The Panoramic Photographs of Elgin P. Kintner, MD

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KintnerElgin P. Kintner, Blount County pathologist and dedicated hiker of the Great Smoky Mountains, had a passion for the rewards available to the most committed of mountain trekkers, the panoramic views afforded by the mountaintops and fire towers in the Smokies. In the 1960s and 1970s, his camera always with him, Kintner hiked the many trails in the Smokies and recorded the ever-changing vistas by taking a series of overlapping photographs. Once the photographs were developed, he pasted them together, carefully matching them to create panoramic displays. But the result never equaled the vision until, with modern technology, the images were transformed by the University of Tennessee Libraries into an online digital collection titled “The Panoramic Images of Elgin P. Kintner, M.D.

The collection is the result of a collaboration between the Libraries and Kintner’s daughter, Beccie King. Recognizing the value of her father’s images and wishing to see them recreated as her father envisioned them, King had the negatives scanned and stitched to form seamless panoramas. She then donated the finished panoramas along with a large collection of her father’s stand-alone photographs to the University of Tennessee Libraries with the intention that the originals would be preserved and that the digital images would be made available for the enjoyment of all. The resulting collection is viewable online at

As King sorted through her father’s photographs, they stirred up many memories. Kintner told his daughter that, “he saw those mountains every day on his way to and from the hospital and thought how beautiful they are. But he realized you can’t get to ‘know’ the mountains unless you get into the mountains. With that realization he started hiking. He set a goal for himself of hiking all the maintained trails in the park, then all the unmaintained trails. He accomplished that goal and more.”

In fact, he crisscrossed all the trails in the Smokies many times, always with a camera in his custom-made leather frontpack. “He especially cherished being able to take panoramic photos of unobstructed views from the fire towers. He planned hikes when the leaves were off the trees and there was a skiff of snow which showed the definition of the ridges and hiking trails,” according to King.

Many of the fire towers that served as Kintner’s favored vantage point for panoramas no longer exist. “The fire towers on Blanket Mountain, Bunker Hill, High Rocks, Rich Mountain, and Spruce Mountain — those historic structures are gone. That makes Dr. Kintner’s panoramic views an even more treasured collection,” notes Ken Wise, a UT librarian and the author of several hiking guides to the Smokies.

Kintner’s obituary describes him as a “legendary” hiker. And even that may be an understatement. “Perhaps his greatest hiking feat was hiking both sections of the Appalachian Trail within the National Park in two one-day hikes. Even the rangers didn’t believe he did it,” said King. “I believe one section is 32 miles and the other 43.” On the longer hike, Kintner’s daughter drove him to Clingmans Dome and dropped him off at 4:30 a.m., in pitch dark — his only companions: his backpack and a flashlight. Kintner hiked eastward along Clingmans Dome Road to Newfound Gap where he met Margaret Stevenson, his two grandsons, and a few other hikers. He then turned around and hiked the Appalachian Trail back to Clingmans Dome and then on to Fontana Dam where many hours later his daughter Beccie picked him up. The precise length of that fabled hike from Clingmans Dome to Fontana Dam could be disputed, but journalist/conservationist Carson Brewer, in a 2001 Knoxville News Sentinel column, stated his belief that the hike was “still the record for one-day walking in the Smokies.”

Another of Kintner’s hiking partners was Lorene Smith, the Blount County historian who wrote the “Digging for Ancestors” column for Maryville’s Daily Times. Kintner and Lorene Smith co-authored the book, Blount County Remembered: The 1890s Photography of W.O. Garner. Together they located the sites pictured in the old photographs and provided historical notes. On one of their hikes, King remembers, “Lorene Smith fell and broke a leg. Elgin made a loop with his belt to support the broken leg, while Lorene ‘walked’ out on one leg and two hands, bottom to the trail, just like a bug, back to the car.”

In fact, Kintner saved at least two lives, one a diabetic man who was suffering a blood sugar crash, the other a young man caught unprepared in a sudden snowstorm and suffering severe hypothermia. It took much cajoling to convince the disoriented young man to walk out with Kintner to the nearest ranger station.

UT librarians Anne Bridges and Ken Wise, co-directors of the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project, were thrilled to add Elgin Kintner’s panoramic photographs to materials they are gathering on the Smokies and surrounding region. “We love these photos. As soon as Beccie showed us the images, we saw their potential,” says Bridges. “We’re so grateful to her for letting us add them to the Smokies collection.”

For 15 years, the UT Libraries’ Great Smoky Mountains Project has been collecting and preserving books, articles, photographs, manuscripts, maps, business records, diaries, and other written and visual material to create the definitive collection of Smokies-related material. Some unique visual collections, like “The Panoramic Images of Elgin P. Kintner, M.D.,” are digitized and made available online for use by scholars and researchers around the world. Those online collections now include a photographic record of the Smokies covering more than 125 years.

The UT Libraries’ digital collections are viewable at


Looking southeast from Cove Mountain. Some panoramas include an alternative version annotated with the prominent peaks marked to better orient the viewer.

UT Library Celebrates Gift of an 18th Century Text

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DeoOptimo_smallThe public is invited to an event celebrating a special gift to the University of Tennessee Libraries on the evening of Thursday, March 14, at the John C. Hodges Library on the UT campus.

University of Tennessee Library Friends and guests will gather to learn about the antecedents of a rare 1725 pamphlet written by one of Louis XV’s gardeners on a subject that references the Appalachian region.

Each year the Library Friends group pools undesignated donations to make a single gift to the UT Libraries. This year’s gift from the Library Friends is a pamphlet recording a disputation among learned 18th century physicians on a Quaestio Medica — a medical question — “Whether or not the Apalachine drink from America is healthful?”

Bernard de Jussieu, the presenter of the remarks recorded in this pamphlet, belonged to a prominent French family that included a number of distinguished botanist-gardeners of the 18th and 19th centuries. Successive generations of the de Jussieu family served as directors of the famous botanical garden of the French kings, the Jardin du Roi. Bernard de Jussieu was Sub-demonstrator of Plants at the royal garden under Louis XV. He and his two brothers — Antoine, who was director of the Jardin du Roi, and Joseph, who traveled the world seeking new botanical specimens to ship back to the king’s garden — are as renowned among botanists as their contemporary Carl Linnaeus.

In the 18th century, voyages of colonial expansion or botanical exploration resulted in an influx of new plant species sent back to Europe for cultivation in botanical gardens. The new plant material helped spur advances in plant taxonomy like the classification schemes of Linnaeus and Bernard de Jussieu.

At the March 14 event, guests will hear from an expert on the history of botanical excursions into the New World. Ronald H. Petersen, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, will give a talk at 6:30 p.m. in the Hodges Library auditorium.

Specializing in the fungi, botanist Ron Petersen has described the mushrooms and their relatives from the Smoky Mountains and many other places on earth. One of his avocations, however, has been the natural history of the Southern Appalachians. He has published accounts of botanical penetration of the mountains in the 1830s and ’40s, the survey of a line marking the boundary between the Cherokee Nation and the spreading early colonial pioneers, as well as (with UT librarian Ken Wise) a natural history of Mt. LeConte. His most ambitious project has been New World Botany: Columbus to Darwin (2001), tracing botanical exploration and knowledge in and about the New World over five centuries.

The public is invited to a reception in the Jack E. Reese Galleria at 5:30 p.m., followed by Dr. Petersen’s talk at 6:30 p.m. The rare Quaestio Medica pamphlet will be on display in the Libraries’ Special Collections department.

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Donor Spotlight: Alan Heilman

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Alan_HeilmanAlan S. Heilman, retired UT professor of botany, devoted 37 years to teaching generations of young biology students at UT. He devoted even more years to recording the miraculous structures of plants in his extraordinary photographs.

Heilman decided to partner with the UT Libraries to preserve and share his photographs of flowering plants, ferns, mosses, and lichens taken over more than sixty years. Several years ago Heilman began sorting through his slides, selecting what he considered his best shots, and bringing batches of color slides to Digital Library Production for scanning. The resulting collaboration is The Botanical Photography of Alan S. Heilman, one of the UT Libraries’ digital collections available for viewing by all on the Libraries’ website.

