Historical resources A-Z

From vital records to court documents to historic maps and photographs, check the resources below to begin or continue your research.
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American Ancestors

This resource is not available at your location. You must be at the East Tennessee History Center to use the American Ancestors database.

Some of the databases available include: Massachusetts Vital Records through 1910, New York Probate Records (1787 - 1835), Social Security Death Index (SSDI), church records, newspapers and periodicals, city and town directories, court records, census, tax, and voter lists, diaries and journals, land records, military records, and published genealogies and biographies.

Ancestry.com Library Edition

This resource is not available at your location. You must be at the East Tennessee History Center to use the library edition of Ancestry.com.

Search an enhanced library version of the number one source for online family history research.

Trying to figure out what county holds the records for your search?

Use the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries from the Newberry Library to help.  Choose the state, then choose the date.  That's all there is to it.

Historical Resources: Maps
Format: Database of maps
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The Calvin M. McClung Digital Collection is an online archive of images from the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection. This website makes it easy and fun to research, view and find compelling digital images and artifacts from our rich East Tennessee history. Check back often; images are constantly being added.

Civil War Era Database

This resource is available at any library location.

A collection of nearly 2,000 pamphlets and complete runs of eight newspapers, which document the diverse perspectives of the Civil War Era (1840-1865). This database covers a vast range of topics, including abolition, politics, religious themes, battle casualties, and the effects of the war on citizens, just to name a few.

Civil War Microfilm at McClung

In addition to print sources, The McClung Collection has many Civil war records on microfilm including:

  • Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers who served with the United States Colored Troops
  • Service Records for Tennessee Confederate Troops
  • Service Records for Tennessee Union Troops
  • Service Records for North Carolina Confederate Troops (Thomas's Legion only)
  • Pension applications from the state of Tennessee for Confederate Veterans and Widows
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has provided a comprehensive website with original documents, user-submitted genealogies, full-text books and a research wiki, available to all. You must set up a login to access many of the documents. Follow the directions under sign-in to sign in or set up your account.

FindMyPast.com Library Edition

This resource is only available in the library.

A leading supplier of online family history records, including over 2 billion historical records covering the United States, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the globe, as well as PERSI (Periodical Source Index), a comprehensive subject index of genealogy periodicals and some local history publications.

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The early Superior Courts of Law and Equity of Tennessee were tasked with handling criminal matters and cases of relatively high dollar value, generally greater than $50.  In this way, they were "superior" to the County Courts that adjudicated matters less than $50.  The Superior Court also served as an appellate court.  They were held in five districts and existed from 1793-1809 with the Hamilton District Superior Court sitting in Knoxville and serving the middle East Tennessee region.  The records of this court are held at the Knox County Archives and the surviving cases are indexed here.

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The Knox County Chancery Court index is a listing of people appearing in the dockets of this court for the years 1832-1899.  The Knox County Chancery Court is a court of equity, first holding court on April 16, 1832 in the courthouse in Knoxville, Tennessee.  The chancellor (judge) presided over cases covering Anderson, Campbell, Knox and Sevier Counties in the early years.  

The Knox County Circuit Court index covers Circuit Court cases from 1810-1899.  The Knox County Circuit Court handled criminal matters and civil disputes involving sums greater than $50 during this period.  It is a work in progress. The court records were completely unorganized when the Knox County Archives was established and much work has gone into properly separating and organizing these papers and books. We are just now to the point where we can begin indexing the records and only a limited number are currently entered in the database. This index will be updated on a regular basis and should improve dramatically as time passes.

The Knox County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions Index is a listing of people appearing in the early dockets of this court.  Since the Knox County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions was the first court established in Knox County, first convening on July 16, 1792, and was the primary court in operation during the early settlement period, it is one of the best resources for finding individuals in the early period of Knox County.

The Knox County cross index search will search all the locally produced Knox County databases at one time from one location.

The databases produced by the Knox County Archives include the Knox County Chancery Court index, Knox County Circuit Court index, Knox County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions index, Knox County marriages index, Knox County divorces indexKnox County wills and estate settlements, and the Hamilton District Superior Court of Law and Equity.

