensive Wheatley at work on a poem.

Wheatley’s slender volume of poetry, a signal literary achievement by an enslaved African, influenced the discourse on slavery in America.

Black Hawk’s recounting of his life and the Sauk insurrection influenced another debate, over the rights of America’s indigenous peoples.

White settlers began encroaching upon the Sauk nation’s ancestral homelands in the early decades of the nineteenth century, challenging the Sauk’s sovereign right to their land. The Sauk and other tribes living east of the Mississippi River were pushed to lands west of the river.

Chief Black Hawk (1767-1838) and other members of the Sauk questioned the validity of the treaty ostensibly ceding their lands. In 1832, Black Hawk and a group of several hundred men, women, and children attempted to resettle on tribal lands.

Whatever Black Hawk’s intentions, United States officials were convinced that his band was hostile. When Black Hawk sent a peace delegation to meet the approaching army, the three warriors waving a white flag were fired upon. Thus began the brief encounter known as the Black Hawk War. During ensuing skirmishes, Black Hawk’s small band gained several successes before a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Bad Axe. Black Hawk escaped capture at Bad Axe but later surrendered.

Transferred to Fort Monroe in Virginia, Black Hawk and other imprisoned leaders of the uprising were paraded in public — not as reviled enemies but as celebrities. Along the eastern seaboard, far from frontier hostilities, the romanticizing of the “noble savage” was already underway. The prisoners posed for portraits, toured Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City, and even met briefly with President Andrew Jackson.

After a few months, Black Hawk and the other leaders were released. Black Hawk’s autobiography, dictated to a government interpreter, was published in 1833. It became an instant bestseller, going through five printings within a year.

The Black Hawk first edition also is a scarce treasure.

Katy Chiles, the UT professor who brought the item to the Libraries’ attention, appreciates the cultural significance and research value of both first editions. Her research on early American literatures and print culture studies involves looking at early editions of rare texts and analyzing how each different publication presented itself to readers in different and important ways. “In my work on Black Hawks’ Life, I am investigating how American publishers produced frontispieces, prefaces, and book bindings for the text’s earliest publications to influence the meaning of the War of 1812, the 1832 Black Hawk War, and, more broadly, British, U.S., and Indian relations,” Chiles told librarians when recommending the acquisition. “I also analyze the differences between texts, such as prefaces and frontispieces that play an important role in how ‘the Indian’ is represented. Access to first editions is key to enabling this kind of analysis. Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, or Black Hawk is a crucially important book in understanding and appreciating what indigenous peoples have done with print.” Chiles teaches African-American, Native American, and early American literature in the UT Department of English.

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral and Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak or Black Hawk are now available to scholars of American history and literature in the UT Libraries’ Special Collections. The acquisitions complement the UT Libraries’ excellent holdings of early American imprints.

* Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak or Black Hawk, embracing the tradition of his nation — Indian wars in which he has been engaged — cause of joining the British in their late war with America, and its history — description of the Rock-River village — manners and customs — encroachments by the whites, contrary to treaty — removal from his village in 1831. With an account of the cause and general history of the late war, his surrender and confinement at Jefferson barracks, and travels through the United States.

Terra Incognita, a bibliography of the Smokies, published by UT Press

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Terra Smokies CoverJoin us for a brown bag lecture, “‘Terra Incognita:’ The Great Smoky Mountains in Print,” at the East Tennessee History Center, March 12, 2014, from noon to 1:00 p.m., to hear highlights from the recently published bibliography.
Terra Incognita is the most comprehensive bibliography of sources related to the Great Smoky Mountains ever created. Compiled and edited by three librarians, this authoritative and meticulously researched work is an indispensable reference for scholars and students studying any aspect of the region’s past.

Starting with the de Soto map of 1544, the earliest document that purports to describe anything about the Great Smoky Mountains, and continuing through 1934 with the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—today the most visited national park in the United States—this volume catalogs books, periodical and journal articles, selected newspaper reports, government publications, dissertations, and theses published during that period.
This bibliography treats the Great Smoky Mountain Region in western North Carolina and east Tennessee systematically and extensively in its full historic and social context. Prefatory material includes a timeline of the Great Smoky Mountains and a list of suggested readings on the era covered. The book is divided into thirteen thematic chapters, each featuring an introductory essay that discusses the nature and value of the materials in that section. Following each overview is an annotated bibliography that includes full citation information and a bibliographic description of each entry.