TrumpetVineVisitors to The Botanical Photography of Alan S. Heilman will immediately notice the photographer’s particular fascination with the intricate forms of plants: many of his photographs are close-ups — even microscopic enlargements — of their subjects. Heilman’s experimentation with extreme close-up views even preceded his decision to study botany; it dates from his chance discovery, as a young high school student, of a hometown chapter of the American Society of Amateur Microscopists. Photomicrographs became one of Heilman’s passions, and extreme close-ups of pistils, stamens, and other anatomical structures of plants have continued to be one of his photographic specialties.

Heilman joined the (now defunct) Botany Department at the University of Tennessee in 1960 and taught general botany and plant anatomy until his retirement in 1997. He continues to pursue his photographic artistry and often can be seen at the UT Gardens, carefully staging his next shot.

Perhaps Heilman’s framing is so exact and his execution so perfect because he risks actual film in making his shots. Heilman has never owned a digital camera. Scanning performed by library staff is the only digital process used in creation of The Botanical Photography of Alan S. Heilman.

Read more about Dr. Heilman’s artistry and technical process in the 2010-2011 Library Development Review.

Join Us to Celebrate the Gift of a Rare First Edition

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DeoOptimo_smallThe University of Tennessee Library Friends have begun a new tradition. Each year, gifts to the Library Friends, both large and small, will be pooled together to make a gift to the Libraries. This year’s gift is a rare 1725 first edition of Deo Optima Max, an important work on botany and medical properties of plants of the Appalachian Mountains.

The Libraries will celebrate and formalize the Friends’ gift with an event Thursday, March 14, at the John C. Hodges Library. Join us at 5:30 p.m. for a reception in the Jack E. Reese Galleria, followed by a lecture at 6:30 p.m. Botanist Ron Petersen will detail the significance of Deo Optimo Max. Petersen is an Emeritus Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. He has drawn international recognition for his research and knowledge of mushrooms, fungi and biology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Deo Optima Max is the work of the renowned 18th century French naturalist Bernard de Jussieu. The unassuming little pamphlet (only four pages) is actually quite a rarity. One copy of the 1725 edition is located in the National Library of France, but there are no recorded copies of the first edition in America.

Deo Optima Max will reside in our Special Collections, where the showpiece will strengthen our existing collections related to Appalachia. Special Collections actively seeks material to support UT’s Great Smoky Mountains Regional Collection and the study of Appalachian history, culture, and natural history.

Future annual gifts from the Library Friends may be a rare book, funds to support a renovation to one of the libraries, or new technology that will move the library forward. Gifts will be celebrated each spring to show the Library Friends how their donations make a difference to the students, faculty, and UT community.

Introducing the Database of the Smokies

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Dr. Aaron J. Sharp and Dr. Stanley Cain
taking field notes in the Smokies, circa 1935

Have you ever wished that there was a place to go when you wanted information on the Smokies — one site where you could research history, plants, animals and culture, and find links to online articles and digitized photographs? The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project at the University of Tennessee Libraries proudly announces the official release of the new Database of the Smokies (DOTS), a free online bibliography of Smoky Mountains material published since 1934, the date of the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

DOTS contains searchable records of books, scholarly and popular journal articles, government and scientific reports, theses and dissertations, maps, and digitized photographs, as well as travel and recreational guides. Wherever copyright restrictions permit, citations are linked to scanned copies of the published item. DOTS can be visited on the UT Libraries’ website at:

DOTS is intended to compliment Terra Incognita: An Annotated Bibliography of the Great Smoky Mountains, 1544–1934, scheduled for publication by the University of Tennessee Press in the summer of 2013. With DOTS and Terra Incognita, researchers will have access to a wealth of published material documenting over 400 years of human activity in the Smokies and surrounding region.

Dr. L. R. Hesler at work in his laboratory,
circa 1950

DOTS currently contains about 2,000 citations, focused within the fields of biology and ecology, and includes the research publications of distinguished former University of Tennessee botanists Aaron Sharp, Stanley Cain, and L. R. Hesler. In addition to important early studies of Smokies biology, DOTS contains citations to published material from the areas of history, psychology, genealogy, archaeology, economics, tourism, environmental studies, geology, literature, cultural studies, and park management. In the future, the curators of DOTS will add links to digitized photographs from the UT Libraries’ online collections and to other content freely available on the internet. As the content expands, DOTS should become a comprehensive resource for “all things Smokies.”

