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I blogged a bit a couple of weeks ago about the East
Tennessee History Center and the research collections inside. Friday morning while
attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, I wandered the three
or four blocks over to the center for a peek.
The center, renovated and expanded in 2004, is in the old Federal Customs House, constructed
M. McClung Historical Collection, part of the Knox County Public Library, is on
the third floor. The staff graciously let me take some photos, which are normally
prohibited in the research rooms. The collection covers East Tennessee as well as
other regions and states, especially those where folks who left Tennessee ended up.
The reading room was once a Federal courtroom, with the reference desk positioned
about where the judge ruled from his bench.
Downstairs on the first floor, part of the Museum of East Tennessee history occupies
what used to be a post office. Exhibits—multilayered with documents, artifacts, images,
video and audio—start with the Cherokee Indians who inhabited the area and go all
the way through the settling of the frontier, the work of the Tennessee Valley Authority
and up to the World’s Fair of the 1980s.
Inside an old reassembled log cabin, you could watch a video about the Civil War in
I especially liked the displays focusing on regional Appalachian crafts such as broom-making,
basketry and quilting,
as well as the blue grass, gospel, country and other musical genres that evolved here.