Chapters cover the history of the area; the Cherokee in the Great Smoky Mountains; the national forest movement and the formation of the national park; life in the locality; Horace Kephart, perhaps the most important chronicler to document the mountains and their inhabitants; natural resources; early travel; music; literature; early exploration and science; maps; and recreation and tourism. Sure to become a standard resource on this rich and vital region, Terra Incognita is an essential acquisition for all academic and public libraries and a boundless resource for researchers and students of the region.

Anne Bridges and Ken Wise are co-directors of the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project. Bridges is associate professor at John C. Hodges Library at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research has been published in the Journal of Academic Librarianship, Book Research Quarterly, and Maine Historical Quarterly. Wise, associate professor at the John C. Hodges Library, is the author of Hiking Trails of the Great Smoky Mountains and co-author of A Natural History of Mount Le Conte. Having worked in academic libraries from 1977 to 2013, Russell Clement is now retired from Northwestern University, where his most recent position was head of the art collection. Clement has published extensively in art history and bibliography.

Your artwork or photo mash-up can win cash

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KoczoThe UT Libraries is holding two contests that offer cash awards.

The STUDENT ART IN THE LIBRARY juried exhibition seeks drawings, graphic design, prints, photography, paintings — any two-dimensional work — for display. Selected works will be on display in 135 Hodges Library throughout the spring semester. The top three works get cash prizes ($300, $150, $75). Submit your art at by Feb. 17.

PicSpinWin_CJ_smallAre you a creative spirit but not really an artist? Our PIC SPIN WIN contest lets you “repurpose” archival photos from the Libraries’ Special Collections — through collage, mash-up, or reproduction — to create an art piece that reflects the contest’s theme of “school spirit.” Winning works win cash prizes ($100, $75, $25) and will be showcased on digital screens at the libraries and the University Center. Submit your works at by April 9.

Both contests are open to currently enrolled students (undergrads and grads).

Knoxville and the Civil War: you are invited to a lecture

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KnoxCivilWar_smallDuring the Civil War, Knoxville, Tennessee was almost equally divided between Confederate and Union sympathizers.

Professor Tracy McKenzie, author of the book on the subject — Lincolnites and Rebels: A Divided Town in the American Civil War — will offer a lecture in the John C. Hodges Library on Thursday, November 14. The public is invited. The lecture is at 6:30 p.m. in the Lindsay Young Auditorium. A reception and music in the Jack E. Reese Galleria begin at 5:30 p.m.

Lincolnites and Rebels details Knoxville’s complex Civil War experience from the viciously partisan journalism of characters like William G. “Parson” Brownlow to post-war conflicts over the issue of emancipation.

Knoxville in the mid-nineteenth century was a commercial center, and during the Civil War was a strategically important juncture in the railroad that linked the eastern and western theaters of the war. Consequently, Knoxville was under continuous military occupation throughout the war.

Nearly forty-thousand soldiers fought over the town in the fall of 1863. The bloody Battle of Fort Sanders, the climactic battle in the siege of Knoxville, took place 150 years ago this month, less than a quarter mile from the current John C. Hodges Library.

The UT Libraries is marking the sesquicentennial with a new digital collection that highlights the libraries’ excellent holdings of Civil War documents. Selected letters and journals in the Digital Civil War Collection capture the perspectives and personal experiences of soldiers and civilians.

CartesDeVisite2_smallCivil War artifacts from the UT Libraries’ collections are now on display in the Special Collections reading room, 121 Hodges Library. Among the items on display are an Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America signed by an imprisoned Confederate soldier to secure his parole; a Union veteran’s badge cast from bronze taken from Confederate cannons; and the signed carte de visite of General Ambrose Burnside, leader of the defending Union troops at the Battle of Fort Sanders.

The public is invited to interact with fellow Civil War enthusiasts, examine gems from the Libraries’ collections, and enjoy the music of old-time Appalachian string band Boogertown Gap.

Knoxville & the Civil War: lecture, Nov. 14

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The public is invited to a lecture by
Professor Tracy McKenzie,
scholar of Civil War-era Tennessee.

Thursday, November 14, 2013
John C. Hodges Library
6:30 p.m. in the Lindsay Young Auditorium

Reception begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Jack E. Reese Galleria.
Civil War artifacts will be on display in our Special Collections reading room.

