By Monique Gooch
NASHVILLE, TN — Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned genealogist, Family History Day has something for everyone. This year’s featured presentation is Welcome Home: Unlocking History Through the Places We Live, led by Librarian Trent Hanner.
As part of Hanner’s presentation, attendees will learn how to use the Library and Archives’ extensive collections to research the history of their home. Discover the stories of your community by researching the places where we live and work, whether your family has lived in Tennessee for generations or you’re new to the area.
Following the presentation, visitors will be able to trace their family history in the Library and Archives Reading Room, where staff and volunteers will be on hand to support them. Attendees are encouraged to bring whatever information they have, including names, dates, and places.
The Tennessee State Museum is located across the street from the Library and Archives at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way North. Parking is available for guests in the Library and Archives garage on Jackson Street/Junior Gilliam Way
Before visiting Family History Day event, you can also visit https://sos.tn.gov/tsla, click on “Search the Online Research”, once on that 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.” If patrons’ type in the box, “slave owners”, you can search by county, last names, TN death records, Acts of Tennessee 1796-1850, court cases and more.
While it does allow patrons to see the records of the slaves, it unfortunately does not go into details about the slave family lineage. However, patrons can also search by first, middle, or last name. When searching by last, please make sure the spelling is correct. Searching by last name will bring up more information such as lineage, family records and death certificates.
Lastly, the “Researchers and Genealogists” is also 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. While it may be difficult for African Americans to search their history online, it is a start. Please join the Family History Day coming up for more detailed information on your family history if you cannot access all the information you’d like on the websites.
Nashville is home to some well-known Black family names. Among them are famed Nashvillian Preston Taylor and his wife Georgia Gordon Taylor. In the early 20th century, Preston Taylor was an African-American businessman, minister and philanthropist. He was considered one of the most influential leaders of Nashville.
The first African-American park in Nashville was Greenwood Park, which he created along with Greenwood Cemetery, Nashville’s second oldest African-American cemetery. In the early days of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Georgia Taylor was one of the singers. She was among the singers who toured the US and Europe in 1872-73, appearing before Queen Victoria in England.
Nashville is also home to the Rev. Dr. Richard Henry Boyd, founder of R.H. Boyd Publishing, formally known as the National Baptist Publishing Board. After the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, Dick Gray moved to Texas as a freed man.
He changed his name to Richard Henry “R. H.” Boyd, in order to free himself of his slave master’s name. R.H. Boyd helped to organize the Texas Negro Baptist Convention. He also organized and served as pastor to several churches in Texas. R.H. Boyd was founded in 1896 and is currently still going strong under their leadership of the fifth generation president and CEO Dr. Ladonna Boyd.
The Tennessee State Museum would be a suitable resource for Black families to trace their family lineage if they are from Tennessee. Maybe not so great for those who are originally from out of state and want to find records of family. The Tennessee State Library & Archives collects and preserves books and records of historical, documentary, and reference value and encourages and promotes library development throughout the state.
According to the African American Genealogical Resources, “The Tennessee State Library and Archives maintains a diverse collection of resources that relate to African American genealogical research. Although there were free Black people in the state, the majority of Tennessee’s African American populations were slaves, making them virtually invisible because of the scarcity of documentation in antebellum records. Researchers are urged to confer with librarians and archivists at the Library and Archives for consultation on individual research needs.”
For more information about the Library & Archives or this event, call 615-741-2764, email email@example.com or visit sos.tn.gov/tsla.