IF YOU GO
• What: Tennessee State Library and Archives artifact search
• Where: Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View, Chattanooga
• When: 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday
For more information: 615-253-3470 or visit www.tn.gov/tsla/cwtn
The Tennessee State Library and Archives is hoping to expand its collection of Civil War photos, letters and other documents by asking local residents to bring family heirlooms to be digitized.
On Tuesday at the Hunter Museum of American Art, archivists will scan the documents and post them online in hopes that researchers can use them to better understand the war in the Volunteer State.
Jami Awalt, an archivist with the state agency, said its tour already has made stops in 16 communities around Tennessee before coming to the Hunter. In each stop, they've been amazed at the battle flags, diaries and other items people have brought in, she said.
One family brought in a boot worn by an ancestor during the war, and another brought in a vest from the early Ku Klux Klan.
"We've seen a lot of swords and guns," she said. "We have collections of letters that have never been read outside of the family."
And some of those letters, she said, contain descriptions, dates, places and even hand-drawn maps that could be a boon to historians. Most of the items will be included in the archive's "virtual gallery," which will be available for viewing online.