Tracy McKenzie, professor and chair of the department of history at Wheaton College, is the author of two award-winning books on the Upper South during the American Civil War, One South or Many? Plantation Belt and Upcountry in Civil War-Era Tennessee and Lincolnites and Rebels: A Divided Town in the American Civil War. Lincolnites and Rebels explores the civil war within Civil War by tracing the experience of a single community deeply divided between Unionist and Confederate sympathies: Knoxville, Tennessee. The Battle of Fort Sanders (November 29, 1863), the decisive engagement in the campaign to gain control of the city of Knoxville and the railroad that linked the Confederacy east and west, took place less than a quarter mile from the site of the current John C. Hodges Library.

Battle of Fort Sanders: Library Marks the Sesquicentennial

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FortSandersThis fall marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sanders, a major engagement in the Knoxville Campaign of the American Civil War. The University Libraries will host an event highlighting the pivotal battle that took place less than half a mile from the current John C. Hodges Library.

The University Libraries holds significant collections on the Civil War, including Civil War diaries and letters. Look for information on our collections and the Battle of Fort Sanders in our upcoming Library Development Review.

We hope you will join us to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sanders on Thursday, November 14, at 5:30 pm in the Hodges Library. The event will include an exhibit featuring many items from the Libraries’ Civil War collections and a lecture by Dr. Tracy McKenzie, faculty member in history at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and distinguished historian on the American Civil War. Mark your calendars and plan to attend. Our Library Friends will receive additional details via invitation later this fall.

Knoxvillian Among Party that Made First Ascent of Denali, 100 Years Ago

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Diary of that climb belongs to UT Libraries

Tatum’s diary of the Denali ascent (UAMN Photo)

Tatum’s diary of the Denali ascent (UAMN Photo)

On June 7, 1913, four climbers reached the south summit of Denali (better known, at the time, as Mount McKinley), the highest peak in North America. It was the first successful ascent to the pinnacle. The handmade American flag that was raised on the Alaskan summit that day had been stitched together during the ascent using materials from the climbers’ gear — bits of silk, strips of cotton, even a shoelace. It was the creation of Robert Tatum, a young Episcopal missionary from Knoxville, Tennessee.

A diary kept during that arduous expedition has lain in a small box of Robert Tatum’s personal papers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Libraries for more than half a century. That diary will play a small role in this year’s centennial celebration of the first ascent of Denali.

Flag made by Robert Tatum and raised on summit of Denali,  June 7, 1913 (UAMN Photo)

Flag made by Robert Tatum and raised on summit of Denali,
June 7, 1913 (UAMN Photo)

Robert Tatum’s flag and diary, along with other relics of that first ascent, are on loan to the University of Alaska Museum of the North as part of a special exhibit, “Denali Legacy: 100 Years on the Mountain.”

The team that summited Denali in 1913 included Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, and Tatum. The curator of the “Denali Legacy” exhibit was able to track down and borrow the diaries of all four climbers who reached the summit on June 7. Thanks to the internet and to archives, libraries, and climbers’ descendants who preserved the cherished journals and other keepsakes, “Denali Legacy” tells the story of the first ascent through the words of the intrepid adventurers and some of the objects they carried on the historic climb.

Robert Tatum raising the Stars and Stripes on the highest point in North America (Photo: Hudson Stuck)

Robert Tatum raising the Stars and Stripes on the
highest point in North America (Photo: Hudson Stuck)

Robert Tatum narrates the team’s arrival at the summit in these words:

    Today stands a big red letter in my life as our party of four, Hudson Stuck, Harry Phillipp Karstens, Walter Harper & myself reached the summit of Mount McKinley…

I had made a flag and raised it. First of all after we all shook hands with congratulations, Arch deacon [Hudson Stuck] offered a prayer of thanks. Then the instruments were read and I raised the flag and Arch d photographed it

Then while I took some angles with the prismatic compass, W. [Walter Harper] & Mr. K [Harry Karstens] erected a cross. And set it up. And we all gathered around it and said the “Te Deum.”

—Entry dated Saturday, June 7, 1913

An online search by the “Denali Legacy” curator chanced upon “The Robert G. Tatum Papers” at UT’s Special Collections. A request from the Museum of the North to borrow Tatum’s journal of the climb prompted Special Collections to scan Tatum’s diaries (the Denali diary and five other small diaries that chronicle Tatum’s experiences as a priest) and a photo album to create a digital collection. “The Robert G. Tatum Digital Collection” is viewable online at

With a summit elevation of 20,320 feet above sea level and a greater base-to-peak height than Mount Everest, Denali is considered one of the most difficult climbs in the world.