The project team has been hard at work on DOTS since May 2011, building the database around Drupal, an open-source platform particularly suited for managing content. Drupal is both versatile and flexible. It affords not only easy-to-use search functions but also allows expansion of the bibliography through crowd-sourcing, an innovative collaborative web technique. Calling on the collective knowledge of a community of users, crowd-sourcing will allow users of DOTS to become contributors, as well, by identifying new publications and uploading citations.

The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project will continue to update the online database with new content. Together, Terra Incognita and the Database of the Smokies will be the most comprehensive bibliography of the Great Smoky Mountains ever compiled.

Research expedition on Mount LeConte with Dr. L. R. Hesler (far left) and Stanley A. Cain (far right) in front row and Aaron J. Sharp in back row (far right), circa 1935

Anne Bridges, Co-Director, Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project, 865-974-0017,
Ken Wise, Co-Director, Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project, 865-974-2359,

16th Century Bibles at UT Libraries

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A collection of rare pre-King James Bibles now resides at the UT, Knoxville Libraries. The rare Bibles once belonged to a noted Shakespeare scholar.

A little over a year ago, the UT Libraries was fortunate to acquire a collection of more than 300 early printed Bibles and other rare books from the collection of the late Naseeb Shaheen, professor of English at the University of Memphis for forty years. Shaheen was an internationally known authority on biblical allusions in Shakespeare’s plays. He assembled his collection of early printed Bibles to assure that he was working from the exact texts available to the Bard.

The centerpiece of the Shaheen Antiquarian Bible Collection is a group of about 100 English Bibles dating from the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century when the Christian scriptures were first translated into the vernacular languages of Europe. These early printed Bibles, along with psalters, prayer books and homilies; Greek and Latin Bibles; and early editions of literary works dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, form the core of the collection used by Shaheen in his studies of the Bible in literature.

Shaheen’s collection of pre-King James Bibles was one of the largest in the world. The Shaheen Antiquarian Bible Collection includes more than 60 examples of the Geneva Bible, the Scripture most often referenced in Shakespeare, as well as early printings of the so-called Great Bible, Bishops’ Bible, Matthew’s Bible, the Douay-Rheims Version, and the King James Bible.

These extraordinary artifacts are now available in UT’s Special Collections for reference by scholars of Shakespeare, the Bible, and Renaissance literature.

Historic Tennessee football programs: online!

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footballVolunteer football programs from past years are now online. The Tennessee Football Programs are among the digital collections available on the UT Knoxville Libraries website at

The collection includes programs and guides for home games and postseason games. Visitors to the website can browse by Year, Coach, Guides, or Postseason.

The Tennessee Volunteers have one of the most storied histories in college football and some of the most colorful traditions to match. Over the years, Volunteer football has been host to thrilling victories, crushing defeats, influential coaches, dedicated players, and enthusiastic fans.

The football programs are packed with stories and facts. In the October 25, 2008 program, for instance, fans can read about the Tennessee vs. Alabama rivalry, retired Volunteer jerseys, and Smokey’s lineage and adventures (Smokey II survived both a dognapping and a confrontation with the Baylor Bear).

The University Archives at the UT Knoxville Libraries holds a nearly complete collection of Volunteer football programs going back to 1930, as well as a smattering of programs dating from 1904 to 1929. The library is scanning and uploading the programs in reverse order. To date, 246 programs (some 32,000 pages) going back to 1975 are available online.

If you have an old football program among your personal mementoes that fills a gap in the Libraries’ collection, the University Archives would love to borrow and scan your treasure. (Contact University Archivist Alesha Shumar,, 865-974-9427.)

The UT Knoxville Libraries digitizes unique local resources and makes them openly available on the web. University Archives collections documenting campus life that are accessible online include Volunteer yearbooks, Tennessee Alumnus magazine, programs from UT Commencements, and The Phoenix literary arts magazine. Visit to view the Libraries’ growing catalog of digital collections.

UT Libraries Adds its 3-Millionth Volume, A Cherokee Spelling Book

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speller2The University of Tennessee Libraries now boasts a collection of 3-million volumes. The university community and Library Friends gathered to celebrate the Libraries’ 3-millionth-volume milestone at an event in the John C. Hodges Library on the evening of March 26.

