Family History Day at the Archives gives an introduction to research tools

By Monique Gooch

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

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

After the presentation, visitors were able to go up to the reading room of the Library and Archives to carry out research. Staff and volunteers were on hand for support.

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

Hanner suggested three factors during his research.

• Identify your research


• Learn the tools

• Explore resources

During the presentation, visitors learned that 85% of customers research the places where their ancestors lived. The good news is that almost everything featured in the presentation can be explored online for free.

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

While showing what once was at the Tennessee Library Archives, there was a Belleview Colored School in 1888 that is now covered by the TN Library Archives at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way.

If clients are looking for where their ancestors lived, they can find the following tools at

• Census records

• Military records

• Marriage certificate

• Death certificates

• Obituaries

Once you are on the page, click on the link under “Featured Resources” called “Genealogy Research Index”. Once there, it will take you to a page where you can search for keywords: “Search can be age, widow’s name, slave owners, places, location of burial, partial date, court, etc.” In addition, the “Researchers and Genealogists” are a good source to seek information. Once on this page, you can enter your last name in the “Search Catalog” bar and several resources will appear, 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 my parents are dead and I don’t know much about the family history. I wanted to try to leave some sort of legacy behind me.

When asked if Family History Day was what he expected, Odom replied, “Yes and no. I was hoping to know more about ancestry, but this is more about Tennessee history.

Djuana Morris from Nashville, TN said, “I wanted to start doing research for the family. I thought it would be more genealogy based, but since I’m from here, it gives me a starting point. It’s not all I was looking for, but it’s a starting point, and I’m curious about the house I grew up in, my grandfather’s house. So, I kind of got a bit of what I was looking for. When asked if Family History Day was what she expected, Morris replied, “No, because I thought it was going to be genealogy-based. I would have liked more of that.

Even though the presentation was not what some customers expected, there are still valuable tools that can be put to good use.