Hudson Stuck, then Episcopal Archdeacon of the Yukon, had followed the exploits of mountaineers who made forays on Denali, and he decided to make his own essay of the imposing massif. Stuck had climbed in the Alps and Rockies, and as a missionary to the native peoples of Alaska had traveled widely by dog sled.

Harry Karstens (later to become the first superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park) had been a Klondiker during the Alaska gold rush and gained fame as a fearless long-distance dog-musher. Walter Harper was a young man of mixed Scottish and Athabascan descent who accompanied Stuck on his many travels.

The 21 year-old Tatum, a postulant for holy orders, was teaching at the Episcopal mission school at Nenana, Alaska, when he met Stuck on one of the Archdeacon’s regular visits to the mission. Stuck enlisted Tatum as the camp cook for a planned ascent of Denali the next year. Even a trek to base camp would be a mountaineering feat. Tatum, the only inexperienced climber in the party, trained by hiking more than a thousand miles during the winter months that preceded the expedition. It was mere happenstance that Tatum joined the climb to the top. Just one week before the scheduled departure, Stuck invited Tatum to replace another climber who was unable to join the team.

The intrepid trekkers: Robert Tatum, Esaias George, Harry Karstens, Johnny Fredson, Walter Harper (Photo: Hudson Stuck)

The intrepid trekkers: Robert Tatum, Esaias George, Harry Karstens, Johnny Fredson,
Walter Harper (Photo: Hudson Stuck)

The team set out from Nenana in mid-March. Assisted by two Athabascan boys, the adventurers relayed supplies over 100 miles by dog sled before beginning their climb. Over twelve weeks, they braved bitter cold, altitude sickness, treacherous crevasses, and the constant threat of avalanches to reach the summit. To the ordinary mortal, it would seem an almost unimaginable ordeal.

At one point, traversing the Muldrow Glacier, Tatum slipped and plunged into a crevasse. He was saved by the rope that tied the climbing companions together. Many years later he recounted this mishap to a Knoxville News Sentinel reporter, yet, apparently, at the time he did not think the incident worth recording in his diary.

Another potentially fatal accident occurred while crossing the rain-swollen McKinley Fork. Two of the sled dogs shied in the rushing waters and turned back to shore, entangling Tatum’s legs and dragging him under the icy, waist-deep stream. In recording the incident, Tatum barely departs from his customary stoicism:

As we were crossing the river which I had so long dreaded and as Arch deacon had to be carried across, I took Walters dog. Johnnie [one of the Athabascan boys] had quite a hard time making his dog go forward so I was pushing him and after he started on I lost hold on my ice axe and my two dogs started across stream and pulled me over. Then they threw me on my back and splashed my face full of water and I lost my breath. The current was very strong and the water filed upon me. Mr. K rushed to me and just before I was about to go under he grabbed my hand and saved me. Walter came over too and took my pack. Mr K & Johnnie led me over as my breath was very short and I was weak. When I reached shore I fell on the ground and wept for thanks.

—Entry dated Thursday, June 12, 1913

By contrast, numerous diary entries record his feelings of homesickness. On successfully reaching the summit, he thinks of his family:

Very tired but happy and expect to move back downward tomorrow. I thought of those at home and would have reread Papas letter on top had it not have been so cold.

—Entry dated Saturday, June 7, 1913

Equally numerous are entries noting observance of religious services or transcribing points of theology learned from Archdeacon Stuck’s tutoring along the way. Easter Sunday falls one week after their departure from Nenana:

Went over land about 4 mi from Moose to Glacier City where we spent Easter Sunday. Had four more visitors had service. I started hymn 12 “Jesus Christ is risen today” very high. Archdeacon sang base. I got mixed in the reading of the Psalms & the “Passover,” to my sorrow. [Archdeacon Stuck] preached very impassioned sermon on the flowers, what they mean to man Even the Crocus that is found in the early Spring the pleasure it gives to man and its value and the love [flowers] create in man.

—Entry dated Sunday, March 23, 1913

Tatum was ordained as priest in the Episcopal Church on June 7, 1922 in Nenana and later returned to Knoxville to minister there for the next 42 years. He passed away on January 26, 1964, and is buried in the Old Gray Cemetery in Knoxville. Mount Tatum in Denali National Park and Preserve, named in his honor, is his memorial.

Read Robert Tatum’s diary of the Denali ascent at