The Capitol Building at Night, 1903

State capitol at night 1903

From the Bolivar Bulletin, November 13, 1903.

Here’s a neat nocturnal photograph of the State Capitol Building in Nashville, taken in 1903. The photo appeared in Rutledge Smith’s “Tennessee Topics” column in the Bolivar Bulletin. The writer provides some history about the “State’s most perfect building, from an architectural standpoint” and boasts of the building’s nocturnal beauty in particular. “The building, which is Grecian in its architecture, has on all its exterior lines myriads of incandescent lights, around the caves, on the cornice and reaching to the top of the dome, and is lighted every evening until ten o’clock by the city of Nashville. From the city and surrounding country this brilliant illumination presents a most beautiful appearance.”

A number of things interest me about the appearance of this photo in this newspaper. Firstly, electric lighting was still a relatively new technology* so it’s interesting to see it being used somewhat creatively here. It must have been costly, hence the 10 o’clock lights out! Secondly, the limitations of contemporary photographic processes would have made nocturnal photography very difficult. I’m going to try to find out more about the photograph, such as who took it and why. If I find anything, I’ll post it on this blog. And lastly, the appearance of any photograph in a newspaper (especially a rural Tennessee paper) was not terribly common then. The process of converting a photograph into a newspaper printable image was still being refined. Larger city’s presses would usually print two or three photographs per issue at this time, usually portraits. The ability to reproduce a halftone photograph on a printing press running at full speed had been around only a few years when this image was printed.

This issue of the Bolivar Bulletin has been digitized as part of the TNDP and will be available on Chronicling America later this year. Earlier issues of the paper are currently available here.

* Nashville got its first electric lights in 1882, but technology moved a lot slower in those days.


Our TNDP partners, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, recently started a blog. The blog features neat stories about items in the collection, Tennessee history articles, and some extraordinary curiosities.

Check out this recent post about TSLA’s newspaper preservation efforts. TNDP would not be possible without the magnificent work of TSLA’s Preservation Services, and in particular, the Micrographics Department.

Source: TSLA In 1957 the call went out for “old newspapers” and thousands of pages in every condition came into TSLA. Almost all were salvaged, stabilized and microfilmed. By 1966 the project proudly preserved over 6,000,000 pages, 1200 rolls of microfilm and over 1000 different Tennessee titles.

Source: Carol Roberts/TSLA
In 1957 the call went out for “old newspapers” and thousands of pages in every condition came into TSLA. Almost all were salvaged, stabilized and microfilmed. By 1966 the project proudly preserved over 6,000,000 pages, 1200 rolls of microfilm and over 1000 different Tennessee titles.



Batch Names

In an earlier post, I mentioned that we send our data (the digitized newspapers and their metadata) to the Library of Congress in batches. The Library of Congress asks us to give each batch a name. This can be anything we like, as long as the sequence is alphabetical. At the beginning of the project I decided to use Tennessee musician/singers’ names. The person didn’t have to be born in Tennessee, just as long as they had a strong connection with our state. We decided to continue this theme into Phase II. So here are the folks on whom we have bestowed the honour of having a TNDP batch named after them. Better than winning a Grammy?!

See if you can guess who they are (answers below).

Arthur Q Smith Brownie McGhee Charlie Hagaman Dottie West Tennessee Ernie FordFramnk Smith Gordon Stoker Hubert Carter Ida Jimmy Hartsook Kay Starr Leola Manning

If you managed to identify all of those people, you are truly a Tennessee music aficionado extraordinaire!

Answers: Arthur Q. Smith, Brownie McGhee, Charlie Hagaman, Dottie West, “Tennessee” Ernie Ford, Frank Smith, Gordon Stoker, Hubert Carter, Ida Cox, Jimmy Hartsook, Kay Starr, Leola Manning.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus!!

Happy St David’s Day!

According to Ayer’s American Newspaper Directory, there were several Welsh language newspapers available in the USA in 1880:

Welsh US newspapers 1880

Ayer’s US Newspaper Directory, 1880 (p.446)

At one time, Scranton, Pa., was home to the largest Welsh population outside Wales. Our friends at the Pennsylvania Digital Newspaper Project tell me that some of the newspapers they have digitized for NDNP contain some Welsh language. A search on Chronicling America, yields several more reports about eisteddfods that were held in the US (see February 27 post).

Scranton Eisteddfod

Scranton Tribune. May 31, 1902.

The Welsh in Tennessee Newspapers

March 1st is St David’s Day – the national day of Wales. To celebrate, here’s a Wales/Tennessee connection …

I attended a talk recently at the East Tennessee Historical Society here in Knoxville: The Welsh of Tennessee by Eirug Davies. In his talk (and book) Mr Davies mentioned an eisteddfod that had taken place in Chattanooga in the 1890s, and he showed some newspaper articles. Given my interest in all things Welsh (being “Cardiff born and Cardiff bred”) and newspapers, I did a little sleuthing to see what else there might be in the newspapers about this event.

The articles below are from the Chattanooga Times. The event was well advertised and, according to the following reports, was an outstanding success. Check back on Friday for more Wales/USA/newspaper connections.

Click on the images to enlarge.

October 27 and 30, 1891:

Chattanooga Eisteddofd   Chattanooga Eisteddfod 1891

From October 25 and 30, 1891:

Chattanooga Eisteddfod 1891       Chattanooga eisteddfod 1891

The McMinn County Manifesto, 1868

While researching for the Athens Post essay for Chronicling America, I came across this little treasure in UT Libraries’ Special Collections. The handwritten piece bears the title, “The McMinn Manifesto,” but this might be a little misleading. It is an article written in long-hand by William G. “Parson” Brownlow for publication in his newspaper, Brownlow‘s Knoxville Whig, June 17, 1868, col.5-6. The note–which is signed “Editor”–includes instructions to the printer to insert the “proceedings entire” at the end of the piece. The “proceedings entire” were a reprint of “A call for a public meeting of the citizens of McMinn County” from the Athens Post, October 3, 1862, col.2. The meeting’s resolutions (Athens Post, October 10, 1862, col.1), in which the citizens of McMinn County were urged to pledge their loyalty to the Confederacy, were also printed in Brownlow’s piece.

Brownlow’s article appears to be a rewrite of a very similar article (of his) published in his Knoxville Tri-weekly Whig and Rebel Ventilator, July 26, 1864, col.3. Brownlow, a staunch supporter of the Union, used his newspaper to denounce the Confederacy and its supporters. His combative reaction to the Athens Post’s articles is typical of his out-spoken editorial style. Brownlow’s 1868 rewrite of his earlier article may have been prompted by his recent visit to Athens, Tenn. The purpose of that visit was to rally support for Ulysses S. Grant’s presidential campaign. He mentions Grant and Colfax at the end of this piece.

McMinn County Manifesto

The article as it appeared in Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig, June 17, 1868: McMinn County Manifesto in newspaper

New titles for TNDP Phase II

The Advisory Group has selected the newspapers for the next phase of the Tennessee Newspaper Digitization Project. We’ll be continuing some of the titles from Phase I, others are new to the project. The focus is around the Gilded Age, so dates range from 1870s-1900. Here’s the list:

Bolivar Bulletin; Camden Chronicle; Clarksville Chronicle/Tobacco Leaf-Chronicle; Columbia Herald; Johnson City Comet; Knoxville Daily Chronicle; Lawrence Democrat; Maryville Times; Memphis Daily Appeal; Milan Exchange; Morristown Gazette; [Nashville] American; Nashville Globe; Pulaski Citizen; Rugbeian; Sequachee Valley News; Savannah Courier; Southern Standard [McMinnville]; Winchester Home Journal

A Chattanooga paper will also be included. We’re waiting to hear about the availability of negatives before we can make the final decision on which one. Watch this space!

Here’s a map of Phase I’s geographical coverage. Page count totals are about equal for the three Grand Divisions.

TNDP phase one map


Two interesting graphs from Rowell’s US Newspaper Directory (1894) showing state population/number of newspapers, and the area of each state.

Population and newspapers 1890State size 1894

More on Rowell’s soon …

The Examiner

Thanks to our friends at the McClung Historical Collection for bringing this rare newspaper to our attention. As far as we know, it’s the only surviving copy of this title!

The Examiner. June 29, 1878.

The Examiner. June 29, 1878.

The Examiner was Knoxville’s first African American newspaper. Its publisher and editor, William F. Yardley, was a remarkable man. In fact, Frederick Douglass referred to him as “one of the most remarkable men that I have met.” As well as publishing the first African American paper in Knoxville, Yardley can claim several other firsts: he was Knoxville’s first African American lawyer and is believed to be the first African American lawyer to take a case to the State Supreme Court (1883). In 1881, Yardley established another newspaper in Knoxville, the Bulletin. For a neat summary of Yardley’s achievements, see this short bio in the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, here.

Click the image above and it will take you to a zoomable (and legible) version of the four-page newspaper on McClung’s Digital Collection website. (And while you’re on that website, meander through all the other wonderful treasures on display!)

Special thanks to Jeanie for identifying this unique artifact, and to Sally for scanning it and making it accessible to the public.