The databases produced by the McClung Historical Collection include the Knoxville obituary index 1885-1906, which indexes the Knoxville Journal and the Knoxville obituary index 1991 - present, which indexes the Knoxville Journal's obituaries for 1990 (after which they ceased publication) and the Knoxville News-Sentinel from 1990 to present.

The Knox County Delayed Birth Registration index has been abstracted from the Knox County Circuit Court and Chancery Court Minute Books. These Knox County courts were part of a state process where delayed birth certificates were issued to those born prior to the start of statewide birth registration in 1914, to those born after the commencement of state birth registration but never had a certificate issued or where early certificates had errors that required correction. The local courts reviewed the evidence, approved the application and then issued a court order that was sent to the Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics to have an official state certificate issued. The information submitted to the local courts for birth registration has been deemed open access by the state. The earliest birth registration found in these entries dates to 1861, the latest to 1945.

This compilation combines the divorce entries from all the various courts in Knox County that processed divorces into one searchable database.  The period covered is 1792-1985 but it is not comprehensive at this time with a large number of divorces from the 1970's and 1980's yet to be entered.  Currently there are approximately eighty thousand entries in the database.

This Knox County map hangs on the walls inside the Knox County Archives.  Its origins and details of publication are unknown to us, but it can be determined that it was created sometime between 1870 and 1878 based on the existing Civil Districts and information determining when each was created found in the Knox County Court Minute Books.

Historical Resources: Maps
Format: Database of maps

The popular 1895 Vance, Coffee and Pill Map of Knox County has been digitized and made available for viewing at the Library of Congress website.  This map can be viewed onsite or downloaded to your personal computer for viewing at home. 

Historical Resources: Maps
Format: Database of maps

An index to Knox County marriage records in the Knox County Archives for the years 1901 to 1950. The marriage record for this period generally consists of a marriage license and marriage bond/application. In Knox County between the years 1792-1929, a marriage bond in the amount of $1250 was required from the intended groom. The marriage bond affirmed there was no moral or legal reason why the couple could not be married. The bondsman, or surety, was often a brother, father, uncle or friend of the bride or groom, someone willing to vouch for the groom and accept the liability of the $1250 bond. In 1929, the marriage bond system was changed to the application system that we are familiar with today.

The Knox County Clerk's office provides a marriage lookup option on the internet. This search engine lists the names of the groom and bride and the date of the marriage. Copies of the ORIGINAL records are held at the Knox County Archives. New marriage certificates issued with the information recorded in the Clerk's database can be obtained by following the link to "Request Certified Copy" on the Clerk's search page. Dates showing 0000-00-00 indicate a marriage application was filled out but either never returned or the marriage was not executed, i. e., the bride and groom were never officially married under this marriage application.

The following index of Naturalizations has been abstracted from the Knox County Circuit, Criminal and Chancery Court Minute Books covering the years 1792-1907. 

Naturalizations from 1907-1991 have been processed in the U. S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville and these records have been digitized and indexed by Ancestry.com (Ancestry Library Edition is available for use free at the East Tennessee History Center).  The Federal Court also processed naturalizations concurrantly with the 3 local courts so if the name of the individual you are seeking is not in this index, check the Ancestry.com entries for a possible filing.

From the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, this website has information about Knoxville National Cemetery with a link to the national grave locator and a map of the cemetery.

Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery on Lyons View Pike and East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery on John Sevier Highway may also be searched on this website.

Full page images of the historical archives (covering 1922–1990) are searchable along with—or separate from—the database of full-text articles in the current collection (1990 to the present). The historical archives are funded through the generous donations to the Library Foundation's From Papers to Pixels campaign.

This index covers obituaries from the Knoxville Journal from 1885 to 1906. Information included is surname, date the obituary ran and the page number. Also included can be given name or names, age, or county/state of death. There are many obituaries that do not include first names; these obituaries usually have another identifier, for instance, Mrs., Mr., child, infant, daughter, or son. Also, there are many obituaries of people who died out of county or out of state but had a connection to Knoxville.
Please contact McClung by phone, mail or email to request a copy of the obituary. There is a $3.00 fee for up to three obituaries, which can come from either of the two obituary databases.

This index covers obituaries from the Knoxville papers -- the Knoxville Journal in 1991 (after which it ceased publication) and the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1991 to present. There can be up to a 4 month delay in adding to the database. Information included can be surname, given name and additional names (middle name, maiden name), age, and the date of the most complete obituary that ran in the newspaper. Residents of surrounding counties frequently appear in the Knoxville paper.
Please contact McClung by phone, mail or email to request a copy of the obituary. There is a $3.00 fee for up to three obituaries, which can come from either of the two obituary databases.

Provides maps, historical aerials, address searches and property owner reports, school zones, voting districts and elected officials, and more. Use the options under the Online Tools tab to access the desired search function. Ready-to-print maps show political districts, school zones, zip codes, watersheds. A Historic Districts and Pre-1865 Structures theme makes it easy to find old architecture. Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) has an application for viewing current and past cases such as zoning change requests.

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More than 5 billion historical ​records from all over the world, including the USA federal census (1790-1940) and the UK census (1841-1901) with images​, 1.5 billion exclusive family tree profiles from MyHeritage and Geni, millions of public records and tombstone photos, directories, guides, references, biographies and yearbooks, exclusive databases such as the Jewish Chronicle historical newspaper and many others.

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Includes The Atlanta Constitution‎ (1868–1984 with page images), Chicago Defender‎ (1909–1975), The New York Times (1851–2013 with page images), The Wall Street Journal‎ (1889–1999 with page images), The Washington Post‎ (1877–1999 with page images), and The Tennessean (2002–present, provided by the Tennessee Electronic Library).

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FamilySearch provides free access to Tennessee death certificates from 1914 - 1955. In order to view the actual death certificate, you will need to sign in. Follow the directions on the site to set up your acccount.

Tennessee Death Certificates at McClung

The McClung Collection has Tennessee Death Certificates and index of the death certificates on microfilm for all of Tennessee for the years 1914 - 1965.

Index to marriages registered in Walker County, Georgia. Many Tennesseans went to this north Georgia county across the Tennessee State line from Chattanooga to get married as the Georgia state requirements to be married differed from Tennessee, specifically the age limit was lower and no blood test/waiting period was required. Walker County was also adjacent to Fort Oglethorpe so Tennessee men enlisting and training for military duty in World War II found Walker County a convenient place to be married.

The Shelby County Register of Deeds provides an index to Tennessee marriage listings for the years 1980–2009.
 
**Caveat:  This index lists the county where the marriage was executed.  The county where the license was applied for and where the ceremony took place may be the same but this is not assured.
 

Tennessee State Library and Archives has partnered with ancestry.com to provide Tennessee Death Records 1908–1958, City Death Records 1872–1923, Delayed Birth Records 1869–1909, City Birth Records 1881–1915, 1891 Enumeration of Male Voters, North Carolina and Tennessee Early Land Records 1783–1895, North Carolina and Tennessee Revolutionary War Land Warrants, Wills and Probate Records 1779–2008, and Tennessee Supreme Court Case Index 1809–1950. These are available without charge to Tennessee residents, but you must sign in to view the certificates. Follow instructions to set up your account.

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Images of muster rolls, payrolls, strength returns, and other personnel, pay, and supply records of the American Army during the Revolutionary War as found at Family Search. The collection is arranged by type of service, military unit, and jacket or folder number. To more easily find your ancestor in this collection, you’ll need to know the state and military unit. To identify state and military unit of interest click on the “Learn more” link and see coverage table. The military unit may also be identified by searching the collection “United States, Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records, 1775-1783” Index courtesy of Fold3.com. This collection is from Record Group 93, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, and is National Archives Microfilm publication M246.

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Digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, oral histories, artifacts, etc.) documenting the history and culture of Tennessee. This site searches the "Growth of Democracy in Tennessee" database and the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.