The volume chosen to represent the 3-millionth-volume benchmark in the Libraries’ history is TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Book, published in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1819. The Libraries’ copy of the Cherokee Spelling Book is one of only three copies known to exist.

During remarks at the March 26 celebration, UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Provost Susan Martin praised the Libraries and its staff for their contributions to scholarship on the Knoxville campus and worldwide. Dean of Libraries Barbara Dewey outlined other notable milestones in the Libraries’ history and reflected on the importance of collecting and preserving historical Tennessee documents. The Cherokee Spelling Book strengthens the Libraries’ exceptional collections of early Knoxville imprints and material documenting the region’s history, including the history of the Cherokee and their removal from this area.

Before guests visited the Libraries’ Special Collections where the rare volume was on display, Vicki Rozema, author of several books on Cherokee history and culture, provided historical context for the Spelling Book.

TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Boo
k, was the work of missionary Daniel Butrick and David Brown, Butrick’s Cherokee student at the Brainerd Mission in Chattanooga. The Brainerd Mission was one of many Christian missions founded in the early 19th century as part of the religious revival in America known as the Second Great Awakening. Butrick and Brown’s slim volume of only 61 pages, which uses the Roman alphabet to transcribe the Cherokee language, predates the well-known syllabary created by Sequoyah.

Daniel Butrick marched with the Cherokees on the “Trail of Tears” to Indian Territory in Oklahoma during the Indian Removals of the 1830s. Rozema told the audience that the journal Butrick kept along the way is one of the most poignant and thorough records we have of that tragic journey.

TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Book is a compelling and important document of the early 19th century in East Tennessee, and a fitting symbol for this milestone in the progression of the University of Tennessee Libraries.

Pictured above:
TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Book.
• Guests view the “speller” as Special Collections staffer Nick Wyman (left) relates its history.

Smoky Mountain Photos in UT’s Thompson Brothers Digital Collection

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ThompsonBarThe UT Libraries’ Thompson Brothers Digital Photograph Collection has been expanded to include several hundred more historic photos of the Great Smoky Mountains. The images in the Thompson Brothers Digital Photograph Collection are the work of Jim and Robin Thompson, prominent photographers in Knoxville, Tennessee in the 1920s through ’40s and pioneering photographers of the Smoky Mountains.

The Thompson Brothers collection of Smoky Mountain photographs ranks among the finest visual records of the mountains before the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934. The photographs -– shot with a large-format camera and showing amazing detail — include sweeping vistas and candid shots that document the local culture and economy before creation of the Park. Jim Thompson’s spectacular photographs of the mountains played a critical role in convincing the U.S. Congress to make the Smokies the site of the first national park east of the Mississippi.

The collection includes hundreds of individual images of the Smokies garnered from UT Libraries’ Special Collections and from the Calvin H. McClung Historical Collection of the Knox County Public Library, as well as Thompson photographs found in albums held by the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library Archives of Harvard University and Tutt Special Collections at Colorado College. The UT Libraries’ Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project and Digital Library Initiatives spent more than three years gathering, digitizing, and creating records for the Thompson photos.

The Thompson Brothers Digital Photograph Collection is one of the UT Libraries’ growing number of image collections documenting the history and culture of the Smoky Mountains. UT’s digital collections are accessible at


For further information, contact Anne Bridges (974-0017) or Ken Wise (974-2359).

Read more about the Thompson brothers and their work in the 2008-2009 Library Development Review.

Open House at Special Collections, Sept. 10

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CartoucheSave the date! The campus is invited to an Open House at the new location of the UT Libraries’ Special Collections. Visit us Thursday, September 10, 3:00-5:00 p.m., at our new location in Room 121 of the John C. Hodges Library.

Special Collections acquires and preserves collections of manuscripts, books, printed ephemera, maps, and other unique research materials. Examples of these exceptional collections, such as materials from our significant collection of materials on Knoxville-born writer James Agee, will be on display at the Open House on September 10. “Talk of Summer Evenings,” an exhibit celebrating the centennial of Agee’s birth, will feature Agee’s writings about Knoxville.

Researchers from around the world travel to Knoxville to use the one-of-a-kind materials housed in our Special Collections. These primary source materials are now more readily accessible to UT faculty and students at our new location in the main library.

Drop by our Open House on September 10 to learn how UT’s Special Collections can enhance your research.