Djuana Morris, left, and Victor Odom at Family History Day at the Tennessee State Library & Archives. Photo by Monique Gooch

By Monique Gooch

NASHVILLE, TN — Helping people find their family history is a passion for Tennessee Library and Archives librarian Trent Hanner. And on October 29, he led families through a tour of resources at the library during Family History Day called:  Welcome Home: Unlocking History Through the Places We Live.

As part of Hanner’s presentation, attendees learned how to use the Library and Archives’ extensive collections to research the history of their home. Visitors learned how to research the places where they live and work, how to search their family that has lived in Tennessee.

Following the presentation, visitors were able to go up to the Library and Archives Reading Room to do some research. Staff and volunteers were on hand for support. 

During the presentation portion Hanner said, “If you’re just getting started on your journey, Google is a great start!” Trent Hanner has worked in archives since 2006. 

There were three factors that Hanner suggested when researching. 

• Identify your research


• Learn the tools

• Explore the resources

In the presentation visitors learned that 85 percent of patrons are researching the places where their ancestors lived. The good news that almost everything featured in the presentation can be explored online for free.  

“Start with what you know. Trace back one generation at a time.” Hanner said. 

While showing what used to be on at the Tennessee Library Archives there was a Belleview Colored school in 1888 that is now covered by the TN Library Archives on 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way. 

If patrons are looking where their ancestors lived, they can find the following tools on

• Census records

• Military records

• Marriage certificate

• Death certificates

• Obituaries 

Once you’re on the page, click on the link under “Featured Resources” called, “Genealogy Research Index”. Once there, this will take you to a page where you can search by keywords: “Search can be Age, Widow Name, Slave Owners, Locations, Place of Burial, Partial Date, Court, etc.” Also, the “Researchers and Genealogists” is a good source to search for information. Once on that page you can type into the “search catalog” bar your last name and several resources will come up, such as books, newspaper clippings, photographs. 

Victor Odom, lives in Clarksville, TN originally from Birmingham, AL. said he wanted to come because he was an only child, “both of my parents are deceased, and I don’t know much about family history. I wanted to try to leave some type of legacy behind.”

 When asked if the Family History Day was what he was expecting Odom responded with, “Yes, and no. I was hoping to find more on ancestry, but this more history on Tennessee.” 

Djuana Morris originally from Nashville, TN said, “I wanted to get a start on how to do research for family. I thought it was going to be more genealogy based, but because I am from here this gives me a starting point. It’s not everything I was looking for, but it is a starting point, and I am curious about the house I grew up in, my grandad’s house. So, I kind of got a little bit of what I was looking for. When asked if the Family History Day was what she was expecting Morris responded with, “No, because I did think it was going to be genealogy based. I would’ve like more of that.” 

Even though the presentation wasn’t what some patrons expected, there are still tools that are valuable and can be put to good to use.