Conservationists Preserve Tennessee Land Records

For decades, heaps of land records laid untouched in the state Capitol’s attic before being moved to the Tennessee State Library and Archives when it was built in the 1950s. Now workers there are preserving the documents that detail land ownership and exchanges as far back as 1779. Carol Roberts and Kat Trammell are delicately piecing together Tennessee history.

Roberts, the archives’ head conservationist, says the pieces of paper filled with hand-drawn sketches and detailed descriptions of property boundaries are dirty and fragile, with some left as brittle as dried leaves.

To restore them, Roberts and Trammell, an intern hired with funding provided by a recent Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society grant, must put every document through an extensive preservation process.

You can read more about this effort in an article by Macaela J Bennett in The Tennessean at

My thanks to newsletter reader Jeanne Martin for telling me about this story.

NEW! Click here to view and/or to save this article as a PDF file.


This is really good news for those of us with early TN ancestors! Thank you for posting this.


I wonder if this might be a way to trace my Sarah Miller from Davidson Co. TN. I’ve been unsuccessfully hunting her parentage for years. All I have for her is a birth year. But if someone left her property in a will . . . .


This is fabulous. My ancestor settled on the Duck River In Middle Tennessee by 1811.


It is a great find, but I am completely surprised that there is no mention of digitizing the records. Whaaaaaa? I’m also surprised that gloves are not being worn while handling these old documents, considering the extreme care that seems to be going into the manner in which they are handled. Neither of those “complaints,” however, detract from the the herculean effort and the boon to research.


    Archivists and conservationists rarely wear gloves anymore when working with paper items, as the paper can become snagged on the gloves, which is more damaging than the oils in our hands. Photographs are a notable exception to this, and should always be handled with gloves or by the edges only.

    Liked by 1 person

Great news! Tennessee has long been my black hole of genealogy.


I have some people in Cocke Co, TN and I have considered proving which one is which just hopeless. Maybe this will be the magic piece of information. It is very exciting to see..


I applaud these devoted workers to preserve original records. Thank you, Dick, for sharing the story!


This is excellent preservation and valid research for many years to come for Tennesseans everywhere! Also other Tennessee Archivists are adding much needed genealogy data such as Marilyn Holmes, Archivist for Dyer County Tennessee. Mr. Eastman you should check out her valuable works and contributions to genealogists everywhere.


Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

%d bloggers like this: