Special Collections is committed to providing University of Tennessee faculty and instructors a variety of learning opportunities.  Working directly with primary source materials can teach students how to verify sources, explore clues, and locate evidence.

We invite students to visit Special Collections individually or in small groups outside of scheduled class time to complete assignments. Since we need to accommodate all of our researchers in the Reading Room and cannot predict how many people may arrive on a given day, we cannot usually accommodate entire classes in the Reading Room at once.

How to Request a Presentation

Schedule all library sessions at least 2 weeks in advance.  We will do our best to accommodate your choice, but due to the large volume of requests we cannot guarantee your preferred date.  Course instructors are expected to attend the library instruction session with their class(es).  Sessions must be requested here.

Preparing Your Students

Please remind your students to plan ahead.  Special Collections has limited hours and collections are stored offsite.  There is no self-service photocopying in the reading room. Students who leave assignments to the last minute may not be able to get access to the materials they need.  Please refer to our Research Policies for detailed information regarding registration, reproduction services, and materials requests. We have developed some tools to help your students prepare for their visit to the reading room:

Please use this handout to distribute to your students before their visit.

This video shows how to search finding aids, register in the reading room, and lists general rules. Some aspects are out of date (website design, photocopy policy) but the general information is correct.

English 102 Instruction

In order to support the curriculum of English 102, Special Collections has developed several teaching collections for those instructors who wish to use physical materials.  These collections, described below, will be held in Hodges throughout Spring semester, so students do not need to request them a day ahead.

For instructors who have chosen topics outside the scope of these collections, UTK Libraries offer a wealth of databases that feature primary sources on every conceivable topic.  Library instructors can help you find those that provide the best fit.  Special Collections cannot compete with these marvelous resources, so we will not be supporting English 102 topics beyond those listed below.

Teaching Collection Topics (click for more info)

Civil War (Diaries and Correspondence): Contains diaries and letters written by soldiers and civilians during the American Civil War (1861-1865).  The collection contains two diaries, one from a Confederate civilian (Eleanora Williams Diary, MS.2940) and one from a Confederate soldier (E.H. Rennolds Diaries, MS.0170).  The collection also contains two letters, one written by a Union soldier from Ohio describing the Battle of Fort Sanders (John Watkins Letter from 1863 December 15, MS.1161), and the other written by a Union officer during the Siege of Knoxville in 1863.

World War II (Correspondence): Presents the points of view of six soldiers and reservists representing different U.S. Armed Forces branches, including Army and Navy.  The collection covers when soldiers entered the military through enlistment or the draft after the U.S. entered the Second World War in 1941, through their experiences in post-war America after Victory over Japan (V-J) Day in 1945.  Primary sources include correspondence between soldiers and their loved ones, military and government documents, and soldiers’ memoirs written after the war.

Great Smoky Mountains/Appalachia: Features photographs of the Smoky Mountains and the people and events in them.  It documents the area both before and after the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, rural life, education and missions, and several early industries.  In addition to photographs, this collection includes diaries, letters, and scrapbooks.

Knoxville/East Tennessee History: Showcases a variety of topics, formats, and eras in local history.  The Charlie Daniel Editorial Cartoons (1950s-2010s), our digital format, includes Knoxville and Tennessee politics and events in daily life.  The Turnley Collection (1763-1920) is concerned with business, land, and the Confederacy.  Laura Elliot’s typed diary (1917-1919) tells of her work in publishing, as well as personal activities and observations.  The Nolichucky Dam photo album (1913-1914) documents the process of building the dam, and includes helpful captions.  The Technical Society of Knoxville (1921-2011) includes oral histories and work in education, health, and much more.

Student Life/Archives: Includes images, manuscripts, and publications that touch on all areas of the University, from administration and history, to athletics and student activities.  There are records of current and previous buildings, articles and papers by faculty and students, yearbooks and football programs, and a wealth of other topics and formats.

Theatre and Performance:  Offers papers and photographs about acting, directing, running a theatre, and various off-stage antics from the mid-19th century until 2013.  Materials come from Owen Fawcett, a 19th century actor, comedian, and writer; James Dobson, raised in Greeneville, TN and an actor of stage, screen, and television; Clarence Brown, a very successful film director; and the UTK Theatre program.

Modern Political Archives: Includes the papers of U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver, particularly relating to his televised hearings on organized crime and his opposition to the Southern Manifesto, which opposed racial integration in public places. Our teaching collections include materials related to both desegregation and organized crime. (This collection is available from the Modern Political Archives, located on the second floor of the Baker Center. Use of items requires contact ahead of time: